Miscellaneous Paris Tips

Dec 23rd, 2004, 05:52 AM
Join Date: Oct 2004
Posts: 4,725
These are great suggestions and will make our first visit more enjpoyable. Thanks Jeanne, Gretchen and others.
robjame is offline  
Dec 23rd, 2004, 06:43 AM
Join Date: Feb 2004
Posts: 235
My tips:

Don't discard your Metro ticket until after you have gone completely up the stairs and are on the street. They really do set up checkpoints in the system to catch farebeaters. Oddly enough, this only seemed to happen at stations that handle a lot of tourists.

Switching Metro lines is usually long, confusing, and tiring. It's better to walk a few blocks aboveground to catch the correct line first (if possible). Don't fall into the trap of thinking an easy transfer on the map is an easy transfer on the ground.

Avoid Chatelet transfer station in the Metro/RER if you can. Huge, dirty, nasty, super confusing. The only sour note in the whole system.

The #6 Metro line from Nation to Trocadero is mostly elevated and a great way to rest and see Paris at the same time. If you take it to the end, it drops you off at the Arc de Triomphe.

You can't see much from the Batobus! The Seine has high stone walls that block the view.

Metro tickets work on the bus, too.

Get a little color metro map to carry or print one out- you will need it to check what the END stations of the lines are to make sure you are going in the right direction.

Don't miss the Louvre Dungeons in the basement! You can see the original castle walls.

Go ALL THE WAY TO THE TOP OF THE EIFFEL TOWER. Why did you fly thousands of miles to go 1/3 of the way up? It was worth every europenny. The 1st floor view was not "just as good".

The Museum Pass gets you into a lot of sites you may not have thought of. Make sure to check the booklet that comes with it- we wound up going to 4 or 5 sites we would not have otherwise. Reading it turned a good value into a great one.

Always make sure you have 40 cents on you- almost every bathroom is a pay one, even in some stores and museums. The upside is that they are clean and well stocked. Street toilet booths are also great and handy, but mainly for men.

The French write numbers slightly differently than we do. What looks like a Seven is actually a One. Sevens have little lines across them.

Some of the most memorable and fun places we went to were the second- or third-tier sites that weren't quite as famous. When highlighting your guidebook, make sure to hit 1 or 2 of those two-star oddball items.

Post Offices have ATMs, because they also serve as banks in France.

STORES CLOSE EARLY. Repeat: STORES CLOSE EARLY (compared to America). If you haven't bought it by 6PM or eaten it by 8PM, good luck tomorrow.

ATMs love, just love, to hand out Fifties. Stores hate seeing them. Break them at the major tourist sites, they are more prepared to give change than a Mom-and-Pop shop.

If you are hungry and ovewhelmed, go to the Bastille. It's surrounded by moderately priced chain restaurants. It's not glamourous, but you will get a much-needed break so you can fight another day.

QC is offline  
Dec 23rd, 2004, 09:39 AM
Join Date: Nov 2004
Posts: 6,260
There is at least one strategy which has worked for us when we were recently confronted with the "we cannot charge your credit card in Euros" routine.

When we were told this we said, in English, "Either you charge us for what we have (and we already had the food in hand)or we're walking out" and we started for the door. There was an immediate change in tune and the charge was put through with a sour look but no further comments.
Intrepid1 is offline  
Dec 23rd, 2004, 09:57 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 1,655
-Go to dinner or lunch early to avoid ciggy smoke and get a table without a reservation.

-Plan ahead, don't just walk into any bistro. Some are bloody awful!

-Take the Air France bus from the airport than either use the metro or take a taxi to your destination

-Paris Shuttle ius decent for airport transportaion.

-Use ATMs wherever possible for cash. i also have a "non-visa" ATM card from Met Life Bank that doesn't charge a fee for a withdrawl.

-Register all your credit cards with your credit card company before you leave. If they notice odd spending patterns they may put a hold on your card. they like to know you are out of the country incase of fraud.

-A shoulder or messenger bag with zippers is good protection from pickpocketers.

When making a hotel reservation at a small hotel be sure to ask for a room with a private bath and shower if you want one. You could end up with a bathtub and no shower.

-Hotels generally DO NOT supply wash cloths, if you need one either bring one or buy one at a local store such as Monoprix.

-Paying for breakfast in your hotel room is a big waste of money. Every neighborhood has a bakery, patterserie or boulangerie to get a cup of cafe latte and pastry!

