|France trip day 1 - Paris
||[Jun. 26th, 2018|02:28 pm]
|[||Tags|||||disney, disney store, fail, fashion, food, france, haul, paris, photography, public transport, rant, rude people, shopping, steampunk, travel, trip report||]|
Earlier this month, Bert and I went off to France for three days. Doing a different thing each of those three days.
On the first day we visited the capital.
Bert had decided he didn’t want to leave for Paris after we were able to get into our hotel room at noon and leave the bags in the actual room (rather than in the car or a luggage room), so we left the house at 6am instead of 5am. Which turned out to be a bit of a mistake, because it meant we got stuck in traffic tons of times. With two stops (I got car sick) and all the being stuck on the roads, it took us nearly 6 hours instead of 4 to get to the hotel. Pretty sure the satnav/GPS screwed us over driving to Champs-sur-Marne too… As many people that have been around on this blog for a while know: I have very little love for our current TomTom. But yeah, took us forever to get there.
The staff at the Ibis of Champs-sur-Marne was super nice and professional though. They had a few rooms that were already available, even though it wasn’t exactly noon yet, so they gave us a nice quiet one on the second floor and let us go on a little early, which was super sweet of them. We got the bags out of the car, left them in the room, grabbed what we wanted to take to Paris and went on our way. Well, we did ask for directions to the RER station at the reception.
Cité Descartes in Champs-sur-Marne is a super nice area. It’s quiet, with a variety of things to eat, a supermarket and an RER station in walking distance. And it’s quiet, much quieter than Paris! Plus you can get a direct connection into both Paris and Disneyland Paris via the RER, so that’s why we chose to go there. Sure, an Ibis isn’t immense luxury, as the rooms are super small (thing Japan style small, although ironically, our room in the Ibis Shinjuku was at least twice the size of this one). But they are peaceful and clean and that’s pretty much all we’re looking for.
So yeah, we got on the RER for Auber. Unlike most RER stations in France, this one had a ticket desk manned by NICE and HELPFUL people! So that was great. If anyone’s wondering, it costs you €8,90 return. Which isn’t dirt cheap, and it just gets you to Auber, but if you, like us, want to walk around from there, it’s really affordable.
So to Auber we went. I like the RER MUCH more than the metro. As the metro is generally smelly and rickety, whilst the RER is more like a train and much cleaner and comfortable. We wanted go to Auber station specifically because it’s the one right underneath Les Galeries Lafayette, and we wanted to go to their observation deck.
You have to go through another ridiculous false sense of security bag check (the kind where they ask you to open your handbag and just stare at the contents without really looking for 3 seconds and ignore everything else you’re packing, in my case a large totebag and a backpack) and through the store to get to the observation deck, but once you’re there it’s pretty cool. You can even see the Eiffel tower.
The weather was rather dreary so we didn’t spend that much time up there, but we did take a bunch of photos :).
Whilst we took some photos inside the Galeries, because it is a very neat building, we didn’t actually go shopping there a whole lot.
We only popped into the Disney Store, because if they had everything we wanted, we could just NOT go to the ones on the Champs-Elysées. But whilst I did find two things on my list, we had no luck with the others.
What I hate about a Disney Store, any Disney Store, is that when you go up to the register to pay, and you explicitly tell them you want nothing else (because they WILL try to sell you all sorts of stuff on “promotion”), they will STILL try to sell you something else, sometimes quite aggressively so. I also do NOT appreciate having to answer a slew of questions of where I’m from. Just answering Belgium should be enough. Seriously. The chick was clearly also not in any mood to work, it took her forever to even show up to allow me to pay and then it took me ages to make it clear that NO I DID NOT WANT THE UGLY BAG ON PROMOTION! Goddammit! For the record, I didn’t say ugly bag, I said I didn’t want it because I already had a Mickey Mouse bag (even held up my tote and showed it) and that one was plenty. Clearly, she disagreed.
I love Disney but seriously, I have little love for their stores left by now (unless they are the Harajuku or Shibuya stores, as the staff there is friendly and does not try to sell you anything else when you state you’re good at check out).
When I asked her how to best walk to the Champs Elysées she literally laughed in my face and said “hah, who walks, take the metro”.
So I asked another staff member, who was SUPER friendly and happy to explain to me how to walk there. He did mention it was a 35 minute walk, but in a “just so you know” kind of way, not in a “what are you trying to do crazy person” kind of way. So at least 1 out of 3 staffers was kind, because the other guy at the register was about as motivated as the chick ringing me up.
So yeah, we WALKED to the Champs Elysées, because being in the metro is no fun to start with, and we actually wanted to see parts of Paris, thank you very much! These are some photos we took along the way.
