View Full Version : Going to Paris

10-17-2009, 09:50 PM
This coming Spring I am taking my lady to Paris.
I've been there a number of times and know what I would take her to see, but she has never been out of the U.S.,and she has limited ability to walk long distances.
We have a week, what would you advise me to take her to see?

peter radclyffe
10-17-2009, 10:23 PM
the receipts

10-17-2009, 11:09 PM
Day trip to Chartes....I don't know who is doing the tour of the cathedral these days, but back when I went the gentlemen who took the group around to each stained glass window and explained the story behind each was fascinating:


Dave Wright
10-17-2009, 11:37 PM
Some morning or afternoon she might want to shop or look at particular sights by herself. My wife and I went different directions one morning. If that works for you folks, I recommend you go to the Musee de La Chasse over in the Marais. It's been almost 20 years since I was there, and it may have been modernized,; I hope it hasn't been spoiled. Anyway, it's devoted to hunting and antique firearms -16th century on up. The collection is incredible. When I visited there were three floors of stuff. I was the only visitor that morning - the security guys followed me at a discrete distance as I gazed at stuff - spears, bows, tomahawks with flintlock actions built into them, swords with flintlock actions, repeating rifles with revolving cylinders many years older than I thought such actions were devised - a "boys dream!" . A very large and incredible collection, lots of paintings too, and apparently few folks visit.

C. Ross
10-18-2009, 12:29 AM
As you know perfectly well, there are a million possible itineraries in Paris, but if your lady has never been there cannot walk long distances that can limit the scope helpfully.

Buy tickets for the Bateaubus...a hop-on hop-off water taxi on the Seine. Great sightseeing, and easier than other forms of public transportation.

You could spend a couple of days just in the Ile de Cite -- Notre Dame, Conciergerie, Sainte Chappelle, a flower market, and lots of nice cafes all within compact distance. I really wanted to see Chartes, had to "settle" for Sainte Chappelle and was completely blown away by it.

Versailles is magnificent, but cannot be appreciated at all without lots of walking.

I was just there with the family last summer. We stayed in a bed and breakfast through an agency and we loved it. PM me if interested and I'll send a link.

Nicholas Carey
10-18-2009, 12:38 AM
With Velib (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/V%C3%A9lib%27), you don't have to walk in paris. Velib is 20,000+ bicycles scattered across some 1500 "stations" (one station every 300m or so across the entire city). Once you subscriber, it's unlimited one-way bicycle rentals. Verra handy. 30 minutes or less is free 1 hour is 1 euro, 1h30m is 3 euros and the price goes up. The fee scale is designed to encourage short trips.

Things to see. Hmmmm....

Le Sainte-Chapelle
12th c. gothic chapel built the Louis IX. The upper chapel is the one to see:


But the lower chapel doesn't suck either:


This museum houses Monet's Waterlilies. Monet did the painting to fit the rooms in which they're houses. Two elliptical rooms, each containing 360 degress of waterlilies. Amazing.


Take the train (a day trip) to Chartres and check out Chartres cathedral. Old, old gothic cathedral. Much different feel to it than, say, Notre Dame.

Rue St-Denis
The street of the hookers. Makes it clear that Paris is a "real" city after all.


Place des Vosges
the perfect square. If you can swing it, get dinner at L'Ambroisie ($$$$$) on the Place des Vosges. 3 Michelin stars, exquisite food.


breast of lobster with turned potatoes

Mémorial des Martyrs de la Déportation
Holocaust Memorial. The very tip of l'Île de la Cité, right near Notre-Dame.

l'Île Saint-Louis
[which see Berthillon, above]
Beautiful residential island. Feels like a small town in the middle of the city. There's a restaurant on the island that specializes in true andouille (tripe sausage, no relation whatsoever to cajun andouille).

Other places

There's a street near City Hall that is pretty much filled with paper and pen sellers.

Galerie Vivienne (http://www.galerie-vivienne.com/en/index.php). early 19th c. covered shopping gallery.

Maison Berthillon (http://www.berthillon.fr/). The best ice cream on the planet. No joke. You can get Berthillon ice cream elsewhere in Paris, but go to Berthillon central for your fix. Mmmmm....

E. Dehillerin (http://www.e-dehillerin.fr/index.php).
"Le spécialiste de matériel de cuisine." Arguably the best kitchen store in Paris. Oriented towards restaurants. 6 floors of copper pots. old-school French-style carbon steel chef's knives. French style knives are thinner and a bit more delicate than the heavy German knives we get here in the USA from Henckels, etc.

