I see London, I see France…. (Part One – France)

paris wm
My intention was to write another installment in the “Everything is Related” Series from our most recent vacation, and I probably will eventually, but there were so many other things I wanted to say about our trip that I decided to put those off for now. There were tips I found and received before we left that came in handy and I wanted to pass them on along with some of my own observations (and maybe a little bit of whining and/or venting) for anyone else that may be heading out to Paris, Disney and/or London.

The flight: We fly often – I don’t like it. I don’t think I ever will. I am not afraid of flying I am just so very uncomfortable and I am one that can’t ever sleep on a plane – try as I might, I have never been able to sleep. We flew out of JFK and airport security was surprisingly easy. We were whisked into a Priority Line (I don’t know why) – we did not have to remove shoes, jackets or take anything out of our bags. DC did a great job and the TSA Agents were very nice and easy-going. I never even had to mention his autism.

Having said that –  I am always amazed at how many ways the airlines can come up with to make each flight sheer torture. We flew into Paris via Open Skies (Part of British Airways).  The seat was THE smallest seat I have ever seen and me with restless leg,  knew right away that this would not be good. The smallest seat in the world already had a blanket and pillow in the seat. What do you do with those if you are not going to use them right away? They went into the seatback pocket which only served to limit the amount of room in the smallest seat in the world that much more. Would it not make more sense to distribute them later? Not long into the flight the attendants distributed ipads. Now I have the blanket, pillow and an ipad to juggle in this tiny space. Within 10 minutes after the ipads were distributed they began taking dinner orders! Now we are juggling the blanket, pillow, ipad and a dinner tray. Would it not make more sense, if they were serving dinner so early in the flight to pass the ipads out AFTER dinner?

DC did well during the flight. He will not eat the airline food, so we did have snacks ready for him. I do not eat the airline food either, but always get a tray so DC can have my roll, butter and dessert. So refusing the tray for extra space was not an option.

There were times that I really thought they were going to come and take me away with all of the jumping around in the seat I was doing and there may or may not have been tears (mine) more than once trying to sit still, but I made it – vowing never to do this again.

Paris and Disneyland Paris: A week or so before we left I came across a blog, 10 Tips You Need to Know Before Visiting Disneyland Paris that had some very good information. We were booked at a Disney Hotel, so everything was right there. A few feet away was Disney Village (Disney Boardwalk). At the end of the “Village” were the entrances to Disneyland and Disney Studios. The Village and the Parks were set up much like Disneyland and California Adventure in California. I happen to like Disneyland much more than Disney World, FL. Walk-in, Walk out. I love that.

It looked to me as if they were still using the original disability access method. We have not used the special needs access since DC was very young and I have no experience with the updated method that has recently been put in place in the US. I did look into it later and for information sake and yes, it sounds close to the way I remember it: Info here. Fast passes are available as well but many of the kiosks were not open. Both Disneyland and Disney Studios open at 10:00 am. Staying on Disney property allows you access to Disneyland two hours earlier, at 8:00 am. The downside to this is that only 4 or 5 rides are open and entire sections are closed off. This only proved to aggravate DC as none of the most popular rides were open. He did get to go on “Small World” and “Alice’s Tea Cups” before the park opened.

He was excited to find Snow White’s Scary Adventure. He always loved that ride at Disney World but they did away with it a few years ago. There was also a Pinocchio ride. I don’t think we’ve ever seen that one. One of his other favorite’s is Peter Pan’s Flight. It was a little bit disappointing. Most of the time you are just in the dark. Much of the “scenery” that your ship flies over at Disney World is not there. It was a very bumpy ride, lots of stops and jerks that I really didn’t think were intentional. The words “plummet to our death” may or may not have been said when I had to go on for the second time.

Disney Studios was very much like the one in Florida and California. Unfortunately they did not have “The Great Movie Ride”, one of DC’s favorites. DC was happy to ride the Aerosmith Coaster, the Tower of Terror, The Back Lot Tour – some of his other favorites and the Indiana Jones roller coaster, which we had never seen before at any other park.

The one other tip I will give is to remember to bring things like Tylenol or whatever over-the counter medication that you think you may need. Being preoccupied with trying to sleep on the flight, I remembered the Tylenol PM, but neglected to bring anything else, just in case. They do not sell ANY OVER-THE-COUNTER medications on the property – nothing. If you need aspirin or anything of the sort, you have two options:

The desk will call a pharmacy that will deliver aspirin, Tylenol or whatever for 8 to 10 euros during the day and 42 euros at night.

The second option is to walk down to the main Disney Store in the Village – one of the clerks will then take you to a first aid station where they will distribute one dose of whatever medication you might need. The person needing this medication has to be present. Thankfully DC did not get sick as he did in Florida……

Tipping: Confusing, confusing. As American’s we are used to tipping, but leaving too large of a tip that could prove to be insulting apparently. We did know ahead of time that tipping is really not expected, but it’s very difficult not to tip if you’ve been programmed to do so all of your life. We did not know that service is included in the price of your meal. Good service warrants a couple of extra euros, but not the 15/20% that we are accustomed to.

If you’d like to leave Disney and go into Paris or vise-versa, there is a metro station located on the property in Disney Village, which is very convenient.

We did take the train into Paris one of the days we were there. It started to rain towards the end of the day so we decided to have dinner there before heading back to the train station. We came upon the Café De La Comédie. It was raining but there was actually a customer sitting outside. Inside there was just one couple. What DC will and will not eat is always an issue, but he found “Pizza” on the menu. Doug ordered what he wanted and DC ordered the Pizza. I only wanted to be sure this was a personal size and not anything larger, I made the mistake of asking how big the pizza was. The waiter then went into some sort of tirade in French that seemed to go on forever and then said “personal size”.  Ignoring his tirade, which was very difficult for me and not to mention the fact that I have a child with Autism sitting there wondering why this man is yelling at us,  I said “good, then he will have the pizza”. He then grabbed the menus looking disgusted after only taking Doug and DC’s order. I said “Can I order something too?” Now he was actually angry and shoved the menu back at me. I didn’t want to send him into another tantrum by looking at the menu for too long, so I just ordered a burger. It was a good burger I have to say.

When it came time to pay the bill, Doug left a cash tip on the table and paid with a credit card. He discovered later that the waiter added 12% to the charge after the fact. So still very confused about tipping. Maybe the 12% (over the 15% we already left – that he did not deserve at all) was really just the “American Up-charge” for horrible service.

Disney Village, Disneyland and Disney Studios were all very nice.  I would recommend visiting.  There was a language barrier but we really didn’t have any trouble. There were enough different types of restaurants in the Village to suit everyone’s tastes. There is a Starbuck’s in the Village, which may be the only place in France to get coffee, regular coffee with out foam.

Paris, the city – I could live without.

I did receive many great tips for London that I will share next time…..