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Any info for first timers abroad in Paris?

Any info for first timers abroad in Paris?

Old May 4th, 1998, 06:45 AM
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I stayed at the Concorde St. Lazare about 5 years ago. Quiet lobby area. Nice but small rooms (huge bathrooms however!). Very conveniently located to the train station and Metro stations. Helpful Concierge.
Old May 5th, 1998, 05:38 AM
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Make sure to take the most comfortable walking shoes you own. I followed advice from this area about wearing shoes that would not mark me as an American, and developed blisters. Luckily I had taken my old white, unfashionable, American Reeboks with me, and switched to those right away. Forget about seeming to be French, no one cares anyway. Most of the people you will be dealing with are accustomed to foreigners of all kinds.

Here's my top ten list of things to take: passport, tickets,cash/credit cards/francs you have gotten here,comfortable walking shoes, umbrella, raincoat/guidebook.
Old May 10th, 1998, 08:58 AM
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So much good advice here....it needs to be brought back up to the top again!! Thanks everyone!
Old May 10th, 1998, 10:54 AM
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Hi- I stayed at the Concorde St. Lazare four years ago. The concierge was one of the most helpful that I have yet to meet. Also, the complimentary room service breakfast was wonderful- filled with all sorts of wonderful breads, baguettes, and preserves- it sure made us feel as if we were in Paris! Our room was great with windows opening over the street- we often sat in the "stoop" and watched Paris go by. However, my mother stayed in another smaller room and her windows opened up only to rooftops (not a pleasant view). There is a restaurant directly across the street that serves delicious pastries. However, the restaurant across from the hotel on the corner was one of our least favorite of entire trip. You will only have a short walk to Gare St. Lazare- I hope your Paris trip is as fulfilling as ours!!
Old May 11th, 1998, 07:17 PM
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Stacy thank you for your reply. The room you stayed in, over looking the streets sounds real nice. Do you know if we can request that kind of room? Do you know if that hotel has a e-mail address that I could request that kind of room?
Old May 14th, 1998, 08:27 PM
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One tiny suggestion to add about boat rides on the Seine. The Bateaux Mouches are sort of a Paris institution but for a more intimate ride (comparatively speaking), try the Vedettes du Pont Neuf. I've been to Paris many times and always take one or two rides when I'm foot-weary and just want to "see the sights". They leave from the Pont Neuf end of the Ile de la Cite (the island Notre Dame is on) every 45 minutes or so at the time of year you're going (more often during the high tourist season). Any time of day is good, but for first-timers the evening is best - even in November this can help give you Romantic Paris at it's best.
Old May 31st, 1998, 06:14 AM
Bob & Theresa
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Thanks for all the helpful posts and comments. I must say, however, I am growing concerned over the "rainy season". I guess you can't have your cake and eat it, too applies here; cheap airfares (I anticipate) are the reason for our trip to Paris, but, rain can certainly dampen things! I don't mind the cold as much as the rain, so does anyone suggest a different time (off-season) to travel? Better yet, does anyone have any experience with airfares from NY that reflect the recently super low discount rates of about $300 R/T? Our schedule is flexible, so any advice about any of my questions is appreciated!
Old May 31st, 1998, 03:54 PM
Louis Dameson
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You have gotten volumes of outstanding advice about Paris but I am not certain that they have addressed the reality of your situation based on your first posting and last posting. From both postings you indicated that you and your wife have never been to Europe, wanted to take advantage of $300 Nov airfare from NYC, thought the rates of the Hotel Burgundy were very affordable, were concerned about rain, and planned to stay in Paris for only 3 days. First, off season in Paris says that the weather is about a bad as it is going to get, there are few tourists, and few trade shows or conventions. During that period both airfares and many hotel rates are discounted. While weather is still as bad, you will find that airfares go up during the Christmas period. The variation in monthly rainfall is not that much throughout a normal year. Rain is a matter of luck but it is more unpleasant when it is cold outside and the wind in blowing. The best month to visit Paris from the weather consideration is September. In September you are talking in the 50 to 70F range and in November the 30 to 50F range. If you are spending most of your time indoors and in the metro this is not so bad but it eliminates most all of the joys of being outdoors in Paris. Right now the 21 day advance purchase fare on most airlines in Sept. from NYC to Paris is $500, and the same class fare in Nov. is $330, a savings only $170 per person. At the same time you pick a 3 star hotel on the right bank, the expensive side of the town, with an listed rate of 920FF for a double. This is $156 per night at the credit card conversion rate which is now $.17 per franc. Also the continental breakfast is 80F per person, double what you would pay on the other side of the river. You will also find that the nearby restaurants are more expensive than other sections of Paris. You would be paying about $82 a day for room and continental breakfast more than you would in other parts of Paris yet the $340 savings on airfare for two people seems to be the priority consideration. Unless you are getting an rate of 600FF or less at the Hotel Burgundy, you are paying too much for a room if your budget is very limited. If that is the case you can go over in Sept. stay in one of the hotels in the 7th arr. and not spend any more. If it is not part of a more extensive tour, it is not a good plan to fly from the US to Paris, stay 3 days and return. Frist your arrival day is mostly lost due to time spent in getting to your hotel and problems due to jet lag. You only have two days to see Paris. This is not a desirable plan. You could see the Louvre, d'Orsay and Notre Dames in two days. Or perhaps spend one of the days taking a City tour. Also if this is the plan it would not meet the advance purchase ticket requirements of staying at least 5 days. There must be other plans associated with the trip. Nevertheless, from the standpoint of climate, Novemeber is not a good month to visit Europe anywhere, but it is an excellent time find uncrowded conditions. I don't know is my comments are helpful or not. What I am saying is go to Europe when the weather is most favorable and that is September. Save up enough money to spend at least two weeks and plan two to three stops at a maximum. A three week trip is about the optimum time for example to visit three major cities such as London, Paris, and Rome. Don't try to see and enjoy Paris in less than a week. You say that your time is flexible but what is not clear is your available budget for travel. Airfare often is the least of the costs, and major European cities are not inexpensive. In the manner we travel, it cost us less to stay in Paris than it does in New York City. There the hotel rooms are more expensive and I find that food costs are about the same. For planning purposes I suggest that you budget about $200 per day including everything, meals, museums, hotel, local trasportation, etc.. If really pushed, I think you could cut about $50 off of this. Allowing airfare of $1000 for two to Paris, if you can spent another $1500 for a week in Paris, go for it this coming September.
Old Jun 2nd, 1998, 10:36 AM
Posts: n/a
I think the previous post has given you some good
advice you should think about, although I don't
agree with the opinion that Sept. is necessarily
the best weather month; June has about exactly the
same temps, but with more daylight. I like the
summer myself because it rarely gets that hot in
Paris, in comparison to much of US. However, I
think Louis' point regarding whether it makes sense
to save $200 each on airfare when you are spending that much for a hotel (I don't know anything H. Burgundy, but I'll take his word for it). I assume you are not going just for 3 days total, but that that is simply your time in Paris,
and then you're traveling elsewhere. Well, I have
rather extensive info on global weather by month,
so I can tell you that Nov. may have rainy days,
but there are more days with precip. in Dec. and Jan. in Paris. Avg. Nov. temps are 50 (high) and
40 (low)--not 30. Aside from temps and rain,
however, it's just kind of ugly in the winter in
most places. I was there one July and it rained
almost every day for three weeks. So, anyway,
here's info on driest months in Paris: March,
May, June and July (avg 12 days w/precip); followed
by April, Aug, Sept and Oct with 13 days avg.
(Nov-Jan have 15-17 days). Off-season is usu late
fall through May, or at least April. If I were you,
I'd rather go in April or May, when air fares are
still very reasonable. As Louis said, you could
easily save the difference in air fare by choosing
cheaper hotels for just a couple nights.

