Right or Left Bank?

Paris is the epitome of romance for some, but for others, there's a lot of adventure. Walk til your heart's content around the historical streets of Paris, shop til you drop or grab some great French food. Paris is a must!

Concorde Saint Lazare

Member Rating 4 out of 5 by wanderer 2005 on February 8, 2005

The Hotel Concorde Saint-Lazare is an historic hotel in Paris' opera district. The hotel, which opened in 1889 and was originally named The Grand Hotel Terminus because it was connected by a suspended walkway to the Gare St Lazare, was the epitome of luxury back in those days. The hotel originally had 500 rooms, but no room had a bathroom. Bathrooms were down the hall and shared. The hotel has since been remodeled to have 300 rooms, all with private bathrooms. The walkway to the train station is still there, but the entrance to the walkway has been replaced by the front desk.

The hotel was built in record time of 15 months. The artist who painted all the walls and ceilings, felt very rushed by the architect Juste Lisch, that he got revenge by painting one of the angels on the walls, differently. He painted one backwards, with his bum showing. His way of telling the architect how he felt about him.

The hotel is in a perfect location, a 2-minute walk from Opera Garnier and shopping. The hotel lobby is listed as one of France's historic monuments. There is one restaurant, Café Terminus and one lounge, The Golden Black Bar which has a nice happy hour, 7 days a week.

My room was on the third floor, overlooking Rue Saint Lazare and a pastry shop. I slept with my window open so I could hear the Paris traffic below. The Galeries Lafayette and Le Printemps is a 5 minute walk and there are plenty of shops in between the hotel and the shopping center. Lunch or dinner is a must at Café Terminus. Look for my lunch review. It was wonderful!

Concorde St Lazare
Paris, France
33-1-40 08 44 44

Victoria Palace

Member Rating 5 out of 5 by wanderer 2005 on May 13, 2005

The Victoria Palace Hotel is a small, quaint four-star retreat off a side street, around the corner from Montparnasse Tower. With only 62 rooms, the attention to detail and service is true French hospitality.

As you step into the lobby, there’s a small cocktail lounge to your right. To your left is another small sitting room, complete with a fireplace and plush couches and chairs.

After check-in, you have your choice of a glass elevator or a beautiful spiral staircase to take you up to your room. There are only five floors, so the staircase isn’t too bad of a idea.

Our room was just as plush as the sitting room downstairs. As you walk into the foyer, there’s a closet with a safe and a separate room with only a commode. Step through the foyer door into your room, with all four walls covered in French fabric and a slight padding, making it nice and soundproof. A small window overlooks a private courtyard. The room has a small fridge/honor bar.

The bathroom is entirely marble and comes equipped with a hair dryer, robes, house shoes, and your regular amenities, like shampoo and lotion. The shower/tub is all marble, with the Victoria Palace logo etched into it--a very nice touch. The tub also comes equipped with a full-size shower curtain, a rarity in Europe.

For an added touch, included with the turn-down service is the next day's weather forecast placed under your chocolate.

Breakfast was included in our rate and was pretty nice. It was buffet style, with scrambled eggs, bacon, potatoes, fresh French yogurt, baguettes, cheeses, deli meats, juices, and cereals, all with a bottomless cup of coffee. It was more than enough to keep you going till lunchtime.

Just outside the front door and to your left is a small local grocery store, perfect for stocking up on bottled water and perhaps some cheese or fruit for a late-night snack. They also sell beer and wine if you want to save a little cash on a night cap.

A short walk from there and there's a great little bakery to get some sweets. There are also some great local restaurants around the hotel. Anyone at the front desk can give a wonderful recommendation and directions.

I simply LOVE this hotel and stay there often. It’s small and quiet and only a 5-minute walk to the nearest Metro station, either Montparnasse or Saint-Placide.

