When your dogs are cryin'
I was told by lots of people: "Just walk everywhere in Paris." It's true that you see more of the city this way. It also makes your feet kill--no matter how good your shoes are. By day 4 in the city we could barely walk for the bruises on our soles.
We started taking the metro everywhere. What a relief!
Unique Suggestions: Stop frequently for a citron presse in a cafe. It's a great remedy.
Fun Alternatives: I wish someone had told us to alternate our walking with metro trips. It was so much better to arrive in a neighborhood fresh and not tired from the walk to GET there.
Is it just me...
Is it just me , or has Paris got something against me... Well always when I go and choose something to visit they close it... or...
for instance this is 'le Jardin des plantes' I couldn't get in because the staff was on a strike. When i wanted to see the fountains of trocadero there was no water in it because of a congres and when I wanted to see the 'obélisque' they put a football on top of it because of the worldchampionchip.
WHAT I AM SAYING? when your short in time , inform well if it's open. Let the hotel make a phonecall. Watch out for local festivities and so on.
The Notre Dame and the Sacre-Coeur. Two beautiful churches in Paris. But the prices around these churches can make a huge difference.
I checked out a shirt at 300 metres from the Notre Dame. The price was € 30,-. I didn´t buy it. Later, at 300 metres from the Sacre-Coeur I saw exactly the same shirt for only € 15,-. Half of the other price!
So if you want to buy a souvenir, don´t buy it in the citycentre, but just go a little bit outside of the centre and buy it there.Related to:
- Budget Travel
Be careful of all those rip off.
Paris is full of tourist traps. What ever you do in Paris make sure that either you know about it or find out from other resources. It is not difficult to find out you are a tourist, when they realise that you are a tourist they try to make you fool with everything. My friend had to take a taxi from Eiffel tower to his hotel, which was hardly one mile but the taxi driver took a long route and made it five miles. What a rip off. Be careful.
Le Open Tour
Le Open Tour is a bus tour of the main sites of Paris. Admittedly, the day we went on the tour was freezing and this made it uncomfortable to sit on the top level. It cost 21 euros and did little more than take you to the main monuments of the city. The automatic audio guide had very little information and kept alternating from english and french.
Unique Suggestions: Choose a warm day.
Fun Alternatives: Much easier, and much cheaper to purchase a Paris Visite ticket which gives you access to the Metro, RER and buses for either 1, 3 or 5 days. We used the 5 day pass which cost the same as this one day tour. Check out my travel tips for more details on this.
Too many people
You should come early to the major attractions. Paris is overcrowded with tourists, and you wil have to queue for quite a while.
Unique Suggestions: There is nothing you can do about, come early, or wait or come back late.
Fun Alternatives: I didn't find any. If you do, please mail it to me.
When changing dollars for euros, shop around
For the most part I used the omnipresent ATM machines to withdraw euros but I had a couple of $100 bills so I wanted to use one towards the end of my trip. Lazily, I went to the Travelex worldwide exchange on Blvd St Michel close to the Seine. Bad idea made worse by the fact I couldn't hear the teller. I missed a vital piece of info... the commission charge of 6,50 Euro. Ouch. Not to mention the poor exchange rate they offered. Later, I stumbled across a commission free exchange in one of the small shops across from Notre Dame going north. I would've received 81 Euros from that place instead of the measly 69 and change I got from Travelex. 12 Euros is nothing to laugh at. This was the biggest mistake I made in France. Please don't repeat it.
Fun Alternatives: As previously mentioned, go to the shop across Notre Dame or keep searching 'til you find a good rate without commission. Don't be lazy like I was. Better yet, just use the ATM machines. They work like a charm.Related to:
- Budget Travel
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...Related to:
- Arts and Culture
- Museum Visits
Old Museum at Arc de Triumphe
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!Related to:
- Historical Travel
Looong line-ups in the summertime!
The first time I travelled to Paris was at the beginning of April, which was still slightly off season, so we didn't have to worry about standing in line for hours and pretty much got to see everything we wanted. When I went back for a weekend in the middle of June, it was a whole other story! I thought we'd visit the catacombs, but even though we showed up an hour before opening time, the line was already streching over several meters. Same thing for Notre-Dame, which I'd simply walked in the last time. Having no desire to waste my time just standing in line, I quickly gave up on the idea of visiting these famous sites and settled for a walk around the city and some smaller museums.
Unique Suggestions: Make sure you show up really early to see the city's top attractions. If at all possible, avoid travelling to Paris during peak tourist season.
On all tourist places
If you meet people who try to sell you water, food, toys, in the street, don't buy anything. The prices are cheaper and it isn't legal.
Unique Suggestions: If the salesmen insist, make like the Parisian ones, are unaware of them!
Fun Alternatives: The best it's to stop in shops to buy anything. The law is: the prices must be visible.
More for Your Money
You probably already know this, but most currency exchange places, especially those in touristy areas, charge you an arm and a leg when you exchange money - traveller's checks or cash. I fell into this trap near Place de Terre at Montmartre, where I was shorted 45-50 Euros when I exchanged $100. You must look not just at the exchange rate, but also the amount of commission and fees, etc. that a particular place will charge.
Unique Suggestions: Three things:
1) Before you exchange your money, ask them this question: "If I give you ____ dollars, how many Euros will you give me?"
2) Ask around. Visit other exchange places, asking the same question, and compare. You will find that there can be a significant difference.
3) In Paris, the best rate I found was on the Champs-Elysees. I used to travel all the way across town to exchange my money there because the rates were so much better than everywhere else. There are a couple of McDonalds on the Champs-Elysees, one of which is underground. I believe it is near the George V metro stop. When you walk in to go down the steps into that McDonalds, there is a currency exchange place right at the TOP of those stairs. They had the best rate when I was there in 2002. Of course, it may have changed since then. Nevertheless, if you must exchange cash or traveller's checks, it is worth checking the place out.
Fun Alternatives: The way to get the most for your money is to use a credit card. However, many smaller stores, restaurants, etc. do not accept credit cards. Therefore, the second best way to get the most for your money is to bring a debit/atm card. There are plenty of ATMs everywhere, and they charge you little if any fee for using them, all the while providing you with the best exchange rate. Your bank at home, of course, will still probably charge you a small fee for not using one of THEIR ATMs, just as they do in the States. Even with these small fees, though, you still beat most, if not all, currency exchange locations when it comes to the amount you get for your money.Related to:
- Study Abroad
- Budget Travel
Dress to blend in
I'd suggest researching in advance what Parisians wear and dressing accordingly. I found out that Parisian women don't wear sneakers or shorts, so I packed slacks and skirts and sandals, and I felt like I fit right in (as much as a tourist can, that is). I didn't heed this advice when I went to Japan and wore shorts and sneakers and got stared at a lot.
It also helped us avoid some of the panhandlers and street merchants near the popular sites. Because our outfits didn't scream "I'm an American Tourist with lots of money to spend!!" they didn't bother us. I did see another couple get swarmed at Versailles though. He was wearing a Quiksilver t-shirt and shorts, and she was wearing a t-shirt, shorts, and sneakers. The street merchants called out to them "Where in America are you from? Are you from the midwest?". Those poor tourists looked really surprised the merchants could figure it out, but I could too from a mile away.
I was also pleased that because I looked like I somewhat belonged that several people stopped and asked me for directions in the Metro. I take that as a compliment.
Reduced tickets at Le Kiosque Theatre
The one we say was at Parvis de la Gare Montparnasse
Here you can find 50% reduced tickets for many spectacles in Paris with(mainly theatres)
We did not attend any due to the lack of knowledge of the language
thefts in hotels
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.
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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