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Linda Jan 17th, 1998 10:09 AM

Which Arrondissement?
We are visiting Paris in May for three nights. We are trying to decide between a hotel in arr.7 (more expensive) and another in arr.5. Would be do as well staying at the less expensive place in arr.5? We plan to buy a three day pass for the metro. Any info and sightseeing tips would be appreciated.

Donna Jan 17th, 1998 11:00 PM

We love the 7th and wouldn't stay anywhere else. There are accomodations (great value for the dollar) in all price ranges there and a huge selection of wonderful, moderately priced, restaurants. Would recommend that you skip the three-day metro pass (not a good deal, only tourists who don't know better purchase these). Buy a strip of 10 metro tickets (which can be shared). A much better bargain. Would hightly recommend that you purchase three-day Museums/Monuments pass. This is a real bargain.

Linda Jan 18th, 1998 08:21 AM

Thanks for the suggestions. Can you recommend any specific hotels in 7arr. that would be a good choice for a first-timer. We are actually visiting my Dad in England but thought a side trip to Paris would be a nice change. Given the current state of the $CAN I expect it will be an expensive trip. Good thing Daddy's in England!!

Lee Jan 18th, 1998 09:39 AM

Linda: A little advice: Beware of the "Donna's" of the world, the self-proclaimed travel "experts". Her little barb of "Those who don't know any better" is a public warning in itself. We chose the three day Metro pass that was suggested by an acquaintance that was born and raised in Paris, so I don't think that he "doesn't know any better". Choose what it right for YOU. If you plan on taking the Metro everywhere, buy a pass, if you plan on taking it once or twice, purchase a ticket and the same holds true for the Museum pass. If you are not planning on
living" at the museums, and let's face it, in three days you won't have the time with so with many other beautiful sights to see, just purchase the ticket when you arrive at that particular place. For instance, you can get into the Louvre for FF26 after 3:00 p.m. and it's open until 10:00 p.m. on Monday. Pick those things that are right for you and there are many lovely and "central" locations in which to stay. Some visitors (Read: "Advisors") have the same attitude that got others beheaded 200 years ago. Take their advice with a grain of salt and do what you like as they are not paying for the more expensive place, you are. Have fun and good luck!

Linda Jan 18th, 1998 12:21 PM

It is certainly interesting to get other's opinions on their travel experiences. I want to see as much as I can of Paris in the time available. From reading the messages it seems as if many of you have had short jaunts to Paris and found them worthwhile. It is great to get this feedback.

emily Jan 18th, 1998 10:06 PM

Although both arrondissements are great, the 5th is the heart of the city's liveliness. I lived in the latin quarter and there is nothing like it. In addition, there are several metro lines nearby, but you also have the advantage of walking, since you are more centrally located. The seventh is much more residential and quiet, especially at night. The metro service is also sparce.

Jody Jan 18th, 1998 11:06 PM

Well, it just goes to show that all "tips" should be carefully evaluated! All my tour guides declare that the Paris Visite passes are not a bargain. The 3-day Paris Visite pass costs 120F, whereas a strip of ten metro tickets costs only 48F and the tickets can be shared by members of your group. With the 3-day pass, you also receive small discounts to various sites and attractions, which may or may not interest you. As for the museum pass, not only do you receive entry into more than 65 museums, monuments, and so forth, once you have the pass, you don't have to wait in line to purchase a ticket at any of the individual places. A huge advantage and time saver (particularly at the Louvre and Orsay). Must see's are the Louvre, Orangerie, Orsay, Rodin and Ste. Chappelle, which are easily do-able in three days and would cost 160F collectively, whereas the 3-day pass goes for 140F. And, you can pop into other places along your travels without concern as to whether they're worth the price of admission. For that matter, you can "breeze through" places without feeling you haven't gotten your money's worth. Also, the Louvre is HUGE, and the pass allows you unlimited visits, so you can always return to see more of it, which cannot be done on a regular admission ticket. It is a bit presumptuous to assume how anyone would or wouldn't wish to spend the time they have available. Obviously, everyone's posts and comments reflect their personal experiences and preferences. So, "Lee", if you continue to lambaste contributors for their well-meant posts, no one will bother posting for fear of being criticized (or being verbally beheaded!). Unfortunately, your friend who was born and raised in Paris did not provide you with "insider" tips. I've been advised by my friends in Paris that the Paris Visite is heavily promoted (with significant profits) by the French Tourist Offices and the discounted attractions are specifically chosen to divert tourists to the less popular sites and reduce the crowds at the "not to be missed" places. By the way, highly recommend that you visit the rooftop terrace of La Samaritaine Department Store for the breathtaking (and free) panoramic view of Paris. Be sure to have someone take your photo with the Eiffel Tower, Sacre Coeur, Notre Dame....behind you!

