The perfect tourist value charter

By | Traveling tips

Working in tourism is about understanding people and trying to reach their expectations since you are providing a service.

We professionals have certifications and reviews that comfort our clients in picking our service but we unfortunately never know who we are going to get…

French people might be rude, arrogant, stinky, smokers and all you want to blame us for but I have seen so much bad behaviors since I started working in this business that I feel like I should share those Dos and Don’ts with you:

  1. First of all, when coming to Paris, don’t call it France, because most of the country is made with regions that all have their specificities, histories, people, accents and Paris is just a big mess with almost nobody actually originally from Paris.
  2. Secondly, speaking French is not a big deal anymore since most people working in retail know how to speak English. So if you are hoping to have a conversation in French with any vendor you encounter and don’t understand what they say back, then don’t bother and switch back to English, but keep it slow please!
  3. In this same context of shopping in France, it’s usual to say “Bonjour” and “Au revoir”, or just “Hello” if possible looking into the eyes of the person working there, and maybe also smiling, but don’t you just walk in without considering that this shop has a human being working there for you. This might be one main reason why people hate tourists. 🙁
  4. Paris is a very expensive city, for food, clothes, rent and cultural life. The minimum wage is 1200€ per month, most people working in retail get this, and most people working in services do when rent is minimum 600€ per month for a one bedroom studio and shower and toilet in the same room to live in fancy neighborhoods of the city. There is a big housing crisis because of Airbnb rentals in Paris, so consider that when you book your accommodation. There are lots of pretty hotels around the city, not as close to monuments and fancy streets but still in Paris and close to a local boulangerie! Check out the 19th quarter, near the canal de la Villette or in the south, near Parc Montsouris if you want to be with locals.
  5. Restaurants have two services per day, Lunch and Dinner. When lunch is the most important meal of the day for us French, we like to spend at least one hour over our break, between 12 and 2pm. Traditional French restaurants will have special deals for you with selected dishes to chose and be sure the chef will be fast on making it. Kitchens close at 2pm so that the staff can also have a break, check their bills, relax, go to the doctor and then at 4pm they get back to work and start preparing the fancy dinner when French people like to treat themselves, go on a date or celebrate something with their friends. French food is about cooking the ingredients and get the best flavors out of them. If you don’t care about the taste of what you eat, or you feel hungry at weird  times of the day, you can go to a chain shop like Mc Donalds or Burger King ! Also remember that French people eat snacks, but freshly baked from the boulangeries.
  6. Air conditioning is not a thing in France, people are more scared to get sick from the change of temperatures that to get too hot. We stay indoors, go to the movies or to the pool and the luckiest ones just go to the beach for the whole summer.
  7. Tipping is not compulsory but appreciable so stop asking yourself questions on how much to tip and just be a nice person, following most of those advice. If you are buying a 2000€ purse and leaving 2€ to your guide, that’s fine but you can be more chic with it and just pay for coffee…
  8. If you like going to the museums, like the Louvre or Orsay, get a pass or buy your tickets online and save yourself a lot of time. Also, museums are all closed on Tuesday, put it somewhere on your mind!
  9. Walking only: Paris is a city that was built before cars where even invented. Our roads are narrow and we have a lot of traffic lights. If you are not a big fan of wandering and getting lost in the most beautiful streets of the world, then get a good phone service and use City Mapper or Google to get around with a Navigo pass for public transports. If you get lost, ask someone in the street politely, hopefully it won’t be another tourist!
  10. Charity: Warning you about begging people and homeless situation in Paris. We have a lot of miserable people in big cities, all over the world but when there are tourists out there, it’s almost becoming a business. If you feel like you want to help, rather than giving away coins to those who are asking, even if they have baby rabbits in their basket, save this money and donate to a church like Saint Eustache or to La Croix Rouge organisation. They are the ones giving meals, water and blankets to those who are really in need. Be careful with your bags and phones and wallets, they can disappear very very quickly without you noticing… 

 

 

To conclude, even if Paris is the most beautiful city in the world, your experience can really turn into a nightmare. Just be aware of those few things and try to trust yourself to make the most of your trip, from booking your hotel to organizing your time and activities. Check the weather forecast for when you arrive, take some vitamin C and get in touch with me if you want to make the best of your trip !

