Two Days in Paris

Old Jan 19th, 2006, 09:16 AM
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Two Days in Paris

My husband and I are planning our first trip to Europe. We are staying in London and are trying to decide whether or not to go to Paris for one night, two days.

Couple of questions - We are thinking of taking a tour of some kind? Are there any two-day tours you can reccommend?

And do you think it would just be best for us to go on our own? My husband is worried about the language barrier as neither of us speak a word of French.

Any hotel suggestions would be great too. We're looking for mid-range price and we enjoy modern design, but that's not a must.

Any suggestions would be very helpful!
MayaLau is offline  
Old Jan 19th, 2006, 09:19 AM
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I found it difficult and in general unpleasant in Paris because I did not speak French. I won't go back unless I am fluent or with someone that is.
Marzipan is offline  
Old Jan 19th, 2006, 09:25 AM
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When I was first planning my trip, I thought I would come from London. I think it was on the rail eurpoe or eurostar website that I found a package from London that included the roundtrip train, overnights in paris and at least 1 day of touring. Sorry I can't find the link.
ilana25841 is offline  
Old Jan 19th, 2006, 09:33 AM
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I doubt that a high percentage of the 25 million annual visitors to Paris speak any French, yet they still arrive in droves.
I've been to Germany and don't speak German, Italy and don't speak Italian, Amsterdam (no Dutch) and Belgium with no Flemish. And odds are, you won't always understand people in London, either LOL.
Travelnut is offline  
Old Jan 19th, 2006, 09:34 AM
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I'm sorry that Marzipan had a negative experience due to the language. I have not had any problems and I do not speak French fluently. It helps to know some words and phrases, but you do encounter quite a few locals who speak English. Key is to ask first if they do speak English. Yes, you ask in French (Bonjour madam/monsieur, parlais vous anglais? or something similar). Waiters are willing to help you understand the menus in restaurants also. Don't feel intimidated to visit Paris. In my opinion, it's one of the most comfortable cities to visit.

As to tours it would be good in my opinion to get an overview tour of Paris since you have only two days. Two good sightseeing tour operators are Paris Vision and Cityrama.

francophile03 is offline  
Old Jan 19th, 2006, 09:44 AM
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If you have time to spare from London, it is very easy and comfortable to take the EuroStar to Paris and back. We did not have any problem in Paris last June, not knowing French. People were happy to help with English translations of menus, prices, etc. It is an easy city to navigate on foot, or using mass transit, or the Batobus (my personal recommendation is to use this wonderful hop-on-hop-off River Seine boat, especially to view the city at night). Do not be intimidated by Paris-- it is lovely.
Here's my trip report from our family of four's visit last June:
"Stayed at Hotel la Bourdonnais, in the 7th and liked it very much. Nice-sized quad room for our family, with A/C and a lift. GREAT view of the Eiffel Tower from our little balcony. Friendly front desk, too. Offered a simple breakfast buffet, but we chose to visit Rue Cler in the mornings, for coffee, croissants, crepes and fresh fruit. A nice market next door to the hotel was handy, too. Metro stop on the corner, Batobus stop close by, too, at the Eiffel Tower. Even an ATM machine at the corner bank. Loved the location and the upscale neighborhood. An easy walk through the Champs de Mars to the Eiffel Tower.

Bought the Batobus two-day pass (about 13EU apiece) and enjoyed hopping on and off the boat to get to the sights, plus seeing the beautiful city lit up, from the river at night.

Toured Notre Dame, Sainte Chappelle, walked to the second level of the Eiffel Tower, visited the Louvre and the díOrsay. Walked the Champs Elysee and window-shopped the designer houses. Our daughter did some shopping at Zara there, and our son got some French perfume for his girlfriend on the Champs Elysee, too.

We walked everywhere, but didnít have time to get to Montmartre and Sacre Coeur, or to the Sorbonne and Latin Quarter. Too much to see in Paris for only three days there.

Had our favorite meal on Ille St. Louis, at Le Caveau de líIsle, at 36 rue Saint-Louuis en líIsle. Great menu, with a three-course fixed prix around 30 EU. Excellent and friendly service. Small and atmospheric place.

First dinner at Le Champ de Mars on Avenue de la Bourdonnais simply because it was close and we were starving. Good enough food poor service as only two waiters were serving the entire place. Nothing memorable, except the price of an iced tea or cola there is outrageous! The kids ordered one apiece at this first meal, and they were 6 EU for the small size and 8 EU for a medium!! Tried not to make that mistake again. Wine at the same place was only 4 EU a glass."
Old Jan 19th, 2006, 09:52 AM
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I do not speak more than five words of French, but I had a lovely time in Paris both times I was there and can't want to visit again - what a wonderful city! Most of the people in the tourist-type trade speak enough English to get you by, I've found, and even then, there are ways to communicate without knowing the language. Want to buy a postcard at store? You can point and ask how much with gestures, show some money, whatever. You figure it out. Just be patient.

