Wanted: Any information on Paris!

Mar 24th, 1999, 11:20 AM
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Wanted: Any information on Paris!

I already have a question posted on this site and have received three responses, but after reading some of the many other questions and responses, I know you folks are out there and ready and willing to supply information and tips to some people going to Paris for the first time! Perhaps I need to be more specific with my questions.... so here goes. The transportation from the airport to the hotel, I would like it to be quick, easy and no tugging suitcases across town on a train. I hear the bus is a good way to go, but I am not sure how close the Opera is to our hotel on Malesherbes Blvd. by the church, does anybody know this? Also, can we get a bus directly to our hotel and how do we do that? I will be with my Mom. We would rather avoid the expensive taxi situation if possible. We will be in Paris for 2 weeks and would appreciate any helpful tips, ideas, areas to avoid, areas to not avoid, good restaurants reasonably priced, good wine, what sites are must sees and what are your favorites and why, hotel breakfasts? Ours says we have it, but there is no restaurant there so I assume they get some sort of rolls and coffee brought in. I here great things about inexpensive omelets on the street cafes, where are the good ones? As you can see, I am looking for any information with good back up of why you did or did not like something and why you would or would not recommend something. As far as shopping, is it all very expensive? I love to shop here in the U.S. and want to get myself a very nice present from Paris, perhaps a watch or something, are the prices close to the U.S. or way higher? Do they speak much English there or do they all expect us to speak French? I have been to Austria and many people thought I was German, blonde hair and blue eyes and started speaking German and realized I was American and then spoke English. I want to be able to know what I am ordering for dinner/lunch, etc. Do they treat Americans o.k., the rumor is they don't like us much, but I have many friends that go often and never felt that way. I think you all get the picture by now.... I am looking for any and all information that will be useful for my upcoming trip in May. Thank you all so much for any information you can give. Sorry for the length of this message..... Merci
Mar 24th, 1999, 12:25 PM
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Michele: You could take the "RER-B" train/Metro from CDG, but it will only get your near to your hotel, with maybe two Metro connections. According to my trusty map, the Opera will be about six blocks away from the church. Could your hotel or airline arrange a shuttle service? A taxi would cost maybe $40-50 from CDG.

You've probably heard about seeing the tower and the Arc De Triomphe, along with Champs Elysees. I would take in the Louvre', Notre Dame, the chateau at Versailles and Sacre Coeur church, including Place Du Terte (Painter's Square), among others. You will get many great suggestions from the faithful on this site.

Be careful about some areas, maybe Pigalle at night. There are others, but I can't imagine your wandering into them accidentally.

The Latin Quarter near to Notre Dame and the Sorbonne have great little cafe's and restaurants. Just check out the posted menus and pick one.

Imported and some domestic items are expensive. Forget the watch and find some perfume at a little shop or factory. Check out the flea market along the river on Saturdays.

They will expect you to speak French. I don't speak any and got along fine. Be sure to greet the shopkeeper, waiter, etc. and say farewell when leaving. You'll get better service if you do this.

The French are OK. Some don't care much for Americans, but if you take an open mind, you'll get along fine. Don't walk up to the busy Metro cashier with a long, complicated question in English. He probably won't be real sympathetic and may return your quizzing with a "go away". Keep it short, simple and polite and you'll go far.

Wear comfortable shoes!

Hope that helps. Have fun!
Mar 24th, 1999, 12:27 PM
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There is so much information on Paris on this Forum it should be renamed. Do a TOPIC SEARCH and I am sure all your questions will be answered.

Have been to Paris and other parts of France about four times.. no bad treatment to speak of. Parisians seem fine to me; just learn a few basic phrases and you'll be OK. Paris is a big city and in general, big cities dwellers are a little more aloof. Keep it in mind.

Mar 24th, 1999, 12:53 PM
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I don't know about the bus, but I seem to recall a discussion on this forum about a shuttle service from the airport that was very highly recommended. I don't remember the price, but I remember that it wasn't very expensive. However, since it is per person, it might be cheaper to take a taxi. You didn't say which airport you were flying into, we had to take a taxi on our way home, and it wasn't that expensive.

