Practical Tips for Visiting Paris
This month we strolled down the Champs-Élysées with Hadley's honorary Parisian, Deborah Good, who just returned from her tenth trip to Paris. Our virtual tour included the Arc de Triomphe, the Louis Braille Museum, the Tactile Gallery in the Louvre, and more.
November 12, 2019
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Travel Talk – Practical Tips for Visiting Paris
Presented by Debbie Good and Pam Winters
November 12, 2019
Debbie G: Welcome everyone to Travel Talk. So glad that you joined us. Our topic today is Paris, or Paris, and this is going to be a delight for me to speak about Paris because it is my favorite city in the whole world, and I've been there, I think it's 10 times, I kind of lost count, starting back when I was a student at the Sorbonne, that's one of the university of Parises in Paris. So way back when I was a college student, I was a French major. So I spent a year there and became a French teacher and then a Spanish teacher later on, but French was my original love.
And then I taught in the public schools with French for a period of time, and I would spend every summer in France. And then I've taken my mother-in-law there, and I went there in 2017 as part of the Chicago-Paris Cabaret Connexion, connection. Studying the art of cabaret singing with Parisians. And then I just got back in September for part three of that same Paris-Chicago Cabaret Connection. So you can tell that I love the city. And joining me today is Pam Winters who is the cohost. So Pam, why don't you say bonjour and tell us about yourself?
Pam W: Bonjour-
Debbie G: There you go.
Pam W: -and that's about all the French I speak. So this is Pam, welcome everybody. We are very excited to have you all here today, and I'm excited to hear what Debbie has to say. I've only been to Paris once, and that was back, oh gosh, some time in the... I believe in the '70s, so it's been a very long time for me. So, over to you Debbie.
Debbie G: Okay, merci. So first, of all I'm just going to teach you a few useful phrases. I'm going to teach you how to say Paris the French way. So in French we have lots of silent letters, so when the French say Paris, they don't pronounce that final S, and it sounds like this, Paris. Paris.
Well I think Paris is a very exciting city to visit, and remember, this is the birthplace of Louis Braille. He was born in Coupvray, which is a town about 25 miles east of Paris. So I had the very good fortune of visiting the birthplace of Louis Braille. So braille in French is Braille. The LL is like a Y, and Louis, as I said, you wouldn't pronounce that final S, so it would be Louis Braille.
So I went to the Musée, that's museum, the Musée Louis Braille, also called Maison Natale, the natal home, or the birthplace of, Louis Braille. So if you wanted to go there, you would take a suburban train outside of Paris, you'd go east. You'd get off at the end of the line at the Disneyland Paris stop, that's the end of the line, and you could go around and just marvel at, "Oh, that's Disneyland Paris." Then you would take a bus to this little town that still looks like it probably did two hundred years ago when Louis Braille lived there called Coupvray, and that's spelled C-O-U-P-V-R-A-Y, Coupvray.
You would come to a 200-year-old house, where Louis Braille was born. So it's the same house where he lived until he was ten years old. And then when he was ten, then he went to the first school for the blind in Paris. So Louis Braille was born January 4th, 1809. He was part of a family of four children, there were two girls and two boys. His father was a saddle and harness maker for horses, which is very important at the time, that was their transportation. So they had a pretty good living with him making the harnesses and the saddles for horses.
At the age of three, Louis was in his father's workshop and wanted to play with the tools as kids are often doing, and unfortunately he held on to an awl, which is like a pointed instrument, and instead of making a hole into the leather, it somehow it slipped and went into his eye. He developed an infection and by the time he was five, the infection spread to the other eye and he lost his vision totally. So that was the story of Louis Braille, how he became blind. Fortunately, his parents realized that he was very bright and that he should go to school with the other children, and he did very well except he couldn't be promoted to the next level, because he could not read or write. There was no system of reading or writing if you were blind at the time.
Fortunately, there was a priest in his town that realized that he was a very bright young man and got him a scholarship to go to the first school for the blind in Paris, and so from the time he was 10 years old and through adulthood that's where he spent most of his time because he eventually became a teacher there. So Louis was very bright, he was very good at music. He was the organist at many local churches, and he of course developed the Braille writing system. Originally there were other systems of several dots, like Charles Barbier, he had a system in dots that people could use in the dark. If you were in the French military and on a ship and you didn't want anyone to see what you were writing, but that was 12 dots, and it was cumbersome, and it was based on the sounds of French. So it was not a letter to letter thing, it was based on the sounds.