Lee Jan 20th, 1998 05:25 AM

Jody: Your information is quite good, but doesn't it just come down to "different strokes, etc"? If the three day pass is not the most economical, then it is in everyone's best interest to do otherwise and that was not the source of my discontent. Rather, it was the original "those who don't know any better" in a previous reply that got me torqued. Constructive suggestions are much more well received than derogatory remarks. This web site has helped myself and others countless times and I merely suggest that we trade useful info, not snide remarks. With that said, I stand aside. BTW, you had some really good info.

mark Jan 20th, 1998 06:01 AM

Just to throw my 2 cents in...I just returned from 4 days in Paris with my wife who had never been (This was my 3rd time). Although it may have cost a few (literally) dollars more, I found the 3-day Metro card helpful since I didn't have to worry about buying a carnet once I was in the city, how many Metro rides I left, etc. THe same went for the museum pass as we probably saved at least 1 hour waiting time at both the Louvre and D'orsay. One more sightseeing tidbit, although I'm certain others will disagree...We took the RER commuter rail to Versailles (about 25 minutes from Paris) and it was my wife's favorite "museum". Not only is the palace beautiful (although a little over the top) but it gives you a great sense of the French history and a feeling why a Revolution took place. Also, the town was one of the first examples of a planned community and is very nice. If you have 1/2 a day, I recommend it.

Dan Woodlief Jan 20th, 1998 06:06 AM

A great hotel is the Grand Hotel Levecque on Rue Cler. This is located near the Eiffel Tower (15 minute walk), the Alma Bridge (15-20 minutes-where the Bateaux Mouches boats leave for tours), and the Ecole Militaire. The Ecole Militaire metro stop is about 5 minutes away just around the corner. The street is mostly pedestrian only, short, very quaint. It is lined with small food shops and restaurants. Fantastic atmosphere if you want quiet and very French. I stayed there for a few nights this summer. The rooms are very nice and now include bathrooms, and the cost is somewhere around only $50-65 per night (double). I don't know if you are familiar with Rick Steves who does the Europe Through the Back Door shows on PBS, but he highly recommends this hotel. You won't regret it. Must sees for me are Notre-Dame, the Eiffel Tower (go up about 1-1/2 hours before dark for the best views, and this allows you to see Paris in light and dark for one ticket), the Orsay, Louvre, Rodin Museum, Napoleon's tomb and army museum if you are into history, Arc de Triomphe, Ste. Chapelle, walk along the quais (banks of the Seine), Sacre Coeur if you have time. At least walk through either the Tuileries or Luxembourg Gardens. For eating, my favorite areas for good and great atmosphere are in St. Germain around the church, around St. Severin in the Latin Quarter and on the Champs Elysee around the Arc de Triomphe. If you want to get a good meal at a famous place that is right in the center of things try Fouqets, just on the Champs Elysees side of the Arc-not cheap but very worth it. If you want a quiet place away from the crowds that is very atmospheric for early or late walks take a short walk on Ile-St.-Louis. A good picturesque place to eat for lunch or a snack sometime is in the Marais, one of the oldest sections - eat on a bench in the Place des Vosges - there are lots of little food shops around there, just before you get to Place de la Bastille. The metro passes probably are not worth it unless you do plan to take the metro a lot, and you will likely be doing a lot of walking. The museum passes are worth it without question. You will wish you had one if you even go to 2-3 sights that require entry fees. If for nothing else you will save a lot of waiting time, very important for short stays, and like someone else suggested you can go back multiple times. Another pointer, go to the second floor of the Orsay before touring the first. This is where the great impressionism collection is. If you see this first you will enjoy it more, because Paris can be very rough on the feet. If you are into photography, great vantage points are the quais across from Notre Dame, the Palais de Chaillot terrace for the Eiffel Tower, the decks of the Eiffel Tower, the top of the Arc de Triomphe, and the towers of Notre-Dame. Have a great trip. Paris is unbelievable.

