Played in Paris

Blogger Lianna Hursh takes a trip to Paris, visits the Eiffel Tower and learns what not to do in a French restaurant.

You know that joke, a horse walks into a bar, and the bartender asks, "Why the long face?"

Here’s my revision of this joke: Two Americans walk into a French restaurant, and the waiter asks, “Want anything to drink?”

The rest of this story is funny. You will laugh. But know that at the time, my friend and I did not find this funny. We weren’t happy and we didn’t laugh. But what I’ve learned from life, and from being abroad, is often your most hideous moments end up being your greatest stories (or in this case, blogs).

We got to France at 10 a.m. It was a flawless trip, we hopped on a train and we hopped off. We made our way to our hostel, which was less than two minutes walking distance from the train station, so naturally we had to make a pit stop for a snack on the way. Best croissant ever. I don’t know how people in France aren’t a million pounds overweight but if the secret is eating croissants every day, then I am definitely down.

When we got to the hostel, we learned we were three hours early for check-in. We stored our backpacks in lockers and the receptionist complimented me on packing light. I felt proud that I hadn’t succumbed to the superficial female stereotype, but truthfully I had spent four hours the night before watching reruns of "The Office" on Netflix and simply didn’t have time for unimportant things like packing to go to another country. But he didn’t need to know that. 

We decided to take a trip to Versailles for the day since it was raining and we needed a fun activity before check-in. The receptionist told us about a shuttle the hostel sends to Versailles every day at 12 p.m. for only 29 Euros. What a deal! No. Not a deal. It didn’t take long to figure out we could use our daily metro card to take the train there quite painlessly. That was our first American screw-up.

Nonetheless, I made it to Versailles. I oo-ed and ahh-ed and took a selfie in front of a statue, the relevance of which I am very unsure of.


It was easily one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been. There’s nothing comparable to it. I spent the entire time there thinking about how unbelievable it is that human beings could create something that complex when I can’t even draw a picture of a cat. Seriously, I can't.

When we got back from the trip we were absolutely exhausted. We knocked out in the hostel for a couple hours and woke up to six strangers also living in our room for the next two days. New roommates are usually exciting but are less so when you consider the fact that they could be serial killers. Luckily, our biggest roomie issue was a 70-year-old Armenian woman who hummed a lot and wanted to learn as much about the Jersey Shore as possible. Less questionable than a serial killer, perhaps, but still pretty traumatizing.

We woke up at 7:30 p.m. and decided to take the metro to the Eiffel Tower to see it at night. It sparkles on the hour, and we got out of the metro station at 7:55 p.m., it was perfect timing. It lit up as we walked to get a closer look. I couldn’t help but think, “Bassnectar would love this.” I have serious problems.


The plan was to go straight to dinner afterwards - I had only split a sandwich with my friend at Versailles and for someone that usually eats a full meal every other minute I was definitely getting “hangry”. We soon realized there are practically no restaurants around the Eiffel Tower, an issue to say the least. Our shuttle driver from the Versailles trip had told us about a moderately priced restaurant by the Arc de Triumph, just by the river. We were so hungry that we splurged and took a cab straight there.

The second we saw this place we knew it was no joke. The “restaurant” looked like a nightclub, the napkins probably cost 100 Euros each. We went inside and sat down. Mistake number one. Before they even took our coats (yeah, they took our coats) they asked if we wanted a drink. I said yes. Mistake number two. The waiter spit out some fancy word so fast that all I could think to do was nod my head in agreement. I had just agreed to a 16 Euro glass of Champagne.

My friend and I sat in the restaurant for five minutes, staring at each other bug-eyed and disgusted by the 16 Euro Champagne we were inhaling. One of the entrees on the menu was 105 Euros. We were the only psychopaths crazy enough to be in the restaurant, so all the waiters stood by our table at arms length, watching our every move. I’ve never felt so manipulated or so uncomfortable. They didn’t even put the Champagne in a Champagne glass. I should sue, really. We paid for the drink, left with empty stomachs, and went straight to bed. The next day, we woke up early and did it right.

“No, I do not. I do not want a twenty dollar drink.” Dumb Americans.

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