Not being a shopper, I can't tell you too much about prices, but the shops we did go into were quite expensive. There is a very famous cooking supply store (off the top of my head I can't recall the name) not too far from Les Halles (I think). Loads of fun to wander in, but very expensive.

If you are interested in art, don't miss Musee D'Orsay or the Louvre. The Louvre is open late one day a week, I think it's Wednesday, and if you go after 3:00 that day the admission is about half price. We did that, it was a great way to save a few dollars, and we still spent about six hours there, which is probably more than most people are interested in. We also loved the Rodin Museum.

At dusk the view from the Eiffel Tower is wonderful, watch the lights come on all over the city from the second level (the top level is so high that the view of the city isn't as interesting).

If you enjoy churches and cathedrals, don't miss St. Chappelle. The most glorious stained glass I've ever seen. They have evening candlelight classical concerts there. We didn't get to one, but I'm sure that would be quite an experience. The cathedral at St. Denis was one of our favorite places. It's on the outskirts, and involves a subway ride, but it's a wonderful example of early gothic architecture, and almost all the kings of france are buried there. Lots of history.

Have ice cream at Berthillon. The best ice cream we've had outside of italy. Watch the street performers at the bridge nearby.

Take plenty of time to sit and watch life from a cafe. The best deal in town. You can sit as long as you like over a glass of wine or a cup of coffee.

There are pastry shops on every block, try some of the wonderful pastries. My husband's goal was to try all of them, but even his resolve wasn't strong enough to keep up!

As far as restaurants, my advice would be to not run all over town looking for a place someone recommended, the same goes for breakfast. Breakfast at your hotel will almost definitely be coffee and rolls. However cafes are on every corner, so you shouldn't have any trouble finding something to eat. It's hard to find a bad meal in Paris, you don't have to go to the trendiest or most popular restaurants for a good meal. We always ask at our hotel for recommendations when we get back from exploring the city each day, and they have always had good suggestions not too far from the hotel. Just tell your concierge what you're looking for. We went to several quiet restaurants where the food was wonderful. We paid about $40 per person for three courses with a bottle of wine and coffee, including tip. For such wonderful food, not a bad price. Our hotel room had a balcony, so we saved money by eating Parisian style on our balcony several nights. Bread, cheese, pate, quiche, wine and pastry. A feast in itself!

Have a wonderful trip, and write with any other questions you may have.
Mar 24th, 1999, 01:01 PM
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This message is for Lee Simmons. Hi Lee, you were the nice gentleman who gave me a copy of your trip notes in response to my other question on this site, remember? I am the one going to Paris in May with my Mom. You must really like this site and check it frequently. Thanks again for your input. Bonjour
Mar 24th, 1999, 01:28 PM
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As was already suggested, by all means do a Search. You will find lots of answers to previous questions like yours, everything from airport transport to areas to avoid to pickpockets to restaurants.

Here are some websites:
www.ratp.fr Paris metro info
www.giverny.org Giverny (day trip)
www.intermusees.com museum pass
www.paris-hotel.com hotels
www.frenchexperience.com hotels plus
www.hotelboulevard.com hotels
http://mistral.culture.fr/louvre The Louvre
www.pariscope.fr things to do and see
www.paris.org The most wonderful site--everything you
could think of about Paris

Two weeks in Paris, wow! You will have enough time to plan some day trips, such as to Chartres, Versailles, Giverny,
Fontainebleau, etc. They will make nice changes from Paris sightseeing. Do a Search on those topics as well. You could even take a couple of days and go farther afield in France such as to
Avignon and Arles in the south, or to
Champagne country, or to Normandie.

With the current exchange rate vis a vis the US dollar, there are no bargains to be had in Paris on luxury items.
If you want to buy yourself something
special like a designer item, by all means go ahead, but on name brands you could get it for a comparable price in New York, perhaps it will be very slightly less in Paris but then there's
customs to think of. Deal with reputable stores for major purchases.
They can arrange for you to get a refund on the VAT tax as long as you prove you'll be leaving the country.

