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The mayor's office
Favorite thing: Bertrand Delanoë was the mayor of Paris for thirteen years, from 2001 to 2014. He was elected twice, in 2001 and 2008, on a clear platform of breaking the stranglehold that automobile traffic has long held on this otherwise beautiful city. In his first campaign, he repeatedly pointed out that “private motorists, who make up a quarter of road users, take up 94 per cent of Paris’s road surfaces”.
After thirteen years the results of his policies are visible in many places all over Paris. Numerous bus, taxi and bicycle lanes have been established on major streets, with space for private motor vehicles typically reduced to one or two lanes.
Until recently conservative politicians would have howled in protest over this sort of progress, but lately they have only been doing some perfunctory grumbling because it hasn't escaped their attention that these improvements are immensely popular.
I've read somewhere that Paris is the least motorized city in France, which may seem like a ridiculous statement if you've ever been caught in city traffic, but what it means is that Paris has the lowest percentage of residents who actually own cars, so there are lots of people who suffer from the noise and pollution of motor traffic without getting any benefit from it.
These people are of course in favor of Mayor Delanoë's policies, just as diehard motorists tend to oppose them. The mayor is also controversial for other reasons, for instance because of his programs to provide subsidized housing for the poor in all twenty arrondissements of Paris. Also he is openly homosexual, like the mayor of Berlin and the former mayor of Hamburg (perhaps this is the beginning of a new trend?), but according to recent polls he is now one of the most popular of all French politicians, with an approval rate of over 60 percent.
Update: In March 2014 Anne Hidalgo was elected as the new mayor of Paris. She is the first woman to hold this office. For thirteen years she was the first deputy mayor under Bertrand Delanoë.
Second photo: Hôtel de Ville from the side.
Third, fourth and fifth photos: Bicycle use in Paris has increased considerably in recent years -- even before Velib! Here you can see some people on bicycles at the Hôtel de Ville.
toilets in Paris
Favorite thing: Usually I go to a café, order a drink and use their WC but sometimes there’s no café around, what if you just walk around, or you’re in a lovely park full of people? During my last trip in Paris (march 2014) I realized the city is full of some big space-shaped boxes, great convenient public toilets with automatic doors. There’s plenty of space inside so people with a wheelchair will fit in easily. I used the one outside Parc des Buttes-Chaumont, very convenient so we could enjoy our picnic later.
Hors service means it’s out of service.
By the way, locals use an application at their smartphones so to located the nearest public toilet:
Check it here:
And don’t forget you can always check for free toilets in main bus terminals, train stations and some large department stores (Printemps, Galleries Layfette)
looking for something different in Paris?
Favorite thing: ok I have been continuosly asked to give some tips on something unusual in Paris different than the regular sights ,well, there is many things to do in Paris, but you need time. Here are some of them that I like too.
1)"Live Escape Game" in French: by team of 3-5 persons and you have 60 minutes to find the enigma. price is 21€ per person at 62 rue Beaubourg, 75003 Paris
Site Web : http://www.hinthunt.fr
2) a big Boeing airplane simulator do things like a pilot on a Boeing 737-800 NG, you can choose the circuit from de 30 or 60 minutes . Price from 169€ per person. at 21 Quai d'Austerlitz, 75013 Paris
Site Web : http://www.flightexperience.fr
3) a similar thrill but in a car at Paddock Ellip6, you can have a drink and take the Wheel. you have 6 simulators to test your talent on a F1 car or similar ,and measure yourself against your friends and others. cost from 10€ séances at 102 rue Saint-Maur, 75011 Paris
Site Web : http://www.lepaddock-ellip6.com
4) a treasure hunt par excellence; Ma Langue au Chat is a small corner bar that will recreate treasure hunts for you; no charge for now at 58 rue Jean-Jacques Rousseau, 75001 Paris
Site Web : http://www.malangueauchat.com
5) discover Paris on a game of sleuths, with a roadbook, some accessories and you are ready to send your team on the search. Winter it is closed but it opens March 15 already !!! price from 9,50€ per person.