Victoria Palace Hotel Paris City Centre
Paris, France

Sofitel Arc De Triomphe

Member Rating 4 out of 5 by wanderer 2005 on June 1, 2005

The Sofitel Arc De Triomphe in Paris is in a great residential neighborhood, a short walk from the busy streets of the Champs Elysees and the Arc De Triomphe. The metro station is a 5-minute walk, and there's a pharmacy, small grocery store, and many restaurants within a 1km radius.

The Sofitel has 134 rooms and is very quiet. The small lobby and lobby bar are truly Parisian. Marble floors, fresh flowers, and Louis XIV-style furniture takes you back in time. This is mainly a business-type hotel, but I think it's perfect for leisure because it's quiet and not in the middle of all the hustle-and-bustle.

We had room 217, which is a totally futuristic room, from touch-screen remote controls, to the lights, to the TV. My favorite part of the room is the sliding wooden doors that close off ALL light from the window/French doors. The doors open up to the street below, and there's a tiny ledge to stand on and a window basket full of red flowers. The bathroom had a separate tub and enclosed shower with a rainforest showerhead, surround sound, and a TV in the mirror! The room also includes a 42-inch flat-screen TV, aromatherapy products, fluffy robes, slippers, and a safe in the closet.

This is a really cool room. I got the best sleep of my life on their "My Bed" product, which has a down mattress pad and down comforter. WONDERFUL! I don't know if all the rooms have that bed, but this was awesome. The room had a chaise lounge and a desk with an Internet outlet.

They have a daily breakfast buffet, but at 29€ for scrambled eggs and toast, it's a little too rich for my blood, but with really nothing else around (all the restaurants around are not open for breakfast),you are kind of at their mercy. The Champs Elysees is a short walk, and there's plenty to grub on there.

The lobby bar, Le Windsor, is a great place to catch a nightcap and listen to the piano. There are a couple comfy couches and a mahogany bar. Served with your cocktail is a tray of marinated olives (VERY good) and one with crackers/nuts. It was a nice place to wind down after a long evening of walking.

If you subscribe to Sofitel's Privilege card, you get a welcome drink at check-in and a welcome gift in your room. This visit, we were given an umbrella because the forecast called for rain. The concierge can arrange for dinner reservations, cabs, tours, or almost anything else your heart desires.

Sofitel Arc De Triomphe Paris
Paris, France

Le Petit Canard

Member Rating 5 out of 5 by wanderer 2005 on March 31, 2005

Oh my God, this is my favorite place! I'm not a HUGE duck lover, but I really like fois gras. This is a very small local place, and the owners raise their own ducks in Geneva. The menu is everything duck, and it's GOOD. You know the French eat late, so at 7 or 7:30pm it isn't terribly busy - yet. The menu, of course, is in French, but they do have a couple things in English. This is a place that will give your taste buds a ride.

The fois gras with caramelized onions and toast is not to be missed, and the hot goat cheese in toast is always a winner. I had the cream of mushroom soup with fois gras in it, and it was AMAZING, and I don't like mushrooms, either. I had the duck stewed in red wine, and it just fell off the bone. I swear this is the best thing I have ever eaten. My husband had the duck l'orange, which was sweet and juicy. Neither dish was greasy, as most duck dishes can be.

The desserts sounded wonderful, but we were both too stuffed and satisfied to continue.
I completely recommend La Petit Canard for anyone who likes duck. It was an experience for sure. I will continue to eat here for the rest of my life!

It's off the main streets in the 9th Arrondissement. Pigalle or St Georges is the nearest Métro stop.

Le Petit Canard
19 Rue Henri-Monnier
Paris, France
01 49 70 07 95

Cafe Terminus

Member Rating 4 out of 5 by wanderer 2005 on May 31, 2005

Nestled inside the Hotel Saint-Lazare, Café Terminus is the only restaurant on the property. There were plenty of locals enjoying lunch this particular spring day. We were sat by the window, were everyone else was. There was no one actually IN the restaurant.

Tablecloths and monogrammed silver set the mood for this wonderful meal we were about to have. We had the 36€ prix-fixe menu.

