Paris for Honeymoon

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Jun 11th, 2011, 02:52 PM
  #1
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Paris for Honeymoon

Hello Francophiles,

We are traveling to Paris early Aug for the first time. We are not regular travelers, and this is our "trip of a lifetime." Because my fiancee is feeling a bit overwhelmed with the wedding, she delegated the trip planning to me. (!) Some background, so that you may tailor your responses. We are in our 30's, and are Southern Californians who don't speak a word of French. We have a combined income of about $150K, but are mostly budget conscious (we drive Hondas not Lexus). We will also have blown most of our discretionary cash on the wedding On the other hand, it's our honeymoon and I want it to be memorable. We are staying at a hotel in St Germaine for our trip.

I have a couple specific questions listed below, but I welcome any advice and friendly tips-- don't want to screw this up!!

1. I would like to make reservations at Spring Restaurant. Any other suggestions for fine dining?

2. Suggestions for everyday meals, please.

3. I have read that a picnic is a quintessential Paris thing to do. Suggestions? I read that Rodin Museum garden is good for picnics. What other places in Paris might you suggest? And do they allow picnics at Versailles?

4. We are each taking along 1 backpack and 1 carry-on piece of luggage. Do we need to pack a rain shell, or is it okay to ditch this? Is the first week of August mainly just short sleeve weather, comparable to NYC summers?

5. It should be okay using American credit cards in Paris, yes? When this question is asked in the forums, the answers invariably seem to veer off to Germany, Italy, etc.

6. Has anyone heard anything about the DaVinci Code tours?

7. Any suggestions for a Chocolate Tour?

Thanks so much!
bestkennethever is offline  
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Jun 11th, 2011, 03:00 PM
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Yes for American credit cards.

Some of our best everyday meals were at L'caveaux des Isles in Ile St Louie. In St Germaine area we liked Fish La Boissonnerie and Marco Polo
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Jun 11th, 2011, 03:01 PM
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hey someone else was looking for a chocolate tour, I know Pariswalks has one very cheap, you can google them.

There is nothing wrong whatsoever about using American credit cards in Paris (or anywhere else). I do it all the time, there is not the slightest problem.

I'm not foodie, so can't help you with reservations. I wouldn't picnic in the Rodin gardens, myself, that's just a small area outside a museum, I wouldn't consider it a picnic destination. To me, I want a big park like Parc Monceau or Luxembourg Gardens or Montsouris (one of my favorites). besides, are you going to take food and lug it around in a picnic basket (or the modern equivalent of that, maybe a grocery bag) while you tour the museum? I don't understand that idea. Maybe they have a bag check, I don't remember, as you can see, I wouldn't recommend that for some picnic experience myself (yeah, I know I've heard of people on Fodors who go gaga over that small garden, also, I just don't get it).

YOu don't need a rain shell in August. It rains quite a bit in July, actually, but August not quite so much. Either way, it's nothing I would take (not sure what you mean, sounds like a jacket), I carry a small lightweight umbrella with me, it's real small and fits in my totebag or purse.

