Our Trip to Paris Part 3: Paris

My family (minus one) and I recently took a trip to Paris! We had a lot of fun, and I thought I would break down the experience into three parts. (Part 1, Part 2)

Paris

Easy Go Shuttle:

We used Easy Go Shuttle for a Paris City Tour and transfers from CDG to Paris hotel, from Paris hotel to Disney hotels (our party was split into two hotels on the first night due to lack of space at the preferred hotel), and from Disney hotel to CDG.

I can’t imagine trying to navigate the Paris subway system (or streets, for that matter) with luggage and a stroller, as there are no elevators and few escalators down to the subway platforms. Taxis would have been prohibitively expensive. Easy Go was prompt (15 minutes early every time) and efficient. The drivers navigated the confusing and busy streets with ease.

They provided a car seat for free, even though infants are not required to be in a car seat in a professionally driven car in France.

They do require CASH ONLY at time of use, but as long as you know this in advance (they do mention it), it’s easy to budget for it.

They email 24 hours in advance to remind you of the time they will pick you up, which is nice. They ask for a phone number to contact you…we didn’t have a phone, but that didn’t seem to be a problem. You might be able to give your hotel’s number? I’m not sure.

Paris City Tour

Arc de Triomph. I chose this picture because it’s the only one that the driver took that included the car. It was a super comfy car.

The Tour from Easy Go Shuttle (we requested 4 hours) was incredible – the driver stopped directly in front of every major attraction, and took pictures of all of us in front of them. He also gave us little tips of things to notice, like the shop section behind Montmartre that we would never have seen if he hadn’t pointed it out.

I would recommend at least 5-6 hours for the tour, if you want to see some of the lesser known gems of the city, and to start at 9-10 am to avoid rush hour on weekdays.

Things to note: they do not provide entrance to any of the attractions. Since we were only on a 4 hour tour, it would have taken way too long to wait in line to get into any of the places. So we saw the outside of a bunch of places instead, and took a little extra time in Montmartre because it was the end of the tour.

Appart’City Clichy Mairie:

Location: directly across the street from a Casino Brand grocery store (I highly recommend the store brand products!), a half block away from the subway blue line, a cute kid’s French bookstore (La Petite Librairie) just around the corner, great bakeries in any direction. 5/5

Room: we stayed in the 3-room accommodation, as we were 4 adults and one toddler. We were on the 6th floor, and had a humongous balcony (if it had been warmer, we would have pulled the dining room table out onto it to eat dinner) and could see quite the distance. If we leaned over the side, we could see Sacre Coeur!

They brought the crib up within minutes of our arrival and set it up for us, and provided a Strawberry Shortcake balloon (life sized!), which equally fascinated, terrified, and excited the toddler.

The carpets were dingy and didn’t feel clean (and the toddler kept picking up dirt from it, so that was gross), and there were some pretty big stains/burn marks in one spot in the living room. The bathroom had some mould near the bathtub (probably from the shower dripping onto the floor). The furniture was dated, but usable.

the main living space, taken from the kitchen. We were packing up to leave at this point.

It included a tiny stove-top, kitchen sink, fridge (full sized in Europe), a tiny dishwasher, and all the dishes needed.

They provide you with very little dish soap, and you have to pay for more – go to the grocery store across the street to get more, and you’ll pay less for it. We were also given a dish towel.

There was only one garbage can in the entire space, which was odd to us, but we managed by rigging up a diaper bag disposal in our room. You have to bring the garbage bag down to the garbage room yourself (nbd). The hotel staff are not going to enter your room until you leave unless you pay extra for them to come and clean your room. (I mention this because I saw reviews of people being annoyed that they don’t clean the rooms or take away the garbage. It specifically mentions that they don’t in their policies.)

WiFi was inconsistent, but functioned well enough that we were able to watch Netflix at night. It seemed to depend on the device being used – my cell phone lost signal maybe once the entire 4 days we were there, same with my husband’s laptop. But my mother’s laptop was constantly losing signal. I blame the age of the device. 😛

There is laundry in the basement (we didn’t use it) but we did go look at it. There are 2 washers and one dryer. I think the cost was 4.50 EUR/wash, and 2 EUR/dry.