Old Jun 2nd, 1998, 07:13 PM
Louis Dameson
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I don't disagree with the previous posting. The weather in June and September is apt to be similar. I also most likely quoted more extreme ranges in temperatures than the averages. The point is that November is not a good weather month in Paris to be outdoors. Also, the point is that Paris is worth more than 3 days of time no matter of your interests are. The point is that Paris is expensive but not as expensive as New York City, London or Venice if you have an easy going nature. When you add a hidden tax of about 25%25 on everything, including meals, prices are apt to be up. Also, you will understand what politicians are talking about when they say VAT. The point is that you will enjoy Paris the most in reasonable weather. The prior person is right in stating June is about the same as September. The only problem with June is that school is out in the US. April or May are good Shoulder times but the weather is much more variable than in the fall. I will admit that I have never been in Paris in the springtime, but I will would choose it or the fall to avoid the crowds. I don't like to make reservations more than a few weeks ahead of time. The best values in Paris hotels are fully booked in the peak season a months in advance. This you can understand it you realize they have 40 or less rooms. The point is that area you select to stay is more important than the hotel. The point is the hotel in the right area is unimportant if it is comportable for sleep as you will not spent much time there. This assumes that you are on a budget. Believe me, there is nothing wrong with pure luxury anyplace in the world if you can afford it. I have been at both extremes. This is your first trip. I and the prior posting truly want to help you focus on what is important. The best window for your trip is September and the next is late April or May. Last year we were in Paris the last two weeks in September. The weather was beautiful but the smog was building up around Oct. 1 when we left for Turkey. At that time we paid $65 a night for a comfortable hotel in the 7th arr. and then later stayed in the Four Seasons in Istanbul. Without question the Four Seasons was more comfortable. The point is that travel to Europe is a chore, particularly from San Diego. It still is not that easy from NYC. Why spent the money and the pain if you do not stay long enough to enjoy yourself. You are better off to visit Charleston or New Orleans if you only have a few days. If you have looked recently, I hope that you get down to the bottom of the postings. Believe me, the people above are very knowledgable, have spent weeks in Paris and love it. You however could not compress their suggestions into 3 days in Paris.

