|Terrorizing Paris with my inability to speak French|
The last time I spoke French, I managed to fail my Year 9 course at High School with a rough rendition of introducing myself and then staring blankly at the teacher when he asked me further questions. This time I vowed to do better and practice French phrases to learn before Paris.
So before our trip to Paris, I popped into the local public library and borrowed the Learn French for Dummies guide. I skim-read it for about an hour or two a night and tried to learn to help us order our morning pastries and baguettes.
Below are our top French phrases to learn before Paris that we found helped us the most when we were cycling and wandering the streets of Paris. Now I am no expert, so while I have tried to explain how you say them and the translation, be prepared that the Kiwi accent that we have probably didn’t help us out too much! However, it does sound like it is spelled (in the brackets), and every time you say a line, you will gain confidence, so keep practicing.
French phrases to learn before Paris
Whenever you meet someone on the street and every time you walk into a shop, make sure you acknowledge the person with a simple greeting such as:
Bonjour (Boh(n)-zhur) Translation:Good morning and hello
Bonsoir (bohn SWAHR) Translation:Good evening
Throw in a little Monsieur or Madame to spice it up a little bit. Usually, you will get a similar response at this stage, followed by a barrage of French while you stand there with your mouth hanging open and a blank expression on your face.
Now is the time to close that mouth, smile, and break out a quick note to mention you have no idea what they so eloquently said:
Je ne comprends pas (ZHUHnuh kohm-PRAHN pah) Translation: I don’t understand.
|I got by with enough French to enjoy breakfast|
The person you are speaking to will usually switch straight into English, and you won’t have any more problems. However, I found this a bit annoying as I often wanted to practice my french rather than rely on English. So when they would answer in English, I would speak a little bit of French in each sentence if I could.
Even if it was just agreeing with or disagreeing with what they were saying:
Oui (wee) Translation: Yes
Non (non) Translation: No
You can also ask them whether or not they speak your native tongue. Surprisingly we never had anyone that we were not able to communicate with effectively or that could not talk a little bit of English:
Parlez-vous anglais? (par-layVOO Ong-LAY?) Translation: Do you speak English?
Often after the initial introduction or entrance, it is polite to ask:
Comment ça va? (koh-mahn sah vah)Translation: How are you?
And if they ask you in return, then reply with a simple:
Bien, merci (bee-uhn, MEHR-see) Translation: Fine, thank you.
|Some old bird|
A good one to use when you are wandering the Louvre with your eyes flicking back and forth between the artworks while bashing into everyone is:
Je suis Désolé (Zhuhswee DEH-soh-LAY); Translation: I am sorry
Excusez-moi (ehk-SKEW-zayMWAH) Translation: Excuse me
Another one that really helped a lot that we used when trying to find something, buy something, or just ask a question was usually to begin with:
Je voudrais… (zhuh voo-DREH…) Translation: I would like…
And if your Mum ever taught you properly, then make sure that when ordering that coffee or croissant make sure you ask politely with a:
S’il vous plait Translation:Please
The French are very polite, so make sure you never forget to use this phrase after someone has helped you.
Merci! (Mehrsee) Translation: Thank you!
Finally, on your way out, make sure you leave the same way you entered by giving them a “Cheerio” (preferably not) or:
Au revoir (oh rer-vwahr)Translation: Goodbye
Bonne nuit (bohn NWEE) Translation:Good night
And no matter what, even if I felt like I had offended them or they were rushed we would always finish with a quick:
Bonne journee (BOHN-zhuh-nay) Translation: Have a nice day
This always, without fail, seemed to generate a smile out of even the most sour-faced baker at the local corner store.
One of the best ways to learn from here is just practice, practice practice. I made a few mistakes, but I felt like we got by. One of the most valuable things we did was to write the French phrases to learn before Paris on to little post-it notes, which I stuck around the room so that every time I passed them, I could practice them before we left.
