Observations about Tourism and Food in Paris & Comparisons with Goa
By Sapna Shahani
Although my week-long vacation was mostly to holiday, I can share a few observations as a tourist coming from Goa.
First, language was a huge barrier. It’s understandable that the French are really proud of their language and I wish we were as proud of our languages in India. But on a practical level, this does not make the tourist feel welcome. Also, the general attitude seemed arrogant, particularly, towards me as a brown-skinned person or perhaps someone of lesser means, than say, an American.
Second, somewhat surprisingly, not all my meals were impressive. I went with the expectation that I would be floored by every meal since the French are lauded for their excellent and creative cuisine. However, perhaps because I am privileged to access all the fine restaurants in Goa, I was let down by the coffee, ramen, hot chocolate and a crepe.
Thirdly, the prices generally were not all that high. I rented a studio apartment in a nice area for 150 euros for the week which is only 12,000 rupees. I pay an average of 400 Rs for a cocktail here and it was similar there, around 6 euros. Entrees at a nice bistro are around 12-15 euros which is more than the average in Goa, but that’s understandable. A croissant is usually only 1 euro which is a very good deal, since they’re delicious.
Transport is (perhaps unsurprisingly) a lot less than Goa since a single metro ticket costs only 2 euros or 160 rupees. On most days, I bought a single metro ticket to and from a different area and then walked around the rest of the time. This is even cheaper than hiring a scooter in Goa. The fact that public transportation was so well organised enabled me to explore the city on my own, with the assistance of Google Maps alone.
On the other hand, shopping is very expensive, unless you find the few stores that offer affordable prices. I shopped at C&A, Zara, H&M, Urban Outfitters, Uniqlo, Muji, Yves Rocher and Birkenstock.
One interesting tourist activity I participated in, was a ‘free tour’ where you tip at the end based on how you liked the tour. The tour guide was entertaining and provided a lot of history on the walking tour and made it clear that 10 euros would be an insult so I gave him 20 at the end of the tour.
An unfortunate aspect is that you are warned about pick-pockets everywhere and also some gambling scammers who target tourist areas, so you have to be more on your guard there, than you would have to be in Goa.