I plan on visiting the Centre Pompidou in Paris, and take the RER (Regional Express Metro) from the suburbs west of Paris to downtown, where I exit at Chatelet-Les Halles. It’s 11:10 a.m., and fortunately there are now seats available on the RER.
It’s a fifteen minute ride and once there, I get side-tracked by what seems to be an underground shopping center. Passengers push and shove in the dark, winding tunnels of this subterranean maze.
Sandwich shops with refrigerated display cases tempt me with their sandwich jambon/fromage, (ham and cheese), pastries, and now American style wraps.
There are clothing stores, even perfume and body lotion stores in these winding hallways offering facials and waxing, on your way to or from work. My mind is focused on a specialty tea shop, with floor to ceiling tea canisters, and a mini tea pot museum.
I stand for a few seconds, confused as to how to get out of this maze. People bump into me when I hesitate; this is not a place to be unsure where you’re heading. You have to be Gutsy in Paris.
I see a Starbucks, and as I wait in line, staring at the menu in French, the woman in front of me orders a Venti Chai. When asked if she wants milk in her Chai she says, “They always put milk in your Chai at Starbucks in New York. You should know that, unless the customer asks for soy milk.” The French Barista turns defensive and throws the change back at the woman. This is Paris after all!
In case you need the restroom at a Paris Starbucks, let me warn you not to throw your receipt in the trash. Keep it handy. Punch the code at the bottom of your receipt on that gray code puncher. (See photo below.) Once inside, the door will lock automatically, don’t panic. Look for the tiny white button next to the door frame and click it. The door should open and you’ll find freedom again.
I find a table in this overcrowded French Starbucks next to two women speaking English. The blond, short-haired woman mentions she’s from Long Beach, California, yet she has a slight French accent. The other woman is Italian, and both of them are complaining about men. Once again I hear the universal theme: “I can’t find a nice man.” I told her to look in the U.S.
Now you know how to get out of a French Starbucks.