The first thing we noticed about Paris was the fact that the Metro stations are definitely not built for people with luggage, or disabled people. There were no lifts going down to the train platform, so we had to lug our luggage up and down a heap of stairs. It made me glad that the only extra luggage we picked up in London was some chocolate frogs, a T-shirt, and some breakfast foods. Getting to our hotel was really straightforward, as it was just a short train-ride away – once we worked out how the Metro ticketing system worked (thank you very much Triposo Paris app!).
The first big hurdle we encountered was our lack of French. We tried to go out for dinner and the first few restaurants we went to had menus that were entirely in French, so we had no idea what to order. Plus, a lot of them seemed to have lots of smokers outside, so we moved on for cleaner air. It was also quite unfortunate that the place we stayed at was called Place d’Italie, which as it turns out, seems to be some kind of Little Italy, and there were so many Italian restaurants around. The Italy leg of our trip seemed so far away as we walked by Italian restaurant after Italian restaurant. Eventually, we found a place not far from our hotel that had an English menu.
MrFodder tells me that Paris is built on a kind of hexagonal structure, where there will be a central roundabout, and the streets kinda branch out from there, with rings of streets that go further and further out. As with London, the train network is amazing, and it’s so easy to get from one place to another. The tickets you buy seem to be 2-hour tickets, and you can catch any train in the network in that time period. Each hex seems to have a station. In fact, there seem to be stations everywhere. One thing that did trip us up was that the map that was given to us from the hotel had a much smaller scale than the one we got from London. Things that were walking distance on the London map were much much further away on the Paris map.
I have to say, the first dinner we had in Paris was amazing. Even though pretty much everything in Paris is trying to kill me – it was hayfever season, and good luck finding something to eat that doesn’t have dairy, eggs or nuts in it – I have to say that almost everywhere we went in Paris smelled delicious. The places that didn’t smell delicious smelled like stale urine, so I’m hoping the delicious smells weren’t just overriding the stale urine smells, but it was just so nice to walk down a street of restaurants and smell heaven.
Paris definitely gives a great first impression.