Participation and winning


Bruce Epstein

Re: Ah, Paris!

Originally posted by Marc
I was there a number of times between 1964 and 1967. The last time I was in Paris was 1967 (!) so I'm sure it has changed dramatically. It was nice back then. ...
Well, the basic aspects are still the same (Eiffel tower, Arc de Triomphe, Notre Dame, Sacre Coeur, etc. are still where they used to be :) ) and there are a bunch of new buildings like Les Halles, the Pompidou center, the pyramid at the Louvre, La Défense, the new library, ...

More significant is that the number of cars in Paris on a given day greatly exceeds the capacity of the roads and is about twice the number of legal parking places. It's tough to imagine touring Paris on a bike these days. However, the government finally started getting concerned about the number of cycling (bi- and motor-) accidents, and has created bike routes throughout the city. Now if they can only convince automobilists not to park or drive in the bike lanes. :mad:

All that aside, it is worth the trip. And since health consciousness has arrived, it's even possible to order a meal without wine. :vfunny:

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I'm sure returning to Paris would be a tear jerker as I tend to remember things and get misty eyed. Cities may change, but memories help bring back the way they were for us. Heck - I remember Beirut when it was a paradise - A hangout for the very, very rich.

I remember Paris with great fondness. Not just Paris, actually, but France as a whole. I met my father in Paris under the Arec de Triumph one summer and when he saw me in his limited French he loudly proclaimed "My daughter! My daughter!" He's dead some years now but I'll never forget his desire for me, early in my life, to understand the US in context of the world. He wasn't anit-US but rather wanted me to see that the US was (and is) not the centre of the universe. It was through him and my trips to Europe that I developed a love of history, as well. The sad part is... Things were simpler and the world was more sane back then. But - I guess this is a lament many, many people go through - the old "When I was young...." thing.

Bruce Epstein

You mean the US is NOT the center of the universe?

Originally posted by Marc

I'll never forget [my dad's] desire for me, early in my life, to understand the US in context of the world. He wasn't anit-US but rather wanted me to see that the US was (and is) not the centre of the universe.
I sincerely hope that one day my 14 year-old daughter will be able to look back as you are. However, she is beginning to appreciate just how extraordinary her situation is, especially her exposure to cultures and languages other than "American".

And, as a proud papa, I was extremely impressed with her the other day when in the course of one lunch she used 3 of her 4 languages: US English with my American boss, German with one of my co-workers and his family, and French with everyone else. Pity that nobody at the table spoke Spanish.


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If I regret anything, it's that I was not good at languages. I used to be OK at French - but it has been many years and I remember little. Being multi-lingual is a real help in today's world.


Oh how I love France! It's been three years since I was there, although my husband returned with two of the kids there two years ago for Spring Break and we sent my parents to Paris last year for their 50th anniv.

But we're going back this year - we leave on March 8! We fly into Barcelona and then drive. Bruce, (not to turn this into a travel forum, but.....) are you familiar with the Languedoc Rousillon area? We're staying in a coastal town outside of Perpignan and then taking day trips to the surrounding areas. Nimes is as far as we will venture on this trip (I think) and we'll spend one night there. Then back to Spain for a couple of days at the end.

Your daughter is so lucky! What a wonderful experience and opportunity for her. Our two teenagers have taken several years of French but without actually using it, it is just book learning. That's why we like to take them to France so that they can practice. My french is just enough to get by with until someone volunteers to speak English instead! And spanish too, although I'm told that we will encounter little of either on this trip. Apparently we need to know Catalan - so I've bookmarked a website or two with Catalan lessons and tried to pick up some words.

James Gutherson

Bruce may not know it but I do.

I spent 2 summers in the early 90's teaching sailing in a little town near Beziers. It was a wonderful time of my life (with a little summer time french romance ;) ).

It is a beautiful area, Carcassonne is a must see, as is the University town of Montpellier with it's Roman Aqueduct.

It is so much more of the real France than the northern Med (Nice, etc). The language problem can be more difficult. It can be hard to find someone who speaks English, but at least they are not pretending they don't understand, like in Paris. They a great down to earth people and very helpful and with the language you say you and your daughters have you will have no problems.

Bonne chance

Bruce Epstein

I'll second James' comments about Carcassonne, and strongly suggest getting the Michelin guide for Languedoc-Roussillon so you can find the lesser known attractions like Foix, Mirepoix, the Cathar castles, the painted caves, etc. Note that you can't actually get into the painted caves anymore, but there is a visitor center that shows their history and a wonderful reproduction of what the archeologists have found.

You may find some English in Carcassonne and along the coast, but otherwise, as James says, you'll need to manage in French. And by all means try the local cuisine, which is somewhat fattening but marvelous! :lick:

As for Barcelona, on my one visit there, I got by with pidgin Spanish as well as French and English (I was surprised to see how much French was understood). If you're not dealing with complex topics, many of the locals do understand and speak "standard" Spanish.



Can't resist anymore!

Originally posted by James Gutherson
Bruce may not know it but I do.
The language problem can be more difficult. It can be hard to find someone who speaks English,but at least they are not pretending they don't understand, like in Paris. , Bonne chance
I have been following this thread and just cannot stifle my resentment for this type of people anymore. English, I'm told, is a difficult language to master. It wasn't too long ago that the French seemed to understand it pretty well. Considering that German could have been their native tongue today, you'd think that they would try a little harder to be polite to their English speaking visitors. But considering their behavior since being liberated, I'm not surprised. Hey, just like the posts that promote how wonderful Paris is, I'm adding some balance. No offense intended.:agree: :ko: :smokin:


Yes, we have Carcassone on our list, and hope to manage Foix as well. There's supposed to be a painted cave outside of Foix (Nauix (?)) that is open on Mondays and we would need a reservation. Not sure how good it is. We always plan go-go-go type vacations and not enough time breathing and being. This weekend I did some pruning to the schedule and it was a little painful but more realistic than originally planned.

We've got lots of small towns on the schedule, a few castles, the Pont du Gard, the roman arenas in Arles and Nimes, some markets, the marshland where the flamingos and bulls roam, etc. I've been sifting through lots of guidebooks, but you know how they are. And when there are choices to make, it's hard to choose between one medieval town and another - they sound alike.



I don't mind the french expecting me to know some of their language and using it preferentially before having to resort to English. After all, how would you feel if someone just walked up to you in the street and starting talking russian or french and expected you to know what they are saying and responding in kind?

The french people have been unwaveringly kind to us whether we were in the city or the countryside. But I always approached them speaking what french I knew and that probably made the difference. The few people who said they didn't know english simply had to put up with my french which was probably so painful that they could not have kept up a pretense of not knowing english!

Also, (not to start a political debate), I've been told that while they dislike the British, they do like and appreciate the Americans for coming in and saving the day for them. So they may steer away from English until they realize that you are American. Just a thought.
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