So Louis during his time there, developed a much-improved system, and by the age of 15, he developed the system that we know today with the six-dot system. So do we have any questions about Louis Braille so far? Some of you probably know details about his life more than I do. Does anyone have a comment or anything?
Ça va? In French people say ça va, that means, is it okay? They say ça va? Oui, ça va, yes it's going well. Ça va is spelled a c with a little curly-cue on the bottom, and then an a, and then va. And by the way, the French alphabet, the letters A, B, C, D and all that, it's the same as in English. They do have the special accented letters in French, and so then there are special symbols for that which mean something different in English. So, for example, if you wanted to have an accented e, that would be dots one two three four five six. If you have the e with the grave accent, that's two three four six, et cetera.
So I have a chart in front of me, If I were writing braille then, if I were to write a French word, then I would refer to the chart of the special symbols for the French accent marks. So anyway, Louis Braille developed this system. It didn't really catch on a lot while he was living. Unfortunately, it wasn't until 20 or 30 years after his death that people really realized what a brilliant system it was, and how it was very simple to use. So, let me tell you about the museum itself.
Pam W: Debbie. Real quick, Debbie.
Debbie G: Yes.
Pam W: I did see that Tawny had a hand raised, and it's down now, but just in case she still had something she wanted to add, I'm going to go ahead and unmute her right now, okay?
Debbie G: Sure, go ahead Tawny. What is your question or comment?
Tawny: I actually was just wondering about the thing you just went on to say, about learning the accent marks for the braille, because “J’apprends le français depuis sept ans” and I'm also learning braille, but would like to combine those two skills, so I will look forward to seeing your list of accented marks.
Debbie G: Sure, yeah. So thank you for bringing that up Tawny. I'm going to give you all my email address, so if you have any questions about this please email me. And I can send you this chart of the special braille symbols in French. I can also even send you some references from the World Braille Usage third edition, which I have, and I could even give you the page directly from there.
Debbie G: So my email, it's the good email, it's so good, because it's just G-O-O-D@hadley.edu so I'm Debbie Good, but don't say Debbie, we have three Debbie, Deborah's, and all that et cetera, at Hadley. You're safer just using my last name, email@example.com.
Okay so going to the Louis Braille museum, as I said you'd take this train. Oh and the train system is wonderful in France, much better than the US. And the metro system in Paris, “magnifique” it's magnificent. They say you can go anywhere you want in Paris and you'll be only a ten-minute walk from a metro station, and they have good auditory cues on the station. So they will always announce the station. And this is something very funny that a friend and I noticed. When you're getting close to the station, it'll sound like this. For example, I was staying in Joinville-le-Pont, this is a suburb right outside of Paris. So when they're getting close to the station, they'll go Joinville-le-Pont and then when they arrive, they'll go Joinville-le-Pont. So in other words, the intonation goes up when you're close, da, da, da, da, and then when you're there la, la, la, la. Joinville-le-Pont, Joinville-le-Pont.
Pam W: Interesting.
Debbie G: And that's your auditory cue that you're near there. So you would get off at the station, or you could take a taxi to, actually arriving there, I was really anxious to get there so I took the train, a 45 minute ride, I got off and I found a taxi to take me there. Uber is very easy to use in Paris. Taxis are everywhere, but if you wanted to find someone to come right where you are and there's not a taxi around, just use Uber. And it doesn't cost really any more. It's about the same, taxi and uber, actually in Paris. So I took a taxi there.
So I got to the museum with my friend, we were the only people there, there was one man there, very, very friendly. And the first thing you do when you come in is you see this head, this bust of Louis Braille. So tactile, of course you can get a sense of what he looks like, and then there was a whole kind of like a dollhouse, a whole model of the home itself, where you could see what the levels are, and where the rooms are. So again, a tactile representation of the house.
Then he would take you into the workshop, the actual workshop where Louis Braille's father was, and still the implements are around as it would've been in that time, and then there's the fireplace. There's a statue of Louis Braille, and a uniform that he would have used while he was at school in Paris. So the museum guide would talk about his life, and he did it in French because we spoke French, very enthusiastic, and then he led us upstairs to another exhibit of very early braille writing instruments.