Hotel des Grandes Ecoles
I recommend this hotel.
Walled garden. Romantic. Nice rooms. Reasonable Rates (115-140 euros off season). The main building has ground-level rooms with french doors opening on the garden. Need to book ahead (2-3-4 months sometimes).

These are a few of my favorite things.

10-18-2009, 08:12 AM
They often have concerts at the Saint Chappelle. If there is anything on when you are there, don't miss it. It's usually around 20-25 euros, and they time them so that the music is played during the sunset and afterset. Listening to a string quartet playing Vivaldi while the colours of the stained glass slowly change from brightly lit to shades of dark blue is... sublime!

Many other churches have evening concerts. I also recommend Saint German de Pres for the acoustics - plus it is one of the oldest churches in France, and when you come out there are several great restaurants right around the block, (two favorites: Le Petit Zinc for a traditional Parisian menu and Brasserie Lippe for Alsatian cuisine), good food, reasonable prices, away from the excessively touristy crowds of other parts of the Left Bank.

10-18-2009, 08:15 AM

Don't miss the classical music concerts at the Saint Chappelle. They usually take place at sunset and the Gothic acoustics plus the slowly changing colors of the stained glass as the light fades are sublime!

10-18-2009, 08:17 AM
They often have concerts at the Saint Chappelle. If there is anything on when you are there, don't miss it. It's usually around 20-25 euros, and they time them so that the music is played during the sunset and afterset. Listening to a string quartet playing Vivaldi while the colours of the stained glass slowly change from brightly lit to shades of dark blue is... sublime!

Many other churches have evening concerts. I also recommend Saint German de Pres for the acoustics - plus it is one of the oldest churches in France, and when you come out there are several great restaurants right around the block, (two favorites: Le Petit Zinc for a traditional Parisian menu and Brasserie Lippe for Alsatian cuisine), good food, reasonable prices, away from the excessively touristy crowds of other parts of the Left Bank.

10-18-2009, 08:24 AM
Damn Forum software went crazy on me... I try to delete and it re-posts fragments... :mad:

Michael s/v Sannyasin
10-18-2009, 08:28 AM
I'll second the l'Île Saint-Louis, one of my favorite places in Paris. Lots of nice little shops and galleries within a limited distance. A couple of great cafes on the Northern tip with views of Notre Dame.

Go to the Northern tip of the Ile de la Cite and there is a beautiful little garden there with unparalleled views of the Seine, there is also a tour boat that leaves from a dock there, up until about 10PM, that travels up to the Eiffel Tower, then circumnavigates all the islands and returns. Next door is the Place Dauphine and a really great restaurant with moderate prices. If you time it right, sit in the park for a while, then enjoy an early dinner, then catch an evening boat tour.

Another compact shopping area is in the Latin Quarter on rue Mouffetard. There is a metro stop near the market where you can get fruits, vegetables and meats. Then, you can walk up the street, tons of little shops, and end up at a beautiful little square or 'place' where you can sit in an outdoor cafe. All in a very short distance.

Have fun! And tell us where YOU would go.

10-18-2009, 09:11 AM
If she's not been before, perhaps she'd like to see all the things she dreamed of as a girl- Eiffel tower, Place de la Concorder, le Louvre, Ile de Saint Louis and pont neuf, a ride down le Champs-Élysées to l'arc de triomphe ... explain to her the differences in the East and West banks ...

If you can go to Versailles, do it.

Visit D-Day beaches.

These all things I did on my first trip ... had to get the basics covered before branching out.

There was other stuff too, but I can't think of it right now!

Have a GREAT trip!!

10-18-2009, 09:11 AM
Actually, I should post video of new years eve a few years back under the Eiffel Tower! What a show that was!

Lew Barrett
10-18-2009, 11:04 AM
Everyone remembers their trips to Paris with great joy.

I'm a Rive Gauche guy myself, as so many here seem to be. Try this place if you have the dough. The rest of the trip will take care of itself. It's a shame what's happened to the dollar and the general effects of inflation. This place used to be $75 a night. The location alone is worth considering it though. Very comfortable and pleasant place, great views, incredible location. Treat yourself....you'll save money just by being in the center of where you want to be. Book a room overlooking the river (and Notre Dame).

