Jeanne Koré Salvato

his is a love letter to foreigners and friends alike who want to visit Paris.

At the end of a short story Laurie Moore once wrote for the New Yorker about a traumatic subject, she said, “Ok, now where’s my money?” Right there in the story, she said that.  Well!  So please be advised that at the end of this post, I’m a gonna ask, “Ok now where’s your name on the sign up?” I especially picked this post for that request because I’m a gonna give your friends tips to get ready to visit you in Paris. You’re welcome.

Notre Dame de Paris pre-fire with spire intact

Now this might remind you of pre-paid, which it sort of is.  And the sub-heading here is paperwork.  The sub-sub heading is planning, if you don’t live in France. Nothing so far is interesting, except for the Paris part and the France part.

  • Passport.  Months ahead.
  • Navigo. [Naa vie go] The Navigo Weekly Pass (Navigo Semaine) “may be the best option for tourists visiting Paris for more than three days, provided a few things.” And I quote:

–“You are arriving in Paris before Thursday at midnight.”  [Seriously? We arrange our travel according to the Navigo schedule.] and “You are planning to use public transit several times a day.” [Just buy the damn thing]

–“It costs €30.75 for seven days of transit across the entire Paris metro system, including Metro, RER, trams, buses, and even the Montmartre funicular.” [Brilliant]

–“The downside to Navigo weekly passes is that they are only valid Monday at 12:01 a.m. through Sunday at midnight, and can only be purchased for the current week until Thursday at midnight.” [These people watched Cinderella too many times.]

–“After that, if you buy a Navigo weekly pass, it will only be valid starting the following Monday.”

–They forgot to tell you that you need to buy a Navigo pass at the ticket window and then go to a photobooth to get a photo they will tuck in the card, and then it’s time to pay and they will help you at the window.  Sometimes they run out and you have to go to another one. Totally worth it, people.

  • Phone.  Now here you need to call your carrier and pay whatever it costs to get data.  You’ll need your GPS and you’ll need Uber to have your back.  I purchased a new phone so I could use an e-sim, but I was recently there for a month.  I will spare you the headache that involved.
  • Euros. Get 100 euros from your bank before you go.  Call your bank to say you’re travelling.

READER: Despair.
ME: Ah, well, you can say you heard it here.  France and paperwork go hand in hand. Once you know what to do, though, things simplify and you can get out and about. And be filled with the wonder that is Paris.
READER:  If I last that long.

Welcome to Paris. Take a taxi to your hotel.  This part is easy.  At the airport, you’ll be sent to designated taxis at a fixed price, and off you go.  (This arrangement is to guard against Ubers at the airport.) Then, go for a walk.  Best way to get over jet lag.  If you pass a metro station, big enough to have a ticket counter and a photo booth to get this taken care of, in you go!  Otherwise, do it in the morning. Also, get yourself a metro map.

Even if Paris is on the other side, packing is about the worst thing ever.  Can you make do with a carry on?  The answer to this is yes, unless you are staying more than three weeks.  Joys of a carry on include the following:

  1. They are small so you can’t overpack.
  2. They are small and you can lug them around.
  3. See numbers 1 and 2 above.

You may not realize because I have such an open ended approach to things, and love alternatives and don’t make decisions that fast, and have trouble leaving the house because of this and that –you may be surprised to see me in the guise of the commandant here.

Women:  do not wear sneakers.

READER:  I am clutching my pearls.
ME:  I mean get some pretty Sketchers.  They are sneakers without being sneakers. 

Men and Women:  ditch the backpack.  Nothing shouts tourist like the backpack and sneakers.

Women can get a big purse to put the water bottle in.  Men and women can wear something called a sling bag.  I would also get a small pouch with a string to carry around your neck.  Put a credit card in there and euros.

READER:  Why do I not want to shout tourist?
ME: By so easily jumping into a stereotype, you won’t be warmly welcomed.

A long-sleeved button down white blouse.  You can layer that with a sweater.  Let the blouse stick out underneath.  Jeans. Trousers, two pairs.  If it’s summer, capris.  A fitted jacket for when it gets cool.  Underwear.  A couple of tops, long sleeved and short. 

May I suggest both men and women look put together?  What does this mean?  Well, in practical terms, it means that your clothes go with one another.  Let’s start with the women. A black long-sleeved Tee goes with jeans and oatmeal-colored trousers. The red top goes with the black trousers and with the jeans and with the oatmeal-colored trousers.   People tend to wear more fitted clothes in Paris.  When I first came back to the States, I couldn’t get over the jeans and Tee shirts and sneakers.  This was it.  What did the top do for the jeans?  Well, nothing that I could see.

What do you think? Is it you?

Don’t stop there!  Pack accessories.  A thin scarf, a flashy necklace.  Stacked bracelets.  Think hair accessories also.  Buy a snazzy purse when you arrive.

READER: In short, Why?
ME: Paris is the fashion capital of the world. People wear what we would consider dressier clothes.  They think head to toe when they go out.  Now that you have been awakened to the possibility of being put-together yourself, enjoy what the French have got going on their bodies.

This link is dumb, but aren’t they all?  It’s a start.

In a book called In Praise of Failure, there’s a great Beckett quote.  Before I tell you the quote, though, I want to cheer you up if you feel you have failed already in developing a fashion sense.  Think life-long learning.  And off you go to kindergarten.  Some of us have these skills naturally. 

I had a friend visiting once who looked so like a French woman that the airport staff started talking to her in French.  Perhaps this will not happen.  Perhaps you will have to go to Paris a second time and a third.  Meanwhile, console yourself with Beckett’s ideas about failing.  “Try again. Fail again. Better again.  Or better worse. Fail worse again. Still worse again.”

And remember, don’t forget to sign up! 

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