The show will go on!
Tourist season has officially started in la Belle France (Did it ever stop after last summer and fall?)
By now, everyone understands revenge travel is, indeed, a thing. Visitors come more often and stay longer. Paris, Provence and the French Riviera will soon welcome even larger crowds. Ongoing social unrest hasn’t deterred most travelers. Throw hundreds of thousands of French vacationers into the mix this summer: Peaceful locations will be in demand!
I was in Paris recently prepping for my upcoming tours and was blown away by a fairly new attraction outside Notre-Dame. If you haven’t yet signed up for the 45-minute virtual experience known as “Eternal Notre-Dame” you are missing out. After all, how often will you get to walk around the Ile de la Cité along a long-gone medieval street that leads you to the old Lady’s massive doors? How often will you get to see the cathedral’s jubé (rood screen) destroyed in the 18th century?
This is Paris and the show is around you wherever you look. Step on the new wood bleachers facing the cathedral and do as I did: Watch the world go by.
These entertaining visitors
No matter how many articles get shared on blogs and social media about scams and pickpockets in major European cities, visitors still seem intent on getting themselves in trouble.
When blending in is concerned there are two schools, those who will try (and may succeed) and those who won’t bother. In Paris, there’s a third category: Those who try so hard they are instantly recognizable.
It pains me to see visitors becoming easy prey to scam artists. As a tour guide, I’ve experienced first hand the stress, disappointment and wasted vacation time that always follow.
Sometimes, visitors make me smile. They can be très creative to get that coveted souvenir photo. We can all learn tricks from them.
And the Tourist Creativity Award goes to…
It’s not all bad news of course and most visitors cheer up quickly while savoring a Berthillon ice cream. Is Berthillon the best ice cream in Paris? Peut-être… At the very least, it provides a uniquely French experience: Here’s a business that doesn’t hesitate to shut down during peak tourist season for a few days or a few weeks (Spring break, August, etc.)
Look at it this way: What you are really buying after waiting patiently in that long line on the Ile Saint Louis is delicious ice cream AND a lesson in French life. In situ. Qui dit mieux? Who can beat that?
On the road again
For the next few months, until I take a well-deserved week off at the end of July, I will be traveling around Paris and la Belle France with Rick Steves tour groups, introducing North American travelers not just to France but also to the realities of French life en province (outside Paris.)
Along the way, I’ll continue sharing my French adventures on social media (Facebook, Instagram) when time allows. Tag along if you wish.
My first Rick Steves tour, an 11-day extravaganza named “Paris and the Heart of France” wrapped up earlier this week. I’ll be leading this tour again later this month. It’s a fast-paced, popular itinerary that showcases the diversity of France.
It’s time to wrap up. I am back in Tours for a few days and there’s some catching up (and exploring) to do, not to mention a few guided visits to lead!
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