Transport, sustenance and bump benefits
On our second night in Paris we saw a comedy show called “How to Become Parisian in One Hour?” Amongst all the hilarious scenarios, there was a bit on how to behave like a Parisian on the Metro. He described how to laugh at people who have tripped over (“not my problem”) and how to ruthlessly grab the last seat in the carriage. What do you do if a little old lady struggling to stand smiles hopefully at you? Smile back – enjoy your seat! What about a pregnant lady? Shrug – “you play, you pay.”
I did notice that on the Metro there are apparently no priority seats like we have in London… so it really is a case of courtesy (or not!) Fortunately I didn’t have much opportunity to test how Parisian the Metro really is as we only used it out of commuter hours, but one time I was offered a seat by a MAN! I emphasise the maleness because as Elly has already pointed out, it does tend to be women who notice your pregnancy and seem more sensitive in that respect. He even appeared to be a Parisian as well. Quelle joie!
In terms of the food situation, Elly is right that there are many and varied temptations on offer in Paris. On the whole I just used my common sense and tried not to worry about anything (yes, that ice cream might have contained unpasteurised milk or eggs… but if so, it is very unlikely they were contaminated with salmonella) and avoided all the obvious pitfalls. I consumed my body weight in macaroons, croissants, chocolat chaud and Orangina and was relatively happy and well-fed, with one exception.
We were in a local Swiss restaurant as Mr Cath fancied raclette (yes, I did have a bite or three, but it was cooked till bubbling). There were two set menus we could choose from, one cheaper than the other. I ordered from the more expensive one but in a couple of minutes the waiter, who looked a bit like John Hannah in Four Weddings, informed me my starter was not available. I was at a loss to choose something else – all the other starters seemed to include goat’s cheese or a selection of charcuterie. I turned to the cheaper menu. Having found a starter I thought I could eat, I asked the waiter whether the cheese was “pasteurise” (it was Beaufort, which I wasn’t sure about). He looked at me blankly and when I explained in my best French accent that I was pregnant the blank look took on something of a sneer. Imagine John Hannah turned mean! I felt like leaving the restaurant but that would have meant missing out on the raclette so in desperation I went for the salade nicoise. But there was one more hurdle: because I’d now mixed and matched the menus, I had to change my main course as well… of course, they wouldn’t swap something from the cheaper menu even though we would have paid the more expensive price!
Stop the clocks: cheese is interdit
Finally, in Paris, our baby started earning us money already! When we checked out of the apartment, the lady came over to return our deposit and after asking questions about pregnancy in the UK and reminisced about the birth of her own daughter, the following things happened, which I am sure is to do with her friendly feelings towards the bump:
(a) She returned our deposit cheque without even inspecting the apartment (not that she would have found anything… honest)
(b) She waived the fee of 40 euros that we would normally have had to pay for leaving the apartment on a bank holiday.
(c) She told us that if we booked directly through her next time rather than through the agency, she would give us a discount.
So thanks to bump, our 2014 Parisian holiday a trois is sorted!