Maybe it's unfair to call this a tourist trap: the museum is beautiful, and some pieces truly remarkable. But the ticket they charge allows us to expect more.
A few (very few) good pieces, and, when I tried to see something else, I found myself in a larger display that was... the showroom, with five or six people available to deal with clients, but not to waste their time with curious tourists.
Well... I understand: It's not a cultural entity, but an industrial company trying to survive in a, each time harder competition...
There is no category for Budget Travel so this seemed like a good place to put it. It is easy to fall into the "tourist" trap of thinking Paris is too expensive to visit. It can be very expensive, but it doesn't need to be. We consider Paris to be our favorite budget destination. Here are a few suggestions to make a trip to Paris less expensive.
Go ahead, stay in the center of town. It's okay. You can find a nice hotel right in the center of Paris for a very reasonable price. You may spend a lot of time looking for it, but you will save money so the Booking.com web site
I've made a list (constantly changing) of hotels in Paris that either I've used or have been recommended by other VTers that fall in the budget range. Several are under 100 euros a night and if you check for specials, they can sometimes be well under 100 euros. Keep in mind that if there is a fashion show or some other event in Paris that all hotel rates skyrocket so try to be flexible with your dates. Oddly, July and August are low season and lowest rates in Paris. Cheap Hotels Do Exist in Paris by Beausoleil
You will be told you can stay in the outskirts of Paris and take the Metro anyplace you like. This is true, but you will be paying for that Metro and you will be spending time going through dark, underground tunnels instead of wandering through the lovely parks of Paris. Save sightseeing time and transportation money and stay in the center of town.
Food is another problem for the budget minded. Relax, even budget travelers eat well in Paris. Of course you can spend 200+ euros on dinner if you like, but you can also spend less than 10 euros. It depends on when, where and what you eat.
First, know that the government requires all restaurants to post their menu outside so you can look at it before you go in. It's good to check prices and also to see if they are offering anything you want to eat. If the only menu is in French and you don't read French, slip inside the door and ask the waiter if you may see a copy of the menu in English. Most places will have at least one copy of their menu in English. One word of caution here: The menu translations are not always completely accurate so it's a good idea to learn the foods in French so you can order off the French menu. If you know what it is in French; you know what will arrive on your plate. The important thing here is that the prices are on the menu so if you can't afford it, don't go inside.
Unique Suggestions: If you are visiting a major tourist attraction, walk away about two or three blocks and the prices will go down dramatically and often quality goes up. Ask people you meet where they eat, not what they recommend but where they actually eat. We've found some great places this way.
Boulangeries and patisseries (bakeries and pastry shops) often have quiches, pizza and other portable foods for sale and these are very good and very inexpensive.
Street vendors can be terrific. If you see a vendor with a long line, you will get good food. There are a lot of street creperies if you like crepes.
Generally hotel breakfasts are overpriced. Unless you have a B&B arrangement at your hotel, skip the hotel breakfast (and make sure it is not on your bill) and go to the nearest bar or café for a very inexpensive breakfast.
If weather permits or if your hotel room is large enough, visit street markets, epiceries (groceries) or supermarkets and buy picnic fare. Pick up a baguette to go with it and perhaps a bottle of wine and you have a meal fit for a king. You can even eat it in a park fit for a king or perhaps the Pont des Arts watching boats go under the bridge while you eat.
Dinners are more expensive than lunches. We eat our main meal at noon and picnic in the evening unless we're so stuffed from lunch that we can't eat anything in the evening.
Finally, look for the daily special. These are often called a "Menu" or a "Formula" or simply the "Special du Jour" and they are invariably excellent and much less expensive than other things on the menu. A few even include your drink and those are real bargains.
Fun Alternatives: Finally, sightseeing. The current Mayor of Paris decided the city-owned museums should be available free of charge. Therefore, here is a list from the Mayor's office of free museums in Paris. Free Things to Do in Paris by Beausoleil
Remember parks are free. Churches are free and often have great art and music. Walking through the city is free and you'll see some of the best architecture in the world.
So, go ahead. Take that trip to Paris. You'll save so much money that you'll want to go back very soon.
Paris Story is basically a multi-media show of the type that was considered cutting-edge technology in the 1980s. It uses several slide projectors and two or three film projectors or beamers to project several still or moving pictures simultaneously onto a large screen. Typically three pictures are on the screen at the same time, and they keep fading in and out. Also there is a sound track with music and text, and the whole thing is presumably run by a computer.