Donna Jan 20th, 1998 08:40 PM

I don't usually check back where I've already responded, and frankly, after Lee's remarks, hesitate to ever post again! I probably should have attibuted the "those who don't know any better" comment to the tour guide where I read that - if only I could re-locate it in my vast collection and assortment of notes. And, having thoroughly compared all "passes", I'm in full agreement. It was certainly not my intent in any way to come across as any sort of "expert" or place a "barb". I assumed it was presumed (and I'm no more poet than expert) that everyone's comments would be taken as just a personal opinion based on experience or research. As for places to stay in the 7th, those recommended by Rick Steves receive wonderful reviews on all the travel boards, but are becoming difficult to book and the rates are climbing accordingly. Other places worth checking out are Hotel de La Bourdonnais (about $125/night double in high season, and where we'll be spending two weeks in May) or Le Tourville ( a bit higher, but highly recommended in the guides and on all the boards). For really economical rates with huge value for the dollar (or so lots of folks on the AOL board proclaim), you may wish to check out the Hotel Duquesne. All are a very short walk from the Ecole Militaire metro stop. One note about the exchange rate - it is VERY favorable right now! On our last trip (9/96) the rate was 5.1, whereas it's about 6.1 at the moment - a 20%25 difference! And, this is almost the highest it's been in several years. As for Versailles - I personally (okay Lee?) would highly recommend a visit. It is spectacular! Later, we visited the Conciergerie. I was so astonished by the contrast between Marie Antoinette's "boudoir" at Versailles and her cell (and adjacent "garden") that I neglected to snap a photo! And, Lee: I hope you will understand that it was absolutely not my intention to be "derogatory" or (heavens!) "snide" in any way. I really did read that in several tour guides.

Rosemary Jan 20th, 1998 11:06 PM

I must say that the first time I went to Paris, I "took advantage" of bargain airfares and quickly booked accomodations with no clue regarding neighborhoods or what to do when I arrived. Who could resist a "weekend in Paris"??? And, it was certainly worth the (expensive) learning experience. Better prepared were we for "the next time". It is well worth anyone's while, no matter where you plan to go or on how short the notice, to research and plan ahead of time. Not that you can't have a wonderful experience regardless, there is just no substitute for doing your best to eductate yourself as best you can prior to your arrival. Believe me, it greatly enhances the experience! We did all the overly promoted stuff. More than wiped out our "bargain airfare" savings. But, we were not disappointed. Even so, my advice to all is - do your homework first, then book the bargain fare. After booking your "bargain" fares, anyone would do themselves a huge favor by reading (thoroughly) at least one comprehensive tour guide - even if you do it on the plane on the way over!

Lee Jan 21st, 1998 05:57 AM

Donna: Please accept my apologies for presuming any malice on your part. My defensive posture was not called for as I misinterpreted your suggestion. Your contributions here are certainly of value and you should not feel as though you are not welcome as you certainly are. Lee.

