After a full week in Paris, Kongo made it safely home. After a long, long night’s sleep his little monkey head is clearing and he is no longer saying “bonjour” to everyone he meets but he already misses Paris. He misses eating dinner at midnight, sleeping until 10, grabbing a flaky pastry and white coffee at a little cafe across the street, bottle(s) of wine with dinner, eating a la carte, and riding the Metro. While the weather could have been better (it rained every day) and the temperature warmer (but that gave the monkey an excuse to wear a scarf) Paris was absolutely wonderful and several misconceptions were busted during his short visit there. Let me tell you about it.
The French are friendly! Who knew? Before Paris, Kongo shared a misperception with many Americans that Parisians were rude and that if you didn’t speak French you would be ignored. After meeting dozens of Parisians Kongo can safely say that is just pure baboon s**t! Everyone he met, whether it be people on the street, waiters, hotel staff, shop keepers, museum guides, or actually anybody, was friendly and polite. Now everyone generally likes monkeys but this went beyond that. English is commonly spoken (albeit with a charming accent) and all it takes to start a conversation is a “bonjour” and hearing the monkey’s fractured French accent, people would invariably switch to English. You didn’t need to say howdy, hi, hey, dude, or anything but a simple “bonjour.”
Getting around is easy. Much of Paris is tight little streets scattering in all directions at crazy angles. Traffic is crazy. But walking is easy and the Metro is wonderful. The best investment to a happy time in Paris is to get a multi-day Metro pass. Just get on any metro and you can get to just about anywhere else in the center city or suburbs. Sometimes you have to change lines mid-route but that’s part of the fun. Plus, most metro stations have little shops and places where you can grab a pastry. Once you get the knack of it the maps are laid out logically and in the event you head in the wrong direction, just get off at the first stop and go the other way! Kongo did a lot of metro riding and only lost Mrs. Kongo once, the last night, when the monkey sprinted ahead thinking his beloved was close behind only to see the doors close and there was Mrs. Kongo with a look akin to a child losing her teddy bear waving goodbye. Luckily all worked out well but it’s a good idea to have a contingency plan should this event happen to you.
Of course there are other ways to get around as well. Taxis are common but Kongo only used a cab once and that was to get back to the airport to come home. He did take a hop-on/hop off bus on the first day to get an overview and that turned out to be a smart monkey move. One evening the monkey hired a little 1955 Citroen to drive him about some nice places in Montmartre and old Paris and that was fun too.
Kongo also took an evening cruise on the Seine which is a great way to see Paris at night and the lights are wonderful.
All in all walking is one of the best ways to get around Paris and Kongo did a lot of walking. There are 27 bridges in Paris and Kongo walked many of them. They are beautiful.
You can’t swing a short vine in Paris without finding a beautiful view. There is eye candy just about everywhere you look. Gargoyles on the churches, balustrades on the buildings, quaint little streets, cobblestones, and sidewalks. Around almost every corner is a surprise.
Kongo also recommends going alone and not with a tour or at least stay with a tour that is small. Kongo is naturally adverse to large tours because you’re bound by the slowest member in the group and you get trapped if you find yourself someplace and wish your were somewhere else. Paris is great for exploring on your own. An occasional tour guide is great but read a guide book, take a map, and just take off. It’s easy.
Travel safe. Have fun.