Travel tips to Paris/Provence/Barcelona

Old Jul 19th, 1999, 09:39 PM
  #1  
Rose
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Travel tips to Paris/Provence/Barcelona

My first time to travel to Paris, Provence and Barcelona. Will travel in mid-September through first week of October with my Mom. Would appreciate any comments on the following topics:

1. Paris - best places to see and shop (e.g., chocolates). Any day trips you would recommend?
2. Provence - meeting my brother and sister-in-law in Provence. What other stops between Paris and Provence can we visit for a day or two? Accommodations? What reasonable priced souvenirs/gifts can you take back from Provence?
3. Barcelona - best places to see and shop. Suggestions for accommodations (3 star)

Thank you in advance for your reply.
 
Old Jul 19th, 1999, 10:09 PM
  #2  
lynn
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Greetings -

Out of your 3, I've only been to Paris.

When shopping in Paris be aware of what things cost at home. Actually, you should do this no matter where you are shopping.

My aunt bought some perfume in Paris only to get home and find it at Macy's for $20 per bottle cheaper. For the most part, Paris is just like home. Lots of shops, some shopping malls and "arcades" and upscale stores. It really depends on what you like to shop for and what you consider a good deal. Me, I rarely pay retail for anything so, in general, Paris is no deal.

However, two places I would recommend (if you like this type of thing) are the following....

1) Weekend flea market at Porte de Vanves. The vendors here have quite a good selection of antiques, knick knacks, and whatnot. My husband bought some old watches and I bought a small crystal vanity "jar?" with a brass stamped lid (I doubt it's an antique but it's probably a good 50 years old.)

We spent 5 hours on a Saturday combing the booths. Saw everything from old books to Murano glass to antique toys.

The other place I thought was fun was Tati. We went to the one up in Montmartre. It's like a discount place. We bought some scarves for about $3 US each and some plush (like velvet) gloves for $2 US. I bought several different colors! The other fun thing about this place is that you are shopping with the regular locals like you would at home. No fancy lady pouncing on you to pay $600 for a purse. Just regular stuff at really good prices.

If you're looking for designer stuff forget Paris! You'd be much better off in Hong Kong where one of their malls has over 700 stores.

I was in Paris last September at the exact same time. The weather was in the mid 70's. Be prepared in case it gets hot but don't wear shorts!
 
Old Jul 20th, 1999, 06:10 AM
  #3  
kristi
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Hi Rose.

In Paris, I would suggest getting a museum pass. Most of the popular sites are covered on the pass and the card not only saves you money but also helps you skip the long lines that form. If you do a Paris search on this forum, you will get a wide variety of opinions on what to do in Paris-my particular favorites were the Musee d'Orsay (a must if you like impressionist painting), a trip to the top of the Eiffel Tower and a day trip out to Versailles (which is also covered on the museum pass)

In Barcelona, we stayed at a nice 3 star hotel, Hotel Gran Via, which was nicely located just north of Placa de Catalunya and within walking distance of Las Ramblas. Make sure you take time to visit Parc Guell, a Gaudi designed park that was intended to be a housing complex. Also, spend some time wandering down Las Ramblas-great for people watching and shopping. I found a good deal on Lladros at a store right off of Las Ramblas-an extra 10% off for using cash. If you spend a lot of money in one store, make sure you apply for the 10% VAT refund (get the form from the store, take to the airport for refund).

Have fun!
 
Old Jul 20th, 1999, 06:11 AM
  #4  
kristi
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Hi Rose.

In Paris, I would suggest getting a museum pass. Most of the popular sites are covered on the pass and the card not only saves you money but also helps you skip the long lines that form. If you do a Paris search on this forum, you will get a wide variety of opinions on what to do in Paris-my particular favorites were the Musee d'Orsay (a must if you like impressionist painting), a trip to the top of the Eiffel Tower and a day trip out to Versailles (which is also covered on the museum pass)

In Barcelona, we stayed at a nice 3 star hotel, Hotel Gran Via, which was nicely located just north of Placa de Catalunya and within walking distance of Las Ramblas. Make sure you take time to visit Parc Guell, a Gaudi designed park that was intended to be a housing complex. Also, spend some time wandering down Las Ramblas-great for people watching and shopping. I found a good deal on Lladros at a store right off of Las Ramblas-an extra 10% off for using cash. If you spend a lot of money in one store, make sure you apply for the 10% VAT refund (get the form from the store, take to the airport for refund).

Have fun!
 
