The Gay Games Paris is scheduled to take place in August 2018. Since it will be in Paris, the organizers included the French sport of pétanque. My partner, André, and I are Canadian pétanque players in Québec, but we needed a third player since each team will be playing in triplette. Among our pétanque-playing friends, we found one who is very interested in playing on our team to represent Canada. He also has never been to Paris, let alone Europe. His partner is also a first-time visitor. They are both naturally excited about traveling there, and they feel comfortable with me and my partner guiding them around Paris since we have already visited La ville de la lumière–this will be my sixth visit.
Though our trip is many months away–we still yet have to go through Christmas–we’re all looking forward to Paris. This is for our travel companions to make their first trip to Europe memorable and stress-free as possible. We are all French speakers so I won’t mention about language barriers, except that our déjeuner (“breakfast” in Québécois French) means “lunch” to the French.
Apart from the obvious–hotel, airfare, and Gay Games registration–you do want to have a valid passport before you travel, and the validity should cover the duration of the trip. With cell phones, you can adjust your cell phone plan to include calls, text, or data plan for Europe if you need to; however, we find that it’s not necessary–just be sure to turn off wifi as your roam around to save yourself from unexpected charges when you get home. Similarly, you want to let your bank and credit card company know that you will be traveling soon. They may also need to know the start and end date of your travel. They need to know this in order to keep your account secure and to provide you service while on your trip. Some banks will let you notify them of your upcoming trip via their website. Other banks, like mine (CIBC), don’t even require notification any longer–but I make sure to buy something at the airport with my credit card so I leave a trace for them. As for cash, I typically wait until I arrive at my destination to withdraw cash from an ATM.
Once this formality is taken care of, you can move on to the fun stuff: what to pack. I use Evernote to keep a travel list for me each time I go on a trip. More likely than not, you will be bringing your cell phone with you as I do on trips. With this in mind, I bring my portable battery charger with me. Trust me, you will need it. If you’re planning to take photos with just your cell phone, you will certainly need a battery charger. Be that as it may, this is another reason why I personally bring along my Canon PowerShot SX700 HS: save a little battery life for my cell phone. Not only is my camera capable of zooming in on objects from far away, it is also capable of communicating with my cell phone. I can download photos via my camera’s wifi onto my cell phone. From my cell phone, I can edit and share my photos. I also carry one, if not two, extra camera battery with me. Listen. This is Paris. You will take a lot of pictures while you are there.
If you like to travel light, like I do, then you may be put off by bringing a laptop, maybe even a tablet. Fortunately, our cell phones are computers in their own right; and more likely than not, you access social media and important information on your handset. Since you are already bringing your cell phone, all you need is a Bluetooth keyboard if you need to write about your trip or your next blog topic. In keeping with traveling light, I also bring a small bag, the KP Urban Sling bag, for exploring the city. I store it in my luggage during the trip, then it becomes my man-purse while I’m out and about.
Clearly, you will have electronics with you whether it’s your phone, portable battery, or camera battery. Coming from Canada, you will need an adapter for Europe. Keep in mind the number of devices you will need to charge and plan when they get charged. As a rule of thumb, each person should have their own adapter. Outlets can be limited in a hotel room as well.
When you arrive, pass through customs, and find your luggage, you may be a bit disoriented at the airport. If you’re lucky to have a guide with you, like me, just follow the guide. If not, just follow the signs to the RER (Réseau Express Régional), the suburban train. Save yourself some money, and a heart attack, by skipping the taxi. You can arrive anywhere in Paris by taking the RER from the airport–we usually arrive at the Charles de Gaulle airport (CDG). Depending on where your lodging will be, I would stop at corresponding métro stations to continue on a métro line to the hotel. You will need another ticket to take the métro if you’re coming from a RER train.
As a participant of the Paris Gay Games 2018, a transportation pass will be given to you so you don’t have to worry about buying transportation tickets for the duration of the games. Once you’re in Paris, the city is free to explore. If you want to save money, there are many free things to do like see the Eiffel Tower, visit Notre Dame, relax at Jardin de Luxembourg, among other activities. Take time to soak the Parisian ambiance all in because there is a lot to see and do, and it is quite the experience especially for the first time visitors. Enjoy! Amusez-vous bien!