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Random Paris Questions

Old Feb 8th, 2011, 06:12 PM
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Random Paris Questions

Will be traveling to Paris in mid March for 5 nights with the family. I've been lurking here on the forum for quit some time now and have found a wealth of valuable information as I exhaust over preparation and planning. With that being said, as it gets closer to our departure, I have a few random questions that I would like to solicit input from the group...

1. What will the weather be like in March and where should I stay? (just kidding) I will be traveling for 10 days in Paris and London and plan to do it all from a carry-on (wish me luck) so I'll pack for varying weather conditions and layer. Also, we will be staying at the Renaissance Paris Arc de Triomphe Hotel which is fairly new. I'll post a trip report addressing both.
2. Real questions...Are you limited to buying two carnet of billets at a time? They are good for anything in zones 1 & 2 as well as transfers within 1 1/2 hours of first use, correct?
3. We will be buying Museum Passes because I like the flexibility of in-n-out of a museum without the guilt of wasting 8e for a 25 minute view of Monet's Water Lilies. The main plus I read is bypassing the lines (Orsay) which makes sense but how are the security checks? Are they a simple check of a purse or backpack and in you go or should you expect to wait some time in these lines as well for which the Museum Pass doesn't offer a bypass?
4. Wi-Fi...This topic seems to be all over the place. I read there is wi-fi in every park (Mairie de Paris) and hotspots are all over the place BUT then I read others who post they've only had luck in Mickey D's or a Sbux. How readily available is wi-fi in Paris proper?? We will likely bring an I-Pad as we can be directionally challenged.
5. Is Notre Dame crazy on a Sunday? Would like to attend the Gregorian mass at 10 am and tour the towers and deck afterwards. Is this wishful thinking?
6. Finally, I'm really intrigued by the Arènes de Lutèce. Is it worth taking a stroll through as part of a Latin Quarter walk? I will likely incorporate it but was curious about what others thought.

Thanks for any insight...
TX_Trainspotter is offline  
Old Feb 8th, 2011, 08:15 PM
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I can only answer a couple of your questions.

On the Museum Passes, we have never gotten them because when I add up the museums that we're likely to go to (and we REALLY like museums) within the required time period, it's still always cheaper to buy individual tickets. Many of the museums (i.e. the Louvre, Musee d'Orsay, l'Orangerie) allow you to buy tickets in advance; that's what I did (the tickets are either sent to you, or you can stop by a ticket office to pick them up). As I recall, they were not timed entries. Already having tickets also allowed us to skip the lines.

I would guess that touring the Notre Dame towers after a Gregorian mass on a Sunday would be time-consuming. We were last in Paris in mid-October, and even then, the line for the towers was long most of the time. One day we made sure to get there about 10 minutes before the towers opened, and got in pretty quickly.
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Old Feb 8th, 2011, 08:46 PM
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3. We will be buying Museum Passes...

I have bought museum passes a few times with varying results. One time I remember thinking the flexibility made it very worth it (over the Christmas holiday). Another time I knew I had overspent but still appreciated the flexibility. I don't recall the security checks ever slowing things down significantly, certainly not to the point of obviating the "whisk right in" benefit of the pass.

4. Wi-Fi...

Can only say that I have found free wifi in Paris much more available than in Rome!

6. Finally, I'm really intrigued by the Arènes de Lutèce. Is it worth taking a stroll through as part of a Latin Quarter walk? I will likely incorporate it but was curious about what others thought.

I finally made it there on my last visit. I was a bit underwhelmed--not sure what I was expecting, the Colosseum?--but I thought it was "worth" incorporating into a Latin Quarter walk, which is what I did.
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Old Feb 9th, 2011, 06:32 AM
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Lexma90 - because we are taking the kids and it is my first time, the flexibility of the MP is why we'll likely snag them this time around. The hope is my wife and I can get back to Paris and take things more leisurely and likely not purchase them the next visit. The advance ticket purchase option may sway my decision. Yeah, I'll play it by ear with the ND tour after a mass. If the lines are too long then try to slip it in the mix later.

Leely2 - I see the Arenes de Lutece the same way...queue "Gladiator". I think I'm trying to make it into more than it likely is BUT will still include it in the walk but drop the expectations a bit.
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Old Feb 9th, 2011, 06:32 AM
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Thanks for the advice!!
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Old Feb 9th, 2011, 06:34 AM
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Old Feb 9th, 2011, 07:09 AM
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Hi tx,

>2. Real questions...Are you limited to buying two carnet of billets at a time?

You don't get a real carnet anymore, just 10 tix at a reduced price. There is no need to buy more than 2 (20 tix) at a time.

> are the security checks?

Depends on where you are and the moods of the guards.

6. Finally, I'm really intrigued by the Arènes de Lutèce. Is it worth taking a stroll through as part of a Latin Quarter walk?

We found it worth a look. It is a small amphitheater with a lot of foliage and people playing petanque.

Enjoy your visit.

PS: you can avoid lines at the d'Orsay and other places by buying tickets the day before.
ira is online now  
Old Feb 9th, 2011, 07:57 AM
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You can get carnets all over the place, not just in stations, but also in tabacs that display the right sort of sign outside. No point cluttering up your wallet with lots of tickets you won't be using for a time.