So what was fascinating there was that they had his actual slate from 200 years ago, and I talked to a colleague at Hadley, Vileen Shah, he was there in 2009, which was the 200th anniversary of Louis Braille's birth, and the original slate that Louis Braille used was there, and he was allowed to use it to braille something. So I asked the museum guide, oh my friend said he used the actual slate, and he looked at me like, "Oh, he was very lucky." He was happy to show it to me, but he was not going to let me use it.
But anyways, the actual slate that he used there, was there. So it's amazing, you can see Louis Braille's slate. They also had some books that he won as prizes, of course they were in print, I don't know why, but he was such a good student, as a prize they would give different books out, but the braille writing system wasn't invented yet. So the early systems were just raised letters, like actual print letters but it was embossed, like raised. So people could not write that on their own, they needed a special printing press for that.
So they had displays of early braille writing systems, and other writing systems for the blind, along with braille typewriters, early Perkins and IBM typewriter where they had actual braille symbols on the keys itself, along with the alphabet. It probably had 50 different braille writing instruments, he went to a special room and he kept pulling out another box, another box. He was so excited because we were so interested.
So we spent two or three hours there, it was just fascinating to hear the history and be in to be in Louis Braille's actual house. So do we have any comments or questions about that? Otherwise, I will take you back to Paris.
Pam W: Well Debbie, I had a question, actually.
Debbie G: Yes.
Pam W: This is Pam, and I was just wondering so did you say that with the model of the house, that people are able to touch that?
Debbie G: Yes, that's the purpose of it, yes.
Pam W: Right. Perfect. Yeah, okay.
Debbie G: And many of the other things can be touched too, really, there was no prohibition. The things that were very delicate like Louis Braille's slate, that was behind a glass case, but otherwise all the furniture, you could go around the room and touch it, and really get a sense of what's there. So it was meant to be touched.
Pam W: Awesome.
Debbie G: Yes.
Pam W: Thank you.
Debbie G: You're welcome. In the town of Coupvray, it's very small, we also have-
Pam W: We have another question, Debbie, a hand just went up. Just came up.
Debbie G: You can go ahead and unmute her.
Pam W: Sure. There we go.
Debbie G: Go ahead, Cyril.
Cyril: Is there an entrance fee in the museum?
Debbie G: Yes, it was six euros, which is probably about, I just looked it up, a euro equals $1.10, so it's about $6.66.
Cyril: Okay, thank you.
Debbie G: So I am not visually impaired, so I don't know if there would have been a reduction. So this is the policy, and I looked this up and I had the same experience. In all the different monuments, or museums of France, they all have their own policies. For some places, like the Louvre, it is free to people with a disability, and it's half price for their person who's with them. So I didn't ask is it free to people who are blind, it could've been in the Louis Braille museum, so that's a very good question.
So before I went back to Paris, I learned that Louis Braille was... I was going to say he was buried there, but I will explain in a moment. But, within a five or 10 minute walk, there is a cemetery there, and there is a tombstone there, a grave site of Louis Braille, and there were flowers there, and I was very excited to see it because it was just nestled in with all the other graves. Somehow we found it, that was exciting. And then I read that the thing that is actually buried there are his hands. I know that might sound a little unusual, but there's an urn with his hands there. His actual body was actually taken to the Pantheon, the Pantheon in Paris, as an honor, as like the hall of fame where the very famous people are buried, so in 1952, which was the 100th anniversary of his death, he was reinterred into the Pantheon, but the town requested that they leave his hands there, because tactile, and braille and all that.
So he's in two places. His hands are in the cemetery, and then the rest of him is in the Pantheon with very famous people. I looked up who else was in the Pantheon, so let's see. We have Marie Curie, there's only five women that are buried there.
Pam W: Interesting.
Debbie G: Yes, and some of them were heroes of the French resistance. Victor Hugo is there, and I'll find that in a moment, but it was quite an honor to be there, and Helen Keller attended the dedication ceremony, and there is a picture of her, from when it was taken, at that ceremony, and that's in the Louis Braille museum. So that was exciting to see his final resting pace.