I started off with the pea soup with custard of scallop. WONDERFUL! They brought a bowl over with one big scallop in the middle, then another waiter followed with a huge terrine of pea soup, which he poured around my scallop. The soup was wonderfully creamy and tasty, and the scallop was butter-tender.

The piece de restistance was the main course. I had the pan-fried scallops in creamy rice with truffle oil, which was so light and tasty, I almost melted into my chair. My husband had the terrine of beef cheek with duck foie gras and leeks for his appetizer. Again, excellent! The foie gras and beef cheek were masterfully paired together with the leaks, with crunchy pine nuts to add a little more flavor. For his main course, he had the fan of lamb with tarragon sauce and potatoes. It was layered with seared foie gras and white asparagus that made it even more delicious. It was just heaven. Mine was better, but his was good.

For dessert, we shared the flambéed pan cakes with Grand Marnier. We didn’t have room for two desserts. And I’m glad we only had one. It was great, with a nice orange flavor and served warm with hazelnuts. Really, really good.

If you get a chance to have lunch or dinner here, I recommend it. It was fabulous and you can walk it all off on your way to the Galleries Lafayette.

Cafe Terminus
108 Rue Saint-Lazare
Paris, France
(0) 14008-4444


Member Rating 4 out of 5 by wanderer 2005 on June 15, 2005

Located down the street from the Sofitel Arc De Triomphe is a small Italian place called Finzi. We felt like eating somewhere close to the hotel, so the concierge made a reservation for us. It was literally a 5-minute walk away at 182 boulevard Haussmann. There was only one waiter who spoke English, so I used my broken French as much as possible.

We started off with wine, and the waiter brought over a tray of marinated olives to munch on with our wine. They were really yummy.

We had an appetizer of the usual caprese salad. It was refreshingly tasty. My waiter said that they make their own mozzarella cheese. It was really creamy and soft, and the tomatoes were sweet and juicy.

We also tried the beef carpaccio with fresh parmesan. This dish was so awesome, I almost ordered two more as my dinner. The beef was paper thin and covered with olive oil and freshly grated parmesan cheese. What a great paring with our cabernet.

I had a hard time deciding what to order, but they make fresh pasta, so pasta it was. I had ziti with marinara sauce. You'd think it would be boring, but it’s quite the opposite. The pasta was tender and perfectly al dente, and the sauce was full of chunks of tomatoes and basil. Really, really good.

HB had osso bucco, which is one of his fave dishes, and let me tell you, it was not to be missed here. The lamb was tender and juicy, and the sauce was so good, I could just put it on bread and be in heaven.

The dessert menu was small, with maybe 5 items, but I ordered the Zabaglione di frutti freschi gratinati, which was orange slices, cantaloupe, and honeydew in a marsala cream sauce put under the broiler to make a crunchy topping. This dessert was SO sweet, light, and yummy. It was perfect after the heavy pasta dish.

HB had tiramisu, which, of course, was so good, I wanted to stay there and have several more - I just didn't have room.

I'm so glad the concierge recommended this place. It was wonderful. PLUS we had to walk back to the hotel, so we didn't feel so full when we headed to the lounge to have a nightcap.

Try this place if you get a chance. It’s right down from the Champs Elysees and the Arc De Triomphe, by Metro Saint-Philippe-du-Roule. They have a second location at 26 Avenue Georges V.

182, boulevard Haussmann
Paris, France, 75008
01 45 62 88 68

Le Cimetière du Père-Lachaise

Member Rating 5 out of 5 by wanderer 2005 on January 26, 2005

Pay your respects to your favorite actors, composers, poets, musicians and heads of state at Le Cimetière du Père-Lachaise. Jim Morrison, Frederic Chopin, Sarah Bernhardt, Edith Piaf, Oscar Wilde and many other famous names are all immortalized here.

Pere Lachaise is unlike anything you've ever seen. It's a huge park with cobblestone walkways, huge trees and ornate mausoleums. Stained class, marble stone, delicate engraved headstones, I was amazed that this was a cemetery. It's a beautiful, serene place to walk around.

