One of the very real highlights of our Paris visit was to be driven back to our hotel through central Paris, late at night, in a friend’s historic Renault 4CV motor car. I’ll admit happily that, as an enthusiast for these vehicles, riding in the car was a special event itself, not least because so many young people identified the car as a French classic and shouted calls of appreciation! But, although most Paris visitors may not have such an exotic vehicle choice available, doing such a drive past the Arc de Triomphe, along the Champs Élysées, through the Place de la Concorde, and past the Louvre and Ile de la Cité is definitely to be recommended – even if it involves a taxi!
I’m sorry about the lack of sharpness in most of these photos, there is just no way of holding a camera steady enough late at night in a moving vehicle. You can tell which were taken while we stopped at traffic lights!
Main photo: Two tourists and the 1957 Renault 4CV
Second photo: Passing the Arc de Triomphe.
Third photo: Down the Champs Élysées
Fourth photo: Past the Louvre
Fifth photo: Alongside the Seine.
Favorite thing: Paris is so full of things to see, that day-trips waste your time. There are only 2 sights near Paris worthy of a day trip: Versailles and Chartres. While there are commercial very long day trips to Mont-St.-Michel or the Loire, it would be better to plan to come to France again and see them as part of a real trip to France, especially by car. Outside of Paris, driving is easy. There are some places very near Paris that are really French , but it is best to spend the night in them. 100 miles (150 km) up and back consumes 2-4 hours of a sightseeing day. The way to minimize the loss of time is to make such a visit as the intermediate stop on your way somewhere else. Unfortuntely there are many sights around Paris worthy of a visit, so you have to visit Paris a great number of times OR you can do as we usually do. Avoid Paris completely. Arrive at Orly or de Gaule and get into a rented car. Plan to visit immediately a close-by place (Ecouen, Rambouillet, Fontainebleau, etc), also choose a small inn nearby to bed down at when fatigue (jet-lag) hits (look up the Logis de France or if you are upscale Chateauxhotels.fr). Do this on the last day/night as well. We have stayed at Senlis(Fontaine-Chaalis 5 km east), Moret-sur-Loing, Recloses (in Fontainbleau forest), Chartres, and others. We would do more but are now too old. It is another way to enjoy France. Incidentally, each of these places have available meals that are delightful and easily affordable with no hassle about getting a table.
Favorite thing: Paris is one of those cities that is always on the move...but never seems to change. In the last 10 years of my visits to Paris.. I've noticed that the traffic has declined a bit. This is mainly because alot of people in Paris stopped owning a car. If you have a car driver's license you can drive a motorcycle up to 125CC. This is a good way to travel so you see alot of them around. You can also rent them there for a pretty reasonable price. This includes helmet rental. For some tourists it's better to travel with an organized tour bus company.
I know.. I would have copy-pasted it from any other VT pages here (so to speak, I don't copy-paste anyway).. but yes, I noticed Parisians are crazy drivers.
Not necessarily in the way they drive, rather in the way they behave while being stuck in traffic jams. I came from a country where very few people respected circulation codes and the rights of pedestrians. Compared to what I knew, Parisians were OK regarding that.
Still, I noticed they used to moan a lot. Traffic jams were the occasions to see that. They don't hoot that much... but I noticed, so many times, guys who were stuck in traffic jam who insulted the other drivers.
"Connard !", "Enc*lé !", those were familiar to my poor ears. Usually, no elegant women to do that. Instead, I saw them moaning in their cars and gesticulating with hands...
Fondest memory: That is a fond memory.. in a sense that in Madagascar, people who are stuck in traffic jams use horns a lot... I would rather say "too much".
I was on holidays, not involved in any logicstics and timing concerns. I just enjoyed seeing every streets, listening the adults discussing, shopping... Time didn't have any hold on me.
Favorite thing: Driving in Paris can be a daunting task. More use is made of the horn in Paris traffic than paint and brush on the city's thousand easels. Congestion at out-of-the-way intersections is usually cleared by vicious scowls and Italian gestures, while that at major crossroads is miraculously cleared by a blast from the gendarme's whistle. If you are forced to drive in Paris, use caution while merging but be bold . . .or lose more than your patience.
Absoultely the Eiffel Tower. There could be no one favorite thing about Paris, it's a wonderful place. Create your own memories. I rented a car at the airport, and promptly drove to the city, where I immediately parked it in a garage until I was ready to leave for Dijon. I didn't use the car a single time. It won't take long for you to figure out the Metro and normally you come out right where you wanted to be. And hey, you are instantly mingling with the locals.
And should you speak little French as did myself, just learn the very basics. Yes, No and Thank you. I used them all quite frequently. It sure doesn't hurt to add 'Can you tell me where is----------?'
Fondest memory: Hmm, my fondest memory. I can't think of one in particular. Waking up to hotel breakfast of the best coffee and pastries you can imagine, or seeing the Eiffel Tower, sitting at cafes people watching, walking along the streets and along the Seine.
Favorite thing: If you have a choice, don't drive in Paris. There are a lot of traffic jams. I noticed almost all cars have swellings and scratches. So if you love your car leave it at home and use public transport.
Fondest memory: One of the most chaotic - but therefore also most memorable - trip was the trip to Paris for New Year 1992/1993. Our car broke down at least a hundred times so we had to find someone to pull it until the engine started. The French drivers prefered to push us though. Actually on our way there 30 mts after we left home on the radio there was the song 'You'll never going to get to France' by Mike Oldfield. I guess it was a sign that we ignored ;-) But this wasn't the only disaster that happened to us on that holiday. Read the travelogue to find out the whole truth....
Fondest memory: Paris streets have no room for vehicles much bigger than this micro car. Parking, too, is at a premium worse than any other city I've seen, including New York.