So the Americans With Disabilities Act, as you know in the US, became law in 1990. So that prohibits discrimination against individuals with any kind of disability in all areas of public life, jobs, schools, transportation in all public and private places that are open to the general public. So the purpose of the law is to have an even playing field that everyone has the same rights and opportunities as everyone else.
So France adopted a very similar law in 2005. So the same thing, it ensures the equal opportunity participation and citizenship for people with disabilities so they can secure equal access to all programs and services. So that's a wonderful thing that France has the same thing and let me tell you how that manifests in this wonderful website. So if you want to go to Paris, I would recommend the first thing you do is to research what you want to do, and you would go to parisinfo.com. So P-A-R-I-S info.com and the very fascinating thing about that website, is as soon as you go there and you click on accessibility, this is what will pop up. It will redirect you to something called facil’iti, F-A-C-I-L-I-T-I, it means ease or easiness, in French.
And then from facil’iti, you would check if you have any kind of disability, either vision, or movement, or cognitive, or temporary. So if you clicked on vision, then this is what would pop up. There are about 16 different visual conditions that could affect how you could access the website, and it would adapt the website to make it easier for you to see it. Now, I don't know for screen readers how accessible it is, so I'd like for people to check it out and report back. But if you had low vision, for example, and you clicked where it said low vision, un moment, let me find it. I printed it out.
It said, "It adapts the website display by greatly enlarging the text size, and by modifying colors to ensure sufficient contrast between backgrounds and texts. Or you can click on senior. This profile is designed to provide easier reading by increasing text size and modifying the type face.
Pam W: That's awesome.
Debbie G: Blurred vision, yeah, adapts the text size and freezes animated contents, and it also increases contrast, and adapts the display. So, I'll just give you some of the examples of visual conditions. Visual fatigue, retinal migraine, blurred vision, cataract, ARMD, presbyopia, deuteranopia, I don't know if I'm pronouncing that correctly, protanopia, tritanopia, achromatopsia, so for each of these, it has special adaptations. Like I said, it can increase the contrast, increase the text size, freeze any moving kind of thing, freezing animated content. And so I tried it out, I put low vision, and right away, so every time I go to the website Parisinfo.com it remembers me, and it makes everything bigger, and the typeface is great, and it's much easier to read. So I thought to be fascinating, why can't we have that in the US more?
Pam W: Right.
Debbie G: So, at Parisinfo.com you could enter any kind of monument you want to see, and then next to it, it would have a V. If it has a V, then it has adaptations for visually impaired. If it has C, it has for people cognitively impaired, or M for movement, or... So those are the categories. So you can tell right away if something is going to have some kind of accessibility improvements for people who are visually impaired, and I find that to be very helpful. So that would be step number one, is you would go to the website and type in what you want to do.
Someone just emailed me today and said "I'm interested in going to Europe, but I don't really want to travel alone." And so I found an agency called Traveleyes. Has anyone ever heard of Traveleyes before? So it's just like the word travel and then e-y-e-s. Traveleyes travel agency, it's based in the United Kingdom. With Traveleyes, you would be paired up with a sighted companion. It would change every day. So your roommate would be sighted, so during the eight days you would be in Paris, that person would be the same, but then in the morning you have breakfast, you'd be assigned to a different sighted companion, and then they would spend the day with you when you go to the Eiffel tower, or whatever, you'd be with this sighted companion. The day with the rest of the group, and then the next day, be assigned a different sighted companion.
They try to make the prices the same as if you were in some other kind of tour. For the sighted companion to encourage people to participate, it is discounted up to 50%. So they do have a trip to Paris, I think it's next spring, I looked it up. If you're interested that's just a very useful concept, I think, is Traveleyes. You can also listen to a podcast that I did with Wendy David, she wrote the book Sites Unseen. S-I-T-E-S Unseen, available on BARD and Bookshare, and she went through advantages of going with the tour group versus going by yourself, so there's pros and cons of both, so I would recommend that you listen to her podcast about tips and tricks for traveling in general, and specifically as we're talking about, whether to go with a tour group, or be on your own.
And let’s hear from Julio, so can you unmute him, Pam?
Pam W: Yeah, sure can.
Julio: Bon après midi. I had a quick question on the website, I was wondering does it show like discounts, you were mentioning on the Louvre, the museum the website does it show if they have like a discount for visually impaired, or their helper?