You can get a full map at the front gate for about €3. Take a couple of hours to stroll through this place. It's truly amazing. There are restroom facilities at each entrance. Bring a picnic lunch and eat among historic figures on one of the grassy knolls.

Metro line 2: Père Lachaise, Philippe Auguste

Go to www.pere-lachaise.com/perelachaise.php?lang=en to get a virtual tour and locate specific gravesites. Some say it's morbid to visit a cemetery, but this isn't your ordinary cemetery.

Pere Lachaise Cemetery
16, Rue Du Repos
Paris, France, 75020
33 1 55 25 82 10

Catacombs beneath Paris

Member Rating 4 out of 5 by wanderer 2005 on January 26, 2005

Just across the street from the Denfert-Rochereau Métro stop, there's an unassuming treasure waiting to be discovered. It’s just a few euros to take a walk into the past. There are long, dark tunnels; bones stacked in heart and cross formations; eerie noises. Be sure to take a flashlight and have good walking shoes.

Plan your visit carefully, as the hours are limited. Tours are available Tuesday through Friday 2pm to 4pm and Saturdays and Sundays 9am to 11am and 2pm to 4pm.

Catacombs of Paris
1, Place Denfert-Rochereau
Paris, France, 75014
33 (1) 43 22 47 63

Third Discovery Tour: Latin Quarter

Member Rating 4 out of 5 by wanderer 2005 on January 27, 2005

I simply LOVE the Latin Quarter. All the shops, cobblestone streets, the diverse restaurants, Notre Dame right around the corner... it's all so beautiful. Restauratuers stand outside their establishmets tyring to lure potential customers inside, lots of souvenir shops line each street, and there are bars and pubs on every corner. I always go out of my way to make it down there. I think it's one of the best parts of the city.
Latin Quarter
Left Bank of River Seine

Rollerblading the Champs Elysees

Member Rating 4 out of 5 by wanderer 2005 on February 1, 2005

Imagine rolling by the Eiffel Tower or Notre Dame with nothing but streetlight and moonlight guiding you. Friday night skate, as it's referred to, is a different way to see the city of lights. About 1,200 people show up for this event that starts at 10pm at Montparnasse Tower, and the route changes each week to make it interesting.

The police even have a webpage dedicated to this and will post the course a few days before, so drivers know which parts of the city to avoid. No novices, please. This is serious skating for those of us who do it on a regular basis. The crowd moves quickly, and skaters sometimes need to brake quickly too.

Friday Night Skate
departs from Tour Montparnasse at 10pm
Paris, France

Saint-Severin Church

Member Rating 5 out of 5 by wanderer 2005 on June 10, 2005

St. Severin chapel is not only one of the best-kept secrets in Paris, but it also boasts one of the finest organs in the city. This is, by far, my favorite church to visit. It’s not as massive as Notre Dame, but holds just as much history inside its walls.

This church is in the heart of the Latin Quarter, right around the corner from Blvd. Saint Germain. You could walk right by it if you’re not paying attention.

History says that Severin was a 6th-century hermit who was closely associated with St. Martin, the patron saint of travelers. Parishioners used to hang horseshoes here as a thanks on their safe return from a journey. A small oratory was built here in his memory. The oratory that honoured him became a vault, then a basilica, because, at that time, the wives of the different kings of France lived in the Thermes and used to come and make their devotions there.

Since that time, on the same spot, several churches have been rebuilt after the existing buildings were destroyed by Norman invasion and by fire. The present building was under construction from the 13th to 20th centuries because there was never enough money to finish it.

The organ is from 1745. In medieval times, yearly awards were given to the five most virtuous maidens in the parish, and the most scandalous were put on display in cages. These days the church is known for concerts.

The Gothic architecture and stained-glass windows are nothing less than incredible, and the organ is one of the most beautiful ones around. This church has the oldest triforium of Paris, a very beautiful déambulatoire composed of 10 double spans of pillar-palm trees. You have to see this place to believe it.

On any given day, the adjacent square is filled with students and tourists getting their fill of shopping and eating at the surrounding eateries. This area is also known for the inexpensive Greek restaurants that line the adjacent boulevard.