I usually also ran through the French phrases in my head (yes, I am a weirdo) if I was heading down to the Hotel Lobby or just before going into a shop so that I would say the right things. You would be surprised how often a smile and a quick attempt at speaking French would get us, rather than just butting in with, “Hey you, how do I get to that big famous metal tower?”
What have your experiences been with learning a new language or visiting a foreign-speaking country? And how did you cope?
Oh, and if you are struggling to order something in the local patisserie store, then just ask for “le pain aux raisins” (les pahn oh ray-sayn). I had two a day, and they were delicious!
My Insane The Red Light District Tour of The Amsterdam Peep Shows
Have you ever wanted to visit an Amsterdam peep show? We had the chance to go and embraced it with open arms. Check out our experience here
An Amsterdam peep show in the red light district is a must, like visiting the Eiffel Tower in Paris. Okay, slightly different. But you have got to go for the erotic experience!
And if you have ever wanted to visit Amsterdam, then more than likely, you are going to be interested in checking out a peep show in the red light district. It might be a worthwhile tour, to check out Amsterdam’s Red Light District.
Something about the red light district brothels draws the punters and tourists alike in. Maybe the bright red neon lights illuminate the darkened alleyways that pull them in like moths to a flame. Or the bars and coffee shops that let a certain smell waft lazily across the glistening canals.
Or maybe it is just the fact that sex does sell.
My Amsterdam Peep Show Tour
When we visited Amsterdam with a couple of friends, we spent what I now consider an embarrassingly long time in that same area. The fact is that we seriously could not get enough. Then we headed over to Germany, where high-class escorts had us covered.
Not like that, of course!
We couldn’t believe that everyone is so open and carefree about what is, for all intents and purposes, window shopping for sex. The number of guys knocking on windows and being ushered behind the curtains of every room was staggering.
However, we have not enticed ourselves to fork over 50 euros but were intrigued enough to want to check out an Amsterdam peep show. I want to clarify here that it was Adela that was the keenest. I didn’t want to let her down, so I went along with it…
Visiting the Amsterdam peep show
Much to our surprise, there is only one Amsterdam peep show left in the whole city back in 2012!
The very name initially “Sex Palace” is situated on the banks of one of the main canals in the heart of the red-light district on Oudezijds Achterburgwal street. Walking under the neon flashing lights into the entranceway, your senses are assaulted by sights, sounds, and disturbingly smell.
All around the walls are posters and screens showing ladies in various states of undress and positions. A whiteboard lists the movies you can rent out for your viewing pleasure in one of the many private booths. But we were only there for one thing:
The circular structure sits slightly to the left of the entrance with a dozen small doors along its walls.
Those small doors lead into equally small rooms no larger than a traditional UK phone box. A small covered viewing window blocks your view forward.
The money box clinging to the wall to operate the viewing window only accepts coins. But don’t worry if you only have notes as they handily have a large coin machine dishing out 2 euro coins for ease of watching.
Once you close the door and chuck in your money, the viewing window pops open for 2 minutes and allows you to view the large, slowly-rotating stage on which a scantily-dressed woman displays herself. She could have represented any country in the upcoming Olympics with her flexibility!
I was cracking up laughing the entire time I was in there because you can just make out the rest of the “audience” in the opposite booths. I even got a little wave and smile as the girl slowly revolved past my window.
The Amsterdam peep show was a little bit creepy. But even though we were there late on a Saturday night, the booths were making a roaring trade. From the hen parties to the couples, nearly everyone else was there for the same reason as us. To check out one or two rounds before heading back into the night giggling like school girls at a sleepover at what we had just done.
On the other hand, the shifty-eyed single men skulked away to their respective viewing windows again and again with pockets full of coins.
If you ever get the chance, we highly recommend taking the plunge and visiting an Amsterdam peep show. Just make sure that you are always respectful of the women in the performances and the ones on the streets!
