If you want to promenade yourself and have a good workout, take a bus to Rue de Rivoli, and simply walk briskly all around Le Louvre. It is so huge, the walk will probably take you an hour! Enjoy the views from all sides, including the river, and take lots of pictures as you go. If this is not enough for you, enter the courtyard and make a complete circle. It is still huge. Still up for some exertion? Aha, here’s an important part. Right across the street there is a McDonald’s. Why is it important to bear this little titbit in mind if you are not hungry yet? While debating whether I needed to cross the street I heard a wonderfully carrying young American shout, effortlessly covering up all the traffic noise, “Ben! I’ll just pop into the McDonald’s here to use the bathroom and be right back!” Yep, finding a public toilet in Paris is not always easy. I once followed a sign which said clearly “Toilet, 50 m”. Trouble is I walked miles and still didn’t find it. There is a public toilet inside the Tuillleries gardens which are right behind the Louvre. You have to walk to the very end of the park to find it, and pay a small sum for using it.
Then there is the gentle art of cheating a traveling foreigner who does not speak the language or most probably does not understand everything that is said to them or even is not sure of the coin’s value, or all of the above. Once I realized what was happening I made a decision so as not to spoil my lovely time in Paris. To wit, I decided that if the cheating is not above 50 cents I won’t bother. Imagine trying to speak a language you do not exactly speak and being patiently and loudly assured of something in French, with kind smiles and patronizing attitude of the natives towards a stranger, all for a few cents. Thus I stepped inside a bakery to buy some pastries for our tea. 2.40 + 2.80. The clerk smiled and cheerfully told me it was 5.40. I am not a mathematician, but I know this is false. But here’s my difficulty: vingt, 20, is a word which I cannot pronounce so that the natives understand it, and I don’t always get it myself. As the difference was 20 cents I let it slide. This happens in any country of course. I believe the psychology is, if you are a tourist you are well-off; or maybe if you don’t understand them they can cheat you. Or whatever. Usually when a cashier or clerk is too friendly and smiley, I watch them carefully and stop an effort to cheat me of €5 or more. It does not usually happen in large stores. Believe me, if you notice this kind of “mistake” and remonstrate loudly in your own language, you will be perfectly understood!
Maybe I am lucky or maybe there are more honest than dishonest people around. So far, I was treated quite nicely everywhere. On to new adventures then!