If you are a fan of outmoded technologies, as I am (see my ‘personal page’ on Cutting edge technology of bygone decades), then you might enjoy Paris Story as a funky retro experience, as I did.
If you have been visiting Paris off and on for half a century, as I have, you might enjoy identifying the places and people in the rapidly changing photos.
But if you are a first-time visitor to Paris you will probably not find Paris Story to be very helpful or enlightening. For one thing, the city map that they show several times has west at the top and north off to the right, which is confusing since it differs from our customary map-making conventions. The word ‘orientation’ (related to the word ‘orient’) originally meant knowing which way is east, but I imagine some people come out of Paris Story thinking north is east and east is south.
The show lasts about fifty minutes and uses thousands of pictures, some of which appear more than once, to illustrate the history of Paris from Roman times to the present. Some of the pictures are identified, some not. For instance there is a photo of the Canal Saint Martin near the Hôtel du Nord which is shown twice and not identified either time, so unless you happen to have been there (or read my tips about it), it probably won’t mean anything to you.
On a separate screen off to the left of the main screen they show film clips of an actor playing the role of Victor Hugo and reciting some of his more or less profound pronouncements about Paris. The ones I recognized were texts that Hugo wrote during his nineteen-year exile from France between 1851 and 1870. In this phase he understandably felt homesick and tended to idealize Paris more than when he was actually living there.
I read later that the Victor Hugo clips were from a holographic projector, but I’m afraid the holographic aspect was lost on me.
Before the show there is a woman who runs around the lobby asking everybody (in English) where they come from and proudly pointing out that they have their choice of thirteen languages on the headphones, English, German, Italian, Dutch, Spanish, Swedish, Korean, Portuguese, Danish, Russian, Polish, Chinese and Japanese. Before paying I asked if there was any way to hear it in French, and she said that was the easiest. You just don’t put on the headphones, because the French version is what comes out of the loudspeakers.
The music on the sound track is mainly French classical music from various centuries (which I liked), but also some catchy Jacques Offenbach tunes to set the mood for the Second Empire in the nineteenth century, and some snatches of songs by Edith Piaf for the twentieth.
After the show a man from the audience asked me if the loudspeaker had been working on my side of the room, which it had. He said on his side the loudspeaker didn’t work so he had trouble hearing the French text. On the other hand, one of the ladies from the Netherlands said the French version from the loudspeakers (on my side of the room) was too loud so she had trouble hearing the Dutch version on her headset.
In the lobby (fourth photo) there is an interactive model of Paris – interactive in the sense that you can push buttons and things light up, sort of like the big maps they used to have in the Métro stations.
All in all, I wouldn’t really recommend Paris Story for most people (certainly not for first-time visitors to Paris), even though I personally found it rather enjoyable. And I must admit that it was cool and comfortable down there – a nice place to have a break on a hot summer afternoon.
As of 2013 the price for admission to Paris Story was € 10.50, which I think is too expensive for what you get, but most people seem to come with some sort of discount coupons.
Address: 11 bis rue Scribe, 75009 Paris
Directions: Across the street from the Opéra Garnier
Vélib’ 9106 or 9032
Phone: (+33) 1 42 66 62 06
Next review from July 2013: Galeries Lafayette
When I visited the Arc de Triumphe there was a small museum that seemed outdated. It showed a bit about the construction of the Arc as well as some of the events that had happened there.
You passed through the "museum" and then went on to the viewing terraces, which were fantasttic.
I understand the museum has been updated and there is now an elevator so that you didn't have to climb all those stairs.
Unique Suggestions: Just go directly to the viewing terraces!
Sainte-Chapelle is one of greatest wonders of Paris, but it is small. This means very long lines to enter. When planning your visit, go in advance and be prepared to a long wait
Maybe you don't know, but I'm a gentleman. The women had other plans (the shops in St German, of course) and I left our only umbrella with them.
While in the line a strong rain came and... yes, I stayed, and got totally wet.
Once inside, I quickly forgot it.
Expiation chapel is a curiosity near St Augustin and in the shopping area.
It's interesting to see Louis XVI and Marie Antoniette's first burial place, but the ticket (5€ when I was there), compared to the usual prices in the other monuments it's really high, and it doesn't justify what we see.
This is St. Germain l'Auxerrois, but not the big St. Germain l'Auxerrois near the Louvre!
There is a Grand Cathedral called Saint Germain l'Auxerrois. Beautiful, big and seeped in history. It is near the Louvre. I didn't know that at the time of my visit and mistook this smaller offering, which is also called "St. Germain l'Auxerrois." I took photos and later found out that I had missed the chance to see the big one.