Hotel de la Rue Colbert (http://www.booking.com/hotel/fr/le-colbert-paris.en.html?aid=311088;label=hotel-54396-fr-a0nvq1KjENZkaW743beDnQS877004283;ws=&gclid=CPbO_8n7xp0CFR4HagodMSHUsA)

10-18-2009, 11:21 AM
One comment about Hotel rates.....there usually is a "tourist" booth near the train stations...and in Paris, there is (was?) one near the Eiffel Tower. Walk up, tell them what type of accomodations you wish, and they scan availability and give you some choices.

Went I visited Europe in the early '80s, there was a major recession and rooms were dirt cheap. As an example, in Zurich, I was quoted $25/night at the train station and went to the hotel and signed in....the rate schedule on the back of the door said $100/night....clerk did confirm $25/night because of the shortage of travelers that summer.

The hotel on embassy row in Paris was inexpensive as well, but after a couple of nights, I commuted in from Chartres (had a EurailPass) because things were much less expensive.

PS-can you describe mobility limitations? Cabs are expensive during the day when stuck in traffic....from what I can recall the Hotel Floride was comfortable and centrally located.

Something to think about if you are on a budget and enjoy the adventure:)

10-18-2009, 11:48 AM
I was just in Paris a few days ago. It's sounds like you know all the stuff to see, but just need to fit it together. Trouble walking is going to be a serious problem, especially in the larger museums. We saw throngs of American tourists of "retirement age" who looked like they were suffering pretty badly because of too much walking, not enough places to sit and inability to find bathrooms.

One of our favorite places was Musee Rodin. This might work well for you because it's a museum and a garden park. You can sit comfortably anytime you like without feeling like you need to constantly move from room to room to see everything. You can buy a ticket for just the garden which is much cheaper than the museum. All the good stuff (the Thinker, the Burghers of Calais, etc...) is in the garden anyway, so you can skip the museum completely. It really just has one or two minor works and some incomplete sketches and models.

The same applies to Versailles. It's best viewed from outside, in the gardens (which are free). You can pack a picnic lunch and spend all day there and not feel like you've missed anything, except perhaps the Hall of Mirrors which actually wasn't as impressive as you might think.

Nice places for sunset are the gardens in front of the Louvre and the steps of Sacre Coeur, where crowds of people gather for music, street shows and an outdoor drink.

The Eiffel tower is cool, of course, but the lines are long and the crowd is pushy. The Louvre and Musee D'Orsay are great, but there is that overwhelming feeling of trying to appreciate 40,000 pieces of art and getting pushed from room to room with little rest and no place to sit.

10-18-2009, 12:03 PM
One oddball place you might like is the huge "flea" market, which I think was near a subway stop.....it was amazing to see Galle cameo glass sold in a setting like this.


Nicholas Carey
10-18-2009, 02:37 PM
It looks like there are a whole bunch of folks here who know Paris a lot better than I do... but, then again, my goals, in traveling, are a bit different than most. I like to travel to foreign cities to soak up the ambience, not necessarily to 'see the sights'.That's what I do...I've been to Paris 3-4 times. Never been to the Eiffel tower. Spent a lot of time hanging out in the neighborhood by our [borrowed] apartment. Got to know the family that runs the local cafe. etc.

One night, we stumbled into a small restaurant not far from the Eiffel tower... not recommended by anyone, not in the tour guides, but nonetheless, I had the best imaginable meal I've had in years.

It's the little things :)My rule for finding a restaurant is to find a small neighborhood place that crowed with non-tourists.

Nicholas Carey
10-19-2009, 02:01 AM
A couple of other things about going to Paris...

Le Guide Pudlowski
Get a copy of Le Guide Pudlowski for Paris.

Le Pudlo as it is affectionately known, is the restaurant/food guide that native Parisians actually use. It's written by Gilles Pudlowski, the food critic for Le Point. Le Pudlo covers restaurants, bistrots, cafes, wine bars, food shops, salons de thé, etc. It's highly opinionated (to the point of saying for some restaurants, such as Le Train Bleu, that you should go there for the decor and the ambience, but whatever you do, don't actually eat anything.)

If you can read a modicum of French (restaurant french will do), you'll be able to make sense of it. It should be available in pretty much any book store in Paris. I believe there's an English-language edition in these latter days, but I've never seen one.

