You can be a danger to Paris.
We've been going to Paris for years and always loved the views of the Seine from the many bridges. This is no longer the case. Errant young lovers (and some not so young) are putting "love locks" on the sides of the bridges and tossing the keys into the Seine to symbolize their everlasting love.
That sounds so romantic until you see the results of thousands of these locks completely covering the sides of the bridges and added to chains dripping down onto the floors. You can no longer see the river through the mesh sides of the bridges. The dropped keys are polluting the river and the locks are weakening the sides of the bridges. They are creating a dangerous nuisance.
The City of Paris removes them as often and as quickly as they can but it would be too expensive to keep up with the tourists. Eventually, they will have to replace all the sides of the bridges to take care of the problem. I suspect most of the couples who declared their undying love have already split up and didn't bother to return to Paris and remove their lock. Actually, that might solve the problem.
The Bouquinistes along the river are selling love locks instead of books and posters or in addition to books and posters. It is very sad to see the ruined bridges, and the old Bouquinistes who used to be part of the Paris landscape but are now part of the tourist mania.
Do Paris a favor. Don't buy locks from these people and PLEASE don't put locks on the bridges. Maybe someday we will see the river again . . .Related to:
- Romantic Travel and Honeymoons
- Arts and Culture
These guys are here to protect you. However they are armed, devoid of a sense of humour and when put under pressure, they tend to shoot first & think later!
Packs of armed gendarmes or policemen are a common sight around airports and stations. Do not provoke them especially if you are not a white person.
Arbitrary arrests are quite common in France and you do not have the right to legal counsel during the initial police station custody. UPDATE: Following numerous decisions of the Europeen Court of Human Rights, you should now be able to get legal counsel from the start of custody, if the police pause from bashing you over the head with a phone book long enough for you to call a lawyer.
My advice: keep out of trouble!
several warning tips
-We didn’t have any serious problem in Paris but as expected there are several pickpockets especially at the crowded touristic corners but also in the metro, another problem at metro is that sometimes it’s so packed you cant even get inside and if you do you feel like a sardine (for small distances prefer to walk anyway).
-metro is huge and covers every corner, some times though its easier to walk between 2 or 3 station than walk inside the long tunnels that connect 2 metro lines
-strikes may destroy your plans but it’s very common to happen, one time we had to take taxi to the airport (that was painful) but in center you wont really bother as you can walk around
-Stay away from the people that will approach you at the funicular that goes up to Sacre Coeur, they do the stupid bracelet scam, just say no.
We noticed many beggars around the city but none of them were aggressive, some vendors are aggressive though.
-Montmartre isn’t the best place to hang around with kids at night but also the adults may have some problems at these cabarets (your credit card may be charged some extra euros for nothing)
-The tourists feel safe when they see police officers when they travel but check my pic taken at the steps of Sacre Coeur, what does a fully armed police man do there at 10.00am?!!! He looks more than a soldier ready for war…
-Some suburbs of Paris are more dangerous but the tourists never go there anyway.
-a lot of people don’t talk English or they refuse to do so, learn some basic French words, they will get happy :)
-plan ahead and make a doable itinerary, you need a lot of time waiting at long lines and queues, we spent 40’ to get inside Louvre, 120’ for the catacombs! Sometimes the Museum Pass is great for skip the line but not everywhere.
We also checked the weather 2 days in advance and adjust the itinerary according to sunny (outdoor activities) or rainy days (museums and churches)
-Paris is expensive, there are many budget options though, especially fast food places or alternative you can shop at local markets and have a great pic nic at a park, don’t forget to buy a bottle of wine too :) Churches are for free but also some city museums, Victor Hugo house, many gardens etc
Access to Pere Lachaise
I was extremely fortunate to be given some very helpful advice by a fellow VT member when I was planning my visit to Pere Lachaise cemetery. He advised me not to enter the cemetery by the main gate because this would mean that my roaming would be all uphill. Since I do have mobility issues, I took his advice and got off the Metro at Gambetta and entered the cemetery by the back gate which of course meant that my journey through Pere Lachaise was all downhill.
When I finally made it to the bottom and out the main gate, I was able to catch a bus that delivered me quite near to the Pont Neuf which was very close to my apartment.
I was so grateful for the helpful advice because the easy walk made my visit to Pere Lachaise so much nicer.Related to:
- Historical Travel
- Religious Travel
You are clearly a tourist. You have your camera displayed prominently, maybe your map in hand.
A somewhat plain looking woman approaches you and tells you she has found your wedding ring! She emphasizes it is gold, so naturally with the price of gold these days....
I didn't give them a chance to get near my wallet so they walked away pretty quickly.
Oddly, a few minutes later a different person came by with the exact same approach (you've lost your wedding ring...)
just be mindful!
WHAT A SHAME!
Not really a tip, just want to say how saddened I was to see a public statue grafittied!
I know, we have grafittti in Australia, the artists attack Trains and buildings, fences and roads, but they seem to leave Statues alone.
Such a shame to see this happening in Paris!
€20 for “breakfast”. A cup of coffee. A wee orange juice. 3 minuscule pastries. I should have had a bread roll too, but I guess they wanted to push the boat out with their rip-off and “forgot” it.
I wasn’t sure about that until I checked their menu online later. It explains why I was given butter & jam.