Saint-Severin Church
The Left Bank
Paris, France

Galeries Lafayette

Member Rating 3 out of 5 by wanderer 2005 on July 29, 2005

If you love to shop and have some cash to drop, then Galleries Lafayette is the place for you. This mega-shopping mall houses only the best shops from around the world. Names like Dior, Armani, Versace, Jean-Paul Gaultier, DKNY, Calvin Klein, La Perla--they're all here. Keep in mind that this is not your ordinary mall. The center is amazing inside. Gold leaf and artfully painted walls--it truly is a sight to see. It's like shopping in a palace. Above is a glass and iron dome that gives it a cathedral-like feel. There aren’t actually any stores you go into; it’s kind of set up like a flea market, so you just walk from one label to the next. No walls separate the vendors. One second, you’re looking at Dior, and the next second, you’re looking at Liz Claiborne. The mall is set up by the different levels: ladies', men's, kids', beauty, perfumerie, shoes, watches/handbags, jewelry, housewares, etc. There’s a teen department in the basement and even a whole section devoted to just jeans.

Keep in mind that everything is expensive. I saw a nice pair of Versace pants that were 6,000 euros--about $7,000 USD. Don’t expect to find U.S. mall staples like Dillards, Abercrombie, or a pretzel maker; this is the big time. Galleries Lafayette is not for the faint of heart or lack of funds. This place is for the uber-rich. It's for people who can drop a couple grand in a few hours. It was a great place to see, but because my last name is not Hilton, I had no intention of spending money here. Every brand of makeup you could imagine--shoes from every designer you’ve seen in Cosmo, personal shoppers, and there’s even a Build-A-Bear store on the fifth floor.

The mall also boasts a huge gourmet food store within it that has several restaurants, bars and deli/pastry counters, not to mention THE best chocolate croissants I’ve ever had. They also offer cooking classes.

Located in the heart of Paris’ shopping district, Galleries is a must-see. Even if you don’t purchase anything, it’s great for window-shopping and wishing.

Galeries Lafayette
40, Boulevard Haussmann
Paris, 75009
+33 (1) 42823456

Ecole nationale supérieure des beaux-arts

Member Rating 4 out of 5 by wanderer 2005 on August 17, 2005

Walking down Rue De Bonaparte on a nice, spring day in May, we came across a beautiful school. Now, I don’t like school--never have--but if my school looked like this one, I would make sure I went every day, just so I could take it all in. Come to find out, this place is as historical as it is beautiful and houses a vast collection of art.

The Ecole des beaux-arts is made up of a vast complex of buildings located between the quai Malaquais and the rue Bonaparte, in the heart of Saint-Germain-des-Près, just across from the Louvre museum. Long supervised by the Ministry of Public Instruction, the Ecole des beaux-arts is now a public institution.

The School houses prestigious historical collections, publishes a dozen texts per year on different collections, and holds exhibitions in the Quai Malaquais space and the Chapel throughout the year.

Today, the thriving school continues its 350-year-old tradition of fine-art instruction in a wide range of artistic disciplines: drawing, painting, sculpture and printmaking, as well as related techniques: tapestry, stained-glass windows, mosaïc, engraving on medallions and precious stones, lithography and finally, photography and hypermedia, which were added to the curriculum during the last decade. The artistic spirit is carried on as young artists today follow in the footsteps of their 17th century counterparts.

Access to the Ensba is reserved for students, professors, staff, and visitors. Studios are strictly closed to the public, except during the annual open house in June. Tourist visits are forbidden, however, the Ensba can be visited with an Ensba tour-guide on Monday afternoons, except during school holidays.

This place didn't even look like a school--it was really beautiful. I wish we had time for a tour, but our day was already full.