Debbie G: Yes. So, on the website then you would click on it, it would take you to the site of... the site of the site itself, the S-I-T-E of...
Pam W: Right, yeah.
Debbie G: So, for example then it would take me to the Louvre, and then I went on the Louvre page, and that's where I saw that oh, it's free to visually impaired and then half fare for their companion. And so, as a general policy in France, it said it's up to each place to decide what their policy is. So it'd be nice if it was the same for everything, but the French are very individualistic, and they like to make their own decisions, so each place can decide what their policy is. Good question.
Debbie G: Okay. De rien.
Pam W: I did have a question, too, Debbie. So the Traveleyes, rather than a travel agency, it's like a travel group, right? So I think... I had the word, now I lost the word, not group what I was thinking of. But you can't use any time you want to go to Paris, it would have to be that you would book one of their trips, basically is that correct?
Debbie G: So Traveleyes is a tour agency, so you'd pay them a fee, they would arrange your hotel and your transportation to the different places, and so it is a tour group. Now if you wanted to go on your own, this is what you do. Say you want to go to the Louvre, you would email them or call them 48 hours in advance and tell them that you want to visit the museum, and they would arrange a time for you to meet there, and they give you a choice of things to do.
First of all, I think that they would have English available, because any tourist places would want to cater to many people, and English is very popular language in addition to French. So you would call them, or email them, 48 hours in advance and meet them at the front desk. You would get to skip the line, this is the very wonderful thing, they even have it on their website. They say, "There's queue jumping." In Europe, they say queue, Q-U-E-U-E, or whatever it is. It means like a line, so you get to queue jump and get to the head of the line.
In fact, I experienced this with my mother. She's not visually impaired, but she's elderly and uses a walker. From the moment that we came there, there was a huge line and they said "oh, madame come over here." We got to the head of the line and they were so kind, and when it came time to see the Mona Lisa, it's roped off from everyone, and everyone is at least 10 feet away, they opened the rope, they let her walk right up to it, maybe just a few feet away, and just gaze at it. I have a colleague, Ginger Irwin, who took someone who is visually impaired there, and she said they allowed her to go like 12 inches away from the Mona Lisa, and just stay there as long as she wanted to. Can you imagine that? That is amazing.
Pam W: Wow. That is amazing.
Debbie G: Yeah, so very accommodating for people with any kind of disability in Paris and that was not just there, we experienced this over and over. As soon as they'd see the walker, they'd put her to the head of the line, and then we went to Versailles, which is the beautiful chateau outside of Paris. Same thing, and we got to make shortcuts through the lines everywhere, even go to some places that the general public could not access. So I was very excited about that, and then to read at the Louvre how they will accompany you, they can either give you audio description if you arrange in advance, or you could go to the Galerie Tactile. Tactile is tactile, also known as the touch gallery.
So in the touch gallery... I'll just read you the little blurb. The touch gallery is the only place in the museum where visitors are encouraged to touch. The gallery features plaster or resin casts of the original sculptures on display at the louvre, so obviously not everything. But the current exhibition in the touch gallery invites visitors to explore around 20 works on the theme of the representation of the body, from Apollo of Piombino through to French works from 17th and 19th centuries. The chosen sculptures in relief or a full round touch on a wide variety of subjects such as divine and heroic nudity, bathers, or the use of drapery, both to conceal and to highlight the body's curves.
The selected works are of all sizes, and use original materials like bronze, stone, or earthen ware. So my understanding is that the touch gallery has different things that come in and out too, it's not always the same thing. Because another time they had an exhibit that highlighted animals in the touch gallery. So that's very exciting. The Galerie Tactile.
And so I went to the website, louvre.fr/en/accessibility and so they give you a link for special visits and workshops within the tactile gallery. So that was very exciting to me. Are there any questions on the Louvre? The Louvre, by the way, is the most visited museum in the whole world. It was originally a royal palace before the kings moved out to Versailles, so it has eight centuries worth of art there.
And it became a museum in 1793 where the French revolution happened, and there's no more royalty, they kicked that out, but then it became this wonderful museum. And so the artists for thousands of years, and it says it's from territory that extends from America to the confines of Asia. It has eight departments. So the famous things at the Louvre are the Mona Lisa, the Winged Victory of Samothrace, and the Venus de Milo. You know, the sculpture of Venus de Milo? So it is the world’s most visited museum.