I would take the time to learn the very basic French words - good day, please, thank you - that you can toss out for basic courtesy. But I don't even use a French phrase book while I was there - no need.

MayaLau, I would probably go on your own instead of taking a tour. Paris is a lovely city for strolling - it's beautiful. You don't need to do much of anything besides walk and see a few sites, have a nice dinner somewhere. The Eiffel Tower is amazing at night, the lines can be long but I would recommend going up in it if you have time, at least walk around the site below the tower to take it in all lit up a night. Or take a Seine river cruise. If you are comfortable with public transit, Paris has an old but reliable Metro subway system that takes you everywhere - to me, riding the Metro is part of the Paris experience.

And you will encounter plenty of English-speaking tourists if you get lost. Look for people with tour maps or just listen and relax instead of stressing about being lost. Have the name and address of your hotel written down if you get lost, so you can show that to someone who can guide you back on a map or at worst get a taxi.

Andrew is offline  
Old Jan 19th, 2006, 09:56 AM
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Perfectly good time and experiences in Paris, Provence and Riveria and we don't speak French. Perfectly polite interactions with waitstaff at restaurants and hotels. Nice attitude = Nice experiences.

The only "glitch" was taxi driver in Avignon who didn't understand which train station we needed for rental car pickup. A map in hand helped with that communication glitch. Driver truly didn't understand my Southern English.
starrsville is offline  
Old Jan 19th, 2006, 10:05 AM
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I don't really know of any two-day tours for within Paris proper. There are day tours of varying lengths by a couple companies -- and are the main ones, although I'm sure there are others. You might check the website to see what you like. I know some folks have liked their nighttime illuminations tour.

Other than that, you can get tickets on a hopon/hopoff bus, and that might be a good idea, also. Those are good for two days so should suit your schedule. and are those two main ones.

As for if you need a tour -- I think it really depends on what kind of tourists you are, in general. Do you enjoy picking out what to do from a guidebook, reading a little about it, and then just going around it yourself? If so, I think you can do that fine in Paris on your own. If you like a little more structure, the above ideas will probably work. The language barrier should not be great, but it is different than when you know the language, I agree. I was not that comfortable the first time I went to Paris when I didn't know French yet. I was only there a short time and alone, and had some problems, so that was why. ONe thing I had a problem with was getting a hotel room as I did not make a reservation in advance, so I strongly advise you make a hotel reservation and that eases a lot of problems.

As for hotels, something very central would be good given your timeframe and that you haven't been there before. Also, language shouldn't be any problem in that area. The Hotel Artus in St Germain is contemporary. Someone else on here said it is just finishing renovations. I think the Select Hotel right on Sorbonne Square would be a good choice. A very convenient location and that hotel is mainly contemporary with some exposed stone walls, etc. I'm sure there are some others I am not thinking of right now, but there are plenty in the upper range as that is popular for newer hotels (more contemporary decor/Asian minimalist, etc). I tend to know more hotels that are traditional or period style. For example, the Hotel Pont Royal would be good but it may be more than you want to spend.

The 3* Hotel Duminy Vendome near place Vendome and the Louvre might also be a good idea. It would be a convenient location and is fairly contemporary, but not avant-garde or as stylish as the more expensive places. It's very moderately priced for that area.

Some of the places I named:
Christina is online now  
Old Jan 19th, 2006, 10:23 AM
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I love that town..solo'd the last time...loved it. I don't speak the language either except for the niceties (bonjour, merci, J'ai voudray blanc...) that sort of French. I adore Paris... my only suggestion for a 2 day trip (that was my first time there, as well) don't try to DOOOOOOO everything. Make sure you leave time for cafe sitting, wine sipping, and a cafe creme.
Sheesh...I've been 3 times now and STILL haven't made it to the Eiffel Tower ... next time. <GRIN>
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Old Jan 19th, 2006, 10:38 AM
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My most amazing experience at the Eiffel Tower was at daybreak one morning, when I was jetlagged. I hopped on the first Metro train of the day out to the Tower, and it was deserted! I had it all to myself - no mobs of tourists, very peaceful, just me and my camera. It wasn't lit up or anything as it is at night, but it was still beautiful.

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