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Bonjour! The Most Important French Word

Bonjour!  The MOST important French Word…

bonjour paris buildingBonjour!  If only someone had explained the importance of this one little French word to us before our first trip to Paris in 2010. If you learn nothing else before your trip, heed this advice.

Even if you do not know any other word in French, ‘bonjour’ will open doors!  This sounds crazy, I know, but it’s oh so very true. In the event you aren’t familiar with the word, bonjour means hello or good day.  The word holds much cultural significance around here. It’s pertinent that you say hello first, no matter what, even if you are bleeding profusely and need help (I’m only half joking) — or it’s true, some people may not be as helpful.  Who knew that one little word could be so important?

I was fortunate enough to have visited Paris as a young girl when my father was stationed with the army in Germany, but that didn’t stop me from dreaming of the day I would return to the City of Love with the love of my life.  When that time finally came, I was excited to experience it all with Doug. I still remember very vividly getting into the city around midnight. We were having a bit of difficulty finding our hotel — we did not have google maps back then (click here for the app we do recommend) because we didn’t have cell phones with us.  We knew we were in the vicinity of the hotel. So naturally when we saw a lady speaking with someone behind a welcome desk in another building, we decided to pop in and ask for assistance.  

paris portrait session pont bir hakeim“Excuse me, can you help me please? We are looking for the Marriott hotel….”  The words were barely out of our mouths and the lady responded with a flippant wave of her hand, “Non, Non I can not help you.”  What?! Did that really happen? Yes, I promise it did. Needless to say, that was the first strike for Paris and we hadn’t been in the city an hour yet.  But…had we gone in and said, “Bonsoir! (because at night you say good evening as your hello) Excuse me, can you help me please?” Things very likely would have gone a little differently, especially if we’d have thrown in a, “Parlez-vous anglais madame?”  It’s true that the French like to at least feel that you are trying in some way to speak their language. I can understand it may get annoying with all the tourists practically demanding the French speak English all the time, without even giving respect and pause to that one word, that one little word that can literally open doors.  

Funny story….turned out our hotel we were looking for was only another block down on the same side of the street.  I’m fairly certain she knew where it was, but we didn’t follow the cultural norms, so we were literally brushed off and away.  And hey, it’s possible she was simply a grumpy person by nature. Because the good news I must share with you, is that we have been living here for close to two years now, and everyone has been quite helpful, beyond helpful at times.  This first encounter story with Paris is the only one I can think of that has left me feeling so aggravated, but you better believe I now say bonjour ALL the time! And so far it seems to be working! 🙂

sacre coeur church paris

City Mapper the Best App for Finding Your Way in Paris

City Mapper is my favorite app for navigating Paris and finding my way around the city.  We weren’t introduced to this app until about 6 months after we moved here.  It really saved so much energy once we started using it.  I was always saying, “Why isn’t there an app that tells me what exit to take?!  It would make life so much easier!”  This app tells you what exit to take, where to sit on the metro, how long to walk, bike, uber, etc.  It’s all right here at your fingertips!  I highly recommend downloading City Mapper before your trip.

We’ve created some videos with a walk through of the app below.  You can also find them on our Facebook page.  If you don’t hear the audio, you may need to click the volume button on within each video window.  https://www.facebook.com/lamourdeparisblog 

We hope you find this useful for your trip to Paris!  Enjoy!

You might find our article on navigating the metro helpful too! Click Here to Read More

City Mapper 1

An amazing maps app to help you find your way in Paris! (We redid the videos because the first set had some audio issues depending which device you were viewing them from.)

Posted by L'Amour de Paris on Thursday, April 5, 2018

City Mapper 2

Some Bonus thoughts about the City Mapper app – the best maps app for navigating in Paris. (Take 2 – our first videos had some audio complications – if you didn't hear before, you should be able to hear on all devices now.) Thank you!

Posted by L'Amour de Paris on Thursday, April 5, 2018

Bonjour! The Most Important French Word » L'Amour de Paris || Romantic Parisian Portraits in the City of Love - […] We were having a bit of difficulty finding our hotel — we did not have google maps back then (click here for the app we do recommend) because we didn’t have cell phones with us.  We knew we were in the […]

American Church in Paris Wedding & Puteaux Mairie

Intimate Puteaux Mairie and American Church in Paris Wedding

mairie puteaux paris wedding

An intimate mairie (townhall) ceremony in quaint Puteaux on one Saturday to legally bond Kim and Anthony in matrimony in France, followed by a religious ceremony one week later at the American Church in Paris, two dresses, and one perfect couple equals a recipe for a lovely Paris wedding!

