Friday, January 25, 2013

Life of the Working American girl, in Paris!

Now that the hard part was over, along with all of the training, I was ready to this solo. 

       I worked for a company called Fat Tire Bike Tours.  They also did Segway tours and Skip the line tours through museums (that's me).  My job was to meet (English) speaking tour groups of about 20 people at either the Louvre, Musée d'Orsay, and Pompidou.  After I would check in the families, I would make small talk while we would wait for our guide to arrive.  In France they are very particular as to who can conduct these tours, and they must be a certified French guide.  The small talk would get a little repetitive, getting the same questions everyday but I really couldn't have found a better job.  I got to meet people from all over the world, and each had different stories and adventures they would share with me.  I also join the groups on the tours, holding up the end, to be sure we wouldn't lose anyone throughout the tour.  Easier said than done, if you have been to these museums you would know they tend to be very crowded especially in the summer time.   So it involved a lot of counting and re-counting heads.  All and all the job was pretty easy, and I enjoyed it.  It definitely had its moments where I was left thinking on my toes to solve problems and give these people the best experience while visiting this beautiful city. 

      I had to really learn my way around these huge museums and trust me that took sometime.  The first tour I took through Pompidou was certainly an interesting one.  First of all I had a man who needed elevator access for his wheelchair, and they are not always the easiest things to find (especially when its my first time there too)!  Rule number one of the job, was to make it seem like you've seen and done this all before, professional. As any job you don't want to tell anyone "Sorry, its my first day."  So unlike my training tour at the other museum, once this tour was over and all had went smooth, the guide tells us to have a wonderful afternoon and leaves us!  At this point the group can either stay in the museum or choose to exit with me and proceed to coat check.  (5 floors up, mid museum.  On my training tour the guide met, us and dropped us off at the entrance of the museum, why was this guide leaving us!)  I was enjoying this tour to much that I hadn't paid attention which direction the exit was nor the elevator!  So the people who were ready to exit look to me, the professional. As I start leading them in what I thought was the right direction, my eyes are scanning the hall for an elevator sign.  BINGO!  I found one, without a second thought, I look at the amount of people still with me (about 9) and suggest we all just squeeze in the elevator.  After everyone was piled in and the door closed, I noticed this elevator only goes up (Shiiiittt).  I hear the people suggesting I push the button and I have to embarrassingly admit that this in fact is not the right elevator.  I hear a few sighs but tried to laugh it off (common mistake) but when we stepped out I saw the exit sign!  Only problem, still no elevator just an escalator. Just before I suggest giving it a try, you know, just wheeling him backwards and I could stand a few stairs down and support the back, may be dangerous but it could work.  There was a sign for the elevator.  Only this time I didn't want to live with the embarrassment of squeezing everyone in to the elevator again.  So I sent them in that direction and told them I will meet them at the bottom.  Once I got to the bottom, I prayed it was the right elevator this time, and sure enough 5 minutes later they came wheeling up to collect their coats.  I can laugh about this now, but I couldn't even describe the 50 shades of red of must of turned.  It was also a good thing that people on vacation can also have a sense of humor.  

       I learned not only my way around the museums but around the trains, metros, and streets.  There would be days I would be running from one museums to another one, then going to our office to help out when it was needed.  I loved this job for that reason, and many more.  It allowed me to learn about Paris now and in the history of Paris through it's most famous art.  Hearing the different tour guides explain different facts about the same art work every day, I would learn new things daily.  The other wonderful part about this job was meeting all the people whom I worked with.  The office is like a little English oasis in the middle of Paris, and they would have frequent picnics, and holiday celebrations in the Champ de Mars so we could all get to know one another better.  Talking to people from work, I found I am not the only one who moved here for love.  Some others did the same thing, or came to teach English, or to work, or just to learn french.  Sad as it was, when the summer came to an end (tourist season), so did my job (which I knew when I started).  

      But Summer wasn't all work and no play......  I did manage to fit the vacation of a lifetime in there somewhere....       

Best tours in Paris! -

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