 

Clémentine

Asian food cravings

By | Fooding in Paris, Traveling tips

Although France is pretty far away from this part of the world, Parisians are lucky to have this diversity of exotic food coming from Vietnam, Japan, Korea and of course China. We know that there are so many different styles of cuisine coming from each of these countries but we tried to select our favorite places for price and quality rather than for originality.

Just in case you are staying in Paris long enough to get tired of our cheeses and bread, here is a list of our favorite asian eateries:

  • Pho 14, 129 avenue de Choisy, 75013

If you like Vietnamese noodle soups, bo buns and spring rolls, these guys are probably the most efficient for table service and food quality. Definitely a locals spot.

  • Sushi-B Paris, 5 rue Rameau, 75002

Parisians love sushi so much, you can find sushi places at every corner but they are prepare by Chinese families who should just serve their own regional food rather than these bad sushis.

Sushi B is different, and offers the real sushi experience, just like in Tokyo. If you are in the area, walk around Opera Garnier and rue de St Anne for more Ramen and Gyoza experiences.

  • Shan Gout, 22 rue Hector Malot, 75012

Chinese gastronomie, cooked by the owner himself. He uses organic products, no glutamate and serves his cuisine like a real chef. Try the peanut sauce noodle and the duck, also the shrimps are wonderful.

  • Bon Ga, 6 rue Montgallet, 75012

Korean Barbecues and bimbimap place, good for families and big groups but make a booking through La Fourchette website, you might even get a 30% discount!

 

If you are looking for cheap street food, go to Belleville metro station and get a banh mi sandwich on Louis Bonnet or walk up Belleville Street and get a Bao, a Chinese meat or veggie bun from one of the eatery on the right side of the street. Best dumpling place is Guo Xin, and of course Lao Siam for a mix of Asian food, surrounded by hipsters drinking natural wine.

 

Photo is from Bar a Momo Tibetan restaurant, 218 rue du Faubourg Saint Antoine, 75012

Special Diets in Paris

By | Book a tour, Fooding in Paris, Traveling tips

Looking for a gluten free croissant or a vegan cafe au lait?

Only a few places offer these kinds of French specialties for people with food intolerances.

Before gluten was even a thing, we were already eating crepes with buckwheat flour and they are easy to find in any creperie restaurant.

Did you know that gluten is a sort of sugar naturally present in the grain, and when mixed to yeast or sourdough, turns into gaz and helps the bread rise and cook better. Some cereals contains a lot of gluten but some don’t have any, like buckwheat, as it’s technically not a cereal. Therefore, there is no gluten in rice products, buckwheat and quinoa but there is in wheat, barley and rye.

Industrialization made some countries food policies tolerate the use of chemical gluten to replace the needed amount of flour so that bread would rise faster and cost less money. That’s why today so many people are suffering from gluten intolerances.

In France, we were lucky to keep our old traditional bread but also got hit by the gluten wave with the popularity of white bread and other industrialized food.

If you are not celiac or strongly intolerant to gluten, I would suggest to give it a new try when in France, just by eating wholegrain bread, with sourdough.  As bread is originally a fermented product, sourdough is the “living ingredient” full of good bacterias that feed on gluten to produce gaz.

If you are celiac or strongly intolerant to gluten or lactose, then just take notes of all the places mentioned below, they all are linked to the website or Facebook page and you will be able to find them.

If you are in a hurry and don’t feel like looking at maps, just contact me and I will give you a tour of some of the best places to check out.

Near Montparnasse train station, where the trains still take people to Bretagne and the Atlantic Ocean where the crepes are originally from, you will find the biggest concentration of creperies in just one street, rue du Montparnasse.

Although you can find “crepes au nutella” near every monument, touristy area in Paris, they are not as good as the original galette de sarrasin or galette de froment. These places usually make their crepes batter from an industrialized powder and fill them up with Nutella so you are just eating a bomb of chemicals and sugars.

  • Look for the new crepes places Mardi, or Breizh café*, they serve savory and sweet crepes all day and they have different addresses, all close to the center of Paris.

As for pastries, you will find gluten free and vegan options in all the best Coffee Shops of Paris, carrot cakes, brownies or banana bread but if you are looking for French gluten free pastries it’s only at:

For raw food diets, vegan and other super healthy foods, check out

>>>>> Check out this blog We Love Raw if you want to dig deeper.

I guess that if you are vegan or gluten intolerant, you will probably already know that you can find a lot of informations on Instagram but looking for hashtags #glutenfreeinparis or #veganparis but sometimes just one article in a blog can sum it up quite quickly!