Service was very good. Clearly part of the scam. Smile and be nice to the idiot tourist.
It’s in the Richelieu section of the Louvre.
I suppose it would be boring to spend 4 days in Paris and not be ripped off once...Related to:
- Arts and Culture
- Museum Visits
- Food and Dining
In the mid-noughties there was a spate (I haven’t used that word for a long time) of news reports about bad fires in Paris. I don't know if there are really more fires here than elsewhere, but maybe there are because of all the old firetrap buildings.
I happened to see this small fire in 2006 as I was walking around the block waiting for the box office at the Théâtre des Champs-Elysées to open.
As far as I know this fire did not do much damage, and did not affect the theater.
Second photo: Here the sapeurs-pompiers have extended a ladder up to where the smoke is coming from.
Third photo: I must admit I started getting dizzy just watching this fireman in full regalia climbing up the ladder.
Fourth photo: I don't know what his mission was up there, except maybe just to look at the fire and report what he saw. He didn't do anything that was visible to me. Just started back down after a while.
Update: Unbeknownst to me, VT member anagrettel was in Paris the same time I was, and she says she "saw the same 'fire' or what seems like it" because she was eating a delicious pannini at Pomme de Pain across the street when it happened.
You're taking a nice stroll along a quiet street away from the hustle and bustle of Paris. You're looking at the architecture, spring flowers, the people. Then it happens!
Seemingly out of no where it is upon you! Where did it come from? Was it always there? Is this actually where modern armies got their ideas for camouflage uniforms?
It Won't Be Cheap
So your walking along a street in Paris or for that matter any big metropolitan city around the world and you walk inside a store and to your immediate right you see a glittering stair case going up to what you can briefly see are some very fancy items.
Guys, are you ready with the cash or plastic?
Oh no, even the bannister glitters!!!!
Start Them Young! - Stay on the Bike Path
One of my favorite "people shots" on our 2012 European trip. On a Saturday afternoon I saw this little girl riding her tricycle with her mom walking with her. I also saw the green bike riding sign and was just hoping the mom didn't step in front of me while I was shooting the picture.
Success!! Great little shot of how the little girl is staying right on the bike path.
Numbers Can Be Deceiving
On Sunday, the last day of our 4 days in Paris, we decided that we would walk from Notre Dame to the Louvre. The day was a little brisk and windy, but as I looked at the address of the Louvre in my guide book I didn't think the distance would be too far. But as we kept walking and the number address on the buildings decreased only slightly our short walk took us quite some time.
Anyway, the warning here is that in the U.S., where we are from, going from 1400 South to 1500 South is a 1 block trip. But in Paris what we found out is that it is the numbers on the French buildings that designate the address. Each building has a number that goes from 100 to 101 to 102 etc. And since several businesses may share the same building they will have the same address.
So if you are at 101 Rue de Rivoli and wish to go to 180 Rue de Rivoli you will probably be actually going by 79 buildings before you want to get to where you are going. And if they are widely spaced buildings!!! Well, hopefully you get the idea.
UPDATE - April, 2012 - We were much more aware of numbers this time around which helped us not only in Paris but other European cities as well. Sometimes we had to look a little bit to see the number, but other times it was staring us right in the face.
No Strollers allowed in Chateau de Versailles!
If you have a sleeping child in a stroller and you think that you'll be able to spend some "quiet" time walking around Versailles, be warned! You can't bring a stroller in. You need to check your stroller before you get to the metal detector and x-ray machine. This was heartbreaking to us because we waited for our son to take his afternoon nap to go in. We pretty much walked right in and bought a ticket and got it refunded once we found out that we couldn't bring the stroller. We didn't want to wake him...Well, be warned!Related to:
- Family Travel
Is Paris dirty?
It's always so conflicting... 50% of people will tell you Paris is "so dirty", and the other 50% - Paris is clean.
Paris just like any other big city is both, clean and dirty, depends where you look, but overall relative to it's size though it's clean, especially in the center and main tourist areas.
However, we did chance upon some very dirty areas off the beaten path, also found out that in places that city stinks awfully (hm... try to keep off parks around main tourist areas with lots of street's souvenirs sellers, as lower park near Palais de Chaillot)....
After all Paris is clean considering the huge population and number of tourists.
What really could bug you about Paris is not the number of smokers itself but the fact that, for some reason, they don't even bother try to find any better place to put there cigarette butts than the asphalt...
We loved Paris though, so much class and style! Can't wait to go back!Related to:
- Women's Travel
- Family Travel
- Budget Travel
A road well travelled?
I've often worried how the French Foreign Legion came to be such feared fighters in the desert realms of North Africa. Well, know I know. Paris is an excellent training ground for the searing dust storms! I'm not sure why but unlike say, London, Paris seems to have a bit of an aversion to having too many grass paths or paving slabs. Whenever possible they seem to like to adorn their wider thoroughfares with a lashings of dirt and gravel...ideally littered with the stub ends of a few hundred discarded gitanes. Stroll Eiffel Tower-wards on a warm and breezy day and see how much grit you can accumulate in your eyes before you too start to see whether the riffs are about.*
* This jest brought to you courtesy of Sigmund Romberg's 'The Desert Song'.Related to:
- Arts and Culture
- Historical Travel
- Hiking and Walking
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