Cartoonist Visiting Paris
When summer came closer, I began to sort through my duds and toss them into my ready-to-go single piece of “cabin compliant” luggage (I try to travel as lite as possible) and hit the friendly skies once again. And I used my favorite European city (London) to strategize a new game plan and visit “The City Of Lights”….Paris. As a cartoonist visiting Paris, I did not take time to drop into the editorial offices of Charlie Hebdo or leave any portfolio samples of my stuff at any Parisian advertising agencies.
I created new cartoons while at my hotel for my own catalogs and wrote ideas in the spare time I set aside when I wasn’t writing out postcards or studying my city maps in order to familiarize myself with this interesting (and architecturally beautiful!) metropolis.
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I was interested in setting out after studying my trusty city map and get a better lay-of-the land so to speak. I’ve always been interested in geography. For those who are geography nuts, I think you can relate. It’s nice to sometimes mentally take a break from the usual….mine, being a cartoonist….and focus on an entirely different perspective!
You see, I had once visited Paris twenty one years earlier….for only a day. It was an actual day-trip at the urging of some new friends I met in London that said since the new Chunnel was built, the high speed train called The Eurostar now makes it easier than ever to get to Paris from London. Looking back, I’m not sure how I accomplished the feat, although I was 21 years younger and full of p&v! Many Brits set aside this train for a day trip of shopping in Paris and many Parisians doing likewise into London!
Mind you, that was many years ago and I had time to kill and wanted to experience a new kind of train ride and did not mind taking a day off to really test out my traveling abilities aboard this phenomenal piece of technology called the Eurostar. So I left very early and got back very late into London after a full day of literally crossing the city on foot and snapping pictures with a little cheapo 35MM camera.
If you’re interested in more background information on the Eurostar go to their site. The train ride only takes just over two hours and Eurostar provides passengers with a very comfortable seating situation along with air conditioning if it happens to be hot weather. A cafe car is provided for travelers in case you want something hot or cold to drink, along with various snacks to choose from.
Now, fast forward all these years later and it was going to be much different as I decided to research for some reliable living quarters to stay at while in Paris during summer 2019 which I did.
Here is a great video to associate you with the goings on at Gare Du Nord. Aside from what is shown here in the video, are many shops and stores around the inside of the complex that I frequented almost daily, before leaving this district of the city south onto Boulevard De Strasbourg toward The Seine.
While traversing Strasbourg or even Rue Du Faubourg St. Martin which parallels Strasbourg, you will hear languages spoken from around the globe in many shops, cafes, bistros and the like. The streets will be packed with tourists, business people and customers who frequent these small shops and stores. Have a question? Ask “speak English”? Nine times out of ten you’ll get help. I noticed many of the older French shy away, but the younger people are helpful and eager to talk.
Much to my lucky stars, prior to leaving London, I had been in the West Kensington district one afternoon and recall a good coffee shop not far from the southwest corner of Hyde Park. It was actually still in operation, although under a new owner I had discovered. A personable and good English speaking French guy who I told I was heading to his homeland. We made some small talk and he mentioned going to Kansas City with his wife as he had a brother living there and he liked the steak houses there.
Who wouldn’t, even the French like good black angus steaks I learned! Luckily, a regular customer of his had been at a table when I stopped in and he mentioned to him I was planning on spending time in Paris. The customer was actually an author who lived in Paris for years.
His name was Axel Ienna. Axel and I had an interesting talk and get this, he was even a cartoonist’s rep years before getting into his own publishing ventures and becoming an author. Axel now calls London home and is also a regression specialist doing research on mind evolution which he now studies and writes about.
Axel showed me his techniques of driving traffic to his page on Amazon in order to get more sales for his book. Something I plan to try later. Check out this link to Axel’s book called Mind Your Mind. You just never know who you’ll meet when you embark on travel to different places. But Axel helped me out with a list of Paris hotels to try and get quotes from, and lo and behold after sending out a dozen or more inquiries (to random listings around the north central part of the city), I did land a decent response.
One of my travel tips if you go overseas is to mass-email a standard inquiry to as many hotels as possible, (usually a dozen to 15 or more works for me) and once you’re comfortable with a decent number of replies, edit them and drill down to the one you feel will most suit your budget and needs. Really, I can seriously say to avoid the names like Trivago, or Hotels dot com. What you’ll get are inflated quotes with part of those fees going to the websites. How do you think they stay in business? Those national television commercials don’t come cheap!
By going directly to the hotel’s email in-box and requesting rates and availability, you’ll be doing yourself a big favor….believe me. In any case, I found Hôtel At Gare Du Nord which is actually within walking distance of the biggest train stations in France, probably Europe itself . . Gare Du Nord. If you are planning to visit Paris and / or taking the train into Paris, here is the website for Hôtel At Gare Du Nord.
This place is situated along a central train line coming into yet another huge train station called Gare Du Est. It has regional services going north and south to other parts of France and the trains are screeching 24 hours a day. The good thing is Fatima who was the desk clerk made sure my room was pointing away from the tracks, which lessened the noise greatly. Fatima spoke excellent English (she was from Turkey) and was helpful with a lot of my questions, which is great to find at any place when you’re traveling in a foreign city.
I lucked out when I found this hotel, since it offered a great rate at only 57 euros a day….including breakfast. The rooms are updated, well kept and cleaned by housekeeping every day. Elevators will take you up to the fifth floor where my room was located so it’s easy to get in and out if you’re busy shopping, sight-seeing or running to any of the local bistros or eateries.
There are also internet cafes within easy access throughout Paris I’ve noticed, along with post offices if you pay attention to the yellow “Poste” signs that are designated on the fronts of the buildings. When first navigating Paris, you’ll feel like you’re walking through a Rorschach test as the artsy feel in combination with French wording (and many other languages) adorn storefronts and businesses.
You learn quickly to refine your sense and intuition! Even if you don’t speak the language, it’s good to learn and say “au revoir” for “good bye” and “merci” for thank you. Many French on the streets I asked directions for, gave me them in English to which I’d reply “merci” and try and say it in the French vernacular.
I was starting to wonder if I sounded like Maurice Chevalier! Lol! My one big tip is know your streets. If you can master that, you can literally get to & fro rather easy. Get a good map of Paris to study. It’s an old city, so there will be a mind-boggling spiderweb of streets and avenues you’ll need to get used to. Ask your hotel for a city map too, most of them have loads of them in the lobbies. I did not engage their version of the tube they call the Metro since I didn’t want to get lost and most of the signage underground is French. I felt better to acclimate myself and acquaint myself with the actual street layout.
The streets and avenues in Paris are completely off the hook. They are as wide as an NFL football field and are adorned with trees, parks and hordes of people from all walks of life. I told a friend I can see why Hitler wanted to get his hands on this city, the architecture is stunning. Statues commemorate many of the French heroes throughout history and you’ll have to make sure you have a SIM card in your camera with more GB’s than brain cells!
Don’t hesitate to email me using my contact form here at Dans Cartoons with any questions about Paris if you’re deciding on a trip here. I may have seen something you’re inquisitive about and may be able to send you a pic or link to something. If you’re a geography nut and travel addict, you might be interested in a previous travel related post I had written from last year – Russian Cartoonist Visit.