Ecole nationale supérieure des beaux-arts
14 rue Bonaparte
Paris, France, 75272
01 47 03 50 00

From CDG airport to city

Member Rating 0 out of 5 by wanderer 2005 on March 23, 2005

The easiest and least expensive way I found to get from CDG right to your hotel door is a shuttle service called Bee-Shuttle. It cost me 14.50 euros per person (there were two of us) to have a driver meet us at the terminal and drive us in a private, air-conditioned minivan, right to our hotel door. I wanted to take the RER, but after a 9 1/2-hour flight with luggage and stairs, having to transfer trains at Chatelet and drag my bags from the metro station to the hotel... this was much easier and only slighly more expensive. Thought about the Air France shuttle, but then again, we would have had to take a train to our final destination and deal with stairs and carrying luggage to the hotel.

You can arrange travel via the Internet at www.bee-shuttle.com. They operate from 5am to 11pm 7 days a week. I was more than pleased with the service and the price. In my opinion, it can't be beat.

The RER is a great way to get there IF you don't have a lot of stuff to drag around. For a 2-week trip, we had a lot of stuff, so this was much easier.

**** NEWS FLASH! **** I have just returned from Paris again, and had absolutely no problems with Bee Shuttle. I had two friends of mine go to Paris 2 weeks apart and never got service from them.

The first friend called the number on the email she recieved from them, as instructed and was told she didn't have a reservation...even though she had a reservation number.

The second friend, 2 weeks later, called and was told the van was there. Nothin'. Called a second time and was told it would be there shortly. Nothin'. A third call, and 2 hours later, nothin'. He took a cab and paid almost 70 euros. Again, I never had any problems in the past--perhaps my friends weren't paying attention.

After you exit the terminal, all the respective taxi and shuttles are lined up, backed-in. Bee Shuttle was easy to spot and I never had to wait. I reccommend it for an easy way to get to your hotel, especially if you've never been to Paris before--it's much easier than trying to figure out the RER or pay an arm and a leg for a cab.

Thalys train - Paris to Amsterdam

Member Rating 0 out of 5 by wanderer 2005 on May 31, 2005

I couldn’t wait to take the Thalys train From Paris to Amsterdam. I’ve always heard good things about it, and now I can second that. The fare between the two cities is very reasonable, and the trip takes almost 4 hours. There are several short stops on the way, to pick up and drop off passengers.

There are two classes of service on the Thalys. Just like on an airplane, there’s first and second class. It’s called comfort 1 and comfort 2. We traveled in comfort 1, as the fare wasn’t that much more than comfort 2, and a meal is included. The difference between 1 and 2 is mainly the seats. Comfort 1 has wider, more comfortable seats with one seat on one side and two seats on the opposite side. A couple seats face each other with a table in between. Comfort 1 does require seat reservations at a small cost if you have a railpass. If you don’t have a railpass, you can also make seat reservations for comfort 1, but it’s much more expensive. If you don’t make a seat reservation for comfort 1, you are not guaranteed an actual seat, and in busy months, you may end up in comfort 2 if comfort 1 is full.

Gare Du Nord is the station we left from and is a very easy station to maneuver around and find your track. Everything is well-designated and easy to find. Bathrooms are on the lower level and cost 20 cents euro. It was one of the cleanest restrooms I've ever seen. There's a gift shop and a couple small places to grab a sandwich or soda.

There are a few steps you need to take before boarding your train. You must validate your ticket BEFORE boarding the train, or you will be fined by the conductor. At the start of your trip, go to a ticket window and have the agent stamp your ticket and add their initials. You will have to provide your passport to the agent, so keep it handy. At Paris Gare Du Nord, the ticket windows are on the left-hand side, right after you walk in. After the agent stamps your ticket, you’re job is not done. If you have a *railpass*, you need to write in the first date of travel in the box provided. Only write in that day... you will fill in the rest of the days on those specific days of travel, not before. If the ticket does not have the travel date written in, the conductor can charge you a supplement. I have no idea how much that is. (Too much for me, when I can avoid it by following the instructions.) Our conductor was very nice in explaining this to us, as our ticket did not have the first day written in. He didn’t charge us but kindly advised us for the future.