Site Web : http://www.quiveutpisterparis.com
6) a tour on a air ballon over Paris at 150meters . They look up once a month to know the air quality of Paris but it is avalable for a ride!!! if heavey winds the trip is cancelled. Price from 12€ per person. at Parc André-Citroën, 75005 Paris
Site Web : http://www.ballondeparis.com
7) now so you want to jump from the sky well Paris has it too, nahhh this one I have not done, but its available lol! You jump not far from Paris if the hot air ballon is not high enough this one will do. prices from 260€ per person. at 26 rue des Rigoles, 75020 Paris
Site Web : http://www.321chutelibre.fr
8) ok a museum and attraction park and hunted house, the Manoir de Paris will make you Wake up to realities such as catacombs, crocodiles in the sewers, ghost of the Opéra, etc etc etc. prices from 22,50€ per person. at 18 rue de Paradis, 75010 Paris
Site Web : http://lemanoirdeparis.fr
9) test your shooting skills with guns of 22 long rifle, 9mm, 357 magnum, M15, and MP5... or do it with weapons from the 19C. They promise real bullets and they are!!! prices from 100€ per person. at Porte de la Chapelle 75018 Paris
Site Web : http://www.tir-initiation.com
10) take a leisure ride on the Seine, with Green River with different boats that you can rent out even on the river Marne, or canal Saint-Martin for any occasion ,prices from 36€ per person. call for reservation at +33 (0) 1 46 71 38 93
Site Web : http://www.greenriver-paris.fr
11)How about a ride on an old electric bus following the principle of the Green River, this Bus Bleu lets you rent out a bus for any occasion. Another way to discover Paris! prices 61€ per person/ Réservations at +33 (0 ) 6 51 59 51 40
Site Web : http://www.lebusbleu.fr
12) take a ride in Paris on a small 2CV car ,the clichés Parisiens, and not only in Paris but elsewhere in France. Price from 10€ per person. at 22, rue Bernard Dimey, 75018 Paris
Site Web : http://www.4roues-sous-1parapluie.com
13) the underpinning of the RATP, Paris transport system. You need to reserve in advance as it is very popular, you can see the control posts of the line 1 of the metro; the tunnels of the line 12, and the shops of maintenance of the buses. Price is from 5€ per person.
Site Web : http://www.tourisme93.com
14) tour the stadium of the Stade de France; you can see the changing rooms, the police post, the nursing room, etc etc and of course see the field/pitch. prices from 10€ per person. at 93216 Saint-Denis
Site Web : http://accueil.stadefrance.com
15) You know you can rent small boats and take them out at the big parks such as Bois de Vincennes and Bois de Boulogne. prices from 10 €
site webs: http://www.vincennes-tourisme.fr/Decouvrir/Bois-de-Vincennes-et-ses-alentours/Le-Bois-de-Vincennes/Location-de-barques
16) take a night ride in a private bus; prices from 20€ per person.
Site Web : http://soireebus.fr
Now you have something different to do in Paris;enjoy the movable feast, never ceased to amaze us all.
Fondest memory: doing the boeing and F1 simulators is awesome as well as the hot air ballon.Related to:
- Family Travel
- Historical Travel
- Arts and Culture
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Falling in love with Paris and the French
Favorite thing: For many years I was a student of French culture, from taking my first books in school of Alexandre Dumas and the mouskeeteers to the Camelias, and Victor Hugo and his Hunchback; Chateaubriand essays and Voltaire explendid interpretation of the world and Rousseau perfect timing
I remember the words that still mark my daily life
" people who talk a lot do little and people who talk little do a lot" Rousseau was right
" I will disagree wholehearly with what you say, but will defend to my death ,your right to say it" ah the great Voltaire.