Kim and Anthony are absolutely adorable together.  They are both laid back and calm. Anthony is from France, and Kim from the United States.  He’s pretty quiet, yet quite the adventurer, and she’s super sweet and has the best smile. She’s the type of person you easily befriend.  And indeed, after all the wedding celebrations were over, we agreed we have to meet up for a Friday aperitif at some point just to keep in touch.  🙂

This wedding was first mairie ceremony in France that Doug and I have photographed.  Since we are still learning French, we were a touch nervous going into it, but the employees involved in their ceremony went above and beyond to make sure we were also comfortable in our roles and let us know we could move about anywhere we wanted to during the ceremony, even encouraging us to come closer several times.  It was incredible! The walls of the beautiful room they were married in were covered with murals of muted colors. It felt as though I had taken a step back in time when we first walked in the room. My heart also skipped a beat when I saw the near floor to ceiling windows with light flooding in them. Of course… it’s Paris, the City of Light, right?  Normally that’s at night of course, but I’ll happily take it in this scenario too. 😉

When it was time to begin, their intimate group of guests, took a seat along the benches.  Kim and Anthony walked in hand-in-hand and took a seat in the two oversized chairs, in front of a large desk, that reminded me of a more informal judicial desk.  A few French representatives waited at the front to oversee the ceremony. The officiant wore a French sash across his body. In France, due to the separation of church and state, it’s a legal matter and not a matter of the church when someone gets married.  To get married in France legally, it is required that the couple first marry in the town hall, but then they can also have a ceremony elsewhere if they wish to as well. The formalities were all happening in French, but to my pleasure, I was able to follow along quite well.  I heard the officiant reading aloud the precise laws dealing with marriage, I surprisingly recognized plenty of terms from my civics class. Yay! I learned more than I realized.

After the legal formalities, Kim and Anthony exchanged rings and sealed the deal with a kiss!  And then, just like that, they were married. Their family and friends quickly surrounded them with congratulatory hugs.  And of course some photos were taken with family and friends. Afterwards, they went out to celebrate at a local restaurant.  This wedding scenario is the norm here. Less muss, no fuss … much more laid back than what we are accustomed to in the U.S.

Kim was excited that her parents, sister and niece were able to stay around for the full week to be here for the ceremony at the American Church in Paris the following week.  This wedding day looked more traditional in the sense of what we are used to back home. A traditional wedding dress, a bridesmaid, a flower girl — of course it goes without saying — a groom, a church, a preacher, some readings, and a celebration after the I do’s were said.  On this day, the party continued at Les Ombres — which I have to say is quickly becoming one of my favorites! It’s part of the Musée du Quai Branly. It has an incredible, elevated view of the Eiffel Tower, and the food is delicious!

It was so enjoyable to spend the afternoon with their guests.  It was a blending of not only two families, but of two cultures.  Yet somehow, everyone managed to communicate and laugh with one another despite the fact that everyone wasn’t bilingual.  Kim’s father is known for his fun games he likes to incorporate into special events. He had everyone take a quiz about the bride and groom in true newlywed fashion.  One of Anthony’s friends stood beside her father, translating everything as he spoke into French. It was one of the funniest parts of the afternoon as gaffes were made, which spilled out into shared laughter by everyone present.  And isn’t that what a wedding celebration is all about? Love and laughter with those we hold dearest to our hearts.

Kim and Anthony, thank you for having us!  It was an honor!

puteaux mairie wedding 02puteaux mairie wedding 03puteaux mairie wedding 04puteaux mairie wedding 05american church in paris wedding 01american church in paris wedding first look 02american church in paris wedding 03american church in paris wedding 04american church in paris wedding 05american church in paris wedding 06american church in paris wedding 07american church in paris wedding 08american church in paris wedding 09american church in paris wedding at les ombres 10american church in paris wedding 11american church in paris wedding 12american church in paris wedding 14

Family Photos in Paris



One of my favorite sayings is the one that goes something like, “people come into our lives for a reason, a season, or a lifetime.”  As I get older I certainly begin to grasp this concept with more clarity.  I’m very much a people person.  I find it enjoyable to meet new people, especially here in Paris.  I was fortunate enough to spend a very quick ‘blink’ of a season with this lovely family for their family photos in Paris, on a gorgeous morning back in the fall.  The hardest part about our portrait sessions is that I often fall in love with a couple or a family, and then we quickly disappear from one another’s lives, but somehow leaving a small mark, especially with the photos, that will last forever.  Thankfully, I get to keep up with some on social media afterwards.

This precious family certainly stole my heart from the moment they arrived with their happy smiles and perfectly coordinated outfits.  Charlotte and I hit it off pretty quickly as I had Happy Birthday queued up on my phone in French for her as she was celebrating her 9th birthday the day of our session.  Alexandra was a bit more bashful, but also began to get into the spirit of the session after a few minutes, especially after I asked her to be the leader in the first photo below.  😉

It was a lot of fun to see the girls see the Eiffel Tower for the first time.  I remember that I was also 9 my first trip to Paris.  To see their eyes bulge out of their heads and hear their squeals as we pulled up to Trocadero was priceless.  Thank you for allowing me to spend the morning with you and capture your family in this moment in time!