I hope this will help people to plan their trip to Paris and not worry about what they will be able to eat because it’s one of these places to travel to for food right?

 

 

Top 5 restaurants for French food in Paris

By | Paris with Locals, Traveling tips

Paris counts more than 20 000 restaurants but even if you are using a guide or internet to find them, it’s always better to follow a local’s advice.

As most Parisians my age would say their favorites restaurants are the asian cantines (see article in our blog), it took me some time to collect these French spots in one article.

I selected these restaurants because they serve fresh cooked food and are not touristy at all so don’t expect to be given an english menu but expect to meet the most charismatic waitress who will try to translate for you.

If you are looking for some specific food or try them all in one day, ask for a food tour!

Another way to visit Paris

By | Traveling tips

Working in the tourism field, it is hard to combine the “customer” demand and the reality of the destination.

You want to see the Eiffel Tower? Fine, just get off at Bir Hakeim metro station and walk your way through the tacky Chinese made souvenirs stalls and wait in the line or take a few selfies to share on Instagram so that everyone see you are in Paris!

It is a beautiful and inspiring monument, but the neighborhood is just so boring! No good restaurant around, no local life, no small shop and then no Parisian living there!

There is a fun article about  the most boring neighborhoods of Paris to the more vibrant. They classify the 15th like one of the worst ones and the 20th like one of the best. There are some exceptions and Paris is always changing so fast so keep an ear out for new openings and read about these great projects:

  • Les Grands Voisins 74, Avenue Denfert-Rochereau in the quiet 14th. This project was born with the creativity and perseverance of a bunch of young architects and a not for profit organisation trying to find emergency hosting in the city. They founded this hospital left empty for already ten years in the dead land of Denfert Rochereau quarter and they asked to take it over until the Mairie de Paris figures out what to do with the space. For three years, Les Grands Voisins, “The Great Neighbors”, have organized so many day time activities, gigs, garage sales, art shows and even set up a camping site for backpackers
  • Ground Control, 80 rue du Charolais, 75012. Huge warehouse, up some stairs by the Gare de Lyon railway station, were the collective Grand Train created an outdoor and indoor cocoon with some recycled furnitures, food trucks and cool shops. They also run a rich program of exhibitions, conferences, gigs, yoga classes, radio shows, and they are also close to some great non profit organisations, always ready to organize new events for raising funds. Check out their pop up space on Champs Elysées !
  • La Gare,1, avenue Corentin Cariou 75019. If you like jazz music and original venues, check out that amazing train station in the North East quarter of Paris after walking by the canal de la Villette and trying the good local beer. For sure one of the coolest spot to go out to in the city.

Paris to Venice on a night train

By | Traveling tips

Since 2011, two of the most beautiful cities in the world, Paris and Venice, are connected by the night train Thello, a private company that decided to give a chance to this way of travelling that is getting abandoned for low cost flights.

Plan your trip online!

Leaving Paris in the early evening, the night train will take you across the Alps to reach Venice at sunrise.

The best way to enjoy the ride is to go wander in the train to the restaurant wagon with a good book and sip some wine before going to sleep in your cabin. Sometimes the train can be full of international travelers, which makes the restaurant very busy. People are often starting a conversation with the person sitting next to them while they are waiting for their meal, which makes the encounters unique.

On week ends, some musicians are playing nice jazz music in the restaurant, and you can enjoy some free samples of French and Italian regional specialties, selected by Nicola from We Deliver Taste company.

Always remember that when you take that train you are in the right mood, because it is not the faster way to travel and you know it so just relax and think about the beautiful landscape of Venice, its bridges, market places, churches, and all the gondoles boats that can take you around the peninsula. You understand why they call it “Serenissima”!

If you get hungry, the tradition is to hop in these small pubs or tapas bar called cicchetteria, where they serve small bites with cheese, fish spread, meat on a piece of bread and of course the popular Spritz, with a bitter liqueur made out of artichokes: Cynar.

Venice has always been visited by merchants from all around the world, and it settled a strong drinking tradition. You can see locals drink wine from morning to dawn, and for us Parisians the prices are so cheap! Dangerous place!

Even though Venice is a very touristic city, like in Paris, it holds many options to get of the crowds and enjoy the quiet streets and gardens, museums and bars that will soon be condensed into a guide that you will be able to download on this website!