Old Jun 2nd, 1998, 08:45 PM
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Louis has offered some really valuable points to ponder. I mentioned above that three days in Paris is hardly adequate. If you're going to get a passport and pay the airfare and spend the time going over and back, you may as well stay a while and enjoy yourself. Our first trip was the last ten days of September. The weather was spectacular by the way. Not too warm, not too chilly, very pleasant for strolling, sitting in outdoor cafes, and taking open air boat rides. Rained only once for about ten minutes. Even so, the weather is always a roll of the dice. All you can know in advance is that it will probably be cold in the winter, hot in the summer, and rain from time to time. I suppose, if you merely want to take advantage of cheap airfares and go for a "visit", three days is fine for you. At the end of ten days, after running ourselves ragged from one place to another, there were still a dozen places on my "must do" list we hadn't seen yet. Now, I'm trying to figure out how to fit everything into our itinerary on our next trip. Since it's impossible to plan a trip, no matter where you're going (even skiing) and depend on good weather, you should determine to simply pack for all variables and plan indoor activities for when it rains and outdoor activities for when the weather is nicer. We were in Switzerland (husband on business) late October-early November. While the weather was not totally unpleasant, it wasn't very nice. We saw photos and postcards everywhere of places we visited when the flowers were in bloom and the tables and chairs were set outside at all the cafes. So, our next trip to Switzerland will be during the nicer weather when the flowers are in bloom and will be worth the extra cost to us. On the other hand, we went to Montreal over New Year's. It was bitter cold outside the first few days. However, there was just enough snow to make the scenery absolutely gorgeous and shuffling through the snow on the sidewalks and enjoying the holiday window displays and decorations all the more beautiful, and getting back inside for a hot drink all the more pleasurable. We just returned from four days in NYC. The weather was pleasant the week before we left and is very pleasant now that we've returned. During our stay, however, it was hot and humid. Darn! Common sense should advise you that air fares and hotel rates are at their lowest when the traffic is low - at times when few wish to travel or visit. If and when $300 round trip fares are offered, they will likely be on short notice with numerous restrictions. And, you would be wise to book hotel accomodations, then book your airfare. Hotel accomodations can be cancelled, whereas airline tickets cannot. Over on the AOL board there are lots of folks who have purchased cheap airline tickets only to be scrambling for hotel rooms when all the "charming, nice, and well located, but cheap" establishments have been booked well in advance. I was recently unable to book my first choice in Paris for June 1999. I'm surprised that no one has pointed out that your first post was four months ago and you seem to have not advanced in your planning beyond when to go, where to stay, and where to eat. If you want to do things economically, I highly recommend that you collect several tour guides that specialize in bargain travel. I have at least six just for Paris. Believe me, the investment in good tour guides saves you at least the purchase prices of the books. And, they are absolutely invaluable for collecting tips and advice, avoiding mishaps, learning how to spend your time wisely, and how to tell the real bargains from the deals "only an uninformed tourist would chose". It would appear that you are receiving a wealth of information and advice and just aren't absorbing any of it. For your trip to be successful, you are going to have to be proactive in the research and planning. I would strongly recommend that you get the when to go and where to stay details out of the way and move onto what you want to do while there. Believe me, the more you know before you go, the better your experience will be!
Old Nov 15th, 1998, 12:57 PM
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I am taking my college age son to Paris in Feb."99 for a 3 day trip myself. I am trying to choose between the Concorde St. Lazare Htl or the Louvre St. Honore - does anyone know anything about either of these? Also, did you find 3 days in Paris worth the trip? Notice you got alot of adverse comments on this short amount of time.. would appreciate any help you might be able to give me on hotels, places to eat, things to do, etc.. many thanks!
Old Nov 16th, 1998, 08:50 AM
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Hi! I am actually leaving for Europe on Friday and my itinerary has three days in Paris. I have scoured this Forum for good ideas and advice to plan my trip (I will also be in Brussels and Amsterdam, three days each). I will let you know how we prioritized our sights, where we ate, etc. to help you out. Keep your fingers crossed for nice weather!

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