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Just back from Paris

Old Mar 29th, 2003, 12:31 PM
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Just back from Paris

Hello,
I just returned from my first trip to Paris. We had a wonderful time -no hint of any anti-American sentiment whatsoever.

Here are some of my observations/suggestions:
(1) Buy the museum pass. We bought a 5 day pass for 45 Euros. Even though most of the lines we saw were not horrendous, it was wonderful not having to wait (except for the security line). Also, we visited places such as the Museum of the Middle Ages, that we originally had not planned on. But since we had the pass, why not?

(2) Use a money belt or at the very least keep a close eye on your wallet/purse. Our very first night, we saw a thief snatch someone's bag outside a bistro.

(3) A little bit of french goes a long way. With our very limited french, we did pretty well shopping, ordering in restaurants, etc. When we were at a loss, we always said "Bonjour, parlez vous anglais?" and every time we got a helpful response. We noticed some English and American tourists who just launched into their questions, etc. in english without even saying bonjour. They were treated fairly rudely.

We did not encounter the legendary Parsian rudeness at all. Most of the people we encountered were very nice, some even friendly!

My "don't miss" sights were:
Eiffel Tower
Arc de Triomphe
Notre Dame (including the towers -incredible view of Paris; we got some great shots of the gargoyles!)
Sacre Coeur
Louvre
Musee'd'Orsay
Boat ride on the Seine (we took the one that leaves from Pont Neuf -take the trip at sunset if you can)
View from the Place de la Concorde at night (you can see down the Champs Elysees to the Arc de Triomphe and walk over a few steps and can see the Eiffel Tower)

We did go to Versailles one day, but really did not enjoy it -it was just too crowded. If we could do it over again, we would probably go to Chartres.

If you can, reserve a hotel room with a balcony. We had a tiny balcony, but we really used it a lot. It was great to sit there in the afternoon and have a beer and do some people watching.

If you are interested in a classical music concert in a church, try the Eglise St. Merri in the Marais. They have FREE concerts every Saturday night at 9 and Sunday afternoon at 4. We went last Sunday and heard a classical pianist; it's a beautiful setting to hear music.

Let me know if you have any questions.
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Old Mar 29th, 2003, 12:44 PM
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Thanks Kendra!! I do want to hear about anything you think is important to know! We're going in June. We definitely want to hear concerts in cathedrals. What area did you stay in?
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Old Mar 29th, 2003, 12:49 PM
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We stayed in the Marais at the Hotel Caron de Beamarchais. This was a fantastic location -about a 5 minute walk to the Notre Dame. We could kind of see the river from our balcony (or at least part of the bridge that goes over the river!). There were a lot of good restaurants close by too (lots on the main drag on the Ile St. Louis).
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Old Mar 29th, 2003, 01:04 PM
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Wren,

If you do not have a hotel yet you may want to consider the Hotel Grande Leveque on Rue Cler.
Great prices, clean ensuite rooms and a great location.

US
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Old Mar 29th, 2003, 03:33 PM
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Hi Kendra-
You left out my favorite part of trip reports...Where did you eat!
Kristy
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Old Mar 30th, 2003, 09:31 AM
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Hi Kristy,
Sorry! We had some fantastic meals. The best were at two restaurants almost next door to each other on the Ile St. Louis -Le Tastevin and Le Caveau de l'Isle (on the main street -rue Saint-Louis en l'Isle). The service at both restaurants was very friendly and the food was fantastic.

There were also two good restaurants around the Place du Marche' Ste Catherine too -Au Bistrot de la Place and an Italian restaurant -Cote Soleil.
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Old Mar 30th, 2003, 09:45 AM
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Kendra, glad you had such a great time. I love Versailles... sorry it was so crowded when you went. To your "don't miss" list, I would add Saint Chappelle and, for the more adventurous, the Catacombs.

Thanks for your trip report! Wish I were there.
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Old Mar 30th, 2003, 10:29 AM
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Welcome back Kendra!I am happy that you had such lovely time in Paris ... I would add also Saint Denis Cathedral.. The resting place of many kings and queens of France.. It is one's of my favorites Cathedral in Paris, pretty quite place because is off the tourists path..I go back there everytime I visist Paris, which lately is quite often.
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Old Mar 30th, 2003, 01:57 PM
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Kendra, you're message was incredibly helpful.
My husband and I are going to Cannes/Paris on April 15. I've never been to Europe before. We booked our flight in Sept...so there was no turning back when the war sprung in March. I was glad to read that you did not have any anti-American run-ins.
My mom is VERY against my trip, and so is everyone else that we speak to. It's kind've putting a damper on something that's supposed to be so wonderful! Anyway, thanks for your "top ten" list and for the classical music idea.
-Jessica in NY
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Old Mar 30th, 2003, 04:52 PM
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Jessica, If you're interested in going to a classical music concert in Paris, be sure to pick up a copy of Pariscope when you get there. It's a weekly magazine listing events that are on in Paris (not just music, but museum exhibits, movies, etc.). It's available at most newsstands -- I forget the exact price, but I think it's less than one euro. Also, keep an eye out for posters advertising concerts in churches (once you start looking for them, you'll see them everywhere).