I think their session is precious…but you can be the judge!  If you have plans to travel to Paris with your family, we’d love to help you save those memories for a lifetime.


Navigate the Paris Metro – How to Buy Tickets

Navigate the Paris Metro – How to Buy Tickets

navigate the paris metro and buy tickets

It can be stressful to find your way in an unfamiliar city, but add to it being a foreign city with a language you may not speak, and things can feel overwhelming pretty fast.  Getting from Point A to Point B has been what’s caused hiccups in our own prior travels, as well as a couple arguments I can remember stemming from one person being hangry combined with feeling at a loss of how to get to our destination because we didn’t understand the metro options.  Here we will help you navigate the Paris metro and buy tickets.

Fast forward a few years, and we finally feel we’ve got a good grasp on public transportation, even when we travel to other new cities because Paris has presented us with a great foundation.  We will be continuing a series of navigating Paris to give you our best tips and practices.  We’ll include lessons we’ve learned the hard way in hopes that you won’t make the same mistakes and can worry about one less thing during your trip.

The Paris Metro is one of the best and most efficient in the world.  It has 14 lines serving 303 stations, and that doesn’t include the bus lines, trams, and RER trains! Most of the larger, tourist stations will have people stationed near the ticket kiosks to help answer any questions you may have. Typically they do speak English as well, so don’t be afraid to ask for help if you feel lost.  They also have maps that they can give to you.  There is also generally a ticket window you can purchase your tickets from with a real live person.

Before you can pass through the turn styles and head to your destination, you need to purchase your tickets.  Our first time trying to look at the screen and figure out what we needed was a horrible experience!  And yes, it was one of those times that we had just departed a long train into Paris, needed a restroom break, and we were starving!  We thought we understood the options by reading a sign next to the ticket machine, but we still did not understand it when we started scrolling through the options on the screen in front of us.

If you are staying within the city, you likely only need Zone 1.  The main exceptions outside of Zone 1 are day trips to Disney, Chateau de Versailles,  and the Charles DeGaulle Airport.  You can find a zone map here: http://parisbytrain.com/paris-transportation-zone-map/

We’ve calculated the cost benefits on the different types of daily and monthly passes since we live here.  Unless you are going to be super ambitious, taking the metro (or bus/trams) an average of 5-7 times a day, your best bet is to purchase the book of 10 tickets, called a carnet.  This is the approach we still take on a regular basis for our own transportation needs.  Even on a busy weekend, the most tickets we may need in a day is 4-5 per person.  When you purchase a carnet, you receive a 25% discounted rate.  The individual tickets become 1,49 euro as opposed to 1,90 euro.  You’re already saving money for more wine and croissants!  🙂

I’d start with only one book and gauge how fast you use your tickets.  If you are traveling as a couple you may go through one book quickly, but it’s better to buy as you go than overspend and have too many tickets left at the end of your trip.  You will likely end up walking more than you expect, and you can also hop on a velib (bicycle) as well to help you get around more quickly.  We’ll cover the velibs on another day though!

Step by Step Paris Metro Ticket Purchase

Okay, let’s go through the images below step by step to learn how to purchase your tickets.  The first image below is what the ticket station looks like.  You’ll see stations with the touch screen as shown here, or the ones with the roller option instead of a touch screen.  If you see the purple Navigo circle as seen here, that is for locals to refill their card.  If you only see the purple circle, without the credit card option, or if it says Navigo Rechargement above it, some stations are only for the refills.  I always look for the rollers myself.  (The roller is pictured towards the bottom of this post for reference.)


Select your preferred language first by touching the screen.  If you are using a roller machine, roll to English and then click the round validate button after each selection you wish to make.  (Touchez l’écran = Touch the screen)

paris metro ticket screen

Next, touch (or roll and validate) here to buy tickets.  If you are an adult you’ll select full fare tickets on the next screen.

paris metro ticket selection

Then you select the Ticket t+ option.  (The t+ ticket is good on the metro, buses, and trams.  You may purchase individual tickets on the bus, but they are 2€ and you should try to have exact change.  Tickets purchased on the bus are not good for transfers.)

