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Need help with how to get around & hotel recomendations in Paris

Having a small panic attack because I'm taking a trip to Paris in June (first week) and I'm clueless to say the least. It is suppose to be a girls trip but so far one has dropped out & the other hasn't confirmed or book her flight yet. So that leaves me possibly travelling by myself & getting around. I will be in Paris for four days & head to London( I'm good on the London trip because I know people there).
So my thing is I'm on a very tight budget in planning for the worse since all cost apart from flight is suppose to be split three ways down to two & now maybe one :(.

I need recommendation on where to stay(somewhere safe,cheap & central), how to get from the airport to hotel & getting around Paris. I will need to take the Eurostar to London so need help on that too.
I am both excited & scared at the same time.

Posted by
3319 posts

Hi Becka...don't be nervous! With planning ahead and reading-up you'll navigate the city with no problem. Public transport is easy and the metro maps are simple to read. If you just want to stay in the central area and walk to everything you don't even need the metro, especially if you're going to be there just for a few days. Take your time, walk, and enjoy the city. Learn a few phrases such as "Where is the...?", "I would like...", Please, thank you, numbers, and such, and most Parisians will switch to English if you at least try French first.
If I were traveling by myself, needed to conserve my cash, and was unfamiliar with where I was going, I would stay at a hostel. It is a relatively inexpensive option and I have found hostels to be friendly, generally well-run, clean places where it is easy to meet people of all ages, many of whom are also traveling alone. If you get a jump on it soon, you can book a private room. Try this website - http://www.hostels.com/paris/france - there are lots listed and you can find one that will fit you. I would check them against tripadvisor.com and other review travel sites before making a decision and pay attention to neighborhood and distance from the city center.
I'll let others comment on getting from the airport to central Paris and the Eurostar...I haven't actually flown into Paris for years - used a car or train to get there for the trips I've taken in the last 15 years.

Posted by
31303 posts

Becka,

Not to worry, I'm sure the group here will be able to help get your travel arrangements sorted.

To begin with and especially as this is your first trip there (or so I'm assuming), I'd highly recommend packing along a copy of either the Paris or Pocket Paris Guidebooks, as there's a LOT of information there which will help your sightseeing to go more smoothly. I was back in Paris in June, and referred often to the Pocket Paris book (even though I'm quite familiar with Paris). For example, some of the Museums are closed one day a week, so it's important to know which day that is.

In terms of getting around, the Metro is by far the easiest and quickest method. If you're not familiar with using subways, some homework would be prudent (it's not really too difficult, and I'm sure you'll get used to it quickly). I usually buy a Carnet (10 tickets) which often covers my transportation for the majority of each trip.

I assume your flight will be arriving at Paris / CDG? One of the quickest ways to get to Paris from the airport is to use the RER "B". It is possible to buy tickets for that using Kiosks, however they only accept Euro coins or "Chip & PIN" credit cards, so you may have to wait in a queue at the ticket office. You may find it helpful to have a look at the excellent Paris By Train website.

For using the EuroStar to travel from Paris to London, you may find it helpful to have a look at the excellent Man In Seat 61 website. You'll be departing from Gare du Nord in Paris and arriving at London St. Pancras. Note that you MUST check in for that at least 30 minutes prior to departure or you won't be riding. I'd suggest leaving lots of time, as you'll have to go through airport-style security as well as clear U.K. Passport control in Paris. Buying your ticket well in advance will provide the cheapest prices, but note that tickets are often non-refundable and non-changeable once purchased, so choose carefully!

If you're planning to visit a lot of Museums, it would be a good idea to pick up a Paris Museum Pass as it will minimize your time waiting in queues. It will likely be VERY busy in June, so it's best to tour as efficiently as possible. Also, be sure to wear a Money Belt and be vigilant for pickpockets and scammers, as they WILL be plying their "trade".

Which part (Arrondissement) of Paris are you planning to stay in? All of us here have individual preferences, and I like the Rue Cler area in the 7th, which is close to the Eiffel Tower. Are you planning to stay in budget hotels or Hostels? What are you planning to see while there? Some additional information will help the group offer more specific travel advice. It will be easier to provide more specific advice on getting from the airport to the hotel once you've decided on which part of Paris you'll be staying in.