Then one day decided to visit Paris way back in 1972 while living in Madrid; and it was a snap shot impression to last a lifetime even today living in France.
time went on and my soaking into the French culture continues until one day in 1989 on the bicentennial of the French revolution met a Young lady from nearby Meaux (dept 77 Seine-et-Marne) who was working in Paris 11éme rue d'Hautevilliers as an assistant direction secretary for a luxury real estate company. They help decorate and renovate the Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild amongst many.
The love affair continues and she became my wife on December 26 1990 in Daytona Beach Florida USA living there first and then moving to France in August 23, 2003. with our three Florida born boys , French-American family on both sides of the Atlantic.
France has become our goal ,life ,love enjoying every single corner of it, and many still without photos as VT came much later. Paris ,however, has remained the center of it all. We take advantage of every opportunity to be back while enjoying the rest of the country.
You know Ernest Hemingway had a post edited book very famous call the Movable Feast; talking about his expériences in Paris. Well we joke in the family as he was way short of the thing that is France. If he would have travel more, he would have written a second tome edition call France, a movable feast.
Indeed the beauty never ends on all corners of the Hexagone. Enjoy France ,its eternal.
Fondest memory: walking again to the places that got me to know the city, like gare de l'est and parking by the église de pantin, and eating at Chez Clément.
there are too many to mention here really as Paris is a state of mind...Related to:
- Family Travel
- Historical Travel
Fondest memory: It was a Sunday and things were getting off to a slow start. I decided to duck into this one church near my hotel as I had heard they had a Latin Mass, which I haven't heard since I was growing up.
St Nicholas du Chardonnet is a lovely church in the Latin Quarter. First built in the 13th century it was redone in the 17th century. The church is a bit controversial as it is the home of the Pius X society, very traditionalist Catholics. The women all wear headscarves coming into the church, for example.
Latin Mass can be very beautiful and to hear it sung in this church was a beautiful experience. The acoustics were wonderful, added to the visual beauty of worshipping in such an old church.
You won't be able to hear the Latin Mass sung very often. This is a special place to hear it.Related to:
- Religious Travel
Stunning views of Paris
Favorite thing: Paris is a beautiful city and so many places give you exceptional views of the city.
One such place that I found was the balcony of the Institute du Monde Arabe. You can get on the 9th floor balcony free with your ticket for admission (free with Paris Museum Pass)
and you will pretty much be by yourself. There will be no metal bars to impede your view and no time limitation.
One of my favorite views of Notre Dame to be sure but exceptional views of the cityRelated to:
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Statues at Place du Trocadéro
Favorite thing: The Place du Trocadéro is an ideal starting point for a visit to the Eiffel Tower. From the terrace you have a great lookoff to the tower and the "golden"statues at either side at the two parts of the Palais de Chaillot are great to combine in a picture.
The palace was constructed in 1937 on the foundations of the former Palais du Trocadéro.
At December, 10, 1948 the declartion of Human Rigts was agreed in this building by the United Nations Assembly.
From 1952 till 1959 the building was home to the NATO European Headquarter.Related to:
- Historical Travel
- Arts and Culture
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Those crazy tourists
Favorite thing: Since you have seen the pictures of the famous sights in Paris so many times before it is only natural that you would want a photo of your own of these famous places.
Paris is so amazingly photogenic. I personally always travel with a main camera and a backup, in order to avoid the frustration of one that suddenly doesn't work. Carry lots of data disks and supplies, you will definitely be using them.
Fondest memory: Sometimes I have to laugh when I see other tourists. The pictures on this page struck me as funny.
The first one, I was by the Arc de Triumphe and I saw these tourists. They were very highly motivated to get the perfect picture of the Arc or the Champs Elysses. No doubt about it. They must have thought that they were immune to death, because one of these guys literally walked out into the middle of the street and started snapping pictures. Right by the Etoile!
