2012 – Paris
Call me crazy, but I went with an Orange Mobicarte because I was told the it is the only pay-as-you-go micro-SIM available for an iPhone. (Getting my iPhone unlocked by AT&T is another horror story waiting to be told – luckily for all of us there is an FCC). Needless to say, service was poor. Texting worked only sometimes, or not at all. And help was never available. So, once again. BEWARE of Orange Mobicarte.
2011 – Lyon
It is with a heavy heart that I find I must criticize something in France. We love to visit France and have met many very nice friends and have had many wonderful experiences. France Telecom’s Mobicarte is NOT one of them.
Instead, the Mobicarte system seems designed for what would be called in the USA “theft of services.” In fact, the entire company seems to breed a culture of theft, especially against those who are not fluent in French. When you go into any Orange store, the attendants are so poorly trained that almost every answer to any question you have is wrong (whether they speak English or not).
Here is a brief overview of my experience with Mobicarte:
In 2010, I brought an unlocked Google Android phone to France and bought a Mobicarte SIM card to allow me to make calls in France at local rates. In addition, I could use the Internet because the phone is a smartphone. I was told in the Orange Mobicarte store on the Grande Rue de la Croix-Rousse that my phone was setup properly and all was well. So, I bought 75 Euros of time for the rest of the trip. Overnight, France Telecom sucked all 75 Euros out of the phone because the phone registers itself on the Internet! The “technician” at the Orange store failed to tell me that for only 12 Euros per month, I could have had Internet “Illimitée” – essentially unlimited Internet access. By not telling me any of this, the good little employee (manager) of the store was able to steal 75 Euros from me. The word in French for thief is “voleur.”
After visiting 5 Orange stores in Lyon, I found one that had a person who could fix my situation and setup the Internet.
Fast-forward to 2011, June, in Lyon. As my Mobicarte number was still within the French system, I foolishly turned it back on… only to discover that the convoluted menu system would not allow me to turn on the Internet service. How crazy can they be? A lot crazy, evidently. Their system seems to have been designed in the 1950s by pickpockets. Oh, well. Next time, I’ll try SFR or one of the others.
France is a beautiful country… France Telecom is an ugly monolith that is helping to destroy France’s reputation across the globe, and especially with the English-speaking community.
A great wine from a very nice friend: Sylvia at Le Petit Célestin Bistro & Restaurant. It was excellent!
And a great send off back to the USA. We hope to be back in the Spring…
Look for the smallest ancient building tucked between quai des Célestins and rue Saint- Antoine in the Marais and discover our neighborhood café, Le Temps des Cerises on the rue de la Cerisaie. In June 2011, we arrived in Paris with suitcases and camera bags and headed for the metro stop Bastille, a direct route from the Gare du Nord. Settled in for the ride, we immediately discovered that the Bastille stop was closed for construction. Two transfers later after lots of stair climbing (France is very stingy with its escalators) and a walk in the rain from the metro stop St Paul, we stumbled into Le Temps des Cerises, mid-afternoon, too late for dejeuner and too early for dîner. Not a problem for Sylvie Antoine: a plate of charcuterie and one of fromage, some bread and two beers magically appeared just before we passed out from exhaustion. Now all was right with Paris, the rain, and even our over-stuffed luggage.
We were surprised and relieved to find Le Temps des Cerises open because on previous visits to this Paris neighborhood, it was always closed. The young, new proprietor, Gregory Detouy, has expanded hours and the café is open every day (which is especially good for Monday, when many restos in Paris are closed). Facing a boulangerie-pâtisserie and around the corner from the local elementary school, Le Temps des Cerises is at a crossroads of one-way streets where there is busy foot traffic but relatively few cars.
Three days later we returned for Sunday lunch. We shared an entrée of terrine de lapin, served with sweet/savory onions braised to a warm nest of flavor. For our main course, chosen from two plats du jour, we both had églefin (haddock) rolled, sauced with dill, and served with mixed vegetables. Following this delightful meal, we sauntered home, one of the joys of neighborhood dining.
Our recommendation to travelers: choose a restaurant or café in your neighborhood and put down roots, even if only for a day or two. While it’s fun to savor new experiences and tastes, a café on your block where you return a few times during your stay for a coffee, a kir, or a meal, can weave you into the local fabric of life. You’ll recognize the locals, be greeted a bit more warmly, and relax: for a moment, this street in Paris—or wherever—is home.
Jardin des Plantes:
Or seen from the street…