Paris for New Years
I was very excited to be in Paris for new years, but once I was there I found that this probably isn't the best time of year for most tourists to come here. First off, everyone should know that Paris only has a big fireworks show for New Years every fifth year (2000, 2005, 2010...). Since I came for New Years 2006 and did not know this beforehand, I was expecting an awesome display but was disappointed when the only fireworks I saw were the small ones that individuals were setting off in the streets themselves. However, the Eiffel Tower is lit up beautifully, and every hour the flashing lights begin and go on for 10-15 minutes, making the whole tower sparkle.
Considering most people coming to Paris, especially for the first time, will want to see as much of the city and its arts and culture as possible but only have a few days to do so, you should know that all the museums are closed New Years day and the only thing open to see will be the Eiffel Tower. Also, the first monday of every month is a holiday and most museums will also be closed then. So if this monday happens to be January 2nd or 3rd, that is another day you will not be able to see much. Notre Dame was open then, but the bell tower was closed from January 1st - 4th, so I again was not able to climb it! The catacombs just outside Notre Dame were also closed.
Last of all, Paris is much more beautiful in the spring and summer when everything is not dead and barren. Plus waiting out in the cold and rain for over an hour to ride the elevator up the Eiffel Tower is not fun. I would never come to Paris again in the winter except maybe for New Years 2010 to see fireworks. But perhaps the only benefit of coming in the winter is it is less crowded. Even on New Years Day there were still plenty of restaurants, stores, and street merchants open for business to make it worthwhile.
Obolisque de Luxor
There are many artifacts that came from Egypt that can be found in the Louvre and in the local museums and some of them can be found in the streets such as the Obolisque de Luxor. Some of the Egyptian monuments were stolen by Napoleon and brought back to Paris.
Well should i say you must...
Well should i say you must visit the Eiffel? You gonna do it anyways! if you go on a clear night, the eiffel lights up. and on a dark blue sky it looks awesome. The parisians didnt like the Tour De Eiffel when it was built in 1889 by gustav eiffel. I told them, look at it people! it's beautiful! well they seem to like it now. Just my own story:)
Learn a Little French
If you would like to learn a little French before you arrive, check out the BBC website,
They offer an easy, interactive tutorial to learn travel French, and it's free!
Pack Light and Right
If you're not likely to travel with just a carry-on, then bring a suitcase with wheels...you'll need it--much easier to drag the bag with wheels than try to carry it. Also, packed in the bottom of your suitcase, stuff a collapsible duffel bag. You can check it on the way home (after stuffing it with some dirty laundry and such). Frees up more room for souvenirs. Try to blend in as much as possible. Opt for black as being your main wardrobe color. You can accessorize with accents of red, for example. Parisians do wear denim so feel free to bring your favorite pair along.
Bring the following, based on the length of your stay and whether or not you're doing laundry:
5 shirts, mix varies by season--include white T-shirt (for layering)
one pair of underwear and socks for each day (it may also be wise to bring at least one extra pair of each just in case your plane is delayed or anything like that)
2-3 sweaters for layering
3 pairs of pants...1 in black, 1 pair jeans, 1 in your own favorite fabric/color
dressy outfit for a nice dinner or outing to Moulin Rouge
shoes: bring 3--one dressy, two comfy for walking. Wear heaviest on plane.
black leather jacket
tie or scarf
umbrella...as soon as the first rain drop falls from the sky, the umbrella vendors are out in full force. Forget bringing sample sizes...if you have a lengthy stay, then you'll have to bring many samples or buy the products there.
Feminine hygeine products
Razor, unless you want to go "natural"
First Aid Kit: Bandaids, antiseptic, Ibuprofen/Tylenol, Moleskin for blisters, Immodium AD, cold/allergy medication, tweezers.
Spare glasses, contacts
Any medication you need, put it in your carry-on, never in checked luggage.
A loofah and soap: Many hotels don't have washcloths available.
Put your shampoo/conditioner/cleanser/anything spillable in zip-loc bags to prevent leakage. Tons of film! You never run out of subjects to capture in Paris.
I bring a point-and-shoot camera and a small digital camera.
Bring a mix of color and black and white film. Always have the security guards in the airports and elsewhere hand inspect the film. Don't put the film in your checked luggage...the x-rays are 5 times as powerful for checked luggage. Bring a journal, record your trip, jot down addresses, names of people you've met, that great wine you had at dinner, etc.
Zip-lock baggies: Great for food for picnics, containing wetness, bagging potential leaks before they happen. I put my toiletries that have the potential to leak in a zip-lock bag to prevent a big mess.
Address list for sending postcards.
Small flashlight, esp if you are going to the Catacombs.
Tiny locks...get the Travel Sentry locks (they have them at Target, for example). These locks allow the TSA to open your locks with a "special" key. It's also a good idea to lock your luggage in the hotel.
Bring Shout wipes to eliminate stains.