Last-minute Paris Tips?

Old Sep 14th, 2000, 04:08 PM
  #1  
Craig
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Last-minute Paris Tips?

My wife and I are leaving Saturday 9/16for our first-ever trip to Paris. We've got a room at the Parc St. Severin in the Latin Quarter for four nights.
We are planning to take the RER from the Airport. Is it really as easy as our "Unofficial Guide" makes it sound? We'd rather not deal w/ taxis or any other ground transport that might be mucked up by the fuel crisis.
We're only there a short time, but don't want to be to crazed about trying to see or do EVERYTHING. Trying to limit ourselves to one major attraction per day, with the rest of the day saved for strolling, people watching, and generally enjoying time away from our 4-yr-old.
Any recommendations beyond the obvious? When's the least crazed time to visit the Tower? Best twilight cruise on the Seine? Attractions that don't live up to the Hype? Is St. Denis fun-sexy or sleazy-depressing? (Any other fun-sexy suggestions? It's an anniversary trip...) Cozy, intimate restaurants?
I know the guidebooks are filled with this stuff, but I trust Fodorite word-of-mouth much more.
Thanks for any help.

-Craig
 
Old Sep 14th, 2000, 04:53 PM
  #2  
Bill Fleites
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Your hotel is very centrally located, and getting there with the metro is as easy as described. Just take RER line B from CDG and get off at the Saint Michel/Notre Dame exit. The lines to take the elevators going up on the tower always seems to have very long lines. You might want to have the concierge at your hotel get dinner reservations to the Jules Verne restaurant on the tower.
 
Old Sep 14th, 2000, 05:16 PM
  #3  
Caitlin
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Craig,

Here's my advice on the RER into Paris: yes, it's easy, station at each terminal, office outside each station where you buy your 49FF ticket. Sitting in the regular car can be cramped and uncomfortable with luggage. I recommend boarding at the very first door in the very first car or the very last door in the very last car. This will get you into an open area at the end of the train where there are fold-down seats you can use, and plenty of room to keep your luggage at your feet.

We ran into a couple of cozy, intimate (casual) restaurants that we liked. Le Vieux Casque, on rue Bonaparte, a couple of blocks south of the Seine (rue Bonaparte is just s bit west of the Pont des Arts and the Hotel de la Monnaie), 6th arr. is a tiny bistro of about 20 seats where we had a late meal on what happened to be my birthday. Cozy, wood paneled, low key, good simple bistro food. About $40 for three courses and house wine for two (of course, tax and gratuity are included in the menu prices). Despite it's having a Frommer's sticker on the door, it was filled just with French folks when we were there (but English is spoken). Creperie des Arts, 27, rus St-Andre-des-Arts, 6th arr., is a slightly different kind of cozy, and utterly charming (very good crepes, too). It's also very small, and divided cozily into little booths by sort of Moorish-looking half walls. Difficult to describe, but we loved it. The neighborhood is great for wandering, with lots of interesting little shops.

We did not go up in the Eiffel Tower, but one of the most relaxing, enjoyable, and romantic evenings we had was spent in the Parc du Champs du Mars (spreads out in front of the Tower) as dusk fell, watching the Tower slowly light up, then seeing the first light show once it was fully dark. Also, for romance, don't miss those evening strolls along the Seine.
 
Old Sep 14th, 2000, 05:50 PM
  #4  
Craig
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Thanks, that all sounds terrific.

How much money should I change before going over? I was planning on mostly using my credit and ATM cards for convenience and better exchange rates, but do I need cash to buy my RER tickets? Also, do Paris ATM's speak English?
Thaks,
-Craig
 
Old Sep 14th, 2000, 05:51 PM
  #5  
steve
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We enjoyed the Seine boat tour on Vedettes du Pont-Neuf-there was a guide who spoke English rather than a recording.
 
Old Sep 14th, 2000, 06:48 PM
  #6  
Dayle
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There ATM's located on almost every street or street corner around Paris. Yes, they speak English and are extremely convenient. Try to find out from your bank when they service the system so you won't be stopped from getting your cash (remember the time difference). We took over about $100 CDN in francs and had cash for two days before using an ATM. We went in August and had a complete blast. Lots of cheap ethnic restaurants in the Latin Quarter. Have fun.
 
Old Sep 14th, 2000, 09:35 PM
  #7  
Barbara
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Yes, the ATMs speak English. Very simple and quick to use. Be careful of the cruises on the Seine. Although they are most beautiful at night, this summer we had a problem with teenagers spitting and throwing things at the boats as they passed under the bridges (on 2 bridges). One passenger on our boat was hit with a coke can and my 7 yr old was spit on (his leg and head) as were several other passengers. It was quite upsetting. Maybe just avoid the cruises on a Saturday night when the little demons are out of school. We found that visiting the Eiffel Tower very late (about 11:00p.m. - it closed at midnight during the summer) resulted in almost no line, however the elevator to the top was already closed, we were only able to get to the 2nd level that night. The Musee D'Orsay is a particularly beautiful museum that is not to be missed! Have a wonderful time!
 
