I’m going to stick up for the French in Paris here, because everyone seems to think the French are a**holes. This was my second trip to Paris. The first trip my sister and I bunked up in a “bed & breakfast” (room in some ladys flat). She was nice & friendly, gave us space where we required but was there to cook breakfast at the exact time she promised, offer help with anything we needed, and gave us good directions around the city. My second time in Paris I got lost in the metro with a friend, and found myself asking the same stupid questions as last time regarding connections and directions. Then it occured to me, that the locals are probably sick of answering the same stupid questions for me and millions of other tourists on a daily basis. It’s so overcrowded and uncomfortable in their metro – let’s give them a break.
Another thing, if you ask a local a question and they don’t understand they’ll likely say “what” instead of “sorry I do not understand, can you rephrase?”. When we Canadians hear “what?!” its so blunt that we take it as rude. But most French are nice people and although inconvenient, they’re happy to help, and certainly don’t mean to sound rude.
There is so much to do in Paris, you could easily spend a week there. In my short time in Paris I visited the Arc d Triumph, Eiffel Tower, Louvre, Seine River, Notre Dame Cathedral, Moulin Rouge and the Montmarte, among others. We got lost finding the Père Lachaise Cemetery where Jim Morrison of The Doors is burried but unfortunately by the time we found it they were closing up, and we barely got a chance to walk around.
If you find the Moulin Rouge, there is a cabaret right next door that looks like a friendly place. My friend and I have never been to a cabaret in Paris before, and the Moulin Rouge was expensive and had a massive lineup, so we went into this place close by. We paid 20 euro to get in, which included a drink. We entered, it was empty, we ordered a drink from the bartender/waitress, drank it, and were prepared to leave. For a second we had a feeling that dancing girls would come on stage with their boas and do the can-can or something, but the place was dead like as if they weren’t even open yet and let us in early. So right as we’re about to get up and leave, 2 women sit down beside us without identifying or introducing themselves. They asked where we were from, how long we have been in Paris, blah blah blah then asked if we would buy them a drink. Although we were on our way out, we didn’t want to be rude so we said OK and goodbye at the same time – we called the waitress to bring the ladies 2 drinks and then we proceeded to the bar to pay for their drinks and leave. When the wiatress handed us a bill for 200 euros we knew we were now “those guys” who just got screwed and now have a new sucker story to tell. If it weren’t for the intimidation factor of being in an establishment most likely run by the mafia, we would have told the waitress/bartender where to go and split like a banana. The charge was 60 euros each for the ladies “time” speaking with us, and 40 euros each for their drinks. Don’t go there.
Warned by security the minute we got off the train in Marseille, we had our heads on a swivel. This place was sketchy and a likely place to get not only ripped off, but flat out robbed, mauled or mugged. I must say that I did not feel safe at all or trust a single soul in Marseilles. Not even in a restaurant or in our hotel. In fact, the only time I felt 100% safe was on a boat leaving the Marseille port for the Chateau D’if island. That being said, the are a few highlights that were pretty amazing experiences. One is the Notre Dame, which is a long up-hill walk with an outstanding view of the city. Another is the tour of the Chateur D’if island, a must see if you’re a fan of the Counte of Monte Cristo. Lastly, the ride TO Marseille from Italy is awesome – with great views of the mediterranean and lots of worthwhile stops along the way. Other than that, there wasn’t much to do or see in Marseilles.