We briefly stopped in a PAUL bakery to get food, where when it was Bert’s turn, the lady took my order and disappeared before pointing him at the other guy at the register area. Who took ONE look at Bert’s pink hoodie, and point blank said “oh no I’m just handling the payments, you have to order with my colleagues”. Said colleagues were suddenly all conveniently busy, whilst they KNEW he was in the queue behind me and still they expected him to just queue again! If it hadn’t been for the fact that they had already taken my order, and I didn’t want to cause a scene (Bert had walked out, and rightfully so) I would have told them to stuff it and walked out too. But the place was crowded and neither of us wanted public drama. Taste bretzels and benoitons (big old bread sticks) with olives are NOT worth this kind of BS, and I will NEVER go to that PAUL again. EVER. On principle. Fucktards.
Bert ended up getting a double cheese hot dog from a food stand in a park on the way to the Champs-Elysées, which was apparently very questionable when it came to food hygiene. I was worried he’d get sick, but luckily he didn’t. I wouldn’t advice ordering from these food kiosks though, EVER. It’s Russian roulette with E.Coli etc.
But yeah, we walked through a park, ate on a bench and saw the hugest Cardoon plants ever. I had no idea they could grow this big, but now I want some for our garden, hell yes!
We doubted getting into Les Tuileries first, and then decided to quickly go to the Champs Elysées first, as they were only 5 minutes away and I just wanted to go to two stores. We did stop across the street from Place de la Concorde to take photos, only to have some military douche shout at us we couldn’t stop there to take photos.
1. The street at that point is NOT part of the embassy, so we CAN stop there.
2. Is your life and job so sad you have to chase away tourists?
3. I FUCKING HATE PARIS (I really, really do).
Bert insisted we walk on because he didn’t feel like getting arrested (which I understand) but I was fuming by then. Paris is loud, obnoxious, and literally 70% of the people we had encountered in Paris proper (not Champs-sur-Marne) were rude AF to one or both of us for no reason other than they could.
The Champs-Elysées itself was, of course, because it’s the main shopping street, really full of rude shits. And luckily it was a weekday, I would NOT go near the Champs on a Saturday, no way. But we made it into the Disney Store, with more false sense of security checks (because clearly, why hide a bomb in a tiny handbag when there are clearly so many BETTER options, I can think of several without even trying. Lucky for the world I have ZERO interest in terrorism in any way, shape or form). We wandered around for a bit, but didn’t find what we were looking for. I did find a super cute Mickey Mouse bag charm. And of course it took FOREVER to pay for it, because whilst the store was FULL, only three out of like 10 total (on two floors) registers were open and they went uber SLOOOOOW because, of course, the staff kept on trying to sell folks stuff that was in promotion. On the upside, the girl at the register that was ringing me up was too distracted by my hamburger Mickey bag and telling me about her visit to Tokyo Disneyland than to try to sell me stuff I really didn’t want. And she really was super nice. So that was good.
As you’re not technically allowed to take photos in the store, I only got that super sneaky super-fast (hence the blur) one of the Maleficent decor.
So yeah, that only took about 3 times (at least) as long as it should have…
I did wonder whether the bag charm was worth it, but then I saw the cute face and figured that it was so cheery that yes, it absolutely was. Bert disagrees with me though.
Next stop was the Sephora, which turned out to be only like 5 doors down, so that was great! And full of chaos. The security guy there was the first (yes, they are that attentive) to notice I was carrying a backpack. I told him he was welcome to check it, but he’d have to open it himself. He literally gave me a look of “are you kidding me” and said “no that’s fine, go in”. Security in France, ladies and gentlemen…
The Sephora was, as expected, a hot mess of chaos and crowds. I had a shopping list, because I knew that in that kind of chaos I would get mega confused and would forget to buy half of the stuff I needed/wanted. We found one thing really fast (the metallic lipstick by Sephora) but everything else was eluding us. So I decided to ask one of the shop assistants that was doing NOTHING but stand there gossiping with a colleague. And yes, I asked her very politely, because contrary to most of Paris (and it might not seem so from this post but I really do!), I have manners. She gave me the stink eye for my audacity to ask her to do her job and then told me to follow her. To another colleague who was at least a little friendlier, but also not very motivated to do her job, and just tried to sell me things I didn’t want instead to get rid of me. Such a pleasant experience. Not. She did help me find the Too Cool For School night cream I wanted (the Pumpkin Sleeping Pack), so that was something.
So Bert decided he was going to make it his mission to find a black Beauty Blender, which they claimed was out of stock. He came back with one about 5 minutes later (the display he found it at still had 3). At that point I had found the Too Faced counter and HALLELUJAH, the girl working there was SUPER friendly. She immediately shade matched me to the Born this Way concealer like I asked, gave me all the information about it that I needed to know and took the time to answer all my questions. A+ service from her, legit!
Bert decided he was going to wait in the one quiet spot in the store, at the men’s perfume section. And I went and searched for the last things I needed and then joined the queue. Which was super slow too because, you guessed it: far too few manned registers for the amount of people trying to pay. There was another register next to the one I was, which I, oblivious as I am, didn’t notice ‘till it was nearly my turn in line (turns out there was ONE more black Beauty Blender at the register isle of doom, so even if Bert hadn’t found one, I would have, and it was a whole little section of them, so even if I had taken another colour, I could have just swapped them). That register was for Sephora Gold card holders only, but it wasn’t that well indicated (the sign was pretty high up, so a lot of people missed it in the chaos due to it not being at eye-level, and it looked like just another register) and everyone else that showed up there got legit snapped and shouted at by the rudest shop guy EVER! It was seriously not ok, and one lady, rightfully so in my opinion, just put her basket down and walked out stating she didn’t come to the shop to get treated like that. All the power to her!