Good luck with your planning!

Posted by
8293 posts

As well as parisbytrain.com. tomsguidetoparis.com is an excellent site for help.

For the Eurostar, go to eurostar.com 120 days out to book the least expensive ticket. seat61.com will help you with advice on that as well. Tell us what your budget is for the Paris hotel and maybe we can offer suggestions. Once you know where you will be staying we can help you figure out the best way to get from the airport to the hotel. Do not panic! Help is on the way!

Posted by
164 posts

Hi Becka! You've been given some excellent advice already so I won't duplicate it - I just want to reassure you - I would love to go solo to Paris! It's an amazing city and so much to do! And you will still be able to have an amazing trip even though your budget is small - my daughter and I went to Paris on a tight budget trip for her 16th birthday and it was a wonderful experience! We were able to eat very cheaply by just getting a croissant and coffee for breakfast, supplemented with yogurt and fruit from the Monoprix (chain store that sells groceries/clothing/toiletries- like a Target in the US). For lunch we picked up crepes or a pre made sandwich, then "splurged" with a cafe meal at dinner. Dessert was a 2 Euro crepe from a street stand rather than dessert at the cafe. I found some great places to eat - I'll dig out my notes and send you a PM with names and addresses if you'd like? I also second the opinion to get a Paris Museum Pass if you will be doing lots of museum sightseeing - it will save you time and money as you will get to skip some lines. Keep posting questions and you will receive excellent advice from the experts here (I'm not including myself in that expert category - I'm just a fellow happy traveler!)

Posted by
26053 posts

Deanna, if you make your list public then I and others will also benefit ...

Posted by
285 posts

Yes .....Deanna..I will tag along too for the infomation posted here as I find the information valuable.
Margaret

Posted by
2081 posts

Becka D,

Knowledge is power!

on my first solo trip overthere i had butterflys too, but KNOWING what to do/go for what i wanted helped alot. I know many of the more experienced travelers on this board consider us USA travelers wussies, but the you know where they can go and im sure i will hear from others about my comments too.

So, readup and ask questions on here or any of the guide books you can get your hands on and then go for it.

the only issue that maybe more of a concern is $$$. Thats the bottom line. So, if youre $$ is a concern, figure out some budget method or start stating what you can spend in Euros for the day and what that will include. i dont stay in hostels so i cant comment, but ive been temped in staying at some. I just have to find the right place.

there have been great recommendations already.

happy trails.

Posted by
164 posts

I will gladly make my list public! It will probably take me a day or so to dig out my notes but I will post here soon...

Posted by
164 posts

Hi all, here is the promised list of restaurants that my daughter and I enjoyed in Paris:) None are fancy but all had friendly staff and yummy food:) Oh, and my daughter is a vegetarian so all these places were workable for her, some more so than others.

By the Pantheon on rue Soufflot -
Le Soufflot Cafe
16, rue Soufflot - a cafe/brasserie - with a perfect view of the Pantheon

Les Fontaines
9, rue Soufflot - another cafe/brasserie

Crepes a Gogo
12, rue Soufflot - I had a yummy salted caramel crepe - they had tons of crepe options:)

By the Arc de Triomphe - on one of the "spoke" streets
Le Paradis du Fruit
32 Avenue de Wagram - really fresh food, very modern place. Steph and I shared a mixed plate with grilled chicken, falafel, hummus, and veggies - we saw lots of yummy looking dishes. They also had amazingly beautiful desserts with fresh fruit, ice cream, frozen yogurt, etc. I think we were the only english speakers in the place, but they did have english menus for us! This was definitely one of my favorite meals. Very easy for daughter to find vegetarian options here!

By the Eiffel Tower, just off Avenue de la Bourdonnais on rue de Grenelle -
Gusto Italia
218, Rue de Grenelle - really yummy pizza and Italian food - I had a huge plate of grilled vegetables with parmesan and fresh mozzarella cheese that was scrumptious! The waiter was so nice and answered all our questions about what stuff was - no english menu here! He didn't speak much english - spoke Italian and French, so when we'd ask what a certain ingredient was, he'd run to the kitchen and bring it out to show us:) There are two locations of this restaurant on the same street, just right across the street from each other. We ate at the one at 218 rue de Grenelle...the other location is at 199 rue de Grenelle. This was also a great vegetarian option.