Next, you either select single journey tickets, or the book of ten tickets (carnet) as we suggested above.

paris metro ticket selections

The next screen is simply to confirm and validate your purchase.  Then you will be guided to insert your bank card or your euros.  At this point, you put your credit card in the slot, and then, very important, start looking at the instructions on the key pad/credit card screen.  It will say Patienz first, then it will ask you to enter your pin if it’s a debit card, and then wait until the screen says Retirez, which is to retrieve your card.  (Not pictured here is the screen that will ask if you would like a receipt – simply select yes or no.)  That’s it!  Your tickets will print out below.  Voila!

paris metro ticket purchase

On the main entry screen above (the fourth image) for T+ tickets, Paris Region etc. you’ll see that they saved you a step for Disney tickets. It’s listed as “Tickets for MLV Chessy Disney.”  You can skip straight to that option if you are headed out to Disney for the day and purchase the amount of tickets you’ll need.  Disney Paris is really a ton of fun!!   (NOTE:  when you depart from an RER line, which you’ll take to Disney, you do need your ticket to exit the station.)

paris metro ticket to disney

We highly recommend visiting Chateau de Versailles if your itinerary permits.  It does take a solid 1/2 to full day to go out there and explore the palace and the gardens.  If you’re going to Versailles, select the option on the T+ screen that says “Tickets for the Paris Region” and begin typing the letters for your destination.  For Versailles, we typically take the train to Versailles-Rive Gauche, and it’s a short walk to the chateau from there.  If you purchase a skip the line tour through Guidatours, their office and meeting point is directly across from the Versailles-Rive Gauche-Chateau station.  Several of our friends have used their tours and we’re very pleased with their service.

paris metro ticket to versailles

The below image shows the roller bar you’ll find on some of the machines in lieu of the touch screen functionality.  The sign to the right is a sample directory sign once inside a metro station.  This is for the 9 line.  If my stop is Trocadero for the Eiffel Tower, I would head towards Montreuil (named this because is is the final stop on this line) and depart at Trocadero.  The M6 that icon beside Trocadero simply means that the metro 6 line is also accessible from that station.  The same goes for RER AB and M3 at Havre-Caumartin station — the RER lines A and B, and the metro line 3 are all accessible at that station.

paris metro navigation

Below is the main map of the Metro, RER, and Trams within Paris courtesy of the RATP site. https://www.ratp.fr/plans

paris metro map

Paris Metro Tips

A few final tips about the metro.

Traffic is heaviest during rush hour.  It can be uncomfortably crowded if you aren’t used to being in that environment, or especially if its summertime and hot!  The rush hour here differs from the United States.  I’d say it’s busiest from about 8AM to 9:30AM and 5:30-7:30PM.

The metro runs from 5:30AM to about 1:15AM daily.  There are Noctilien buses that operate during the late night/early morning hours.  View the Noctilien, RER, and tram maps here:  https://www.ratp.fr/en/visite-paris/english/help-you-get-your-bearings-several-maps-are-your-disposal

Always hold onto your metro ticket until you have completed your journey and exited the station. Occasionally the RATP workers will be present to check and scan tickets for validity.  If you have already tossed your ticket you could be fined.  As mentioned above, if you take an RER train, it will be required to put your ticket into the turn style again to exit.  This ensures that you had purchased the correct ticket.  If your ticket doesn’t allow you to pass through, you likely went beyond your zones. The first time we went to Disney this happened to us, which is how we realized we needed a different ticket option.

We have lived in Paris for awhile now, and luckily we have not been the victim of a pick pocket, but it does happen, and we have had it happen to people we know.  The most important advice is to be especially diligent when you are in crowded situations.  Keep your wallets or phones in an interior pocket or in between yourself and your significant other.  Do not leave backpack zippers turned out towards strangers.  Take your bag off and put it in front of you in a crowded metro car.  Keep an alert eye and you should be fine.  Recently some young girls boarded the metro, and shortly after we heard an announcement on the overhead speaker.  We were being warned about the possibility of theft. How the perpetrators are so obvious and still get away with it is a bit of a mystery, but if you’re not paying attention you’re an easy target.

The more popular metro stations have an extra set of doors at the point of entry onto each metro car. When you hear the loud horn sound, it means they are closing.  The double set of doors hurt more if you get caught in the doors in an attempt to run on board last minute, ask Doug, he knows from experience.  Ouch!  Make sure you have enough time to make it through the doors, or simply wait 3-5 more minutes for the next metro train.

We hope these tips will help make your experience run more smoothly while you’re visiting us in Paris. We believe this is a very important topic; stay tuned!  We will be adding more helpful information on travel logistics in the upcoming months.  Please leave us any comments or feedback below.  Bon Voyage!

Also, if you’re looking for things to do within Paris and France, and ready to use your new skills to navigate around, check out this article we think you’ll find inspiring. https://www.your-rv-lifestyle.com/things-to-do-in-france.html 

(Finally, Below is a listing of the different prices for the other travel pass options for your review.)

paris metro ticket options

City Mapper the Best App for Finding Your Way in Paris » L'Amour de Paris || Romantic Parisian Portraits in the City of Love - […] You might find our article on navigating the metro helpful too! Click Here to Read More […]