Margie Rynn answered your questions about France on June 22, 2005
There are a lot of unknowns for the visitor to France this summer: Will the Euro keep going up? Will it be boiling hot? Do the French really hate Americans? One thing is for sure--centuries worth of cultural, architectural, and gustatory pleasures will be yours for the asking. The painful exchange rate may make you think twice about a serious shopping spree or a suite at the Ritz, but it certainly won't stop you from basking in the glory of the streets of Paris or gazing at fields of lavender of Provence. If you poke around, you might find that discovering a good neighborhood Mom-and-Pop café is actually a lot more fun than agonizing over the prices at Taillevent. The tourism slump has spawned endless airline promotions, and with a little research you can still find reasonably-priced accommodations. Chances are, you won't melt in your hotel room--the shock of last year's heat wave has provoked a huge investment in air-conditioning. As for Franco-American relations, don't believe the hype. Politics aside, most French people have no gripe with your average American. As long as you don't add Coca-cola to your glass of Bordeaux, or start singing Yankee Doodle Dandy during mass at Notre Dame, you should be fine. So come on over.
Margie answered your questions Tuesday, June 22, at noon EST.
Read the transcript below.
Margie Rynn has been living in France since 2000 and is currently based in Avignon. In addition to her contributions to Budget Travel (including this month's "Secret Hotels of Provence"), she has also written for Time Out New York, The Amicus Journal, Flair, and Yoga Journal. Co-author of the 2002 edition of Frommer's Paris from $80 a Day, her eclectic resume also includes editing publications for the United Nations Environmental Program and acting in a Broadway show.
Margie Rynn: Hellow there and greetings from Avignon. I'm here to answer your questions.
Atlanta, Georgia: Is the anti-American attitude I've heard about in Paris still pervasive?; When I transited through Paris (Charles DeGaulle) in 2002, I got the distinct impression that I was more than merely an inconvenience, that I wasn't wanted there.
Margie Rynn: Don't worry, pretty much everyone feels like that at Charles de Gaulle. Remember, even French people want to tear their hair out when they come up against anything or anyone official. I think anti-Americanism has died down considerably-a-- the beginning of the war in Iraq it was palpable, but now most people blame politics on the politicians and not on the people. Also, the weak dollar is hitting the tourist industry very hard over here and those in the biz really miss their American clients. Paris will always seem snotty to outsiders (it even seems that way to French people who don't live there) but I've found that a lot of it has to do with a certain French formalism...if you use a lot of Bonjour/s'il vous plait/merci and behave respectfully, they usually calm down and may even smile a bit.
Houston, Texas: I will be in the Avignon area this fall. Can you recommend any affordable flea/antique markets in the area?; How can I find about any auctions going on while I'm there and what's the best/cheapest way to get smaller stuff home?; Can you recommend any container services?;
Margie Rynn: Saturday morning there is a great flea market in the Monfavet area just outside the city walls, but get there early (like 7:30 or 8:00) to get the good stuff. Contact the Avignon tourist office for specifics: avignon.fr/. Also, there are periodic antiques/flea market events in Avignon - the tourist office should know if one is happening while you're here. The nearby town of Ile sur la Sorge has an antiques market every weekend-it w--nds all the way through the town. The town itself is worth a visit if you like wandering around little streets-the --own is laced with canals and cute little bridges. As for getting stuff home, you could try La Poste, the French postal service-it m--ght not be as expensive as you think (.laposte.fr/). I'm sorry to say I don't know of any container services...I've had a bit of trouble that way myself...
Morristown, NJ: How can I look stylish (but be comfortable) traveling in France this summer?;
Margie Rynn: Well, I'm no style maven, but I'll do my best! I don't know if you are a man or a woman, but in general, a well-fitting pair of jeans will do, as long as you put it together with some hip accoutrements. For women, the tighter the better. If you can handle it, the big rage here is low cut hip-hugger jeans with very tight t-shirts and low heeled sandles. You can get around the shoe issue by wearing some version of hip running shoes. I think the main thing to keep in mind is to think comfortable, but not sloppy. Shorts are pretty much out except in natural areas.