One place I can recommend for handbags is Joyce and Co. They have handbags and other personal accessories, and they can custom make one for you. 1 Pl Alphonse-Deville in the 6th, 42-22-05-69. Maison de Famille sells a variety of items from linens and household goods to some accessories, 29 rue St Sulpice also in the 6th 40-46-97-47.Librarie Elbe has antique posters and engravings, 213 bis blvd
St Germain, 7th, 45-48-77-97. Lumieres de Paris has beautiful lamps, 26 blvd Raspail, 7th,42-22-63-00.
The kitchen ware store Cheryl may have been thinking of is E Dehillerin in the 1st, can't remember street address but it's well known. And the department store BHV at 56 rue de Rivoli, near
Hotel de Ville, is a good all-around place to look around. Michel Swiss,16
rue de la Paix is tops for perfume, and there are some volume discounts to be had there. Finally, Burma, 72 rue due Faubourg St Honore (the most expensive shopping street in Paris) has beautiful costume jewelery.
Hope this gives you some ideas. If you narrow things down and have more questions, ask away.

Mar 24th, 1999, 03:09 PM
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Elaine, you are source of seemingly limitless information and patience. Here's yet another test of your vast shopping knowledge:

I've shopped at E Dehillerin several times over the years and have found their prices, particularly on copper, lower than in the U.S. Other items are probably comparable. I wonder if this has changed.

This time, I'm looking for a good source for gourmet food items (ie. truffles, hazelnet oil, etc.) which would be less expensive than in the U.S. Fauchon is a feast for the eyes but well out of my financial range. Are there any markets you'd recommend? Do MonoPrix or any of the basic grocery chains carry a good French generic brand? I don't need fancy packaging for gift giving; I actually cook.

Mar 25th, 1999, 04:32 AM
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Hi Harriet
I agree that E Dehillerin offers items
that for the quality cost less than in the US.
When I said there were no bargains in Paris I meant on designer or name brand goods like Chanel or Hermes. I haven't been to Paris for a couple of years, will be going again this fall so I can't give you info on current pricing.
One place I look for gourmet food items is Hediard, 21 pl de la Madeleine. It is open late, but their items are not cheap. Last time I was there I also found Foie Gras Import, 34 rue Montmartre, prices not bad.
The dept store Au Bon Marche, 22 rue de Sevres in the 7th has a huge gourmet grocery dept. La Grande Epicerie 38 rue de Sevres also has gourmet items. You'll have to comparison shop to see if the prices are good for you. I don't know if Monoprix carries food items, but if not ask around for an all purpose epicerie or neighborhood supermarche and see what you can find. You'll probably have to go out of the tourist areas into a more residential neighborhood.
Hope this helps.
Mar 25th, 1999, 05:14 AM
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Michele, the Opera is close to your hotel on Malsherbes. From the front of the Opera, walk down the BLvd Capucines. afe de la Paix is right on the corner near the Opera. Then the Intercontinental-Grand hotel. Continue walking down Capuines which will turn into Blvd de la Madeline until you come to the Madeline which you cannot miss. ross the street to the front of the Madeline. Malsherbes goes away from the front of the Madeline at an angle. Your hotel should be a short distance distance up Malsherbes.

It really isn't a long walk and one that can be done easily assuming you can handle your luggage. If your luggage is bulky and you can't manage it, take a taxi. It will be (should be!) a short ride of about 2-3 mins and shouldn't cost much at all.

As you walk up Malsherbes, you will see the street, on the left, Rue Boissy d'Anglais. There is a nice restaurant, Tante Louise, a short distance on Boissy D'Anglais.

You need to look at a map of Paris ... bookstore or internet .... to get your bearings. Paris is rather compact compared to other major cities and it is easy to walk around and cover what may appear as large distances.

Actually, I believe the CDG shuttle bus takes you to the American Express building which is really at the rear of the Opera at the intersection of Rue Scribe and Rue Auber. From the front of the American Express building, walk down Auber .... entrance to the Grand Hotel on left and Hotel Scribe on the right ... to Blvd Capucines, make a right and proceed as befor to the Madeline.

