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We're just finishing up a week in Paris, and I wanted to share two wonderful experiences that I'd encourage anyone coming to the city to take advantage of.

One is Meet the Parisians at Work . We took the behind-the-scenes bakery tour, which was fascinating. This article is a very good description of the tour we took, so I won't bother to take the time now to write any more about it now. (Be sure to check out the photo link with the article). It only cost 6 euro per person, and was more than worth it. Both the baker, Claude, and Laurence, the translator who runs the program, did a fabulous job of communicating their knowledge and enthusiasm.

The other program we took advantage of was Paris Greeters. Fill out the email form on their web site, and a representative of the group will contact you (in our case it was about a week before we left home) with a suggested time and meeting place. The web site says that you can ask for a tour of specific places, or geared to certain interests. We didn't feel that we needed a tour, since we have spent a lot of time in Paris, but were really just more interested in meeting and talking with a local Parisian. The person we met was Nicolas, a young Frenchman who lives just off Boulevard St. Germain, not far from Notre Dame, where we met up. We decided to go out to dinner at a little local cafe, where we had a wonderful time talking with him. He is very interested in politics and shared a lot of his thoughts about Sarkozy and the French political scene in general. He was so interesting, personable, polite, well-spoken, and intelligent — really a wonderful representative for his country and his age group. We could have almost been his grandparents, but he didn't seem at all put off by spending the evening with the "older generation." We did pay for his dinner, although that would not have been necessary, because we felt he was so generous to share his time and knowledge with us.

I know a few people here are traveling to Paris soon with teenagers, and I can tell you that if you sign up for this program and are lucky enough to connect with Nicolas, any young woman would probably be very taken with him — he's not only smart and fun but very good looking!

This was the night before we went to Chantilly, and we were still a bit uncertain about the strike situation, so after a long and leisurely dinner, Nicolas took us up to his apartment so that he could check the latest news on his computer and reassure us that everything was okay. He and his roommate even looked up the train schedule for us and wrote down the train times.

So I recommend that anyone who is spending time in Paris soon check out these programs. Along with the great times we had getting together with a couple of other Slow Travelers in town, these experiences made our visit this week very special.

- Roz
 
Posts: 8959 | Location: Napa, CA | Registered: 01 August 2004Report This Post

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quote:
behind-the-scenes bakery tour


I can't WAIT to take this tour! I'm still working on my homemade baguette skills, and "slashing" is still a big trouble area for me. To see how a pro does it and check out his blade is exactly what I need.
 
Posts: 8229 | Location: Sacramento, CA | Registered: 18 June 2001Report This Post

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Roz, thanks so much for sharing your experiences with "Meeting the Parisians". This definitely sounds like a great way to connect with other aspects of Paris beyond what most tourist normally see and experience.

We're looking forward to hearing more about your travels in France. Thanks for taking the time to post from the road!

Kathy
 
Posts: 5718 | Location: Knoxville, Tennessee & Bonnieux, Provence | Registered: 20 October 2003Report This Post

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quote:
Originally posted by Chris:
..."slashing" is still a big trouble area for me. To see how a pro does it and check out his blade is exactly what I need.
It really is harder than you think until you try it. I wasn't very good at it, but this photo shows the best "slasher" in our group, a young Finnish woman.

 
Posts: 8959 | Location: Napa, CA | Registered: 01 August 2004Report This Post

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Thank you, Roz! Most interesting! We go so (relatively) often to Paris and never even had any idea that these programs exist.
 
Posts: 11255 | Location: Toronto | Registered: 26 May 2002Report This Post

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It looks like some of the slashers had the same problem I do with a dragging blade and deflating the loaf. I've been thinking I'd be able to find the perfect tool in Paris, but technique is probably more important. I may have to take this tour more than once, or try to get a job as an apprentice baker for a while!
 
Posts: 8229 | Location: Sacramento, CA | Registered: 18 June 2001Report This Post
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Thanks Roz

I love hearing all the details. Maybe this would be a great opportunity in March while we are in Paris with our 13 year old son. We definitely can use all the help we can get in Paris. We are city illiterates lol!

I keep looking for all your messages! Thanks again Roz.

Sandy
 
Posts: 341 | Registered: 16 October 2007Report This Post

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Roz, I love this site!
I've already posted a request for a couple of days, when we are in Paris next summer! Do you think my granddaughter would like to be greeted by Nicolas? Maybe spend the day being toured around Paris by him? Hmmmmm....

This idea is fantastic for us, and I'm so happy you shared it, Roz!

I also like the Meet The Parisiens at Work site, and have actually chosen a few that I'd like to include. Now, to get together with TiaD and see what she'd like.

Merci beaucoup, Mme. RozNot Worthy

"The tourist arrives in Paris with a few French phrases he has culled from a conversational guide or picked up from a friend who owns a beret." ~ with apologies to Fred Allen
Brenda Coffee
 
Posts: 4881 | Location: Fox Creek, AB...back from exile and fully-participating in the forums again! | Registered: 26 October 2003Report This Post
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