It's closed on Tuesdays, and that's something you have to research too, because every museum is closed one day of the week, and for some of them it's a Monday, some of them it's a Tuesday. It's all different, so if you're planning on going to the Louvre, for example, you better know that it's closed Tuesday, and plan around that. And the Louis Braille museum was closed Monday, and so...
Pam W: That would be a benefit of going with a tour group, because they would probably have all that information, right.
Debbie G: Yes, exactly. And so at the Louvre, you can also have headphones with an audio description of things, too, and they have it French, English, Spanish, Italian, German, Japanese, and Korean. So that's another option, in addition to having a live person audio describe, you could also have the headphones that would direct you. And again, if you arrange in advance, they can walk you around, they can also take you out to the nearest taxi stands, or to the parking center. So that is the Louvre.
Other sites that could be enjoyable are the Arc de Triomphe. Triomphe is triumph in French, and that overlooks the Champs-Élysées, which is a big avenue with the twelve streets going out like a star. It used to be called La Place de l’Étoile, the star place, and now it's the Arc de Triomphe. It's the biggest arch in the world. It was Napoelon who commissioned it to be built in 1806 to celebrate his victory at Austerlitz. Beneath the arch is the tomb of the unknown soldier, and every night at 6:30, the flame is rekindled. So people can go to the top of the monument, and part of it's a museum where they have the history of Paris or the history of Arc de Triomphe.
And then from the Arc de Triomphe, as I said, you can go down the Champs-Élysées, that's where all the fancy stores are and go to a café and sip a café crème. People think that café au lait is how you would order a coffee with milk in French, but that's mostly the term they use for breakfast. So, café crème, like crème means cream. Je voudrais un café crème, s’il vous plait.
In the article I read about the Traveleyes group, there was one man who was making audio postcards. He would just go around with his phone and record little snippets of Paris. People speaking French, or of the boats going by, or the buses, or the clink of the plates in a restaurant, or whatever, so you can make an audio postcard.
And if you want to attract the waiter because you need something, you would not say garçon, I don't know where that ever came up. That would be insulting, that means boy. You would say S’il vous plaît, that means please. So S’il vous plaît, it's spelled differently than how it sounds, it's spelled S-'-I-L-V-O-U-S, that's you, and then plait, P-L-A-I with an accent over it, T, literally means if you please.
So you've had your café crème at the Champs-Élysées and you want to stroll around a little more so you just keep walking. You would see boutiques like Louis Vuitton, or Guerlain, or Ferrari, like a car. All the flagship stores are there, like Abercrombie or Sephora is there. There's some nightclubs there. There's a lot of movie theaters on the Champs Elysees, and if you're there around the Tour de France, the big bike race, it finishes off on the Champs-Élysées and then to the Arc de Triomphe. And let me spell that for you, too, because again French is only 30-40% phonetic. That means only 30-40% of the time are the letters pronounced as they are written. You don't pronounce things the way they are written. There's all these silent letters, there's accented letters, and the nasal vowels like for example Champs, the “amps.” So it's C-H-A-M-P-S, it looks like champs. It's pronounced champs. It literally means fields. So Champs-Élysées are the Elysian fields, like in mythology.
So the champs and then Élysées is E-L-Y-S-E-E with an acute accent, S.
A few other sites, Notre Dame cathedral. Well, as you probably know, there was a serious fire there on April 15th of this year, so everything's closed now in Notre Dame. I did walk up to it; it's all fenced up. You can't go anywhere on the courtyard in front of it. You cannot enter, you can't go up the towers. There was a lot of construction going on, of wood. So they are reconstructing it well. I don't know when it will be reopened, but when it does, there are wonderful free concerts there on Sunday mornings, and it's hundreds of years old. So I hope to go back and go back into Notre Dame.
Now let me talk about one of my favorite sites to visit, it's a cemetery. So you'd think, why would you want to visit a cemetery? Well, Père Lachaise is different than any other cemetery in the world and let me spell that for you. Père is P, E, R, E, like father. Lachaise, L, A, C, H, A, I, S, E. He was the French cleric who was the friend of a king or something, so they named it after Pere Lachaise. So Pere Lachaise is huge, it's 110 acres, so it's the biggest green place to walk in all of Paris. There's beautiful trees everywhere, and flowers. It's the northeast side of Paris. It's both the largest park and the largest cemetery in Paris, and maybe in the world.
