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alice Jan 11th, 1999 05:50 AM

France newbie
I've promised my 14 yo son a trip to France. <BR>I've been reading the posts in this forum and have some questions. <BR>1. When looking for hotel ideas, i've read 1st, 5th, 6th, etc. what are these numbers referring to? <BR>2. How do I get from airport to hotel? Taxi, bus, underground? <BR>3. I'm considering only spending 3-4 days in Paris, and then touring a different region, say southern France. Is renting a car a totally absurd idea? <BR>I want this trip to be "totally cool" for my son, and pleasurable for me. Hopefully we'll enjoy ourselves, and I'll have a travelling companion for future explorations. <BR>Thanks for your input.

wes fowler Jan 11th, 1999 06:10 AM

Alice, <BR>The numbers refer to "arrondisements" which to oversimplify are Paris' neighborhoods. There are 20 within the city, #1 is in the area of the Louvre, #2 the old Opera, then clockwise to #20 which is in the northeast sector. #5 encompasses the Latin Quarter, As a rule, the lower the number, the closer one is to Paris' major tourist attractions. Any good Parisian map will show you. <BR>You'll find any number of queries here regarding the best way to get from the airport to Paris; do a text or topic search to get advice. <BR>Renting a car is not an absurd idea, though limiting yourself to 3 to 4 days in Paris may be! The city warrants more time than that for its beauty, history and lifestyle to be absorbed meaningfully. I presume you intend to rent a car when you leave Paris, rather than when you are in it. Paris' traffic and parking are nightmarish to say the least.

Lee Jan 11th, 1999 07:35 AM

Alice: Wes is absolutely right, as usual. We stayed last time in the Latin Quarter and loved it. Renting a car IN Paris is not a good idea. The Metro (or subway) system is very easy to use and quite efficient to get around on. Buy a 10-ride pass for each of you, get their map and just go! <BR> <BR>You can easily get from the airport to your hotel by taking the "RER-B" shuttle bus from CDG gate 28 to the station and then connect to your stop. Ours was Maubert-Mutualite' and just two blocks from our hotel. You can take a taxi if you want, but it would cost around $40.00+ to get to the 5th Arr., for example. <BR> <BR>You should plan on staying in Paris for five days, minimum. You really can't do the city justice with less than that. <BR> <BR>If you have not travelled to Europe, it's a good idea to go with an open mind. Being a visitor does not entitle any special treatment and Europe, particularly France is quite different in it's customs and methods. If you go expecting it to be different and relish those differences, you will be certain of a good trip. <BR> <BR>When leaving Paris, a trip to Provence may be a good choice. You can get details by posting another question, this time on that region. <BR> <BR>Good luck!

Bob Brown Jan 11th, 1999 07:52 AM

The people who have contributed to inquiries about France in general and Paris in particular know their stuff. I encourage you to search the Forum archives on Paris and bring up older contributions. You will find a wealth of sound advice and insightful comments. Even though I spent a week in Paris earlier, I can add nothing to what has already been written and posted. I have even printed many of the postings for future reference. I don't think you can find better accounts to help guide a Paris visit anwhere for any price, even though you will profit also from reading Fodors' book on Paris.

Bob Jan 12th, 1999 03:01 PM

If you check out &lt;; <BR>and the Terminally Hip site, it lists most major airports, including those in Paris, and all you need to know to get to centre ville. As for renting, I have suggested to others a lease (buy/buyback) from Renault or other dealers if staying for 3 wks. or more. It is cheaper than a rental because you avoid taxes. It is a wonderful program.

Boots Jan 12th, 1999 03:15 PM

I don't know how much time you can spend in France, but if you want to see Provence and don't have two days to drive down there and two back (I know it can be done in one, but. . .), your 14-year-old son might enjoy the TGV (fast train) from Paris (It leaves from the Gare de Lyon) to Avignon. It is about a 4-hour-trip, and he would have something to talk about to his classmates. You could rent a car in Provence. Check out Rick Steves' website for car/train passes. Two traveling together can go for a reduced price. Have fun with that son. Mine is my best traveling companion. <BR>

jeanne Jan 12th, 1999 10:11 PM

Hmm-I can't help jumping in with a word or two. The arrondissments as Wes explained, generally mean the lower the number the closer to the center-a few exceptions, but generally true. The districts begin at "1", starting from Notre Dame on an island in the center of the Seine river and then spiral around clockwise and "out" from the center, as the French say, in the shape of an escargot (snail) clockwise from one to 2 to 3 to 4 on the right bank (north)and then jump the river to the south bank (or left bank as it is more commonly known) for 5, 6, 7, then outward and north of the seine for 8, 9, 10, 11 AND 12 on the right bank until it jumps to the the left bank again and so on til 20. The 2 things that are important in choosing a district in Paris are the distiction between the "left" bank and "right" bank, and then the flavor of the exact neighborhood you want. It used to be that the right bank was more "conservative", traditional, etc and the left bank was more students and artists, but these days that profile is changing a bit. The Latin quarter, the 6th, is students, tourists, but fun and lively. The 5th, is more students-the Sorbonne, Luxembourg gardens and both are still central. My guess is that your son (and you) would like either of these areas. Another "hip" area in Paris right now is the 3rd-an area called the Marais-is is traditionally a very old section of Paris with lovely architechture, etc. and is now one of the hip/Soho/artistic/sections of Paris. It has lots of great shops and nightlife. <BR> <BR>In terms of getting into town RER is a great way, but I prefer the bus run Air France and for 2 people-a cab is almost as economical because it drops you to the exact address and when you are jet lagged this is a bit help! But there are multiple good ways to get to town..the eyewitness guide to Paris has great info-the best I have seen (complete with picture of the gate where the buses and taxis leave from!) for Paris info in general. <BR> <BR>I agree with the advice about renting a car-you are not crazy-check out the rail/drive deals at, they could provide an easy alternative. Even though my husband is French and we spend every year there, we are considering this pass as a way to go for a short Provence trip this summmer because their pricing is not bad. It is nice to escape Paris to Aix or Avignon before you have to deal with the car (and the freeway tolls!. If you don't want to go as far as Provence, consider Mont St. Michel or the Loire Valley-they are closer and a bit more accessible if your time is short. All that really depends on what you and your son like to do-the best advice I can give is to research, read and really plan-that seems to be why we all like this forum-we are travel planning junkies! <BR> <BR>Have a great trip-what a lucky kid and great mom!

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