Le Plan du Paris
Once you arrive in Paris, pick up a copy of Le Plan du Paris, par arrondisement, A. LeConteur, editeur. It's available at any tabac or kiosk (newstand). It comes in several editions. you want the one with a maroon cover. This is a thickish, albeit pocket-sized book, that is a detailed map of Paris, complete with an assortment of indices. Each arrondisement is on a separate page. Look up an address or intersection and it will tell you what page the map is on, what the nearest metro stop is, etc.

This is an indispensable piece of equipment for Paris. It fits in a jacket pocket and, aside from anything else, it brands you as a non-tourist (You can tell the tourists -- they're the ones trying to unfurl a 2 x 3 food road map in a windy rain trying to figure out where exactly they are. With Le Plan du Paris, you just whip it out of your jacket pocket and open it to the appropriate arrondisement. If you're an old Paris hand, you slice it up the binding into convenient pieces and only bring along those sections appropriate to the day's agenda.

A compass
As a sailor, you understand the value of a compass in finding one's way. Get one for Paris. You need a cheap compass of the sort that attaches to one's zipper -- as long as it's tiny and gets you to the cardinal points within a 5-10 degress, it's good.

Why might I need a compass in a major city, you may ask?

Paris is, to be kind, not laid out on a grid. When you pop up from the underground of Le Metro, at night, or on a cloudy, drizzly, day, it can be...difficult to get one's bearings.

Having a compass will help immensely in sorting out where you are and which way is up.

Getting Around on the Metro
You can buy tickets for the Metro in a number of different ways. You can buy individual tickets. You can buy a carnet (a package of 10 or 20 tickets) at a discount. You can buy a tourist pass (Carte Paris Visité). However, if you're going to be in Paris more than a few days, you'll want to do what Parisians do: buy a weekly commuter pass. These days, its called Passe Navigo Découverte. You'll need a photo, 2.5 x 3cm, that will be affixed to the pass. Oddly, there are photo booths near the ticket booths that provide such photos...for a small fee.) All of these options are good on Paris buses, the RATP (metro) and the RER (commuter rail) within the zones you bought).

Most of the time, whether you're buying tickets, carnets, or a pass, all you'll need is zones 1 and 2, which cover pretty much all the paris that a visitor is likely to want to see. I believe zone 6 will cover travel out as far as Versailles and Paris Disney.

The biggest drawback to the Metro is that it shuts down at about 1AM. If you want to do something resembling nightlife, which doesn't start up until about midnight or so, that's a problem...unless you're willing to go clubbing until dawn.

Luckily Paris cabs fill the gap and are reasonably priced.

10-19-2009, 05:16 AM
... inability to find bathrooms.

In France? :eek: Surely you jest! :D

Re: the Louvre and the Musee d'Orsay - they can indeed seem overwhelming and involve way too much walking and standing, but they are still not to be missed.

My suggestion: get on their Web sites, or on Wikipedia's articles about them, or get a book. Familiarize yourselves with the highlights of their collections at home, with a glass of wine after dinner on some cosy evening (pay attention to the art!). Pick a handful of stuff you would really like to see in each museum. Get to know something about the pieces - there is little or no interpretation in most European museums. When you get to the museums, get a map, and after a cursory look around, go straight to the stuff you picked and enjoy it. You'll bring back much fonder memories than if you wonder around aimlessly.

George Roberts
10-19-2009, 08:15 AM
It seems foolish to ask others where to take your wife in Paris.

You chose Paris either because you want to share previous experiences with your wife or your wife had things she wanted to see.

Paris has nothing for me or my wife. So I would suggest you stay at home. But that is not what you want to do. And you should do what you want to do.


Your wife has limited ability to walk. Make up for that by staying longer (much longer) than a week. Stay until both of you have seen what you wnat to see.

10-19-2009, 08:17 AM
Paris has nothing for me or my wife.

What an astonishing statement.

peter radclyffe
10-19-2009, 02:36 PM
have you seen the film Henry & June
a masterpiece

10-19-2009, 04:04 PM
Stay away from the food...it's horrible...the dawgone French dunno about cooking.....wine is a bit better......get away from the center of town to the small places.......I just had a taxi to take me to the edge of town, then I got myself lost......in and out of small shops....found one really nice one with books....also things were considerably less expensive...

10-19-2009, 04:35 PM
You mentioned that this will be her first trip abroad. If she has not done so alreadt, be sure to start the process of obtaining a passport as early as possible. I understand that the delays are getting longer with the addition of the homeland security involvement.

Hope you have a great trip.