What’s the one book you will never read? “Paris on a Budget.” Budget? Trust me, you are going to be taken deep in Paris. It’s only a matter of whether you want your financial goose roasted or fried, but it is most definitely going to be cooked. Dollar conversion is the killer. President Bush spent America into a ditch. President Obama is spending America into a crater. Both presidencies have been an abject failure. The politically tuned-in Fed has gunned the digital printing presses and, in the process, debased the currency. All the spending, debt and printing has translated into a dollar conversion rate that makes a trip to France, never mind Switzerland (makes Paris seem like a bargain), one expensive undertaking.
You, like most of us, have a certain amount of money to spend, thus choices must be made. Once you have been to France, my guess is that you will agree that the additional expense is worth it. I have heard it said for years that the French do not like Americans and are hard to get on with. Without reservation I will tell that this is nuts. If you show up in sweats, white Reeboks, a baseball cap and a ‘tude, your ticket will get punched, and especially so if you have made no effort to speak some passable French. Yes, many in Paris speak English, but the French are all about protocol and a slovenly appearance and a loud and demanding demeanor is not appreciated.
The hotel staff at five star French hotels is without equal. There is no way I can properly convey to you the warmth and professional skill at hotels like Hotel Lutetia, Hotel Ritz Paris and Le Bristol. In fact the multi-lingual staff at Le Bristol were dressed so splendidly and acted with such aplomb that the staff made the guests by comparison look like a squad of bowling ally attendants and gunrunners. And this crowd often arrives in a stretch limo, debarking as if they have just exited an all-day NFL tailgating trashing.
OK, so you know in advance that a trip to Paris in no way should be considered a budget outing. And you will promise yourself that you will not take center stage in Paris in sweats and sneaks. And no fanny packs or you may as well tack an Ugly American sign to your back. Finally, promise yourself that you will work on your French greetings, bistro wording and directions. No, you do not need to turn into Mr. French, guy, but a rudimentary foundation of French will get you a long, long way with the most gracious and professional hosts in the world. I promise you will find this to be so.
Now then, click here for some great books that will help you on your way. My suggestion is that you buy all your books in kindle format from your Amazon account for download to your iPad or Kindle. If you do not own an iPad, I would do so. I have offered powerful warning against checking luggage, which you simply will not be able to wrestle with on the high-speed French TGV trains. Hence no room for books. And yes, you want to take a high-speed rail trip. In my next post, I’ll detail for you from A to Z where to go first and, how long to stay, where to stay, where to eat, what days not to travel (you’ll owe me big for this tip) and exactly how to execute your majestic rail adventure. Start planning today because you simply are going to France, are you not?
Debbie and I recently went back to Paris, our new European base, for many reasons, including our desire to be there for a first-hand look at the presidential election process, visits to realtors (executed well enough with our clutch and grab French), discussion on the fate of the euro, and investing in Burgundy. All were accomplished with great success. And I will unfold the story on each as I proceed with this series of posts.
One dare not venture forth on the trail gastronamia sans Hungry For Paris by former Gourmet magazine European correspondent Alexander Lobrano. Not only is Alex aces on bistros and brasseries, but he is also one great writer and funny guy. We had dinner with Alex one night courtesy our friend David Lebovitz, who presides over what are simply Paris’ most mouth-watering chocolate/food tours. Lucky you if you can squeeze into a D.L. Paris gourmet tour.
Here is a sample of writing Lobrano style from Alex’s feature on Le Balzar (pg.125). “And most memorably, to the right, a solid woman in a marbled tweed suit of autumn colors—pheasant, maize, vermillion, scarlet—who ate every scoop on her plate, burped deeply and proudly without excusing herself, and paid only the most occasional notice to her faded-looking husband, After a coffee and a small cognac, the unabashedly privileged creature belched again and then bid the waiter adieu while loudly noting that she would certainly return again soon in the hopes of eavesdropping on such an astonishing conversation as ours, a remark of such cunningly serrated snideness it took one’s breath away with admiration and horror.” Vintage Lobrano!
Next up, get our friend David Lebovitz’s The Sweet Life In Paris (and check in regularly at davidlebovitz.com). You’ll also want your own copy of Hotel Lutetia Paris, Parisian Hideaways (Casey O’Brien Blondes), and The Little Black Book Of Paris The Essential Guide to the City of Light (A beautiful little self-contained reference).
Ready to go yet? You will be after my next three posts. Have a splendid trip to The City of Light. And oh yes, plan to stay twice as long as you originally thought possible. Once you get to Paris and set out on your high-speed rail adventure (with my complete assistance and support), a smile will come to your face reflecting your astuteness.