Sunday, January 02, 2005

The Lighted Eiffel Tower

Last night we finally got out of the house -- at about 10pm. Not bad since the family didn't wake up until 12:30pm. But how wonderful it felt to go out last night. It was cool and a bit windy, but it felt delicious. I do love this city.
I also have a confession... our family treats the area around Eiffel Tower, Trocadero Park, as our back yard. Trocadero Park is the place our family always walks to on our first days back in Paris. We go there when we have some time on a Sunday night. The kids love the play area in Trocadero Park, and what better backdrop is there than the Eiffel Tower? When the kids want to ride their bikes, we often go there because there is a nice hill. But mostly, we go there because the whole family never tires of enjoying the sight of the Eiffel Tower.
Anyway, as we were walking out last night, I remembered a friend had told me that they are now selling wonderfully-tacky battery-operated multi-colored light-up Eiffel Towers. When I got there, I saw them.... and they are just as beautifully tacky as you can imagine! I wanted one. But I realized I only had dollars on my person. My husband had already blown through most of his cash on barbe a papa (papa's beard)/cotton candy and a nutella crepe for the kids as well as rides on the Trocadero carousel. So I just wanted to find out how much the lighted Eiffel Towers cost. I ask the second or third walking vendor that came up to me... "How much?" They all speak English. He says "15." I say "ok" thinking I'll bring 15 euro next time. He then goes "10." I say, "maybe next time." So he says "7?" I felt like telling him, "you had me at 15." Of course the price is now max 7 euro.
This reminded me of our trip to Morocco at Christmas time last year. My husband and I bought a rug and we really didn't negotiate much. We were told after that to haggle for a rug should take most of the day! We felt completely ripped off. It was still a good price... better than we could get anywhere out of Morocco, but higher than the next person could negotiate. We met a lovely French couple at our Morocco hotel and they told us Americans just can't negotiate. We don't have open markets where we can practice that skill. This couple was so good, they negotiated a lower fare for the cab driver to take them into town. We felt like such failures. It still makes me feel bad when I think about the rug experience. How are your negotiating skills?

My son enjoying a ride on the carousel at Trocadero Park.

-- said Auntie M in Paris
10:19 PM



Ahhhh....haggling over prices in Morocco!!! You know my husband is from Morocco and he is THE BEST negotiater that I have ever met in my life!! I save a lot of shopping for when we are in Morocco because I know that we get it for next to nothing. He is great here too - you should see him at the march├ęs. Hey, perhaps I should hire him out?!?! LOL

# posted by Pat : 11:46 PM  

I'm a tag sale junkie. I love to "negotiate" with certain items. I don't do it with everything because some times your getting such a great deal already it would be like stealing.

I've gotten my kids to start when they find something they like. It really helps them to get over the "shyness" factor and feel more confident in their dealings with adults. It also helps them to understand that they can walk away and not buy something if the price isn't to be lowered and to not take it personally.

I think that is a very American thing, to take negotiating personally. Many times people get VERY offended if you try to negotiate and I've even over heard snarky comments directed at foreigners who do ask for a lower price.

Unnecessary IMHO.

# posted by BohemianMama : 2:07 AM  

Ooooh, what a lovely "backyard", And I know that the parks are well kept - lucky you.

My husband says that my math skill increase for the better when I negotiate for better prices (the few times I have been able to). He attributes it to the lure of saving and seeing $$$$. But thanks for the price tip and advise about the vendors.

Sounds like you are truly home when you feel great being back and that you have a routine you do when returning (wow, again - what a nice backyard, Trocadero Park!)

Terry in SF

# posted by Anonymous : 3:27 AM  

Talking about the negotiation, Japanese people are much worse than Americans, I think. It seems your negotiation skill has improved pretty much in this one year:-)

# posted by Teriyaki : 5:28 AM  

No negotiating skills whatsoever.
OT, i have a nineteen year old year daughter who plans to spend her next school year in France. Any advice?

# posted by Sherry : 5:56 AM  

Pat, I most definitely could have used your husband when buying our rug last year. It's so hard for me to negotiate! It really is a skill.
BM, I completely agree with what you said! I did take the negotiating personally -- as I found I do with every cultural difference I come into contact with. I think I know how things should work, so when they don't work the way I'm expecting, I take it personally (like the line cutting here) when it's just another way of doing things. I'm constantly learning about these cultural differences and trying to appreciate them.
Terry, I'm completely envious of your bargining skills. Problem is I usually don't event think it's an option. I have to be more aware of the opportunities!
Teriyaki, I have so far to go, but thank you.
Sherry, I have lots of advice, but you'd need to be more specific. First, I'd start by looking at some of the sites on my blog about life in France. I'd also look at the fusac.com website. There's a lot more information if she plans to spend the time in Paris. If you have a specific question, let me know and I'll try to help.

# posted by Auntie M in Paris : 11:31 AM  

Approximately how big are these wonderfully-tacky Eiffel Towers? Because I'll be in Paris in Feb and cannot imagine a more perfect gift for one of my wonderfully-tacky friends and want to be sure to save space in the suitcase.


# posted by Anonymous : 2:12 AM  

Mary Lynn, Sorry, forgot to respond to this... the lighted Eiffel Towers are probably 10 inches tall. Definitely a must-buy.

# posted by Auntie M in Paris : 6:18 PM  

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