So there are different estimates concerning the number of people buried there, so anywhere from 300,000 to 1,000,000 and when I was there, a man said, "That's only people that are on the top level. If you count people who are buried underneath, then it's more." But the fact is there's a lot of people buried there. Very famous people, and then some people you haven't heard of. So let me just give you a very brief list of who's buried there. Molière, the French writer. Delacroix, Georges Bizet, the musician.
Frédéric Chopin, so Chopin I think his mother was Polish, or one of his parents was Polish so I think his hands are in Poland buried there, and then his body is there in Père Lachaise. And sometimes people are playing music there, and there's lots of flowers. The Polish population really takes care of that grave site. There's always flowers there, and sometimes there's recordings of his beautiful piano music. Marcel Proust, the writer, is there. Georges Seurat, artist. Oscar Wilde, writer. Sara Bernhardt, Isadora Duncan, the dancer. Gertrude Stein, Collete, Marcel Marceau, Yves Montand.
Now let me talk about Jim Morrison and Edith Piaf. Jim Morrison was the lead musician of The Doors. So he lived there in the '70s, he died in 1971. So at the time that he died, he was in Paris, so his resting place is there. When I was a student there in 1980 it was all open, anyone could go right up to his grave. So they had people there with guitars, singing, candles, pictures of him. It was like a hippie place where you would hang out there and really celebrate his life with music, or whatever. But it became so popular now there's glass behind it, you can't go up to it at all. Too bad. Tant pis.
So that's Jim Morrison there, and then Edith Piaf. Now, I hope you've heard of Edith Piaf, she's the most famous French singer called The Little Sparrow. She had a very tragic life when she was young, and she died in her 40s, she died very young. But she was the one that sang La Vie en Rose, and Non, je ne regrette rien. Non, je ne regrette rien.
Debbie G: So you can tell how much I love Edith Piaf. Right there along with, again she had a tragic life, she had a daughter when she was 17, and the daughter died at two years of age, so there's a little grave site right next to hers for Marceline, her daughter. So there were always lots of people at the grave site of Edith Piaf, and lots of flowers. It's one of the most popular places for people to visit, because she was such an amazing singer and woman, and that's my segue into French music. That's one thing definitely to be enjoyed, and Paris is the birth of cabaret-style, and my definition of cabaret is singing to a small intimate audience. Telling your life story through song, and so the number one place is Lapin Agile, L, A, P, I, N, agile, A, G, I, L, E, so it's-
Pam W: Debbie.
Debbie G: Yes?
Pam W: Sorry to interrupt, we do have a hand raised.
Debbie G: Oh okay.
Pam W: It might be from our last topic, so I'm going to go ahead and unmute. If you could tell us... Phone number starting with 858, what your name is please.
Jay: My name is Jay.
Pam W: Welcome.
Debbie G: Yeah, go ahead Jay.
Jay: And I'm sorry, I'm kind of late, but I would like to ask you about that Traveleyes, have a phone number that we can call them?
Debbie G: Yes, they do, and so I will have that in my show notes.
They're in the UK, but maybe they have an 800 number too, that one could use toll-free. Okay, so you can enjoy la musique in Paris, and of course you have to eat something in Paris. You cannot go hungry. So you would go to one of the following. If you just want a cup of coffee, you go to a café, with the tables out on the sidewalk. It's rather expensive, you could pay, let's say, six euros, which would be what like $7 for a cup of coffee, but then you could stay there for as long as you want, and enjoy the ambience. Enjoy the conversations and the smells of France, and the sound of the people. So it's kind of like you're renting a space on the sidewalks of Paris when you buy your café, or some other drink.
If you want food, you could also get some things at café, or go to a brasserie B-R-A-S-S-E-R-I-E, and they're usually open from the morning until night, and you can have a sandwich, or maybe a dish of some kind of meat and vegetable, or soup. You always get bread with your meal. You could have some fromage, some cheese, or you could go to a restaurant, a restaurant.