The second, well its just tourist being tourists, jockeying for that great shot:)
Have you done these things?Related to:
Favorite thing: One of the really great surprise discoveries of my first stop in Paris was when i went to a nightclub/karaoke bar in the Latin Quarter. when the karaoke was over, and during intermissions, the dj played some incredible danceable music with this mesmerizing beat. It sounded somewhat like Sting's Desert Rose, which did in fact feature rai singer Cheb Mami. I was told it was called rai, basically an adaptation of Algerian rai music, which was censored due to heavy political overtones in Algeria. With the large Algerian community in France and the need for many popular rai artists to go into exile, there was a fusing of traditional rai with funk and dance music. This is what i heard in Paris, i loved it.
Though it is sung in French or Arabic, neither of which i understand with any great fluency, the music is super!
The things you find on vacation!
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Changes in the traffic rules
Favorite thing: In 2010 there were some changes in the French traffic code, two of which are (potentially) improvements for people on bicycles. (“Potentially” because the city authorities have to decide in each case if and where the new rules will be applied.)
One change is that cities are now allowed to open one-way streets to cyclists going the other way. Paris started doing this right away in 2010, and now noticeably more streets are open than before, though still not nearly as many as in Frankfurt.
(Germany has had this rule for a long time, and Frankfurt has gradually opened up nearly all the one-way streets with very positive results. Skeptics thought there would be more accidents with cyclists riding the “wrong” way, but in fact the opposite has happened, because cyclists and motorists can see each other and get out of each other’s way. Also the speed of cars in these streets has been greatly reduced, which is good for everybody who lives, walks or rides there.)
Another change in the French traffic code was that cities can now put up signs (first photo) allowing people on bicycles to turn right at red lights if no pedestrians are crossing. This was a long overdue change, but Paris has been slow in implementing it. As of 2012, only a few crossings have these signs.
Second photo: This new sign allows people on bicycles to go straight ahead at a red light if no pedestrians are crossing. It is used, logically enough, at crossings where there is no street going off to the right. So far I have only seen a few of these signs in Paris, however.
Third, fourth and fifth photos: People on Vélib’ bikes in 2012.
Next review from July 2012: Well, it was new at the time
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2 days in Paris for 13 to 14-year-olds
Favorite thing: In answer to a specific question on the Forum to a mother who was traveling to Paris, had only two days and was accompanied by her 13 and 14-year-old children, I came up with this one solution. Many more ideas are here on Virtual Tourist. Type Paris with children into the VT Search Window above and scroll down to Keyword Search, and click "GO!"
Notre Dame Cathedral (note gargoyles, climb up if lines aren’t too long)
Eiffel Tower (long wait to climb; perhaps just look and walk underneath for photo ops)
Rodin Museum and garden
Cluny Museum (Musée de Moyen Age) perhaps with a picnic in the garden
or . . . a picnic in the Tuileries or Luxembourg Gardens (you should visit one of these gardens)
Musée d’Orsay if you can arrange it
Not so famous but the Cité des Sciences at the Parc de la Villette is great fun. It’s the largest technical and scientific museum in Europe with lots of interactive exhibits. The famous Géode, a theater with a 180-degree screen would be fun too. There is also a Musée de la Musique in the same park with more interactive exhibits. You could turn them loose in the park for a while too.
Fondest memory: Skipping the memories, here are some web sites for the suggestions above.
Cluny Museum or Musée de Moyen Age
Rodin Museum and Gardens
Museum of Music
Museum of Science and IndustryRelated to:
- Budget Travel
- Arts and Culture
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3 Days in Paris with 2 kids under age 10
Favorite thing: You said you only have a half day for day one. Your idea of the Jardin des Plantes and a Seine River Cruise sounds great and the little zoo at the Jardin des Plantes is fun. There are also ducks wandering the garden that you can feed if you take a few baguette crumbs with you.
