Wednesday, November 14, 2012

A Paris Refresher for Traveling with a Baby

The Eiffel Tower from Les Ombres restaurant on top of the Musee du Quai Branly
Ah, the sport of travel.  Perhaps my favorite sport of all time.  I don't golf, play tennis or meet friends for bridge.  I save my time and money for traveling.  Nothing refreshes my soul or or energizes my spirit like getting the heck out of Dallas.  We're heading to Paris one week from today.  We're taking Jordan (a challenge itself) but I am looking forward to spending full days with her, something I never get to do in Texas while working.

While I'm good about assimilating into the local practices whenever I travel, I revisited my observations from my last trip to Paris in the summer of 2010.  I learned a valuable lesson from a bartender, that has really stuck with me, in town or out of it.
Harry's American Bar
My crash course in French culture came to life in, of all places, Harry's American Bar.  Cliche spot to drink, I know, but we stumbled across it and were thirsty.  It was dead empty save for the bartender, a Frenchmen named Gerard, and a British man who now lives in Paris.  We gave our customary "Bonjour" to both men and went to the bar.  We waited for Gerard, who was sharing a glass of champagne with the expat Brit, to come to us at the bar to ask for our order.  We ordered our champagne and thanked him. 

A couple of glasses later, the expat Brit left for his family's Sunday dinner and Gerard was deep in conversation with us.  About this time, an American couple walks in wearing jeans, tennis shoes and, yes, dual fanny bags worn tightly around their waists.  Already fitting the stereotype the gentleman barks "two Bloody Mary's!".

"You can always tell the Americans," Gerard whispers to me.  "They never say hello, please or thank you.

A great, yet basic lesson: manners!  Politeness is something every grandmother tells us to practice, yet it's forgotten in our harried world.  While graciousness and manners should be exhibited daily, traveling avec l'enfant is the absolute perfect time to be extra diligent about being polite, particularly when she's screaming.

Here are a few photos I stumbled across from our last hop across the pond.  They can occasionally cure my travel bug.

If you have any fabulous new suggestions, please share!
Arc de Triomphe

Monks at the Louvre

Jean-Michel Othoniel's Metro Station Kiosque des Noctambules (kiosk of the night-walkers)

I love their street signs