So a restaurant is where you get your three, or four, or five course meal in French. So what you'd start out is by getting the entrée. So it's confusing, because in the US, an entrée is the main meal. No, in French entrée is something that you enter the meal, right. You start the meal with the entrée, or the hors d'oeuvres. So first you would order your entrée, then you would get your plat principal, your main dish. And then after that you would get a salad, often, and then the cheese course comes. And then the dessert. So it's interesting how the salad is usually eaten after the main meal if you're in a formal meal in France.
And then this cheese course, they'll come out with a plate with maybe three or more cheeses, and you choose one take a slice, and then would come your dessert. And then your coffee. The coffee is at the very end. And when you're ordering your meal, if you want to ask for the menu, don't ask for the menu, you ask for la carte, C-A-R-T-E. That's the carte, you order a la carte because the menu, M-E-N-U, that's the prix fixe. So if you said Je voudrais le menu á vingt euros, I want the menu, the prix fixe for 20 euros. Then you'd get your appetizer, your main meal, and your dessert, probably. But that's what menu is, is like the prix fixe, it's a fixed price meal. But if you want the actual printed menu, that's la carte. Just to clarify.
And then when it's time to ask for your check, L’addition, s’il vous plaît. It's like the word addition. It's spelled the same way; it means the check. L’addition, s’il vous plaît. And you don't have to tip because the 15% service, the service fee, is already included in your bill. The only reason you'd leave anything is if you had exceptional service, then you'd only round up to the nearest euro. So you'd leave one or two euros, just one or two dollars. You don't have to leave anymore, because the tip is included. And then they probably say bon appétit before you eat your meal, that means good appetite, bon appétit. So I know we're getting kind of towards the end of our time.
Pam W: Right.
Debbie G: And I'm very happy because I went through almost all of my topics. I will mention the Dans Le Noir restaurant. It's spelled D-A-N-S, that means in. Le, L-E, and noir, N-O-I-R. Dans Le Noir. Let me read you their blurb. Dining in absolute darkness, being hosted and served by the visually impaired will change your perspective of the world by inverting your point of view. It is a sensory experience that awakens your senses and enables you to completely reevaluate your perception.
So the meal is served totally in the dark, and the servers will guide people through what's on their plate, and the meal is like a prix fixe you don't really know in advance what you're getting, you're just getting the meal they have. And then later on, you can actually read a description of what you ate, but it's the whole thing to get people to perceive things in a new way. I didn't get a chance to go there, I wish I could, but next time I will but it's called Dans Le Noir. It sounds very unique and wonderful.
Pam W: Oh for sure.
Debbie G: Yes. And my last favorite thing to do in France is just to walk along the Seine, S-E-I-N-E. That's the river that goes through the center of Paris, left to right, and the right hand side is the right bank, which is the more ritzy places, and left bank is where the Sorbonne, the university, is and the more student-casual ambience would be in the left bank. But right through it is the Seine, you can take a boat down there and hear the famous monuments described, or you could have a meal there on some of the bateaux mouches, M-O-U-C-H-E-S. The bateaux mouches. Bateaux, B-A-T-E-A-U-X, mouches. Another very popular thing to do. Or just walk along the river, and hear the cornucopia of beautiful sounds in French, and smell the delicious meals coming from the brasserie or the restaurant. C’est Paris! and that's Paris for me and I hope you can go, and I wish you a bon voyage. Do we have any final questions or comments?
Pam W: I'm going to unmute Julio.
Debbie G: Go ahead, Julio.
Julio: Yes, I just wanted to mention that I really enjoyed the program. I had the opportunity to go to Paris four times, but I really enjoyed this a lot. There's a lot that you can talk about, and I was interested. When I've been in the past, I haven't taken advantage of the discounts. I love to hear about another program, a continuation and maybe get more into the transportation system, the metro system and stuff.
Pam W: What's your favorite site to visit when you've gone?
Julio: There's so many. The Tour Eiffel. I like the Tour Eiffel.
Debbie G: Eiffel Tower, yes.
Julio: And on a side note, I love the baguettes, but I was reading today that in some of the smaller towns that they've done away with a lot of the, I guess, the bakeries have gone out of business, and they've come up with these baguette machines.
Pam W: Oh, wow.
Debbie G: Oh my goodness. Not the same thing. Okay, merci, Julio. Merci beaucoup and À la prochaine. until the next time. Goodbye, everyone.