If this is not clear, let me know.
Mar 25th, 1999, 05:34 AM
daniel lee
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i just got back from paris a few nights ago.

the people of paris are very friendly and will speak some english if you try to speak french. be polite and friendly and what could be any problem?

Learn BONJOUR, PARDON, MERCI, S'IL VOUS PLAIT, AU REVOIR. And maybe PARLEZ-VOUS ANGLAIS? I speak quite a bit of French but it was amazing how easily I could get around without it.

But do be courteous. You wouldn't want someone from France coming up to you in the US expecting you to speak French, would you?

Mar 25th, 1999, 01:09 PM
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I didn't find any friendly people in Paris until I spoke french to them. Then they tolerated me as an American.

Definately, go to St. Chappelle. It is much more grand than Notre Dame. Also, my favorite museum is the Rodin. Totally manageable in an hour.

You will get dry crossant and coffee, and maybe juice if you are lucky at your hotel breakfast. However, do not make the mistake of trying to find an "American breakfast". I ordered bacon and eggs at a cafe when I got totally bored with the same dry bread every day for breakfast. Worst food ever! Did not resemble eggs or bacon.

We took a taxi from CDG to our hotel and believe it was about $50.00. BUT do not attempt to take a taxi a short distance. We were cursed up and down by our french taxi driver when he found out we only needed to go about 8 blocks to get a bus back to the airport. We had 2 heavy bags and did not want to lug them through busy streets. Our concierge had to lie to the taxi company to even get a cab to show since they normally will not take you for short rides. It was quite an adventure. Then he charged us $25.00. Not a good experience.

My biggest piece of advice. LEARN FRENCH before you go. Especially food items so you have an idea what you are ordering in restaurants.

Mar 25th, 1999, 02:41 PM
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Michele, since you have already received a lot of good information to your questions, I will respond to only the one about transport in from the airport. You asked for quick, easy, and no tugging suitcases. Cabs are becoming more and more expensive, and I think you should think of 300 FF; you may be able to do it for less, but don't count on it. The RER is cheap and fast, but you would have to handle your suitcases. Assuming you are arriving at Charles de Gaulle, Terminale 1, you could take a KLM van to your hotel for 90 FF per person (not including tip). You buy the ticket near Porte 24 or 26--you can use your credit card. The only drawback is that you may get a tour of Paris if he lets the others off first. In October, I was the last one off, so the trip in lasted about two hours. In February, I asked to be the first off. Since the driver remembered me from October, he was gracious in doing so, but it was rush hour, and I think it was more than an hour to the hotel. If I am not in a hurry in May, I will probably go in that way again.
Mar 25th, 1999, 04:07 PM
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For the simplest and most direct transportation from airport to hotel, please check out previous references to Airport Shuttle -- available from either CDG or Orly door-to-door to your hotel for about $15 per person, which can be paid in cash or charged to credit cards in advance, and includes luggage. There may be less expensive transportation available, but will involve lugging your bags and/or tired children/spouse/travel partner on /off bus and/or metro. They do have a desk at the airports,but their manager encourages booking in advance so you don't have to wait. Toll-free # from US is 888-426-2705. They can also be booked for return to airport, and have received many favorable reports here. Bonne chance!
Mar 26th, 1999, 02:26 AM
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This message is from another Michèle who is also going to Paris with her mother in May! This is where the coincidence stops because we will only be there for 2 full days before sailing on a barge trip to Dijon. While we arrive at CDG, we return from Orly. What kind of transportation is there from Paris to the Orly airport???
Mille fois merci a tous
Mar 26th, 1999, 04:46 AM
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Strongly second the recommendation of Ste. Chapelle. It's very close to Notre Dame and has the most beautiful stained glass windows in the world. One of my most memorable places in Paris (there are so many) is the Pere-Lachaise Cemetery. It covers 40 acres in a park-like setting. Virtually everyone you've ever heard of in history is buried here. Everyone from Napoleon's right-hand man, Marshal Ney, to modern day Yves Montand and American Jim Morrison of the Doors fame. Chopin's and Edith Piaf's graves are perpetually covered with fresh flowers. Many of the original family plots were purchased for however many family members, then they in turn were buried on top of one another. There is a crematorium, and the ashes of Maria Callas, among many others, are stashed in the niches. There are some very moving iron sculpture memorials to the Holocaust victims. There is a florist shop just before the main entrance where you can buy a map of the cemetery for about $1. Absolutely indispensable for finding anyone.