Unique Suggestions: The truth is that Paris is too big and fantastic to see everything worth seeing during a holiday. However the time is spent and whatever is seen, the trip is worth it. So, it is always easy to turn a "mistake" into a grand experience while visiting the city of Paris.
Fun Alternatives: Just place your "mistakes" in the "Off The Beaten Path Tips" instead of "Must See" tips and soon others will discover the charms of the lesser known offerings of Paris.
You have always heard about the people, tired of the deprivation of human rights and needing bread and liberty storming the mighty fortress, the Bastille. You envision it is a mighty, dark foreboding place. You are coming out of the subway station, thanking your lucky stars that there is a subway stop almost right in front of the mighty fortress. When you get out, its not there!
There is no more Bastille, its just a place that used to be. Demolished, gone.
I purchased two translator apps for my iphone before we went to France & Italy earlier this year. worked great in Australia but wouldn't work in France or Italy!!!!
You have to purchase the app in the country that you wish to use it or it won't work due to Apple licensing constraints.
It stops people from trawling the web to buy apps at the cheapest price & protects their bottom line.
Not very practical when it comes to translators though!!!!!
It would be nice if you learned French before you went to Paris. Because definitely, that is a good thing. Most of the Parisians don't speak English. Asking directions will be futile. Make sure that you don't roam around without a map, a recent map.
Just a very good tip. Learn how to say "Please" , "Excuse me" and "Thank you" in French.
Unique Suggestions: Make sure to bring a travel map. You can get them at your hotel. Make sure that it has the bus and train map.
Fun Alternatives: Don't roam around at night because definitely, it is hard to find the streets. The signage of the streets are not good especially when you are driving. The cross streets are not shown directly to you.
If you are going on a tour, it is probably they will offer you optional trips like the Seine boat ride or a guided visit to Louvre or Versailles. My tour offered me those trips but the prices were very high! For example, the Siene river costs 10 euro vs 50 tour price!
Louvre 9 vs 35 and Versailles 7.5 vs 65 euro!!!!
Don't be fooled by your tour guide and explore the city! go by yourself and you'll save A LOT of money!! you'll thank me later...
At Paris I came across a very tricky method of begging by a group of people that seems to have really a huge number of members. I came across two or three new faces in every street that I walked on. Its simple. You are walking with your map on the street looking for your way to the next tourist destination, a lady, between 20 to 55 years of age comes up to you and asks you in english showing a golden ring as to whether this was yours. If you are not greedy, you say no. But then she says, that it must be your luck and that she is not greedy for it and so you must have it. You take it and see that she walks away. But moments later she will return to ask you for a sandwich or a coke. If you are generous, you pay her for her food, because she is not greedy you think and you also got a golden ring from her. If you don't she takes away the ring. Funny. Many tourists fall prey to them. When the first one had approached me I was confused as to what to do but then a nice fellow tourist prompted from behind that it was a trick and I refused to accept the ring. On my turn, I prompted this word of information to many other tourists. They are not dangerous but are definitely disturbing elements.
I stayed at a Best western hotel in Paris and 10 rooms in the hotel were ransacked while the occupants were away!My room was spared since I had left a DO NOT DISTURB board on the door as I always do while travelling abroad.But my friend who had the adjacent room lost most of his belongings,including his camera and currency.We lodged a police complaint,but not knowing French was a handicapp and the police and hotel authorities were neither apologetic or helpful.Luckily we had enough money between us to see him through the rest of the trip.
Maybe it was a freak incident,but with the exchange rates between the currency of our country and France,is so high,it was a major loss for us and left a bad taste regarding French hospitality and courtesy.My sincere advise is to put a do not disturb board when you leave your room.
Unique Suggestions: Put some 3-4 hours aside from your day to spend here! And buy a combined ticket that includes a visit to La Conciergerie as well.... it's cheaper that way and you'll get to know another place that not many people visit. The entrance is almost next door, so you won't waste time moving from one place to the other, and you get to see 2 attractions in a shorter time and at a lower price.
Fun Alternatives: I guess just stick to Notre Dame!! LOL
This is an easy one to fall for, and they may not all be scams, but more than one person we spoke to has had this happen. Especially in major tourist areas like Notre Dame, you may be approached by a little girl who asks if you speak English, then hands you a scrawly note that asks for money to help her immigrant family with any number of problems. They all look pathetic, and it's hard for me to turn them down, but it gets to be a bit much. Be careful!
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