Getting around Paris and France

Old Sep 14th, 2011, 02:46 PM
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With so few day I wold stay in paris the whole time.

You can see a huge amount there - of architecture and "real life". Then pick out a couple of day trips you can easily do to see other areas.

One area you might want to consider is the Loire. You can take a train to Tours and pick up a van tour there to see a couple of the chateau. Or you might take the train to Amboise to see a charming small town right on the river with a fortress (older than a chateau) as well as a manor house (Le Clos Luce) in which Da Vinci lived for years and has wonderful exhibits of his work and inventions.

Another good day trip is Strasbourg - which being in an area that moved back and forth between France and Germany many times has a completely differnt type of architecture, some wonderful wine towns nearby and a lot to see and do. With the TGV it's now only 2 hours from Paris. (You could even do an overnight there if you want to take a little more time to see/explore.)
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Old Sep 14th, 2011, 02:52 PM
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Well, bon voyage, then. I'm glad you have the attitude that it will all be part of the adventure. Not the kind I would want (the hotel-hunting, that is), but this is your trip. Have a wonderful time in Paris!

And BTW, yes, do notify your credit card company, but as long as you do by the day before you leave you'll be fine. It's just a notification they put in their computer system.
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Old Sep 14th, 2011, 03:00 PM
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Use your ATM card for payments, CC fro hotel and larger purchases. Note that ATM machine will use your primary account, so have money there (versus being able to choose checking or savings).

If you can get a good menu translator book, or search here on this topic, all restaurants will post menus outside, so can decide before going in (at least to knowing chicken beef fish).
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Old Sep 14th, 2011, 03:05 PM
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hazel: I had one CC company mail me by snail mail a form that I had to fill out (this is year 2011)! Needless to say that card didn't work overseas because I only got the form on return to the US. So, my suggestion is: don't wait till the last minute to notify your CC company.
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Old Sep 14th, 2011, 03:06 PM
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Oh, and please write a trip report when you return. I'm sure we'll all want to know how it turned out for you.
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Old Sep 14th, 2011, 04:19 PM
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<i>We will have one cell phone with us, but with the rate of $1.30/minute, we won't be turning it on unless we need to call someone.</i>

If you have a GSM, unlocked mobile phone with you (and it sounds as if you do), you can purchase a French SIM and have easy and cheap communications with those in the US as well as in Paris. I use Lebara, their SIMs only cost 10€ and come with 7.50€ talk time credit. Calls to French phones are .15€ per minute, calls to the USA are .09€ per minute (yes, even cheaper than local calls).

Lebara sells SIMs at most any magazine store or tabac. Just look for their blue logo.

_____


You really do not want to spend time in Paris looking for hotels. The romantic notion that you can simply walk around and easily stumble across a bargain might work in August (the slowest hotel month in Paris) but in September, you´ll just be wasting valuable vacation time. If you can, find your hotels now.
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Old Sep 14th, 2011, 04:33 PM
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If you aren't taking a laptop, you can still access your e-mail and do hotel searches. There are internet cafes scattered around and they tend to be pretty cheap.
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Old Sep 14th, 2011, 04:34 PM
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Oh -meant to add . . . and the Orient's front desk might be able to find a hotel for you.
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Old Sep 14th, 2011, 05:08 PM
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Called both credit cards and I'm all set! Thankfully they didn't need anything in writing. The cell phone idea is great. I've got that written down! I've been studying the RER and Metro system all night. I think I may actually understand it. Found a picture of the tunnel at La Chapelle. Feeling better all the time! And I will definitely write a trip report when I get back!
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Old Sep 14th, 2011, 05:20 PM
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When you enter a metro station, instead of choosing westbound or eastbound, for example, the indication will be one end point or the other.

For example, you want line 3 out of the Villiers station near your hotel. When you walk in you will see "direction Pont de levallois" or "direction Gallieni" So, all you will need to know is that if you want to go to Opera station, you take the Gallieni stairs. When at Opera metro station and want to come back to hotel, take stairs to Pont de Levallois track.
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Old Sep 14th, 2011, 05:22 PM
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One other suggestion is to read the post below on this board titled "trip to the Bastille in a police car." Not to create needless anxiety for you and your H, but you will want to be familiar with typical pickpocket scams at cafes, on the Metro etc so you know what to watch for and can take precautions (as mentioned in that post you may want to opt for a money pouch or belt).
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Old Sep 14th, 2011, 08:33 PM
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On the cell phone: you cannot take your US cell phone and expect it to work in Europe. Europe and the US are on different systems. For example, US phones are "locked" into one company, whereas European phones are "unlocked".

You can get your US phone "unlocked", but, IMHO, it's really not worth the effort nor the expense. Just buy a cheapo phone in Europe.

That's the phone. Then, for telephone use in Europe, you will also need a "SIM" card. It's about the size of a fingernail and slips inside a slot inside the phone. Sarastro has given you a good name, "Lebara", for France.

2) The cell phone is only for making calls. Personally, I like to have a netbook, because of the larger keypad. My BIL has a droid phone which he uses when traveling and it drives me crazy because it's so small you need leprechaun-sized fingers and leprecahun-sized eyes. If youexpand the screen, you get to see a piece like a piece from a puzzle.