yeah, NYC summers are a pretty good comparison for Paris, about the same weather.
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Jun 11th, 2011, 04:25 PM
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Most important advice: Relax. Paris is for lovers, right?
Every possible tip for Paris appears in this forum over and over, but here a few highlights. Unfortunately I know nothing of romance but a lot about being happy in Paris.
1. - California is the home of informal life. Paris insists on formality. Learn a few words -- hello, please, thank you, goodbye. That's the ritual, and enough. Nobody in the tourist industry has the time to help you with French lessons. But you have obeyed the formalities and they will react accordingly.
2. - Comments about money clog this forum. It's simple. Use your ATM card from at home (notify your debit and credit card companies.) Take out a good bit of cash; it's cheaper. Use the cc for big purchases if at all. Despite the chip technology, US swipe cards are supposed to work. But that friendly neighbourhood hole-in-the-wall may fail. Try your second card. Then it's their problem.
3. - Fine dining in France covers a spectrum, from the everyday bistro to grande luxe. All restaurants must post their menu outside, so shop around, a big part of the fun when walking. Research the Internet. Remember that good cooking is not necessarily the product of interior design. And, again, relax. More wine, and it will be all right.
If I had to choose a knock-out first meal for a honeymoon, and couldn't afford Michelin stars or the Tour d'Argent or Maxim's, I'd suggest Le Train Bleu. It's atop Gare de Lyon, the city's second-biggest train station on the edge of the 12th arrondisment. The 19th-century decor could make a Hollywood movie designer blush, tourists from all over the world mingle with businessmen just off the train from Lyon, and the waiters have seen it all and still deliver the European suaveness. The food suggests the grandeurs of classic cuisine without coming close to achievement, but the over-the-top experience made even a solo diner sigh. http://www.le-train-bleu.com/uk/index.php
4. - Central Paris, the only part tourists see, is very compact, the perfect walking city. Do your research on the regional transport: From the airport, on the buses, downstairs in the Metro. There are lots of sites which will set you up for getting around, as this forum will tell you. Take your smallest laptop so you can do last-minute research in your hotel room (hopefully on free WiFi).
You could spend a week just walking, with a stop here and there for anything catching your attention, without hitting any of the must-sees, and still think you have had the best honeymoon ever.
And, with good luck, the next trip will be an anniversary.
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Jun 11th, 2011, 04:33 PM
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Personally I don;t consider a picnic a Paris experience. The quintessential Parisian experience is sitting in an outdoor cafe with a glass of wine - or whatever - watching the world go by (and it WILL be interesting). One of the places we like to sit is the cafe of the Grand Hotel. Or consider one of the cafes near Boul Mich/Boul St Germaine.

For basic meals - esp lunches we would just do a cafe or Brasserie wherever we found ourselves. As long as the place was quite busy the food was fine for a casual meal.

One other note. Paris is a BIG movie town. Not only do they usually have a bunch of mini-fests (often left bank) going on at any one time - but many of the large places in the center of town show the movies in the original language (marked VO) with French subtitles. We had a lot of fun doing several fests, including one of a Marx Brothers double feature - with two sets of laughs for each joke - one for the English speakers and one for the locals reading the French subtitles.
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Jun 11th, 2011, 05:48 PM
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A picnic in Paris on a really pretty day is lovely. We had a very nice picnic at the Rodin sculpture garden and also at Parc Monceau.

US credit cards are accepted in France. Be sure to let your credit card company know you will be using the card abroad. Some have had their cards cut off because of non-routine spending patterns if they have not notified the credit card company.

A few of our favorite restaurants in Paris are Ze Kitchen Gallerie and L'Epi Dupin in the 6th Arrondisement, La Regalade St. Honore in the 1st Arrondisement, and the Constant restaurants in the 7th. Our favorite place for breakfast is the Cafe Bonaparte in the 6th. To find lots of suggestions, use the search box above and search for "Paris restaurants".

Have a wonderful honeymoon.
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Jun 11th, 2011, 07:40 PM
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Merci beaucoup for the insightful comments!

Oh, and any favorite places for macaroons?
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Jun 11th, 2011, 09:17 PM
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Another option for a picnic - Square du Vert Galant, jutting out into the middle of the river in the heart of Paris.
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Jun 11th, 2011, 09:19 PM
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If you are looking for the best macarons, I think you just have to find them. Stop at each bakery that sells them and then decide which is best! I did that on one trip to Paris and determined that the violet with cassis at Laduree was the best, but it took a lot of research! Since it is your honeymoon, I would suggest a champagne cruise on the Seine. I did this last year and it was so special to be cruising the Seine, sipping on champagne. You may be able to just bring a bottle on any of the boats but we booked one through http://www.o-chateau.com/ They also recently opened a wine tasting bar, which I plan to look up when I'm there next year. Another idea, and I don't know where I heard this, but you must kiss each time you cross the Seine. I don't know what happens if you do, but it can't hurt! Have a fun time!
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Jun 11th, 2011, 11:36 PM
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I would second the suggestion to learn a few words of French. Get a phrase book and start learning ASAP. When entering shops it is customary to greet the shopkeeper (bonjour madame or monsieur is sufficient) and then a quick thank you as you leave, regardless of whether or not you make a purchase.