Rafik Jan 21st, 1998 09:47 AM

Hello Linda... As far as the metro goes, a single ticket costs 8FF, a carnet of 10 costs 48FF, a one day pass costs around 31FF. My personal favorite is a weekly pass, even if you are not staying for the full week. It costs roughly 72FF and allows you unlimited trips on the metro, bus, and RER as long as you are in Zones 1 and 2. Zones 1 and 2 cover all of Paris as well as the suburbs near Paris (thus most of what a tourist needs to see). It's important to note that the weekly pass is valid from monday to sunday (and not for 7 days from the day you buy it). Thus, don't buy it if you arrive on saturday for it will expire on sunday night.
As far as the arrondissement, to each one its charm. The 5th however is greatly located: the Sorbonne life, the intellectual flavor of St. Germain des Pres, Notre Dame and the Seine, etc. It's a very charming area. May be you want to save some money on accomodations in the 5th and spend a little extra on sightseeing. No matter what, bon voyage and if you have any more questions, feel free to email me. I love Paris.

Richard Jan 21st, 1998 03:09 PM

It really doesn't matter, arr. 1 thru 11 are all fine, wherever you can get the best hotel rate. The Metro (we use the carnet, 10 tickets for 48 Ffr as of 01.09.98) will get you anywhere you want to go. Get the Cadogan city guide for Paris for good info for walking tours, hotels and places to eat. The tourist part of Paris is really pretty compact, it's like saying ' if we go to NYC, should we stay on the East side, West side, the Village or SOHO' . Relax, be aware of pick-pockets and enjoy.

Donna Jan 21st, 1998 08:14 PM

Thank you, Lee, for the apology, which is graciously accepted. Highly recommend the weekly metro pass (Carte Orange) if this fits into anyone's plans. We loved having this! You receive unlimited travel, as mentioned above, on the RER, metro and busses. We liked travelling bus the best. The stops are more conveniently located and you enjoy the scenery between your destinations. Also, if you see an appealing neighborhood, you can hop off and back on later. The miles of hallways and all the stairs in the metro stations can be exhausting - especially if you're on your way to the Louvre with more miles of hallways! Anyway, a Carte Orange runs Monday through Sunday, regardless of the day purchased. To obtain one, you need a passport sized photo, which you can either bring from home (best idea, you can even cut your head out of any photograph if the size is approximate) or have taken at a photo booth in the metro station. You are given a plastic case, an ID card with your photo, and a little ticket with a magnetic strip. You place the ticket in the turnstile and it pops out another slot, whereupon you grab it and replace it in your case. DO NOT stick this ticket in the machine on the bus. Remember that in Paris you must flag a bus down. May routes pass the same stops and the busses stop only when flagged down or someone is getting off. Just show your pass to the driver. If this pass fits in with your plans it is a real convenience. You never have to worry about the fares or having change.

Peg Jan 22nd, 1998 01:35 AM

Thank you everyone who has posted here about Paris. we haven't been there for 20 years, but after reading all your replies,it brought back so many wonderful memories, i'ts top of the list for my next trip.
ps, whenever we travel we always by a 3 or 7 day transport pass. no worries about is this the right ticket etc. and what is a few dollars against for the convenience against the total cost of our holiday.

Christina Jan 22nd, 1998 11:18 AM

Re 5th vs 7th -- I wouldn't make a recommendation
based on the arrondisement, as the most likely
difference is the location of the hotel (eg, how close to
metro) and the quality of the hotel -- both 7th & 5th
arr. are fine. Re the metro pass -- in very limited
cases, the Paris Visite 1-5 day tourist passes might
be a good choice -- I think you'd have to be taking
the metro/bus an AWFUL lot (much more than most
tourists--at least 8+ trips a day), not have a passport-
size photo handy (this costs an extra 25FF or so at
a photo booth) and be staying over a Sunday so
you couldn't buy the regular discount pass
that Rafik (I think) mentioned above, called Carte
Orange. However, he/she is mistaken about zones
1-2 covering the suburbs--zones 1-2 only includes
central Paris. This does consist of most places a
tourist would want to go, however -- but one should
not buy a zone 1-2 Pass expecting to use it for
the suburbs (e.g., it does not cover La Defense, St
Denis, Versailles, St-Germain-en-Laye,
or either airport, CDG or Orly). If I were a casual
tourist in Paris for 3 days, I'd just buy "carnets"
of 10 tickets. Orly, Versailles and St-Germain-en-
Laye are in zone 4; CDG is in zone 5; St-Denis
and La Defense are in zone 3, I think.

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