France is probably our favorite European country, as we count the people amongst the friendliest of any. Can't tell you how many times strangers have gone out of their way to offer help, even when we weren't seeking any. Of course there is the occasional rude waiter, but who cares? We have them at home, too - no offense to waiters per se, just mean you can encounter some rude people anywhere, but that doesn't mean the whole country is like that. You are so fortunate to have two whole weeks! Enjoy, enjoy!
Mar 26th, 1999, 05:57 AM
Bill Irving
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Michele, I went to Paris a couple years ago, with my wife & son. That was my 3rd time there. We stayed At the Folkstone hotel, near La Madeleine, which is only a few minutes from the Opera by cab. The 3 of us took the bus from CDG to the Opera, about $11 per person, & then since we had some luggage & were tired, we took a cab from the Opera to our hotel. That was about $10, including tip. That worked well. We did not take breakfast from the hotel. We usually stopped at a bakery for some bread, on our way to the metro. My son really liked the omlettes everywhere he had them. Any sidewalk cafe had them. I preferred being outside for breakfast, to take in the morning ambiance of Paris rather than taking breakfast inside the hotel. Have not had any problems with the people in Paris. For getting around Paris, buy a 10 pack carnet for the metro. And if you happen to have any of the tickets left when you leave Paris, they make a good tip to the appreciate hotel staff. See the usual things but also go to Napoleon's tomb, the Musee de L'Armee. Really enjoyed the Rodin Museum & gardens, & also relaxing in the Luxembourg gardens. Do a boat ride on the Seine, or do 2, we did, 1 duing the day & 1 at night. We also did the Effiel Tower twice, once during the day & once at night. Be aware that everybody else also wants to go up the tower at night & it can be very crowded. Enjoyed going up to the top of Sacre Coeur(SP?). But also be aware in this area the Painters Square is a nice area to walk thru, but if you do it, there are hawkers continually coming up to you, wanting to do drawing's or silohette cutouts of you & everyone in your party. Another thing that I enjoy is the Archeological digs that are on Ile de La Cite. The entrance is located near the front of Notre Dame & is underneath the Plaza in front of the church. A tour through the Conceirgie(SP?) near there is also worth the time, & as mentioned before, St Chappelle is also in the area. Have a good time.
Mar 27th, 1999, 05:28 AM
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Please tell me how you went about your trips on the Seine. Which company did you use? Did you pre-book? Where does one embark?

And the Eiffel Tower? Did you wait in the line, or is there a quick way to get to the top?
Would appreciate info in this regard. Cant find web-sites with appropriate info
Mar 27th, 1999, 06:48 AM
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A "quick" way to get to the top of the Eiffel Tower without waiting in line? Surely you jest.
Mar 27th, 1999, 02:32 PM
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This is for the Michele looking for transportation form Orly. There are two terminals at Orly-Orly Ouest and Orly Sud. If you are flying out internationally, you will probably be going to Orly Sud. There is a Air France bus from Invalides or Montparnasse and an Orlybus from Denfert Rochereau. But beause it is a shade closer than CDG, taxis only run around 150FF, so if there are two of you-it might be as cheap, depending where in Paris you will be leaving from
Mar 29th, 1999, 04:06 AM
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Hello Lydia, I'm just back from RSA, and still recovering from such beauty and intensity... I hope you won't be disappointed by Europe. AS for the bateaux mouches in Paris, use any company, except the biggest one, based at Pont de l'Alma, notorious financial contributor to France's extreme-righ, racist, xenophobic party, the Front national.

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