Yes, you did read the subject line correctly. I recently spent three weeks in Paris in an apartment I rented online and I will be 81 years old in a few weeks. So many people I know find it hard ----almost impossible----to believe that I actually did the whole trip all by myself . But it all worked out beautifully, with a lot of thanks due to all the travelers who have posted their tips and suggestions on TripAdvisor Paris Forums in the past two years.
I read every single one, cross my heart, and took page after page of notes.So it's only fair that I thank all those who gave their time to wishful travelers like me and now it's my turn to do the same.
My background: I lost my husband suddenly five years ago to a massive cardiac arrest. We were married 55 years . In those early months, I found myself thinking--------Why am I still here? What am I supposed to do? I don't know how to be on my own. And one day a little voice in my head responded sharply, " Well, you had better learn how. " So I turned my mind to learning and I decided to begin traveling to places I had only read about in books. My first trip was a riverboat cruise in Europe in late 2009. Since then I have gone on tours to Australia and New Zealand, Tuscany and Rome, and South Africa. But in late 2012 when I signed up for a seven day cruise on the Seine out of Paris, I decided to splurge and treat myself to an apartment rental for ten days prior to the cruise because seeing Paris was a fantasy I had cherished since high school French class. That's when I started reading all the Paris posts on Trip Advisor.
Well, what happened was this: I purchased a 7 day Paris pass when I arrived there which is good for almost all its museums and historical buildings. It's rather pricey but I knew I would get my money's worth out of it-----and I did. The first day you use the pass is the start of the seven day period for which it is good. Of course that means no day off from museums if you want to get your money's worth. I bought a Navigo Decouverte and used the Metro always. I generally could do only two museums a day but, let's face it, I was 79 years old and I'm sure younger people could do three or even four museums each day, if they timed it right.
Does that sound like fun? No? You got that right; it was exhausting. By the time I had used up the whole seven days of the pass, I could have told you which attractions I had visited----I had made a list and checked them off----but I couldn't remember one from the other. Which one was the Musee d"Orsay again? The one with the Monets? Or was that "L'Orangerie? Yes, of course, I went to the Louvre. Isn't that where you can see Napoleon's Tomb? Oh, no that's the Mona Lisa.
You get the idea. What a waste. What a shame. I LOVED Paris, what I saw of it as I scurried by the outdoor cafes, the great plazas, the inviting parks on my way to yet another museum. And now you can understand why as soon as I got back to the US, I said to myself-------I am going back to Paris as soon as I can. I am going to work on that high school French so I can have petite
conversations with the patrons in the cafes, so that I can wander the neighborhoods , go into churches and just sit, and, best of all, be stopped by Americans looking for directions
And I did. I got lost almost every single day but all-----I say ALL----- the Parisians I spoke to were
charming, friendly an helpful so getting lost was part of the adventure. I will admit that, although I approached them speaking French and they answered me in French, it generally took only a few minutes for them to offer, gently and politely in English, "I think perhaps you prefer to speak English?" After my first week there, i always responded, "Actually,I prefer to speak French. Before coming
to Paris, I spent a few hours almost every day working on my French but it's not very good " And talk of polite! Do you believe that several responded to the previous statement by telling me "Oh,mais non! Votre Francais est tress bien."
By now, you can probably tell the end of MY story. I go online every day and practice my French so that when I go back to Paris again next spring, the Parisians will think I am one of them when we chat in the cafes. A bientot