We were given more than enough towels in the bathroom, which was really nice. We had a bit of an issue with the shower spraying onto the floor, but we managed to figure out a method with the shower door that limited the spray. (I think this is a “us” issue, not a “hotel” issue.)

We didn’t partake of the breakfast, but it was 8.50 EUR pp.

We didn’t see any bugs, and we checked, because of the toddler. 4/5 (lost one star because of the carpet grossness)

Beds: possibly more comfortable than my own. 5/5

Staff: very friendly and helpful. A bit of a language barrier with some of them, but it worked out eventually. They suggested an architecture walking tour of Clichy that we enjoyed, but wished there had been more information about the buildings we were looking at included on the map. 5/5

Note: not very accessible for people with mobility issues. Tub was very high to step into, toilet room was not big enough for a rollator, and the main door into the room was very heavy (pushed inwards into apartment, lip at doorway). Plenty of space for a rollator in the main part of the apartment, and the bedrooms were pretty spacious as well.


Are you interested in travelling to Paris? You can contact Jennifer Desmarais through Orleans Travel. jennifer.desmarais@orleanstravel.ca

Shiro and Keith

It is Ottawa Comic Con today, and I’ve still got a few pictures left from last year. Yay!

Have some of my favourite people: Takashi Shirogane and Keith (presumed Kogane). We already know what would happen if the Doctor needed help – they would jump into action. Thanks for saving the universe!

Blush: TSS and menstrual cups

I am a huge supporter of the use of menstrual cups. I have used a Diva Cup since 2008, and cannot imagine switching away from it. I talk about my foray into postnatal products here, as it is not safe to use insertable menstrual products after delivery, no matter the method of delivery.

The other day, one of my friends tagged me in a link to an article describing how cups are linked to increased bacteria. At first, I just brushed it off. ONE article does not concern me. But as I was thinking about what to write this week, I realized that I was biased. I should actually sit down and do the damn research myself.

And do you know what I found? Not much.

Not only is there next to no research done on the prevalence of bacteria found on cups, there doesn’t seem to be any plans of doing any research on this. Get on this, scientists!

Moving on…

Let’s examine what Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS) actually is. If you’re like me about an hour ago, you would say, “oh, TSS has something to do with leaving tampons in for a long time.”

You’d be partially right, but mostly wrong.

Yeah, I was surprised too.

TSS is actually caused by bacteria (specifically Staph and Strep) getting into the bloodstream and releasing harmful toxins.

This is a Giant Microbe of Staph. You can buy them here.

This means something super important: Toxic Shock Syndrome is NOT limited to tampon users.

What???

That was my reaction. Anybody can get TSS. Jim Henson died from TSS, and as far as I know, he did not use tampons.

Tampons are a pretty good breeding ground for bacteria, and in the 70’s, there was a chemical compound in the “super absorbent” tampons that really increased this. Once that compound was eliminated, the number of TSS cases reported dropped drastically. Removing tampons when directed helps, too.

Also, using a higher absorbency tampon than required can cause micro-abrasions inside the vagina, leading to a higher likelihood of the bad bacteria finding a way inside the bloodstream.

Okay. Now that we’ve cleared that up, what about bacteria on cups causing TSS?

According to my research (thanks Dorothy Ann), there has been one reported case of a person getting TSS while using a cup. It was in 2015, and it was reported that there was an abrasion inside the vagina at the time of use of the cup.

We already have Staph and Strep bacteria all over our bodies at all times. They’re mostly harmless. If they are allowed to grow as a colony, breed, and then slip into our bloodstream, there is STILL a pretty high likelihood that our white blood cells will fend them off. It’s once the bacteria release the poisonous toxins that there’s a problem, and scientists still don’t know what causes that!