Top 10 Amsterdam Peep Shows in 2022
- 1 | Stripclub BonTon
- 2 | Male Strip Show in Amsterdam For Women
- 3 | Casa Rosso Sex Shows
- 4 | 5D Porn Cinema
- 5 | Moulin Rouge Amsterdam
- 6 | Bananenbar
- 7 | Sex Palace Peep Show
- 8 | Hospital Bar
- 9 | Club LV
- 10 | La Vie en Proost – Lapdance Bar in Red Light District
Have you ever been to an Amsterdam Peep Show or a Sex show? Tell us about your experience.
Paris on a Budget: Best Cheap Eats in Paris
While Paris used to be regarded as an expensive city, you can now enjoy Paris on a Budget. Use our guide to find the Best Cheap Eats in Paris.
Although Paris has a reputation for being one of the most expensive cities globally, the rumors are now unfounded. In 2012, Paris dropped ten places in the Mercer cost of living survey. And with the Euro looking weak, now is probably a good time to find cheap flights and discover the city of love on a budget.
Eating in Paris can catch a lot of tourists out. Avoid the expensive restaurants serving fancy dishes like salmon wellington and snooty maître d’s on the Champs Elysees and follow our guide for the best cheap eats in Paris. Spend less on food and possibly splurge on friendly hotels in Paris instead!
Best Cheap Eats in Paris
Head to the Marais
Famous for its selection of ethnic eateries, the trendy Marais area of Paris is perfect for picking up a quick snack.
Check out L’As du Falafel, where you can grab a flatbread bursting with golden fried balls of falafel, smothered in hummus and accompanied with red cabbage. For €4 to take away, you can’t argue with that. Simply head to Chez Hanna down the street for equally tasty food at similarly low prices if it’s too busy.
Enjoy an Oriental baguette.
Vietnamese food is popular in France, and nowhere can you see the fusion of two cultures more clearly than at Saigon Sandwich in the Belleville district of Paris. Their specialty, banh mi, is light and crusty French baguette filled with flavors of South East Asia.
There are only a few options (poulet, boeuf, Maison, and unique), but for €3 ago, you could happily sample them all.
Find French food on the cheap.
Believe it or not, there are some restaurants specializing in French cuisine that won’t see you stumbling into your overdraft. Les Temps des Cerises is one of them.
Described by Yelp as a “Dive Bar,” nothing could be further from the truth. Run by a cooperative, it attracts a distinctly bohemian crowd. The menu is small, but the food is prepared from ingredients that sing with freshness and high quality.
Eat like a local celebrity …
Rumour has it that Pierre Herme, one of Paris’s most celebrated pastry chefs, visits the Belleville restaurant Le Baratin. The prices are surprisingly low for the delicious Argentinian fare.
Time Out Magazine recommends the tuna carpaccio with cherries or the spicy basque lamb. Pop in at lunchtime for the prixe fix menu. At €18 for three courses it’s hard to complain.
… or eat like a local office worker
Bistro Victoires is a favorite amongst Paris’s locals. It doesn’t look like much from the outside, and the wine list leaves a lot to be desired, but when you sit down to enjoy some of the best steak frites in Paris, all else will be forgiven.
Portion sizes are enormous, and the waiters often remind patrons that if they order a starter, they won’t be able to tackle the main course. Despite being a famous location steps away from the Palais Royal, it still manages to be a hidden gem.
What are your tips for finding the best cheap eats in Paris?
Travel Tip: Train to Pisa from Florence
Whether you spend a half-day or full day in Pisa, we recommend that you Train to Pisa from Florence. It’s the fastest and cheapest way to get there.
Traveling by train is one of the best ways to see the beautiful countryside of Italy. The train from Florence to Pisa takes about an hour, and the journey is stunning. The route takes you past vineyards and medieval villages, through tunnels and over bridges, with breathtaking views of the Tuscan hillsides. You can even see the Leaning Tower of Pisa as the train approaches the station.