Wifi: I suspect that the public access in the parks can be dependent on how many other people are trying to connect in the same place at the same time: so I wouldn't expect much luck in the Parc Monceau or Place des Vosges if the weather is conducive to people sitting in the open air at lunchtime, say. There are cafés which offer access (if you buy something, obviously): there's a chain called Columbus, which will only give you half an hour per purchase, and plenty of others reviewed (in French) here:

City of Paris free points:

Some other tips here:
PatrickLondon is online now  
Old Feb 9th, 2011, 08:34 AM
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You can buy as many carnets as you want to, but as mentioned, you can buy them all over, so I wouldn't go cluttering up my wallet with a stack of them.

Museum pass or not depends on how many museums you want to visit - may or may not be worth it. You have to do the math. Security checks are minimal IME.

Wifi is pretty ubiquitous in Paris, much more so than in other European capitals.

The Arènes de Lutèce are, well, what they are...a Roman amphitheatre. Men play boules there. I usually combine it with a trip to the Mosquée de Paris and the hammam and tea room.
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Old Feb 9th, 2011, 08:56 AM
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If you would like to see more of Roman Paris check out this website.

I also found it interesting on a Paris trip to see parts of the medieval structure of the city. You can see it in the "basement" of the Louvre (the original structure was a medieval fortress) and in parts of the walls that remain in some places in the city. (I had a map I found on google when I went but can't seem to find it in a new search today.)

I think that one of the most interesting things about a visit to Europe (compared to USA) is to see all the layers of history in one place, Roman, medieval, renaissance, modern, etc.
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Old Feb 9th, 2011, 10:26 AM
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The Arene is a good place to bring a lunch and people watch. One side of it also has recovered carved stones that is worth looking at. Book-ended with Roman baths at Cluny museum perhaps? You could combine with Mouffetard market area and/or botanical gardens+National History museum (Jardin des Plantes). Maybe loop down to Seine from there and work your way back.

If Monet is your thing, have you been to Marmottan?
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Old Feb 9th, 2011, 11:14 AM
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Thanks for the input!!

I am now second guessing the MP but that's just something else to stew over...I'll likely decide on the flight over. Think about it constantly and then make an impulse decision on the spot. It's a bad trait I possess.

Laurie_ann: The layers of history is what drew me to the Arene. I also watched an episode of "We Built This City" which showed present day locations of the limestone wall that once encapsulated all of Paris. It is worth a watch for a snapshot of the beginnings of Paris.

Michel_Paris: You are on the right track. The Latin Quarter walk I put together, thanks to Degas, hits the Arene, Cluny, and Rue Mouffetard. My wife is the Monet fan so thanks for reminding me of the Marmottan. That should quench her Monet thirst if we can make it out there.
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Old Feb 9th, 2011, 11:35 AM
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History is my interest!



There is a Paris Walk (I think it was them) that incorporates seeing parts of the old outer walls of Paris...and then there are the walls in the 'basement' of the Louvre.

You might also want to look in the museum located below ground, located in the front public area of Notre Dame.

Maybe go to the little square outside the door of St Julien le Pauvre church and imagine this was where they held the outdoor university lectures back in the middle Latin, thus the Latin Quarter.
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Old Feb 10th, 2011, 03:23 AM
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The other good thing about the Arenes de Lutece, esp for your kids, is that it is in a real neighborhood where real people live as opposed to a student quarter or a tourist district. Ask them to imagine what it would be like to live there.
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Old Feb 10th, 2011, 03:42 AM
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We bought the museum pass when we went with our kids in 2009. It did allow us to skip a few lines but I think the major advantage was feeling like we had more freedom to check out a museum for only an hour or two. One afternoon we had a few free hours and were near the Pompidou. We probably wouldn't have spent 12E each to go in since our interest in modern art is only slight, but we had the museum pass so why not?
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Old Feb 14th, 2011, 02:44 PM
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I am a fan of the Museum pass, especially with kids. With the amount of museums we see, it probably costs us a bit extra. But the convenience and flexibility are really worth it to us.
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Old Feb 15th, 2011, 09:24 AM
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The security lines are minimal in terms of what they do, yes (check purse/bags), but hey can take a while just because of the number of people in line for them, that's all. They never take that long that I'd worry about it, myself, I suppose I waited maybe 10 min. once at the Louvre in the security line. The Orsay seems to have longer lines than the Louvre, at least when I've been around it. I think that's because you can't buy tickets from machines there, only from people, and that holds up things. At the Louvre, you can buy the ticket from machines once you are past security, and there are several of them.

I've stayed in the area of the Arenes several times so am used to it and have attended some open-air concerts there. I never thought of it as that fascinating in and of itself.
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Old Feb 15th, 2011, 12:00 PM
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Arenes de Lutece are a very short walk from the Menagerie des Jardin des Plantes, zoo and gardens and a nice place to visit especially if there are children in your group.
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Old Feb 15th, 2011, 01:15 PM
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If your wife is a Monet fan, you should try to go to the Orangerie to see the Monet waterlily murals. Not only are the murals exquisite but the restoration of the Orangerie is wonderful.
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Old Feb 15th, 2011, 02:05 PM
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If it is layers of history you like, be sure to check out the Crypte archeologeque du Paris in front of Notre Dame. You descend to original streets from the time Paris was just on the island. And there are streets and houses from subsequent eras as the city as well.
Also, do not dismiss the Musee des Eqouts de Paris. It is the sewer museum. On one trip, there were public actions many days that messed up my carefully planned schedule, but 1 thing on Plan B was the sewer museum, and it is of course more than just sewers. A city has to function with waste disposal, providing water, and cleaning up the street.
Both of these are on the museum pass, so you can spend just a little time and leave if it somehow doesn't hold your attention, or the attention of the kids.
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