1) Almost any visit to Paris will involve numerous metro rides, trips to museums and famous landmarks. Therefore, we decided to purchase the Paris Pass from La Conciergerie for $150 per person.
Our pass includes: a) 4-day unlimited access to the Louvre, Arc de Triomphe, Versailles, and may other places, b) 4-day unlimited use of Paris Metro, c) round-trip train ticket to the Versailles which is located 45 minutes southwest of Paris; and d) a cruise along the Seine River.
I ordered the passes for our group early enough so that they were mailed to us with time to spare in case something was missing.
Another reason to pre-purchase is to bypass long ticket lines at the museums and attractions.
We used the Paris Metro extensively. Sometimes they have live entertainment on the trains. Here, Linda is enjoying a live muppet show.
Pull up a chair at a sidewalk cafe, sit down with some friends, grab a cup of coffee and order some pastry. Life is good!
2) Since there were five people in our party, we booked a private van for the round-trip transportation between Charles De Gaulle Airport and our hotel. We paid $53 per person, which is slightly cheaper than the individual ticket price for shuttle ride, plus our van did not stop at other hotels along the way.
3) Hotel Ares Eiffel deserves consideration. It is in a safe and quiet area, near major attractions, and close to many cafés, restaurants, bakeries; and the "La Motte Picquet" metro station on Line 6. To help future travelers, I had posted my review of the hotel on Tripadvisor.com
Airport - hotel express driven by a neatly-dessed gentleman
4) I think travelling to Paris in late September or early October is the ideal time. Autumn just begins, it is neither too hot nor too cold, the summer crowds have gone, and trees have started having those colors.
Lee on the 4th-floor balcony of our hotel room
Early autumn in Paris
Glorious view of Eiffel Tower from Trocadero Square
5) Going through custom and security checkpoint at Charles de Gaulle Airport was not a hassle at all.
6) I am always very careful on trips abroad but my pocket was almost picked on the subway. A guy jumped on the train as the doors were closing and bumped real hard into me. I immediately felt his hand in my pocket and I slapped it. He withdrew his hand without taking anything. I got off at the very next station and became even more careful. Be aware of your surrounding and watch out for each other's belonging.
7) You can get sale taxes back for large purchases in Paris but the process is not user friendly. First, you need to get a refund form from the merchant. Next, you (the actual purchaser) have to take the form along with your purchased item, passport and flight ticket to the tax office at the airport to get your refund form stamped. Then you can send the stamped form off to get a refund.
Intricate details carved into the Arc de Triomphe
8) If you travel in a group, it helps to have some basic trip rules to manage everyone's expectation. We agreed on our rules before we began the trip and stuck to them; and the result was great.
9) Don't believe that the French are rude to tourists. I felt welcome in Paris.
10) Paris is an expensive place to live or vacation. Our nightly diner entrée at an average restaurant costs approximately $30 a person without appetizer or drinks, a bowl of soup is about $10, a cup of coffee with milk $6; a bowl of pho is $12 vs. $7 here in Dallas. Of course, we knew that before we left Dallas so we brought with us enough Euros to spend comfortably.
A simple lunch but doesn't it make your mouth water?
12) We estimated what we were going to spend in Paris and obtained Euros from our bank before we left and therefore, we didn't have to spend time looking for ATMs or pay extra charge for using our credit cards overseas.
13) Do visit Paris. You will not be disappointed.
Paris, nous reviendrons (Paris, we will be back)
What do you think?
Mon, 12th October, 2009
Feel free to leave a comment.
11) No need to research Paris restaurants in advance unless you want to go to famous ones. There were restaurants everywhere we went and we chose our restaurants by making sure: a) it had the foods we wanted, b) its prices were within our range; and c) the place was full of diners. We did not have a bad meal.
Fresh food display outside a restaurant in the Left Bank