Paris. Photo: Alicia Bok
1. You are not going to see everything. But do see your favourites. Take one day to just walk around and get lost. And take one day out to run errands. Doing so in Paris is so much more romantic and it also forces you to slow down. P.S. The Louvre is at least two visits. The people watching is so much more interesting than seeing the actual Mona Lisa.
2. Bread, cheese, wine and a park are your best friends.
3. Cabs suck. Especially late at night because they’re never around. Pre-plan if you are going to be out late and drunk. Be prepared to walk. Especially if you are not in the city centre. There’s a reason ballet flats are popular here.
The Musee D'Orsay. This shot was taken when the museum was closed.
4. Always double check museum times to make sure they are not closed. On the first Sunday of the month, most museums are free; Mondays and Tuesdays are when some museums are closed.
5. Check the outer arrondissements too. It’s not as scary as you think. The 20th is especially a hot district right now. The 13th has some pretty good Chinese food. Who knew?
I couldn't deal with not being able to find "un lisseur" so I caved and got a blow out. When in Paris...
6. Bring a hair straightener (and appropriate adapter) with you if you have unruly hair. Nothing is more daunting than going around the city, being beckoned out of a salon, then not knowing how to say “Do you sell a hair straightener/iron?” in the native language. This is the French I did not learn in High School. Also, the French speak in brands. “Hair straightener” was a no-go; “Babyliss” lead me to some very expensive solutions. Bonus: getting your hair “did “in another city and then taking pictures with good hair in front of famous monuments is fun.
7. Trains are better than planes. But you will pay for a “reservation,” so tack on an extra 20 to 30 euros for that train ride over to Amsterdam. Also, keep belongings close.
Even the dogs in Paris have cute names like Mousquette or Mousqie for short. Please! It's Swoony Mcswoonersville over here right now.
8. The Canadian bar is worse in Paris than it is in Canada. P.S. don’t go to a Canadian bar in Paris, even if the sign says “Great Canadian Bar.”
9 . Don’t believe all French Men. As charming as they are, they may not show up for a date and have you crying along the River Seine (or watching nineties music videos in your hotel room for a few hours). Bonus: a Scottish expat bar and UK lads are just around the corner.
10. The babies and dogs are cuter; the restaurants more tightly packed; the city not as dirty as most say; the French not as mean and surly as most perceive; reaching the top of the Eiffel Tower is anti-climatic (and kind of windy in my experience). If you make an effort, you will be well received. Sometimes, the action is not at the top but down below (i.e. Champ de Mars); and never shake a hand. Major faux pas. Bisous Bisous.