-Buy a nice big bottle of water to drink in your hotel room immediately on arrival.

-If you are going to a tourist sight or trendy area, buy small bottled water in a local bodega near your hotel to carry along. Sometimes a bottle of water at a tourist trap can cost as much as 2 euro!!

-Wine, coffee and dessert will drive up your food bill dramatically. Sometimes its nice to just buy a pastry or tart at a local shop to eat in your room later.

-Fancy gourmet shops like Fauchon and Hediard's are nice but you can get reasonable gourmet treats and souvenirs at places like Monoprix, Lafayette Gourmet or even the grocery stores (supermarche).
richardab is offline  
Dec 23rd, 2004, 09:59 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 11,449
If you sing the "Voulez-vous coucher avec moi?" chorus from the song Lady Marmalade too loudly, you'll either get slapped or make a new friend.

Ryan is offline  
Dec 23rd, 2004, 06:04 PM
Join Date: Jun 2003
Posts: 87
We visited Paris in June and saved a great deal of time buying our museum tickets online-- especially for the Louvre. We walked past everyone in line right to the Richielou Entrance(that can't be spelled correctly!)and saved ourselves at least an hour in line. One of the best lunches we had was in the cafe at the Musee d'Orsay. Another was from a wonderful crepe sidewalk vendor near the Pompidou Center. Have a great time!
smiroglotta is offline  
Dec 23rd, 2004, 06:09 PM
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LOL Ryan, now I have that tune in my head
Scarlett is offline  
Dec 23rd, 2004, 06:17 PM
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Ryan- when I was in Brussels this spring, I heard a dance remix of Lady Marmalade, half in English, half in french, but they changed the lyrics from "down in old New Orleans" to "down in old Moulin Rouge". Ha.

While I was visiting Paris, my male friend coached me quite firmly that I should say only "Bon Soir" at the end of the eve. "Bon Nuit" indicates the last person I would see before turning out the lights, and therefore too initmate to use to a stranger, like to the night clerk at the hotel.
ninasdream is offline  
Dec 24th, 2004, 07:29 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 6,127
Hi, regarding the bottled water. I usually buy a large bottle of water for the hotel room and a smaller bottle for toting around. And I refill the smaller one with water from the hotel room's bathroom faucet instead of buying new bottles of water.
francophile03 is offline  
Dec 26th, 2004, 12:16 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 530
>>>>>>Register all your credit cards with your credit card company before you leave. If they notice odd spending patterns they may put a hold on your card. they like to know you are out of the country incase of fraud.

Richardab is right. I called the credit card company before our last trip, and they appreciated knowing my plans to be using the card extensively in France.
flsd is offline  
Dec 26th, 2004, 02:47 PM
Join Date: Jun 2003
Posts: 713
Bring an extra passport photo, you will need it for your metro pass.

"metro/bus pass for several days i think 3, 5, or 7 days....its WORTH it since u take the metro EVERYWHERE! they're not too expensive either! ill think of more at some point in time"

donnae_b is offline  
Dec 26th, 2004, 06:33 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 10,605
I don't think you need a photo for the 3, 5 or 7 day pass, which must be the Paris Visite card.
You do need a small head/face photo for the Carte Orange (which is a weekly pass from Monday thru Sunday, never less). It doesn't have to be a passport photo, those are actually a tad large. It should be a small head shot like what you'd take at one of those photo booths (about 1x1"). You can use your own digital camera to do it, it doesn't have to be anything 'official' looking.
Travelnut is offline  
Dec 27th, 2004, 07:15 AM
Join Date: Jun 2004
Posts: 19,000
Well, RATP passes aren't always cheaper than tickets, because some days you might only need one round trip from your hotel and walk the rest. The choices are:

Single tickets (cheaper in "carnet" of 10)
Mobilis - unlimited for one day
Carte Orange - unlimited for Monday - Sunday (photo required)
Paris Visite - unlimited for 1, 2, 3, or 5 days

Note that the passes are sold for various combinations of "Zones" - your choice should be determined by where you will stay and where you will visit. Most tourists never get outside of Zone 2 unless they go someplace like Versailles for a day (for which you should buy a single RER ticket). The Paris Visite is rarely a good deal, the exception being if you're staying in Zone 3 for two or three days. All this lore can be found at


They offer an English language site, but it doesn't offer the Carte Orange or Mobilis. If your French isn't up to snuff, use http://babelfish.altavista.com to get you a rough translation.
Robespierre is offline  
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