Resources for planning and while visiting Paris - Paris with Scott

Resources

This page is really for resources that may not fit neatly into another category.  Still, there is good information, so take a look.  Some of this information is helpful while planning and also while in Paris.

Money

Getting Cash

ATMs are everywhere in Paris and that makes it easy to access Euros.  Select English as your language and all of your instructions will display in English.  Because ATMs are probably around the corner, you may choose to limit how much you withdraw each day and visit the cash machine more frequently to avoid lots of money in your wallet.

Keep your money, credit and debit cards and passport safe in your security wallet at all times.

Currency exchange places, although readily accessible in many tourist areas, most often do not provide the best rate of exchange for your money.

Bottom line on money – be careful.  Take steps before leaving home, and while in Paris, to keep your money, cards and passport safe.  Safety will avoid causing a really big problem (ie. hours of time and lots of money).  While you are in Paris, you do not want to try to obtain a replacement passport.  And, you do not want to telephone all of your credit card companies and wait for new methods of payment to arrive at your hotel!

Discounts

Are you over 60?  At each ticket window ask for a senior discount and have your passport ready to flash.  Of course say, “Bonjour” first, then “Avez vous un billet tarifs réduits pour les seniors?” [avay-voo uh bee-yay tare-eef red-wee pour lay seen-yore].  Paris loves people who have worked their entire lives and are visiting to see the sights.  Ask for a discount, you could be pleasantly surprised.

Student – at any age – bring your student identification card with dates of validity and ask for a student discount.  Say, “Bonjour” first.  Next, say, “Avez vous un billet tarifs réduits pour les etudiants?” [avay-voo uh bee-yay tare-eef red-wee pour lays-ā-tood-ē-ahnt].

Health

Hospital

American Hospital in Paris
63, Bd Victor Hugo
92200 Neuilly-sur-Seine
France
Tél : +33 (0)1 46 41 25 25
https://www.american-hospital.org/en.html

Pharmacy

Pharmacists speak a little (or a lot) of English and can help if you need wetting drops for your contacts, a little something for your upset stomach, pills to relieve acid reflux, or any other thing like that you may have forgotten to pack.  Look for the illuminated green neon cross signifying a pharmacy.  Remember to say, “Bonjour,” and then softly say, “S’il vous plait,” [seal-voo-play] and point to your affected body part.  They will know you are foreign and need help.  With a little effort on your part – pointing and making faces, they can probably help.

Insulin is the only prescription medication that I have any experience trying to obtain from a pharmacy.  My father ran out of insulin on the last day in Paris. He thought he brought enough, but with all of the wonderful, unbelievable food and patisseries on every other corner, he needed more.  As soon as I found out he needed more, I went to the pharmacy a block from the hotel.  I took his empty pin, showed it to the pharmacist and asked for help (the thing Parisians love most). Then the pharmacist carefully examined the type, dose, etc…, and searched his inventory on the computer.  He did not have the exact same thing.  But, he told me how to get to the pharmacy six blocks away that did have it.  Mission accomplished.

Should you need to see a doctor, the U.S. Embassy has a list of doctors who speak English.

Health Care Products

Along with having medications, pharmacies in Paris are like a candy store for anyone who likes vitamins, health care products, lotions, potions, skin care, herbal remedies and lots of other things you didn’t know you needed.  Go in and you can spend quite a bit of time examining all the wonderful things the French have at their disposal.

Safety

Thievery

First of all, beware of pickpockets at all times.  Especially relevant – they are everywhere that a tourist will be.  Keep your money, passport, credit and debit cards in a security wallet, money belt, etc….

Traveling on the Métro?  Sometimes it can be very crowded and the experienced thieves will have your wallet and your satchel before you realize it.  You will keep rocking along, holding on to the rail and your valuable will be long gone.

Also, do not indulge people on the street trying to sell souvenirs or children begging for money.  Many times the children set in motion a plan prepared by the thieves to steal your money or worse.  Avoid scams by people who drop and then “find” a “gold ring” on the ground.  They will approach you and then try to sell it to you.  Do not fall for it.

Because thieves are always coming up with new ways to try to get your money, beware of anything that seems suspicious, out of the ordinary, or too nice – and in bad English!!!

Watch Your Bags

One time, a group of us were backpacking around Europe and gathered around in a circle talking at a train station.  Each of us had all of our possessions in our backpacks and the backpacks were between our legs.  However, one young woman put her bags beside her, and not between her legs.  Someone walked up and tapped one of us on the shoulder and asked for a cigarette or something.  We all turned to him when he did that, then we all turned back into the circle to talk.

After a few minutes we were saying our goodbyes to go get on our trains and we all reached for our bags to go.  The young woman’s bags were gone!  Just that fast.  As a result, everything she had with her for traveling was gone.  The thief who interrupted our conversation turned all of our attention in one direction, while his friends stole all of the young woman’s bags.

Therefore, if you have your bags with you and you stop and stand, keep your bags between your legs.  At a restaurant or sitting on a park bench, keep your satchel and/or any other bag between your legs or on your lap, preferably with one arm through a strap.

Armed Military on the Street

If you travel at a time when there may be elevated threats to safety, do not be alarmed to see police and military armed with automatic weapons walking the streets and in the Métro.

Do Not Be Overconfident

Double check each other if are traveling with others.  It may get old, but ask each other, “Do you have your passport?  Do you have your wallet?”  Better safe than sorry!

Planning Ahead

You are in a foreign country and that country and its people are welcoming you.  Be patient.  Smile.  You are a visitor.

Holding up a “V” sign with your index and middle finger means you are trying to find the toilet.  So, not the greatest idea.

Write down your hotel name, address and telephone number on a piece of paper and put it in your secure wallet.  Also, email it to yourself.  In addition, take a photo of the front of the hotel with the name showing with your smart phone.

Also, never let a taxi driver leave until you are sure you have all of your bags.  Check the seat and floorboard twice for bags or eyeglasses!

U.S. Embassy in Paris

U.S. Embassy
Consular Section
American Citizen Services
4, avenue Gabriel
75008 Paris

https://fr.usembassy.gov/u-s-citizen-services/

The following paragraphs are from the U.S. Embassy website:

Routine U.S. Citizen Services are available by appointment only.  Please note that the Embassy is closed on French and American holidays.

Passport services are provided by appointment or on a mail-in basis for routine passport applications. The processing time for routine passport renewals is 4-6 weeks. Passport services are NOT available on weekends, or on French or U.S. holidays.

When traveling, please remember to carry a photocopy of your passport separately from your passport. In the event of loss or theft, the copy will facilitate issuance of an emergency passport.

Should you need to see a doctor, the U.S. Embassy has a list of doctors who speak English.

Problem Solving

Need assistance with food suggestions or looking for something to do? Ask the concierge or the reception at your hotel.  Try to explain what you are looking for in a restaurant or an event.  Do you want fine dining or a bistro?  How much do you want to spend?  Do you want to rock climb or take it easy?  Tell the truth about what you are looking for.  Then, the concierge can make better suggestions.

Feeling ill, go to the pharmacy.

Need a bathroom stop and you are walking in a neighborhood.  Duck into a café, order a coffee at the bar, visit the WC (the bathroom) and enjoy your little break.

Politely ask a Parisian for help.  The French have a saying to “show your neck.”  Kind of like how a dog may show his neck to another dog to signify non-dominance. So, if you need help, show your neck to a Parisian.  Most of all, show that you are polite and not trying to dominate him or her.  As a result, when you request help, most likely you will immediately win them over and they will go out of their way to help you.  So, show your neck if you are having a problem.

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