St-Julien le Pauvre, on the Left Bank, frequently has good concerts. To avoid disappointment, bear in mind that the sightlines in churches usually aren't great for concerts (after all, they were built as churches, not as concert halls), so you may not be able to see the musicians very well, but the acoustics are so great they make up for it.
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Old Mar 30th, 2003, 05:32 PM
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Thanks so much for the info, Kendra. My husband are heading to Paris in May as first-time travelers to Europe. Your list of must-see sights looks a lot like ours so I know we're on the right track.

Unfortunately though we have had to change our itinerary and are once again on the hunt for a budget hotel with some Parisian character. I've emailed about 6-7 hotels at this point (Familia, Leveque, St Dominique, Champ de Mars) and everyone is booked. I know we're on a very tight timeline now but I'd appreciate any suggestions for a hotel under 90 Eur, right or left bank.

THANKS in advance!
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Old Mar 31st, 2003, 04:13 AM
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Another hotel we love (staying there for a second time next week) is the Hotel de la Motte Picquet. It's on the corner of Rue Cler and Avenue de la Motte Picquet, very near Hotel Leveque and Hote du Champs de Mars. A double room with shower is 90 Euro when we're there. A quick walk to the Champs de Mars/Tour Eiffel.
 
Old Mar 31st, 2003, 04:38 AM
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Clydes Mom, if you are still looking for a budget hotel in Paris, try Le Home Latin, 2*, on rue du Sommerard in the 5th, you should be able to get a double room ensuite for about 90 euro. The location is great, almost next to the Cluny Museum and they are large enough and not in alot of tourist books so are likely to have a room available. Phone is 1-43-26-25-21 or fax 1-43-29-87-04. We were there just over a year ago and had a wonderful stay. Good luck, Deborah
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Old Mar 31st, 2003, 06:40 AM
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Kendra,
I too just returned from four days in Paris and I must disagree somewhat with your assessment of not encountering anti-American sentiments. I especially experienced anti-American sentiments from the large Arab population that lives in Paris. I also had the opportunity to speak with an American who has lived in Paris for two years now and she concurred that it was getting kind of "weird" there. She had joined in anti-war demonstrations the previous few weeks and was greeted with open arms, but she said that the mood was changing since the war had begun. We were talking between Place du Concorde and La Madaleine, just as riot police were everywhere and all motorized traffic had been stopped. The day was Tuesday March 25th. It was surreal with the pedestrian only Place du Concorde filled with tourist and gathering anti-war/America protestors. We were glad to finally get back onto our La open tour bus and back to Place du Nation.
I must add though that before this "manifestation", we had a beautiful visit to Saint Chapelle and Musee d'Orsay. And the food in Paris has to be some of the best in the world. This culinary assessment comes from a New Orleanian, so I know of what I speak.
I am, nonetheless, ready to go back to Europe in a few months. I love it and am totally against the war, but I have a difficult time conveying my feelings in French. I say go and enjoy yourself. Just don't get into too many political discussions with the locales, especially the north African Arabs who often times love Sadam Hussein. Go figure. Take care. Tim
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Old Mar 31st, 2003, 08:08 AM
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Hi Tim,
We did see lots of riot police (one night about 10 police vans passed us on the Rue de Rivoli). But we never saw the protests/demonstrations -just the police on the way to them.

I meant in my post that we personally did not encounter any hostility. We avoided getting into any political discussions (which wasn't hard since we don't know much french!).

Before I left, I had read that most French people can seperate the people from the government, i.e., they may be anti US governement, but they are not anti American. That I did find to be true over there. We were not treated rudely at all and I'm quite sure most people could figure out we are American!

I would also encourage people to go on their trips to Europe, but would second your advice not to get into any heated debates about the war.
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Old Mar 31st, 2003, 10:07 AM
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Hi Kendra

My new wife and I go to Paris on April 7th and are staying on Ile St Louis in an apartment across from the famous Ice Cream shop(Berthillion??) Are the places where you ate close to there?? thanks for the great info..Bob
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Old Mar 31st, 2003, 10:19 AM
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Bob - an easy walk from where you're staying, and great food: Le Bistrot du Dome (2, rue de la Bastille, 4eme); Barcane-Bistrot de L'Oulette (38, rue des Tournelles, 4eme); and Chez Maitre Paul (12, rue Monsieur-le_prince, 6eme). Important you aslk your hotel to make your reservations. Superb food, and not pricey. Enjoy your trip.
 
Old Mar 31st, 2003, 10:30 AM
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rhtt...thanks for the info...this is my first trip to Europe and my wife's first trip to France and am very excited to spend 12 days there..bob
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Old Mar 31st, 2003, 01:39 PM
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My husband and I will be spending 2 nights in Paris next week, making roundtrip from Brussels before returning home to Wash.,DC. Any suggestions for rail travel from Brussels to Paris? Also, any suggestions for good eating near La Defense?
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Old Mar 31st, 2003, 09:39 PM
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Another vote for Chez Maitre Paul! We had a wonderful lunch thwere a couple of weeks ago.
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