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.
Erik's RV Blog says
I was born in Oslo Norway so it's nice to meet somebody originally from Denmark!
I don't speak Danish but I know Tak is universal in Scandinavia. 🙂
Tak for den vidunderlige blog!
Robert the Skeptic says
I recall our visit to Paris when I needed to use the restroom. A gentleman exited the water closet just as I entered. I stood at the urinal, then while in "mid stream" the lights went out leaving me in complete darkness.
Apparently to save electricity, the lights are on a timer. The gentleman before me had turned on the timer and had completed his business in the appointed amount of time. I was riding on his good graces, apparently, when MY time had run out. Lesson learned.
Sounds very interesting Sonia and I think you are brave to go it alone, LOL! Especially with the toilets!
If I ever make it to Paris, I'll get all of the down low from you!
Love Di ♥
Miss Footloose says
Thank you, Sonia! I'll remember that for my next trip. I am not a Starbucks lover, but I expect they may not be the only business using this system to keep the riff-raff from walking in off the street and using their facilities.
Penelope J. says
I love your gutsy, folksy travelogue. It's fun, entertaining, and informative. Who would know that about Starbucks in Paris? And your observations of people's behavior give a better picture of Parisians than most long-winded travel accounts.
Ha, ha, ha! I have to send this to a friend who blogs about all things Starbucks! starbucksmelody.com
Welcome home, Gutsy Neighbor! Pam
As a bit of a Starbucks addict, I appreciate this information a lot. I just hope I get to Paris so I can put it to use.
Miss Sadie says
Très intérresant, Sonia. Une grande aventure.
But you're accustomed to living dangerously, in places like Belise and OC, aren't you?
A la prochaine.
Det var degligt at hore fra dig.
I'm not surprised to hear this. I wonder why?
You have to visit Paris Diana.
I Know you're the expert on travel and funny stories.
Thanks Pennie. I'm jet-lagged and hate that feeling.
Thanks for your comment. Ask her if they also have codes in NY for the Starbucks restrooms.
Why not looking for a man in Finland?
I have one. 🙂 He's a very, very kind man, my soul mate…
There are good men and people in EVERY country, and I'm sure there are other reasons in the Italian lady's story.
Madame DeFarge says
Far too complicated for me. But why don't they tell you this in guidebooks????
Perhaps this system does not apply to the other Starbucks in less busy parts of town. Not sure though.
Last time I was in Paris, no one had heard of Starbucks or even coded toilets.
Loved this little glimpse into life in Paris!
Kelli Nørgaard says
all advice related to STARBUCKS is greatly appreciated!
Phivos Nicolaides says
Thank you for the lesson, as I'll be visiting Paris next May!
LZ Blogger says
I was just in one in San Francisco that looked just like this. REALLY! I think they do that to keep the homeless people out of there. ~ j///b
I know. Now they're even at Copenhagen airport.
Don't you have one in Herning? 🙂
Have a good time in Paris. May is beautiful in general.
Now I know. Does that mean southern California doesn't have homeless?