Without any real hard scientific evidence to prove one way or another, we can’t say that Cups are better or worse than tampons at breeding bacteria. If you look at the original article I mention again, there’s a diagram showing the amount of bacteria found on tampons and cups, with the control being just a regular vagina. Look at how much Staph they found in a regular vagina, and compare it to the rest. There is almost as much or more Staph bacteria in a regular vagina as there is on a cup or tampon! Remember, this is NORMAL. The decreased amount of bacteria on the tampon is probably due to the change in pH of a vagina from the substances on the tampon. This is not necessarily a good thing. The pH of a vagina should be balanced. You WANT to find bacteria in there! (The good kind, obviously.)

This diagram is one of the reasons why I wanted to dismiss the article immediately. It doesn’t really show anything important.

But I’m glad I did the research, if only to realize how little research has actually been done. I’m surprised, even though vaginas are apparently a dirty word in research.

I will keep using my cup, washing it thoroughly with soap after every use. But honestly, I’m not too worried.


References

https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/Toxic-shock-syndrome/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4556184/

https://www.popsci.com/toxic-shock-syndrome


If you’re enjoying the Blush blogs, consider learning more with Blush: The Card Game from Renaissance Press.

Our Trip to Paris Part 2: Versailles and the Seine

My family (minus one) and I recently took a trip to Paris! We had a lot of fun, and I thought I would break down the experience into three parts. (Part 1, Part 3)

Part 2: Versailles and the Seine

Artventures Versailles:

We took an Artventures tour to see Versailles, and we were extremely impressed with our guide (Onje? I’m unsure of the spelling of his name. Sorry!). He was very enthusiastic about the history behind Versailles, and had fascinating things to say about each room. We saw a lot of other guided tours happening at the same time (it was VERY crowded), but no one else had the animation or excitement that he had. I highly recommend him (and this company) for your tour guide.

Versailles:

Versailles
Versailles Gardens

That being said, I’m not sure I’d recommend taking a tour of Versailles itself. The Gardens, yes. The Palace, no. It was an opulent monstrosity that had very tiny (other than the Hall of Mirrors) rooms that were extremely crowded. If you really like history, yes, go see it (and a tour guide was excellent to have). Otherwise, I think the Gardens would be much more enjoyable.

Seine River cruise:

Worth it! There was an audio tour on the cruise we chose, in multiple languages, and the cruise itself was beautiful. We got to see multiple major highlights of Paris from the water, including the amazing carvings on the bridges themselves!

We got there around 7:30 pm, and were able to get on the 8 pm cruise. The timing worked well for us because it wasn’t too dark during the cruise, for the most part. We boarded directly in front of the Eiffel Tower, so it was really easy to find.

A couple things to note: no bathrooms in the waiting area before you get on the ship. No seating either. Ships depart every hour on the hour. If you have an Expedia voucher, you need to trade it in to get the ticket before you can enter.

General Paris thoughts

In Spring, even if the weather network indicates 0% chance of rain, it will rain. Dress accordingly.

There are smokers everywhere. They might pay attention to where the smoke blows in relation to their kid, but everyone else is ignored. No 9m law in France.

The sidewalks are not very well paved, and sometimes have posts in the middle of them.

The likelihood of finding an elevator or escalator down to the subway platform is practically 0%, and not 0% like the rain forecast.

Wine and cheese are very cheap and delicious. Milk isn’t necessarily refrigerated. If you can, visit a bakery for baked goods and/or quiche.

Top sheets apparently aren’t used in France – just a duvet. Am I weird that I like a top sheet, or is it a Canadian thing?

I was told in advance that I would have to dress semi-formally in order to get any respect from people in the service industry. I ignored that advice (I’m on vacation! I’m going to be comfortable!) and dressed as I usually would, in my Hufflepuff hoodie with a geek t-shirt, and I had zero problems with any services. Possible reasons for this: I have an adorable daughter who charmed everyone, I was with my parents and husband (husband and mother both dressed as I did, husband and father can look intimidating, mother has a special ability to draw the life story out of everyone she meets), or I was lucky. Who knows?


Are you interested in travelling to Paris? You can contact Jennifer Desmarais through Orleans Travel. jennifer.desmarais@orleanstravel.ca