Friday, March 26, 2010

My Trip to Pariiis and the French Riviera

Oui, I know that Paris is normally spelled with one “i;” there’s a reason that I used three in the title. We’ll get to that later.  Have some patience mon frère.

Last June, I spent two days in Pariiis and five more on the French Riviera (Cannes mostly.)

I took a fair number of pictures, which works out well because I expect to be banned for life from re-entering the country when the French Tourism Authority reads this.  Although, my guess is that they don’t lower themselves to reading English-language blogs. Yes, technically, this is written in the English language.

Let me get this out first: France is a beautiful country with many magnificent attractions.

Everything in France is really terrific, except for the fact that most of the locals exude a constant stream of low-grade rudeness, especially in Pariis. 

And the entire economic engine of France is designed to screw visitors financially at every turn.  For tourists, Paris is the City of Light….Wallets.

The good news is that if you fly Air France, you can breathe for free on the plane. Folks, that’s about it for the good news.
Let’s talk about Air France for a minute.

I noticed some consistent patterns of behavior during my three flights on that esteemed airline, so, being an American swine, I'll generalize by saying that these are true of all Air France flights.  If you’re still reading at this point, I’m guessing that you’re not a strict logician and will accept my flimsy premise, oui? (By the way, I know that the word “oui” reminds you of the magazines that you used to dig out of the 7-11 dumpster as a kid…)

Air France offers two meal choices. The first will be something like filet mignon with Lyonnais potatoes and freshly-picked asparagus.

The other selection will be a peanut butter and celery sandwich accompanied by Tater Tots. The clear difference in the desirability of the two selections is apparently unknowable to the Air France culinary management.  Without fail, the plane will run out of the more attractive option within the first three rows.  I sat in row 44 on each flight.  Peanut butter and celery does not taste any better when prepared by a French chef.  The first three rows of the plane are apparently reserved for government dignitaries and Air France management.

Another charming fact about Air France involves how the French pilots make announcements.  Being considerate hosts, they tell you everything in both French and English. The French language version always comes first, and takes about five minutes.  It's characterized by a lot of enthusiasm, inflection and joviality.  Maybe the pilot will even provide the crowd with an all-out laugh or two.  Then, after the English speaking passengers have suffered through this five-minute Party-On-The-Public-Address-System, they get the translation in their own tongue: “Please fasten your seat belts. Thank you.”

The translation takes all of 2.2 seconds.

I was left wondering what secret escape hatch or hidden parachute the pilot didn’t bother telling the English-speaking pigs about. That was probably the part where he chuckled.  My guess as to the translation: “The Americans will be stuck on this plane as it spirals downwards in a smoky ball while we French will slide out the secret escape hatches with our Louis Vuitton parachutes.”

OK, so let’s get down to the nitty gritty:  Why do I feel that the French are rip-off artists? How did they gouge me during my visit? Well, let’s see, do you have six hours or so? No? Ok, then I’ll try to make it concise. And I won’t even charge you. After all, we’re not in France.

Here's a start: when you have your concierge call you a cab at a hotel in Pariiis, the meter starts running from wherever the cab is when it receives the call.  Yes, that's true.

Supposedly, the cab dispatcher calls the closet cab to your hotel, but I don’t see how anyone could
verify that.  My first cab called in this manner came down from Normandy. The second one came from Portugal.  Each time, the fare on the meter, before I even stepped into the cab, was the equivalent of the average Frenchman’s retirement fund.  I don’t know for sure, but I wouldn’t be surprised if French lawyers start charging you from the time that they begin law school.

I’m not bitter, of course.

[The LG Report editorial staff has determined that this installment of our vitriolic expose of French rip-offs is long enough; the next installment will come soon, like a Pariiis taxi.  If this makes you unhappy (or happy), please post a comment.  The LG Report welcomes comments, so feel free to fire one off.  In English, not French.  Thanks and merci.]


  1. I would like for LG to take us all to Paris to show us these things in person.!!!

  2. I was planning a trip to Paris next year! Now I am rethinking that plan! I wanted to surprise my daughter with a gals getaway, but if they take advantage of people at every turn the I'd just as soon stay here in the USA and (through the magic of television) watch PBS or the Travel Channel who only show the beautiful side of Paris for the well funded. Not the ugly truths.


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