I would like to spend a couple romantic days in Paris with my wife in July. How does one go about finding an appropriate hotel there? What should one see and do while in the city? How does one avoid freaking out re: pickpockets (my personal travel phobia on any trip anywhere)?
Make sure that you go see the Cathedral Sainte-Chappelle, which is a very short walk from Notre Dame, on the grounds of the Palais du Justice. Though it is much less grand than Notre Dame, it is stunningly beautiful. I get the sense that it is not as frequented by tourists as some of the other must-see Paris stops.
If the weather is good, the walk from the Eiffel Tower to the Arc de Triomphe is a good way to see one of the nicer parts of Paris, but it is a long walk, so stop in a cafe along the way for a rest.
The only place I had even the slightest thought about pickpockets was walking in the crowds in Montmartre. We chose to look like Ugly Americans and had “fanny packs” with the pouches kept in front; we also had a 2-year-old in a stroller and could keep things in the bottom of that. So maybe you could rent a toddler.
Thanks, Brian. I’ll put the cathedral on the list. And the walk. I was thinking, one art museum should do it, and maybe a concert or music in some form if it can be arranged, and otherwise just walking around and eating and stuff. And there’s a street of amps and effects pedals near the Moulin Rouge I want to check out.
I hadn’t thought of borrowing a toddler, I’ll look into that. Probably what I’ll try to do is simply carry as little as possible. And maybe body-pack any large bills.
We’ll be going in July so I don’t expect crowds of tourists to be much of a problem.
i’ll be watching the replies to these questions, as this is my own personal dream – the paris thing.
I’ve been to Paris a couple of times, but mostly alone. Hotel-wise, try one of the online booking sites; lonely planet can be another resource.
Get ice cream from Le Bac à Glace on Rue du bac in the 7th arrondissement, and hot chocolate and/or chocolates from Christian Constant on 37 rue d’Assas in the 6th. Otherwise I just like wandering around the streets and gardens.
Take a map, because a gps doesn’t work too well in the canyonous streets. But it’s pretty hard to get really really lost.
I have a pacsafe bag (here), which is enough to carry a few small things including a compact camera, small wallet etc.
Thanks for the tips. Which one of those bags do you have, flerdle?
Here’s the pacsafe link, i think: http://www.pacsafe.com/www/index.php
I just wanted to stand next to Rousseau’s tomb, not typically romantic (or slightly less so than a street of amps and effects pedals, but we have nice spouses, right?). If you get there first thing in the morning you just might get a private tour of the Pantheon (up to the cupola, and every level in between, great views).
Tripadvisor site is good for hotels, very thorough reviews and ratings, it’s possible to see the most appreciated in any price range. Hotels should be pleasant and not problematic, the less you worry about, the better.
Badaude is a charming site for things Parisian (in English).
Musee d’Orsay, a converted train station designed by an Italian woman (sadly have not been, but understand there’s another nice view, through the clock at the top, unless I’m confusing it with some other place I haven’t had the time to get to yet). The Arabian Institute also supposedly has a nice view over the Seine and a cafe at the top–interesting building, with little unidolatrous apertures that were supposed to open and close with the sun, but perhaps sometimes we are too ambitious.
Happened to see a good friend on a main street while visiting a large city once. I told him I was going to sneak up and try and take his wallet as a joke, but was afraid he’d turn around and slug me. He said, “No, people are always grabbing my ass.”
[mig] the link is clickable (the word “here” above) which goes directly to the one I have. Oh, and the D’Orsay is partly closed right now – they’re doing renovations and lent a heap of their stuff to Canberra. There is a terrace there that looks towards the Louvre; I think you get there through the cafe. Some pictures are here.
I thought my comments didn’t allow embedded links. Okay. Thanks!
I can’t help you much with romantic locations. If you need a list of good places to wage a series of bitter arguments with a woman you won’t admit you’re not interested in, I’m your man. (Most of the museums are on the list, as is the big McDonald’s on Champs Elysees).
Make no plans or preparations whatsoever
Walk, walk and walk some more
(Do avoid over-friendly people on train from airport, they want your handbag and will grab it just as the doors close at Villepinte. Unless you enjoy the homoerotic romance of hardcore Parisian detectives, toting pistols, taking a statement).
Walk, walk, walk is very good advice. The Paris you discover for yourself is the Paris you are going to love.
Having said that, here are some hotel recommendations, taking into account I’m American and have lived here for 20 years and don’t go to hotels, these are recommendations from visiting friends. Two Left Bank hotels near the Sorbonne and St Germain des Pres — Le Jardin de l’Odeon and l’Hotel du College de France. Also Left Bank near the Eiffel Tower, le Grand Hotel Leveque. It’s on the Rue Cler which is a market street. All of them around 100 euros a night. You can find their sites on the web.
For museums — the Louvre is exhausting. If you go, hit only the high points (Winged Victory, Mona Lisa etc. etc. etc.). Or go to the Jacquemart-Andre which gives you a distillation of good art in surroundings of privilege from 100 years ago (like the Frick in New York).
Pickpockets, oh yes, pickpockets. Well, we’ve all been there, done that. My solution when traveling is to hang my passport and any extra cash in a pouch around my neck rather than the ubiquitous fanny pack. Watch out on the metro and in Montmartre. Coming in from the airport if you choose to take the RER (which is a sort of long-distance metro), be careful but not absolutely paranoid. My preference is to take one of the buses at the airport (either Roissybus or Orlybus depending on the airport — obviously Roissy or Orly) and then take a taxi from their terminus to your destination. Paris taxis are very straightforward: you pay what is on the meter plus any tip you want to give. The tariffs and explanations are listed on the back left window of the taxi and if you have a problem, note the license number and register a complaint. Really, in 20 years no taxi driver has tried to pull a fast one. Or, they were so slick I didn’t realize.
For concerts, book on line for anything major well in advance. Otherwise, consult l’Officiel des Spectacles or Pariscope (buy either at a news stand or ask at your hotel) when you are here and choose something off the cuff.
And the only other advice — Enjoy!
I’m thinking this famous tunnel will also be worth a look: http://www.2m40.com/