This week, Secrets of Paris Guinea Pigs Amy and Kim (from the beautiful city of Minneapolis) are the subject of case study #1. If you recall, in my first article in this series, I made three general recommendations on how to successfully do Paris in a week. These savvy women had only five days.
To start off, I have to say that I’m jealous as heck! Amy & Kim (henceforth A&K) arrive, along with their luggage, sans problème at Charles de Gaulle Airport. They then proceed to successfully use a calling card to telephone me and arrange to meet me at the Opera steps. They find the unpronounceable Roissybus, and meet me right on time, looking ever-so-much like the natives in their chic black hats and sunglasses (all of the natives wear sunglasses, especially if it looks as if it’s about to rain, which it did). They then proceeded to ignore all of my suggestions, and have an absolute blast in doing so! Let’s see how they did it!
Gov. Ventura Invents Anti-Jetlag Cure! The first suggestion I gave to the readers was to get some sleep after arrival, thus avoiding jetlagged eyelids at 4pm. A&K arrived at 1pm, and didn’t make one sleepy face until about 10pm. And in case you think we all sat around sipping Perrier and watching FashionTV, you’re wrong. In their first nine hours, A&K helped me with the food shopping, went to the inner belly of Les Halles RER station to buy Kim a train ticket to Lyon, ruffled through the racks at H&M, stared into the windows at Prada and Armani and bought postcards outside Notre Dame. I took the bus with them to Sèvres-Babylone and watched in awe as they commenced some of the most impressive power shopping I have ever seen along rue du Four, rue du Dragon, and at the Viahero store behind the Pompidou Center. Clothes, handbags, gourmet tea, makeup—nothing was safe. We all had the delicious double-decker éclairs called Réligieuse from the pastry shop, grilled sandwiches at the San Francisco Muffin Co., thick hot chocolates served by a Marseillais in authentic costume on the terrace at rue de Seine, and ‘discount’ priced dinner crêpes at Chiens Chauds on rue St. Denis from a very friendly server who tried to marry Amy off to his brother. Then I dragged them over to The Cruiscin to hear our friend Barry sing and meet the very non-French gang. Two drinks later, and it was time to tuck everyone, including me, into bed. The next morning, they were up at 8:30am. I don’t know what they have in the water out there in Minnesota, but I want some!
How to Do Paris in Three Days In suggestions #2 and #3, I recommended forgetting about trying to see all of the museums and every last monument in town. A&K, being slightly older and wiser than myself, take off at the crack of daylight (about 9am) and buy themselves three-day museum passes. Starting off from the Pompidou Center, they walk to the Louvre, manage to get in four whole hours and lunch, then walk all of the way through the Tuilleries, past the Obelisk at Concorde, and up the Champs Elysées to the top of the Arc de Triomphe! Then Kim hops on a TGV to Lyon (remember, she got the ticket the night before) to see a friend, and Amy goes to the top of the Pompidou. When Kim returns the next morning, they proceed to see the Musée d’Orsay, the Picasso Museum, and despite my horror story of the two hour wait to get up AND down, they go to the Eiffel Tower. These gals are pretty tired, so they check out an easy and quick dinner at the Yakitori Grill on rue St. Martin, in the Quartier d’Horloge. On the last day they do Notre Dame and the towers, the Musée Rodin, and Sacre Cœur (lots of stairs). For dinner, Mr. Hall and I book them a table at the super-trendy 404 Restaurant near Arts et Métiers. Needless to say, each day these gals manage a few more shopping bags full of wine, jewellery, and cheese (I tell them they’ll have to eat it or surrender it to customs, so they kindly left it behind for Mr. Hall and me).
Trials and Tribulations Not all went according to plan, but these scrappy Mid-Westerners can take it! First, they get caught in rush hour crowds in the Metro. A gets separated from K into a different car, and they almost get off at separate stops, but a frantically waving A and a fast-movin’ K avert the disaster. Later, they attempt to go to the Duc des Lombard Jazz Club, which I called hours earlier to make sure they accepted Visa, but when they arrive, the card machine is out of order. They forget about it and hustle over to the famous Les Bains Discotheque, where they don’t accept cards at all. This time they go get cash and return to dance ‘till 3am.
The Last Supper…and a trip to the pharmacie On their last full day, A&K actually sleep in to a respectable 11am. It’s sunny out, so they hit the Marché aux Puces, the famous flea markets, and then tour around in style on one of the large Batomouches on the Seine. They brave the crowds at the massive Galeries Lafayette department store, bringing back some goodies from the Lafayette Gourmet Shop. Since it is the final evening, A&K join Mr. Hall and me for some wine and cheese and baguette before dinner. We eat at the Krockodile at Châtelet, a very campy kind of place where the waiters were dressed as construction workers (it was hard to tell if they were in the middle of renovations, or if the place always had ladders and paint cans everywhere). After dinner, Mr. Hall and I went to the new Onyx Bar on rue des Lombards, and A&K decided to get some rest and pack up. But poor Amy, her sock decided to give her an itchy rash on her ankle, which, despite the eve of her return, needed immediate help. As they described it to me later, Team A&K used a bit of French, a bit of English, and a lot of gesturing to get what they needed at the late-night Pharmacie on blvd Sabastopol. Whether or not the remedy stopped the itching, I think they should have it bronzed and put on a string—as a medal of bravery and persistence. They have seen more in Paris in five days than I saw in the first two years living here. Bravo! Just goes to show, sometimes a little bit of discouragement is all someone needs to spur them on and prove everyone (but especially me), wrong.
Now I’m going to email Amy back in Minneapolis, just to make sure she hasn’t slipped into a post-Paris crise de foie!
This article is one of the 78 original “Secrets of Paris” articles published between September 1999 and July 2004. After disappearing into the internet graveyard for almost 15 years, I’ve republished them in autumn 2019 to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Secrets of Paris: “1999-2019: Twenty Years of the Secrets of Paris” Broken and dead links have been updated or deactivated, but otherwise the article remains unchanged.