PLEASE NOTE: I wrote this back before the EURO took over, so I don’t have cost approximations anymore… I think it was about a 1.5 FF=1$ conversion then. Happy Paris-ing!
- Buy a liter of Evian and carry it around in your bag (see the packing list for details) to drink. Cokes cost 25-50 FF ($5-$10) each. Think about that when you order drinks. Outside of a cafe or restaurant, you will want to drink the water and get carryout food to eat in a park or walking along.
- Buy a carnet (10 Metro tix) and use the Metro to get to the farthest point out, then walk back to your hotel. It will be worth the walk back. You will see so many more things than you would if you just took the Metro everywhere. Don’t get me wrong, the Metro is incredibly efficient and all that, but sometimes, the goodies aren’t on the main streets or in the guidebooks.
- Go to any cafe and order coffee (say this: “Du cafe, s’il vous plait.”), its actually espresso, but drink as much of it as you can. That way you’ll have a nice buzz and the world will seem to move slow, thus extending your vacation time. If you just can’t take the espresso route order the cafe crème, which is more like cafe au lait here.
- Catacombs (Metro: Denfert Rochereau) It will take you about 3 hours to walk all the way through the catacombs and longer if you decide to really look around you. Check in your guidebook when the catacombs are closed, like all the other museums they are closed one or two days during the week. If you are sensitive to ghosts this may not be the best place to go.
- Au Pied des Cochons, near St. Eustache cathedral (Metro: Les Halles) is a restaurant that I adore! They love to hear about how wonderful their food is and the chef will basically treat you like royalty even if you speak only English. Most places will sort of do this, but this place I really think they deserve the praise. Carpaccio is wonderful if the have it on the menu still.
- Eiffel Tower(Metro: Bir Hakeim), but do yourself a favor and walk across one of the bridges to get to the tower. Its really big. Yes, its cool looking, but the thing that always strikes me is that its soooo biiiiggg. Underneath the tower itself are hot dog vendors. Buy one and get the homemade spicy mustard. Then, go back and get another one.
- After you have eaten too many hot dogs, sandwiches niçoises, sandwiches au jambon et beurre on baguettes, then it is time for crepes. My favorite is the one with Nutella (a hazelnut chocolate spread.) but you can get different toppings.Most vendors of food on the street have wonderful food and MUCH cheaper than restaurants. Good for the daytime eating. At night go to a cafe on the street that has “menus prix fixes.” Eat outside on the sidewalk tables.
- Musée D’Orsay (Impressionism and more modern art) (Metro: Musee D’Orsay) has my favorite paintings in the whole world: “Les Raboteurs du Parquet” Gustave Caillebotte, “La Charmeuses de Serpent” Henri Rousseau and the sculpture by Degas “La Petite Danseuse” Orsay is an old railroad station recently converted into a museum. Look around at the architecture as well as the art.
- Cluny Museum (medieval art)(Metro: Cluny La Sorbonne)
- Louvre basement with base of old chateau in the North wing…I can’t remember which wing that is, Richelieu, I believe. The Louvre is worth several walk throughs. Go one day and nose around. Leave for lunch, rest, then go back (your ticket will let you back in for the day) Then a few days or a week later go back and concentrate on the areas you really want to look at.
Don’t try to see everything and avoid the French painter’s wing if you value your sanity.
- Luxembourg gardens (Metro: Luxembourg) was near one of my old stomping grounds in the 5th arrondissement. Its gorgeous. Go there and look around the grounds, don’t miss the bee keepers hut near the west entrance and then go sit in the center near the fountain and people watch.
- Pantheon (Metro: Luxembourg) is also in the 5th, just up Rue Soufflot. Go out of the East entrance of the Luxembourg gardens and then walk straight up the street.
- Pigalle (Metro: Pigalle), the red light district, is cool during the day, but at night you’ll have more propositions that the Legislature after a reformist movement. Anyone and anything will proposition you, then your husband/wife after you say no…they really don’t care. If its transvestites you are wanting to see, go to the Bois de Boulogne after dark and just watch as the entire cast of La Cage au Folles seems to seep out of the woodwork. Its really cool!
- Arc de Triomphe (Metro: Charles de Gaulle Etoile) is the absolute largest tribute to one’s own ego I have ever seen. Napoleon really loved himself. Another good place to go is…
- Les Invalides and the musée de guerre (Metro: Ecole Militaire). This is where Nappy is entombed. A very large monument to a very short man. The real attractions here are the gold covered dome (beautiful on a sunny day with those Paris blue skies), the Musée de Guerre inside the back wings of Invalides with suits of armor form the middle ages… ) and finally the Rodin museum out in the open air. Acid rain and all.
- Picasso museum (Metro: 3rd arrondissement, I believe.?.) Need I say more?