Take photocopies of your passports and credit cards (front and back)and email them to yourself so that if the worst happens you can easily find the details and take steps to have them replaced. I don't like to carry my passport each day but I do carry a copy of the photo page which I'm sometimes asked for when I'm using my credit card for shopping.

Keep your picnic simple and buy some sandwich baguettes (look for nice crusty bread), a pastry or some fruit and a drink. Picnics are held on Thursday nights on the ponte des artes (a pedestrian bridge that crosses the Seine river) and there are always picnickers in the Champ du Mars which is a big grassed area near the Eiffel Tour.

Macarons are lovely and good ones can be found all over Paris, I really don't get the fuss about Laduree, although I'm not saying theirs aren't good.

Money is the hardest thing to understand when you don't speak French, but I can usually overcome this obstacle by having the shop assistant print off the receipt so that I could see how much was required.

The Parisians are delightful and it was rare for us to find a shopkeeper who wouldn't help us. Bottled water is quite expensive in Paris so we would buy some at a supermarket and use that. Tap water is also fine.

Congrats on your wedding and I hope you have a lovely honeymoon.
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Jun 12th, 2011, 03:10 AM
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For your picnic, drop by a shop and buy a baguette with ham and cheese,a pastry and a bottle of wine. Don't carry a picnic basket but DO carry a corkscrew!! You can picnic any day you are there--take your pickup lunch to one of the bridges across the Seine, or to the Champ de Mars and gaze at the Eiffel Tower.
I do agree with sitting in a cafe on the sidewalk with a glass of wine. One caution--drink the wine at the cafe but don't order a coke!! It will make you cry when you get the bill.
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Jun 12th, 2011, 04:20 AM
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Wow...that's a lot of questions:

Macarons: Try Pierre Herme or Gerard Mulot.

6th arr dining: Agree with Marco Polo, also love Le Comptoir at Relais St. Germain; the crepe stand next door at L'Avant Comptoir is terrific and the crepes are very large (Blvd St Germain/Carrefour Odeon)

Gerard Mulot would also be a good stop for picnic foods and we love their pain au chocolat. I think you can picnic at Luxembourg Gardens.

More casual dining: try Le Danton and les editeurs both are right at Blvd ST Germain/Carrefour Odeon

We use our AmEx in Paris without any issues (notify them of your travel locations and dates prior to leaving)

See David Liebowitz website/blog for chocolate tours or recommended chocolate shops....I live Cacao et Chocolate

Have been in Paris twice in August...it's hot and I never had much rain....just take a small travel umbrella

For a bigger dining experience...L'Atelier de Joel Robuchon in the 7th is my favorite...can reserve online and confirm by phone 24 hours in advance

Have a great trip.
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Jun 12th, 2011, 05:18 AM
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You should call your credit card company about a week before departing to give your travel dates before you leave home - otherwise it may be declined for "unusual activity" if you don't spend much of your year overseas.

Don't overlook bars and pubs for "everyday meals" (sandwiches, soups, quiches, etc.). It's usually very good, much better quality than what you get in bars in the US and other parts of the world.

If you want to have a picnic, Versailles would be a top spot for it.

You don't need a "Chocolate tour", just pop into as many of the hundreds of amazing chocolate shops you'll encounter in your walks around the city (OK, maybe research and have a list handy).

I loved eating here - in your 'hood:
http://www.alapetitechaise.fr/english.htm
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Jun 12th, 2011, 03:47 PM
  #14
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I know, lots of questions... could have been each an individual thread! But thanks for the great replies, thanks for your patience with us.
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