My netbook has Skype on it, so it also serves as my cell phone.

If you are at all interested, look at the cheap refurbished netbooks on Amazon. You'll have just enough time to get one sent to you.

If you live in a big city, there are stores that sell refurbished netbooks, but Amazon is very reliable.

Maybe your husband can be responsible for figuring out the electronics end of things - guys like gadgets.
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Old Sep 14th, 2011, 09:15 PM
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Kerouac, not to kidnap the thread, just a quick question. I need to know once and for all: "rue de Lévis", is the "S" pronounced or silent?
Thanks.
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Old Sep 14th, 2011, 09:24 PM
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It's probably overload but you have been well served by all of the help and a great sport to take it in the spirit it is offered. I've followed but not posted but want to recap a few particularly good ideas and add one or two:

1. Try to get the New Orient to help on finding another hotel.
2. Write down Gare du Nord... in addition to passing thru it, a quick check of available/affordable/decent hotels in your range shows that this area has the most (approx. 25) that could work for you. This might be a good fallback to your primary plan if/when the sun starts to set and you have no roof.
3. Use your ATM and have $$ in the primary account.
4. Get the carnet of metro tickets- easy, cheap, convenient.
5. Learn 5 phrases in French on the plane over. Just trying will make all the difference in how much aid you get from strangers.
6. If you have a smart phone (Iphone, Android) download an OFFLINE map of Paris. With an Iphone you still show up on the map with your GPS function but can use the map without phone charges.
7. Relax and have a great time. It's all good now.
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Old Sep 14th, 2011, 09:28 PM
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RidgeRose, the answer to your question is yes but I'm merely offering a little good Samaritan assistance to you. Just add @gmail.com to my screen name and you can e-mail me if you'd like. Off to work but I'll be back tonight.
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Old Sep 14th, 2011, 10:15 PM
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On packing, luggage, and safety: -

How big is your roller? 20-22" is optimum. That, plus a light backpack should be more than sufficient.

The less you take, the less you have to worry about.

You do not need - for one week - six pairs of shoes, a distinctive outfit for each day, three cameras plus a ton of lens and a tripod, your own monogrammed towels - travel light, travel light, travel light

Try to stay with a couple of colors and mix-n-match. Black is a good basic color. Please don't take your lemon yellow slacks and the flaming pink shirt.

Don't take something that will break your heart if you lose it. Absolutely no jewelry.

In Europe, it's not violent crime that you have to worry about rather it's thievery, petty thieves. So -

Watch your bags at all times

Don't travel with your wallet in your back pocket or anywhere where it can be easily taken

DO GET A MONEY BELT

The money belt is worn inside your clothes and you keep your passport, other important papers, cash, credit cards in there.

Each day when you're touring, take out only one credit card and enough money for that one day, leave the rest in the money belt. If you have a zipped pocket in your pants or on your jacket, the day's cash and the one credit card can go in there.

When you're on the metro, don't wear your backpack on your back, loop it in front or place it on your lap if seated

If you're seated, like at a restaurant, don't loop your purse over the seat back and don't place it on the floor by your feet. If your backpack is on the floor, put one foot into one of the loops.

Watch out for little kids, mothers with little kids, a gaggle of girls, a group of men - the thieves usually work in a group and surround their victim - one to distract the victim, one to steal, one to pass the stolen item to - You get the idea

Take every precaution you can think of to protect your cash and your possessions, these thieves are lightening fast and you wouldn't feel a thing when they take your stuff

I'm certain the others will have more and better tips for you.

Travel safe and have a great trip!
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Old Sep 15th, 2011, 07:30 AM
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Hi RidgeRose

I am so glad that you posted to Fodor's before your trip. It sounds like you are going to have a wondreful trip to Paris. To make your trip even more enjoyable learn some basic French phrases:

Hello
Goodbye
Good evening
Thank you
Do you speak English?
Exit/Entrance (for the metro)
Open/Closed (for shops and sites)
Where is...?

Even if you are only able to say hello and do you speak English in French, the effort will be appreciated. Here are couple of links for phrases:
http://www.fodors.com/language/french/
http://french.lovetoknow.com/Category:French_Phrases

When you enter a shop greet the clerk or owner first even if you are just looking.

Do get a menu translater. Most restaurants that I have eaten have someone who can translate for you, but that may not always be the case. In addition restaurants post their menus on the outside so you can decide if you want to eat there before you go in. Check out this link if you don't have time to get a book: http://www.slowtrav.com/france/restaurants/glossary.htm
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Old Sep 15th, 2011, 08:27 AM
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Levis is...layvee

Levise would be layveez or, depending where in France...layveezuh

One thing you will find in Paris is a certain social formality. When you walk into a shop or arrive at a restaurant, always expect to hear and to answer back Bonjour (day)/Bonsoir (night).

Similarly, when leaving, an Au Revoir would be appropriate.

Same with ticket takers,etc.. I amp up my politeness when I go
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Old Sep 15th, 2011, 09:00 AM
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There is now so much advice on this thread that it is making France look scary again.
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Old Sep 15th, 2011, 09:01 AM
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In Paris we call rue de Lévis "rue de leyviss."
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