Upon arrival in Pisa, you can explore the historic center and visit the famous cathedral, before enjoying a leisurely lunch overlooking the River Arno. With its stunning scenery and convenient location, a train trip from Florence to Pisa is a great way to spend a day in Italy.
How to get to Pisa from Florence
You have a couple of different options for your own half-day trip to Pisa from Florence depending on how you like to travel. But if you are like us and enjoy travelling around Italy by public transport, then you will definitely want to train to Pisa from Florence.
Train to Pisa from Florence
Florence and Pisa are less than 100 km apart and the easiest way is to train to Pisa from Florence. The entire trip one-way takes approximately an hour depending on your route with no transfers.
Trains leave from Florence S.M.Novella for Pisa Centrale a few times every hour. The closest train station to the leaning tower of Pisa is Pisa San Rossore, but it’s not worth the extra time or transfer required. Pisa itself is small and it takes less than 30 minutes to walk to the leaning tower from Pisa Centrale.
Plus you get to explore more of the city such as the River Arno lined with beautiful stately homes.
If you want to book online then a one-way ticket by train to Pisa from Florence will cost from €7.80 (US$10.40) in 2nd class. It is important to make sure that when you are searching online via the Italian train booking site, Trenitalia, you search for “Firenze” rather than Florence.
The train schedules are very easy to understand so we recommend booking your ticket from the self-service machines on the train platform. The return journey is just as easy in reverse. Just watch that you don’t miss the last train around 10pm most days and carry cash with you for the ticket.
Finally, validate your ticket before boarding the train. We forgot a couple of times but used the typical “I’m a stupid tourist” line to get out of any fines.
Bus to Pisa from Florence
There are two main bus companies, Terravision and Autostradale, run regular buses to and from Pisa Airport and Florence Airport into the Florence city centre, they don’t actually go into Pisa itself. The train to Pisa from Florence is so reliable, fast, and cheap, that you may not want to consider this option.
However, there are some advantages to taking the bus. You will see a lot more scenery from the window of the bus, and it’s definitely cheaper; sometimes you can find fares as low as 4 Euros, especially on Fridays.
Driving to Pisa from Florence
If you have hired a car or scooter in Tuscany then you might look at driving to Pisa from Florence. However, even though the distance is less than 100km, the trip will still take approximately 1 hour.
Aside from the fact that the train to Pisa from Florence typically takes less time than driving, you also have to avoid the crazy Italian drivers. Not to mention trying to find a carpark in two of the most popular cities in Italy. Impossible.
Guided Tour to Pisa from Florence
If you have been enjoying the sunset in Florence and all the city has to offer then you might want to take in a guided tour to Pisa from Florence. Not only do you get a great guide to learn all about the history of the area, you also don’t have to worry about getting to Pisa from Florence.
You might want to check out this guided tour around Pisa or get a little bit more adventurous and try out a segway tour in Pisa. Perfect for the family and it will keep the kids entertained between stops.
If you have a whole day, and haven’t managed to fit in a hike around Cinque Terre, then we recommend looking into the Pisa and Cinque Terre day tour. Lasting roughly 12 hours, you will travel from Florence to Cinque Terre, with a 2 hour stop in Pisa to see all the main sights.
We also reckon guides help you get the best photos, as they have seen all the poses.
Tell us below if you have taken any funny photos in Pisa!
Meet Cole and Adela
We have been wearing out our jandals (Kiwi for flip-flops) on our travel adventures around the world since 2009. We think our blog is thought provoking and a little witty. But we have been proven wrong before. Find out more about us here...
New on Four Jandals
- My Insane The Red Light District Tour of The Amsterdam Peep Shows august 9, 2022
- Paris on a Budget: Best Cheap Eats in Paris august 9, 2022
- Travel Tip: Train to Pisa from Florence august 9, 2022
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