Day 2: Unless your kids are more patient standing in line than ours were, I'd just walk under and around the Eiffel Tower, buy them an ice cream cone and leave. Walk across the river to the Trocadero (great Eiffel Tower views), let the kids buy a funky souvenir from the many vendors there and then get on the Metro #6 in the direction of Charles de Gaulle-Etoile. This takes you to the Arc de Triomphe.
At the Arc de T. be sure you take the tunnel under the road; it's much safer than trying to cross the street. Walk around with all the other tourists, check the Eternal Flame and see if there is a huge line to go up to the top. If there isn't a long line and the elevator is working, go up and enjoy a fabulous view of Paris. If there's a huge line, I'd skip it.
Get back on the Metro #1 in the direction of Chateau de Vincennes and take it to Champs Elysées/Clemenceau stop (4 stations from the Arc). Now get out and walk the Champs Elysées toward the Place de la Concorde. This takes you on the Champs Elysées through a lovely garden with the Grand and Petit Palais on your right. It's a lovely walk and skips all the overpriced stores on the previous section of the boulevard.
At the Place de la Concorde, go up the stairs on either side and into the Tuileries Gardens. The kids can feed the fish in the first pond if they have a few baguette crumbs with them. Otherwise, walk through the Tuileries looking at all the fun things there. If it's summer, there's even a fun fair (carnival) in the Tuileries. There are also a couple outdoor cafes there and it would be a great place to stop for lunch with two kids. They can chase pigeons and ducks or sit and recover from the sightseeing. Lots to see and do including renting little sailboats if they wish.
After lunch you are right at the Louvre so this would be a good time to visit. You don't want to stand in line so go around toward the Seine, along the river and you will see two green lions at a doorway. This is the Lions' Gate and you can get into the Louvre there without any line at all. Check the web site and see what you think you and the kids might enjoy because you could spend a month inside the Louvre and not see everything. There's a fun Egyptian collection, the Napoleon apartments, neat sculptures . . . lots of paintings. Here's the web site: Official Louvre Web Site
That should pretty much finish your day. Hop the Metro back to your hotel. Did you know there's a zoo in the Bois de Vincennes?
Day 3: Take the Metro to Hotel de Ville. Then you can walk across the Seine to the Ile de la Cité and visit Notre Dame. You don't have to climb the towers, it's great just to walk through and marvel at how big and beautiful the church is. There is a small playground between the church and the river and you will often see street performers in front of the cathedral. It's fun and the kids will remember it forever. (So will you.)
Next you can walk down to Pont Neuf and go across in one direction or the other. If you want to visit Invalides, walk the Pont Neuf to the right bank and go up past the east end of the Louvre to the Louvre-Rivoli Metro station and take the #1 Metro in the direction of La Defense for 3 stations and get off at Concorde station to change to the #12 Metro direction of Maire d'Issy and get off at Assemblee Nationale right at Invalides. Visit Invalides, see Napoleon's Tomb and stop at a nearby cafe for lunch. A good choice might be to pay the euro or two to get into the Rodin gardens. There is a tea room in the gardens and you can eat while the kids run around in the gardens. There is a small play area and lots of French children will be there with them. It would be fun and you can enjoy the sculptures.
That and getting back to your hotel will give you a full but fairly relaxed day.
Then you are off to Disneyland the next day and that will be a full day.
If the kids can carry their own luggage, take the Metro out to CDG for the trip. Otherwise, you might find it easier to take a shuttle and let the driver deal with your luggage. We have used Paris Blue Shuttle and it's always been on time and reasonable. Paris Blue Shuttle
If you only do half of this, you will still have a memorable vacation and the kids will make it more fun. BTW, Parisians and the French in general, love kids so people will be happy to help you and give you directions. Just tell the kids to smile a lot and say "merci" a lot. Everyone will be enchanted.
Have a great trip.
Fondest memory: Too many memories to choose one. I suspect the most dramatic memory was our first sight of Notre Dame Cathedral.