But yeah, the shop assistant ringing me up was the sweetest, which made my visit (together with the Too Faced girl) bearable at least.
Bert had decided to move from his spot (probably because it had suddenly gotten very crowded) and I thought he might have gone outside to wait for me there (which he often does), so I told the security that I was just going to see if my husband was waiting for me outside, but I might be coming it right away. One said that he totally understood. The other one nodded and, you guessed it, CHECKED MY BAG AGAIN EVEN THOUGH I AS OUTSIDE FOR 20 SECONDS, IN HIS LINE OF SIGHT! Like: seriously I get it, your job is boring AF, but come the fuck on, you’re making it a total joke! Where would I even get a bomb or weapon? INSIDE THE STORE?!
Sephora Champs-Elysées is my least favourite Sephora to date, and if I can avoid it, I bloody well will. If shipping wasn’t €9, I would legit prefer to pay shipping than go to that store. That’s how much I hate it. If I’m honest, there is no Sephora store I actually truly like :(.
Bert was very unimpressed with the prices of drinks.
But yeah, we went to the Tuileries after that, and that was good, because the garden is lovely :).
A word of advice though. There are many terraces all throughout the park. If you sit down, you will likely get table service, BUT you will pay through the nose. €5 for a glass of soft drinks or water. However, if you take out, you will pay a lot less (half at some places). There are benches and chairs all over the place, so you can just sit on those. Which is what Bert and I did. But it’s not advertised that well how the prices work, so unless you don’t mind paying a ton, you can just take out. Or go to the Monoprix supermarket at the Champs-Elysées within walking distance first and get much more economically priced drinks and snacks because it’s a venue without security and you can just bring your own stuff as you please. It’s a park after all :).
June 14th is also International Steampunk Day. And whilst I could have gotten away wearing full blown steampunk in Paris (or anywhere in France for that matter) I still opted for a more Jfashion style casual outfit with steampunk elements here and there. Like my key print sweater, steampunk bracelet from Fossil and Jules Verne button on my hip bag.
From the Tuileries you can walk to the Arc de Triomphe and to the Louvre, so Bert and I made some touristy outfit shots there for fun and giggles.
We spent a good long while in the Tuileries, having a drink and walking around, taking photos, and just hanging out. It’s definitely one of the redeeming features of Paris.
After our visit to the Tuileries, we took some more photos on the Place de la Concorde. Mostly of the fountain.
Cute robot, but omg so overpriced! I wonder what it’s made of to justify it costing €9750.
We walked back to Auber. And immediately regretted not getting return tickets. Initially we hadn’t, simply because we weren’t sure where we’d end up walking to, and because we might have taken the RER or even métro back to the hotel. Which was a good idea at the time. The lady at the ticket desk at Auber was friendly enough, right up to the point where we wanted to actually buy tickets and she realised that we weren’t able to pay by Carte Blue as we were foreigners and didn’t have one. Luckily, I had foreseen this kind of situation (due to previous experiences) and had gone to the bank earlier that week to withdraw €50. In €2 coins. For the ticket machines. Because they can be super difficult accepting bills. The lady had decided that we were obviously stupid foreigners and decided to come help talking LOUDLY AND SLOWLY at us. Whilst she already knew I spoke French. And of course there were REMARKS about me setting the machine to English. I really hate Paris. I really, really do. But yeah, we got tickets, got back on the RER and got back to the hotel without much of a glitch.
We accidently took the wrong exit in Noisy Champs station, which turns out to be good because we found the U supermarket. Where we got some drinks and cookies, because why not :). The queue there was also long, but at least it was moving :). And the people were not rude. A vast improvement.
There was also not a mass of CRAZED traffic with constant honking and AGGRESSIVE driving from both car and motorcycle drivers. Total bonus.
We decided to go eat in one of the places around the corner from the hotel, and the staff was super nice. They had a variety of savoury crépes, toasted breads and more of that kind. For €6,50 you could get a can of soda and a toasted bread. It wasn’t the most amazing food ever, but it was nice and the place was nice, so it was all good.
We made sure to be in bed on time, because the next dime we were going to Disneyland Paris the next day and were going to get up at 6am. Besides, we had been up since 4, so an early-ish night was nice anyway :)
But yeah Paris, I would go back, for some of the museums, and just to walk around because there are some really nice areas, but everything else, just urgh…
And I’m saying this from _personal_ experience, I know tons of people LOVE Paris and that’s great, I’m happy for them. I’m just not one of them. I’m more of a London, Antwerp and Tokyo kinda girl, and that’s just as ok :).
Day 1 haul :)
It may look like a lot, but I got a massive discount at Sephora and some of the other things I got were half price, so I stayed well under my budget for that day :).
All my Paris photos are here.
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