previously Things you should know about Ireland.
In Paris food is very expensive and very cheap, alternately. If you are paying someone to bring you the food the odds are good that the service will be poor, and you never have one consistent waiter. Instead everyone on the staff bumbles around inefficiently, and they always forget your water. Also, your wife, who doesn’t eat much meat, will find ordering very difficult. This will be the expensive kind of meal. However, if you just buy fresh bread, fresh fruit and some cheese, then take it on the Metro down to the Cité station, and eat it in the park outside Notre Dame it will be the best meal you had in the city, and also the cheapest.
In Montmartre there are a lot of famous places. You will walk into a place that says it is a Tabac, where you should be able to buy a phone card. When you get inside, it will be oddly familiar, and you’ll ask the very harried waitress if they have phone cards, and she’ll say “ce n’es pas un tabac, vraiment.” Then you’ll realize you’re in the café from Amélie. They’ve pulled out the Tabac to make room for more seating. A few days later, right at the bottom of that street, you’ll go to the Moulin Rouge, which is alternately kind of dumb and amazing. The Can-Can will be excellent, and at one point a naked lady swims in a transparent tank with some pythons.
In the tiny elevator at the Eiffel Tower, which is not really that tiny but so packed with people it feels tiny, there is an Italian couple. All four of you will be amazed by the view, and the building itself, which feels built in a way no other building ever has. You will take pictures for each other, but you will forget to take a picture of them, and you will never learn their names.
In the Sacré-Cœur, you will make jokes about God, and Catholicism, and your friend will light a candle for his Grandparents. You will feel a little guilty for the jokes. You will decide that $7 is too much to look at bones, so you won’t go into to catacombs.
In Montmartre again, on your first day, you will walk down to the Boulevard de Clichy, where there is an adult movie theater next door to a McDonalds. You will have never seen that many pictures of naked women on a public street in your life.
In the underground Metro station you will realize that any city without some kind of non-road rapid transit is a bullshit city.
In the modern art museum there will be a great many works that you really like, but it will all be diminished by the two blank canvases in the room all the way to the left, and back. There is an author’s statement there, but if you read it, you will know it is bullshit.
In Paris there is a train you can take to Versailles, where you will just go straight to the Palace. And Palace is the word. The interior is decorated and made up to the point that when you are finally finished, the entire place was simply draining. The audio tour will be interesting, but strangely positive. There will be no indication in it that the levels of excess displayed were anything but appropriate and worthy of your awe. The Gardens though, those are amazing. More than a mile, at the end of which is another god damn palace, this one constructed with what appears to be the bulk of the extant pink marble, which you frankly do not have the energy to bother with.
In the comic shop on Rue Lepic almost all the comics will be hardbacks. This will impress you.
In the apartment you rent, on Rue Lepic, right next door to the comic shop, you will be comfortable. Strangely comfortable. You will find yourself becoming so at home that you spend large periods of time inside, laying in bed and watching a channel that plays nothing but short films. You will wonder why they don’t have a channel like this in the U.S.
In Avignon there is a train station with what is, definitively, the worst parking situation in the world. You will drive through seven times trying to figure out where the hell your rental car is supposed to go, and in the process you will perform several illegal maneuvers, and do minor damage to the car. You will have something of a breakdown at one point. You will return the car in a rush, run to the train, and hurt your shoulder by leaping onto the train to block the automatic door from closing.