Another outstanding memory is our delight in the number of trees and green spaces in the city. It is just so beautiful, trees, grass, flowers, people, architecture, parks . . . just wonderful.Related to:
- School Holidays
- Family Travel
- Arts and Culture
History of Paris
Favorite thing: Over the last 2,000 years Paris has grown from a small Gallic settlement to the capital of France. The settlement was founded around 250 BC by a Celtic tribe called the Parisii who established a fishing village on the banks of the river Seine. The area came under Roman control in about 52 BC and over the next few years grew considerably. Roman rule in northern Gaul collapsed and it was overrun in 464 by the Franks and made their capital in 508.Related to:
- Historical Travel
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Favorite thing: What is the origin of Paris "Ville Lumière - City of Light"?
Even in France there are questions so that Radio France Info on 14th July 2012 explained this:
D'où vient cette sensation que Paris brille de mille feux et incarne la ville lumière ? L'explication date du XVIIe siècle. Paris a été la première ville qui a utilisé les lampadaires dans les rues de la ville. C'est Gabriel Nicolas de la Reynie qui y apporte l'éclairage public. Pour lutter contre le crime encore trop fréquent dans un Paris mal éclairé.
(= The explanation dates from the 17th century. Paris was the first city that used lamps in the streets of the city. It was Gabriel Nicolas de la Reynie who brought public lighting. To fight against crime too often present in a dimly lit Paris).
Another explanation in France is that:
L’inventeur de l’éclairage au gaz, Philippe Lebon, promeut et développe son invention à Paris dans les années 1820. Dans les années 1830, le magnifique éclairage de Paris, en particulier de ses passages commerçants, fascine les Européens. Les Londoniens baptisent Paris City of Lights, périphrase traduite en français par Ville Lumière.
(= The inventor of gas lighting, Philippe Lebon, promoted and developed his invention in Paris in the 1820s. In the 1830s, the beautiful lights of Paris, especially of its shopping alleys, fascinated the Europeans. Londoners baptize Paris City of Lights, periphrasis translated into French by Ville Lumière).
It seems that there is another explanation ( here on VT) according to which "City of Light" might come from the excellence of the intellectual life during the Enlightenment period.
I doubt because the Age of Enlightenment was a cultural movement of intellectuals, indeed in the 17th and 18th century, but was not specific to Paris; it was a European movement:
It was sparked by philosophers Baruch Spinoza (1632–1677), John Locke (1632–1704), Pierre Bayle (1647–1706), physicist Isaac Newton (1643–1727), and philosopher Voltaire (1694–1778).
The new intellectual forces spread to urban centres across Europe,…, then jumped the Atlantic into the European colonies, where it influenced Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson, among many others, and played a major role in the American Revolution. (ref. Wikipedia).
Reading more about the "Siècle des Lumières" it is clear at least for me that this international philosophical and intellectual movement called "Les Lumières" in France is not linked to the use of streetlights - lampadaires in Paris but I might be wrong.Related to:
- Arts and Culture
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PARIS IN MAY
Favorite thing: We visited Paris in the month of May. We found this to be a time when Paris wasn't full of Tourist's, I'm not saying there weren't tourist's, as there were, but not like have seen and heard about in high season. It was at Notre Dame Cathedral where we met the most tourist's, and I had to wait 5-10mins to enter the Cathedral, much better than the 4 hours I have heard about in the height of summer.
Probably another plus is, prices are a little cheaper for a Hotel Room. The other plus was the weather, nice mild weather, ideal for walking and sightseeing on the top deck of the hop on/off bus. I didn't need a cardigan or jumper on although I did see others with theirs on, I didn't raise a sweat when walking, which is much better than dripping with perspiration and needing to drink heaps of water all the time and look for shade.
For us, we would return again in May to see Paris.
The Four Seasons George V is truly one of the world's great hotels. I really, really love to stay...more
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