Old Sep 14th, 2000, 09:50 PM
  #8  
Craig
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Are there any ATM's located in the airports? We might just get our cash there for our RER tickets. Or can we buy those tickets with a Credit card?

-Craig
 
Old Sep 14th, 2000, 10:02 PM
  #9  
greg
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Yes, RER is recommended PROVIDED that you can handle your luggages. My in-laws went to Paris for the first time relying on recommendation to use the RER, except that for them, it was a bad recommendation based on the amount of luggages they could carry thru the station and from the exit to the hotel. They were exhausted by the time they arrived at their hotel. They took the taxi back to CDG and thought that was the best 250FF they spent.
 
Old Sep 15th, 2000, 05:33 AM
  #10  
Kate
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We just returned from Paris on Monday. You can purchase train tickets with Visa (we bought the 5 day Visite Pass with a credit card) We went up in the Eiffel Tower on Tuesday eve around 8:00 and there was no line going up however coming down, we had to wait for a few elevators. Have a wonderful time!
 
Old Sep 15th, 2000, 05:51 AM
  #11  
love2trvl
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Craig:
First of all enjoy Paris! Luggage on the train can be a bit nerve-racking. If you can get a taxi do it. One of my favorites places to stroll around were the streeta around Notre Dame. There are cheesy souvenier stands where I was able to purchase some absolutely beautiful silk scarves and had a wonderful lunch at one of the small cafes right across the street. (Can't remember the name, sorry but it also had a stand selling crepes right outside YUM) I always use the ATM right in the airport. There always seem to be lines at the machines in the terminals I go to the ones by the train station. I also purchased my 5 day Paris Visite there with my Mastercard. They take just about any major credit card. Take a night cruise on one of the covered boats to avoid the hoodlums throwing things from the bridges The Eiffel Tower "twinkles" on the hour so you will see it coming and going. Relax at any cafe to watch the world go by. Just thinking about this wonderful city makes me wish I wish I were going again soon! Have fun!!
 
Old Sep 15th, 2000, 08:18 AM
  #12  
toldham
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you are staying very close to Ste. Chappelle, the former royal chapel,, which is one of the truly spectacular places on earth--it is not open as much as regular churches--check in advance
 
Old Sep 15th, 2000, 10:06 AM
  #13  
Lesli
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Craig -

If you are flying into CDG, there are ATMs within the airport. (From my arrival terminal, there was one downstairs, I believe right next door to an exchange service.) On my last trip, I arrived with no FF, and withdrew money at the airport to pay for my RER ticket. I had a 22" rolling bag and a tote, plus my handbag, and had no difficulty with the RER. The RER can be much faster than a cab, because of traffic.
 
Old Sep 15th, 2000, 05:05 PM
  #14  
Debbie
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Just returned from Paris in August. The line up to the top of the Eiffel tower was much shorter than the one down...but worth it. The Bateaux Moche down the Seine was great (from the Pont Del Alma ..sp? metro). Also, diagonal to that same metro is a beautiful Brasserie called Chez Francis where we had a spectacular night view of the Eiffel Tower. Dont forget a day trip to Versailles on the RER line C...( there is a good Brasserie across from the RER station with the best Panini's!) absolutely unbelievably grand. Have a wonderful trip! I miss Paris already!
 
Old Sep 15th, 2000, 06:04 PM
  #15  
Christina
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I don't understand people who view prostitution as a tourist attraction, I find this very odd, but I think that's because I am not as sheltered or conservative as many people so I don't think the idea of people having illicit sex is anything new or unusual and I don't need to look at that as a travel experience. Why would viewing street hookers be a turn on for your wife and you? I live in Wash DC and all I have to do is leave my office building after 9 pm and I can see tons of them, I practically run over them trying to drive home, plus I used to work in Hollywood around Sunset & La Brea so saw enough (male and female) to last me a lifetime, and I do not get excited by seeing them at work. I'll bet that you have never seen or lived in an area with plentiful street hookers as there is nothing sexy about it. Street hookers are not usually very attractive or healthy or fun to watch; you don't see anything anyway, just them picking up guys and driving/going off with them. Hugh Grant picked up that woman a few blocks from where I used to work and I think he must have lost his mind to do that, as I'm sure he could have afforded a high-priced call girl (like maybe Julia Roberts, except I guess she was a street hooker around there also). Maybe you could look for a higher-minded level of entertainment. I don't know what to recommend that would be sexy for you and your wife, though, I like accordion music and a good bottle of Cotes du Rhone.
 
Old Sep 15th, 2000, 07:07 PM
  #16  
Craig
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Whoa. Didn't mean to offend anyone. Just looking forward to being in a Romantic, non-puritanical culture, where different attitudes and a little "ooh la la" would make for a fun anniversary.

We've heard of some "erotic cabaret" shows, but can only find real info on the Lido or Crazy Horse or other Vegasish tourist fare. Hoping to find something a little more honest. Any Fodorite suggestions?
 

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