When you have located the correct track, you need to locate the correct car. Your ticket will have the car and seat number on it. You must look at each car as they are labeled separately, because cars are usually added and dropped here and there all along the route, ie, some cars may stop in some cities, and some cars may pick up other cars in other cities. You need to locate the correct car number or you may end up somewhere you don’t want to go. Don’t freak out, it’s very easy to determine which car you are in. You can always ask uniformed train personnel, who are outside each car, prior to boarding to check your ticket, or anyone uniformed at the station. At most train stations, there will be a display case with the location of each car and it’s final destination. This will tell you where on the platform, your car will be. Always check the reader board on each car to be sure. The reader board is outside each car, next to the door with the cars' destination, train number and car number. Painted on each car will be a 1 or a 2, for first or second class, respectively.

On our trip to Amsterdam, we took a 9:55am train in comfort 1 and were served a small breakfast. Much like on a plane, she came down the aisle with a cart with croissants, small sandwiches, pastries, juice, coffee, soda, etc. After we stopped in Brussels, we were served lunch too. A small tray with lunchmeats, goat cheese, carrots, and bread with butter was given to us. We also indulged in a small bottle of wine.

There is a bar/snack car on all Premier trains and they even have happy hour. If you crave something sweet or salty, head to the bar car for a snack or a cocktail.

It was a really nice, smooth ride. The seats were very comfortable, and the whole seat, not just the back, reclined. There were also fold-down footrests attached to seat in front of you. Airlines should take notice of the seats on these trains--perhaps they could learn a thing or two. Even the bathroom was nice... for a train.

Luggage storage is plentiful. You can store it at the back of your car(not recommended)or on racks above the seats. We had a huge suitcase and had no problem storing it above our seat. I don't recommend the rear of car storage because the train will make stops and someone can walk off with your stuff.

Train travel in Europe is a great way to see the country and relax a little. I recommend the Thalys or any other train for any destination. It’s usually much cheaper than flying and much more exciting. Grab a good book or simply watch the country go by.

Thalys high-speed train
Gare Du Nord
Paris, France

Metro system

Member Rating 0 out of 5 by wanderer 2005 on July 29, 2005

The Metro is by far the easiest, cheapest and the only way to get around this beautiful city. I can understand you being intimidated by the language barrier, but there’s no need to be. Grab yourself a Metro map, jump on a train and find your way around. It’s VERY easy. The Metro will take you anywhere you want to go. The Louvre, The Champs Elysees, Notre Dame, The Latin Quarter, The Eiffel Tower, anywhere your heart desires.

You can get a map at any hotel, metro station or souvenir shop. You have to have a ticket to access the trains and you can purchase those either in a machine inside the station or from an agent. I don’t recommend buying tickets from someone on the street, as they may have already been used. Play it safe and get them at the station. You can get single tickets (billets) or a book (carnet), depending on your needs. There is also a card you can get at the airport called Paris Visite. It’s a discount card that lets you ride on the metro for a few days and gives some discounts for certain attractions and museums.

Once inside your station, there will most likely be a maze of stairs and corridors. Again, don’t be intimidated by the layout. Just read the signs and look at your map to make sure you’re getting on the right train and in the right direction. All lines are designated by a number and a color. It’s SO easy to figure out. There are route maps at each stop and on the train, so you can see every stop that particular train makes.

Some stations are nicer and cleaner than others. The stations and trains are safe enough, but just keep your belongings close to you. I’ve heard horror stories about getting pick-pocketed. Keep your purses and camera cases zipped up and near you, especially if the train is crowded. Basically, use common sense. Just be aware of your surroundings--always. Stations to avoid at night are Pigalle and St. Georges, as they are in sketchy neighborhoods.

You can get your bearings ahead of time by going to their website, www.ratp.info/informer/anglais/index.php. On the left is an interactive map, which is WONDERFUL to use prior to your trip. You can move around the city using the arrows, and you can click on a station and get the surrounding streets and bus lines. VERY handy. This will really help you plan a route, even before you get there.

Even if you get on the wrong train or get lost, it’s fun figuring out how to get back on track.


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