Dreaming of Paris
Nine tips for a perfect trip
Like lots of destinations Paris has much to offer. And in planning your trip to Paris you can make some mistakes if you over look some essential parts of your trip. Instead of pouring tons of time into researching your trip I want to make things easier on you so I am giving you a list of nine tips for planning your trip to Paris.
1. Think hard about where you are staying. The left bank is full of fun and funky places to see, shop and eat. Hotels are small and boutique. The Right bank is where business happens as well as where you find the upscale five star hotels but know that this area has less "charm". When I work with a client I make sure they don't end up in a joke of a hotel and stay instead where they will be closest to what they want to do as well as experience the best of Paris while they are there.
2. Be sure to save a few hours to spend on the incredibly charming market street, Rue Cler (in the 7th arr). This is my favorite area of the city and you can find just about anything you might want to eat, drink, smell, see, hear or buy! If you are would like a little snack try a freshly made crepe from the stand outside Ulysses restaurant. Better still take a food tour in Paris! This is one of the best ways to see and taste any city but especially true in Paris! Closed Mondays
3. One of the best values in the Paris art scene is the Sculpture Garden at the Rodin Museum. For only a few Euro per person, you can wander around and view some of Rodin’s most famous works, including “The Thinker”. There is also a quaint little café inside the gardens in case you want to enjoy a coffee or glass of wine with your culture! Closed Mondays.
4. Stop in to the L’Orangerie museum to get “up close and personal” with Monet’s incredible Water Lilies. This small museum is easy to get in and out of, usually with no crowds, and is a fantastic way to see some of the most amazing art in France – hassle free! Closed Tuesdays.
5. Buy the “fixings” for a great picnic at one of the many markets and eat “al fresco” for lunch! Where else can you enjoy such wonderful food on the river bank or in the shadows of the Eiffel Tower or Notre Dame cathedral? A small bottle of slightly chilled French rose wine to share completes the experience!
6. It is hard to go too wrong with Parisian cafes and restaurants if you follow this simple rule. Look for places with locals who seem to be enjoying themselves and avoid the ones with big “WE SPEAK ENGLISH” signs and “TOURIST MENUS” advertised out front. Most all have English-translated menus if you ask so know that those with a big sign out front touting their English menu is likely a tourist trap.
Know also that Parisian waiters are paid well…not like here in the US! Slow service is good service…you are basically in no rush…the meal IS the entertainment. (Unlike here where we grab a quick bite before a movie) You must ask politely for the check when you are ready to leave…a waiter will never bring your check spontaneously because they don’t want to seem to rush you…it is considered rude! Relax and enjoy the experience!
7. I know the Eiffel Tower is a “must” for many people, but there is really no reason to go all the way up to the top. The view is actually better from the 1st and 2nd levels since Paris is so flat. Reservations are a must! These can be made at www.tour-eiffel.fr
Or even better, on the 1st level, there is a nice restaurant for lunch and you can walk around the perimeter that is marked with signs explaining what you are viewing – and if you have a reservation for the restaurant, you can bypass the massive line for the elevator. It is a great way to get the layout of the whole city without the crushing crowds at the top.
8. The Louvre is one of those museums that people feel like they have to visit. Not because they want to but because they have to. It is absolutely HUGE, hot and crowded…but everyone feels like they need to go. You don’t have to go, unless you are a serious artist or art-history buff (or you feel that you must see the Mona Lisa before you die). If you really are in to art, be sure to purchase a Museum Pass that will act as your ticket to most of the major museums in Paris….AND the card lets you bypass most of the lines! But really you have my permission not to do it. Go get another croissant instead. Closed Tuesdays.
9. Finally I will say leave time to wander. Paris is a city that begs discovery by accident. One of my favorite memories is stumbling upon a group of Argentine Tango dancers plying their craft at 10 PM on a Sunday night...on the steps of the Paris Opera! This unexpected slice of Parisian life was the result of rambling back to our hotel after dinner instead of taking the direct route. Still one of my favorite memories of Paris!
Hopefully this article has you dreaming of Paris. And certainly if you do plan a trip to Paris - or anywhere really - for next year and beyond I stand ready to help you when you are ready to turn your dreams into a reality.