Old Jul 20th, 1999, 07:01 AM
  #5  
elvira
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Paris: Never met a piece of chocolate in Paris I didn't like (or eat). Couple of stores on rue de Rivoli; lots of little shops in the 'hoods (ok, arrondissements) with too-die-for chocolate goodies. From a patisserie, buy yourself a pain du chocolat. This is your reward from heaven for being good (croissant with a couple of pieces of French chocolat baked in it).
TATI, as Lynn pointed out, is a great place to buy 'stuff'...it's a cross between Wal-Mart and a souk, and if you need socks or cotton underwear, it's the place to buy them for cheap. Monoprix (like K-Mart) has inexpensive makeup as well as underwear, sweaters, duffel bags (in other words, like K-Mart). Galeries Lafayette and Au Printemps are the upscale department stores (go upstairs to the housewares for French stuff like placemats, napkins, serving spoons... everytime you use them, you'll remember your trip); Samaritaine is on a par with JCPenney; Le Bon Marche is more conservative and 'old-fashioned'. For very funky hardware, BHV...minimalist hammers, blue lucite dolphin drawer pulls, blue and white numbers for house numbering. Skip Clignancourt flea market, unless you need a Louis XV bombe chest for $35,000. Vanves, as Lynn has described, is much more fun and affordable. Most of the vendors speak some English; check out the boxes on the ground [tous 10f] that have little bits of junk for 10f or 20f. The bouquinistes that line the Seine in the 5th and 6th have used books, magazines, old posters; you won't find a signed Dickens first edition for 10f, but a Paris Match with Elvis on the cover is an unforgettable souvenir. Clothes and shoes are expensive in France, and of so-so quality, unless you're buying designer stuff. The best shoes are Italian. If you have special interests (fishing, cooking, needlework, etc.) there are lots of stores with things you must own. Too many to name without a direction.
The Eiffel Tower at night, Notre Dame early in the morning, Ste Chapelle at sundown. The view from the roof of the Musee d'Orsay, from the steps in front of Sacre Coeur, from the Trocadero across the river, from under the Eiffel Tower across the river, from any bridge across the Seine. Any organ or choir concert in any church or cathedral. The Deportation Memorial at the east end of the Ile de la Cite. Metal plaques on buildings [...est tombe] marking the murder of a Frenchman by a Nazi. Pere LaChaise for Jim Morrison, Edith Piaf, Oscar Wilde, Yves Montand and Simone Signoret. Montmartre Cemetery for Truffaut and Berlioz. The cemeteries are great places to get away from the noise and bustle of the city (so to speak).
Day trips: Versailles, Giverny, Chartres, Fontainebleu, Reims, Rouen, St-Germain-en-Laye, DDay beaches

Provence: where in Provence? There are several routes to take; Lyon for the gourmet capitol of France. Avignon, Aix-en-Provence, Nevers, Clermont-Ferrand...all depends on the route you decide. For accommodations, depends on where, how long...what you consider reasonably priced. For gifts: honey, olive oil, Provence fabric, lavender, pottery.

Barcelona: Can't help with 3* accommodations; don't use them. Gaudi cathedral and buildings; Picasso Museum; Olympic village (just take a gander for historical purposes; not much to visit); bullfight (don't know the schedule, though); Ramblas (strolling at night); outside Barcelona: Monserrat, Figueres.
Drink sparkling wine; don't tell anybody, I like it better than Champagne. Tapas; olives; PAELLA!
 
Old Jul 20th, 1999, 12:42 PM
  #6  
elaine
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for volume disounts on perfume in Paris
(the more you buy the more you save) I can recommend Michel Swiss, 16 rue de la Paix. If you buy enough they'll refund the VAT up front.(or they did, pre-Euro)
Hediard, 21 pl de la Madeleine, for fancy jams and teas, nice to bring home as gifts, open late
chocolate: a la mere de famille, 35 Faubourg Montmartre in the 9th, wonderful chocolate
If you do a Search on this forum you will find scads of information, and travel details, on day trips from Paris such as Chartres, Giverny, Versailles, Fontainebleau, Normandie beaches(that's a long day trip), Reims,
and Vaux le Vicomte, all recommended by their enthusiasts.
 
Old Jul 20th, 1999, 12:43 PM
  #7  
elaine
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for volume disounts on perfume in Paris
(the more you buy the more you save) I can recommend Michel Swiss, 16 rue de la Paix. If you buy enough they'll refund the VAT up front.(or they did, pre-Euro)
Hediard, 21 pl de la Madeleine, for fancy jams and teas, nice to bring home as gifts, open late
chocolate: a la mere de famille, 35 Faubourg Montmartre in the 9th, wonderful chocolate. Also, Debauve & Gallais, 30 rue des Sts-Peres, especially for truffles (chocolate ones)
If you do a Search on this forum you will find scads of information, and travel details, on day trips from Paris such as Chartres, Giverny, Versailles, Fontainebleau, Normandie beaches(that's a long day trip), Reims,
and Vaux le Vicomte, all recommended by their enthusiasts.
 
Old Jul 21st, 1999, 02:14 PM
  #8  
Steve
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Rose - The Provence fabrics (tablecloths) are beautiful, cheap, and light weight. We bought two and some pottery (nice, cheap, but a bit too heavy to lug all over Europe) in Vaisson de Romaine (sp?). Lyon is beautiful at night -- great cathedral lit up overlooking two rivers in city center. If you like red meat, Lyon has great food. You may find Paris traffic and crowds overwhelming; I do.
You might like a night time boat ride thru Paris on the Seine. Great views, but llots of tourists. Good luck. -- sc
 

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