We also found a little crepe stand on rue de la Harpe, just off the intersection of Blvd St Michel and Blvd St Germain by the Cluny Museum on the Left Bank. If you walk down the street with your back to the Cluny museum (there's a McDonalds on the corner), the crepe stand is about 3/4 of a block down on the left - cheap, super yummy crepes! And he's open late - we were here between 11:30 and 12:30 each night and had several different crepes for only 2-3 euro each.

Posted by
164 posts

formatting came out wonky - if you have questions, I'll clarify!

Posted by
10 posts

Wow! thanks you guys really rock!!! just seeing your responses has taken away my anxiety.
Anita, thank you so much I did consider the booking a hostel but was told I would be safer in a hotel plus the other girls originally wanted hotels so that's what I went with. I will start my research on hostels now.
Ken you pointed out things I didn't even think about, yes I will be flying into CDG & I do happen to have a few Euros & coins from my visit to Spain two years ago...I am counting my coins now :)
Deanna you sound like an expert to me & your notes a greatly appreciated.
I like museums and want to see as much as I can, the Notre dame cathedral, Orsay museum & Cluny museum. Don't know much I can do in four 1/2 days but I want to make the most of it.
I have a French phrase book but need to get the guide book.
the 5th or 6th is where I want to stay. I wanted to book the accommodation no later than end of this week & will let you know how it turns out.
Thanks again for your help.
one quick question...sure it won't be my last...how is wifi in the city? for using my phone or tablet, do they have public phone booths there?( like in London) will I need a phone card?

Becka D

Posted by
164 posts

Hi Becka, since you want to stay in the 5th or 6th, I will pass along the name of a couple of hotels - my daughter and I stayed at Hotel Cluny Sorbonne - http://www.hotel-cluny.fr in the 5th - just off Blvd St Michel, but on a quiet side street across from the Sorbonne and just around the corner from the Place de la Sorbonne. Small rooms and baths, no a/c, but clean and comfortable and cheap. And they have triple rooms if your friends decide to go. Others on this board will be able to let you know about the need for a/c in June - I've never been at that time of year:) And I've seen in other threads recently a recommendation for Hotel St Pierre - http://www.saintpierre-hotel.com/en/index.php - which is very close to the same location. Both hotels are close to the RER B which takes you to/from the airport, so no need to change to the metro with luggage which is nice. And tons of metro/bus stops within 2-3 blocks of both these hotels, plus inexpensive boutiques (think student budget) if you want to do any shopping. My daughter and I spent lots of time shopping on her birthday trip in this area and we both got some cute things! There is a Brioche Doree on Blvd St Michel where we got breakfast every morning for about 3-4 euros each. Plus you are a 5-10 minute walk from the Seine and Notre Dame. There are several other hotels in that area but I haven't ever stayed in any - some of them look pretty nice though. Let us know where you end up!

Posted by
11613 posts

I spent five days in Paris last year, solo, it was great! First time to Paris for me but I managed to figure things out, and everyone everywhere was very helpful.

Enjoy!

Posted by
204 posts

You will love Paris and I agree with everyone, you will be fine if you are solo. When I tagged along on my husband's business trip in 2010 I just explored by myself from 9 am to 9 pm. Most areas are safe, but I have seen a pickpocket at the Eiffel Tower, so if alone, just don't go there after dark, and be careful. Use a moneybelt, not a purse. The metro system is so easy and walking is a delight.
My don't miss: Saint Chappelle. Tres magnifique.
Bon voyage.

Posted by
10 posts

Thanks Deanna,
I also saw a few mentions of hotel St.Piere. but will check out the one you stayed at...not sure about the no a/c. I will be sure to update you on my trip.
Thanks again for all your recommendations.

Becka D

Posted by
17 posts

Side note at CDG there are change machines so as long as you have Euros you can get change so you won't need to wait inline to buy your ticket on the RER. You are going to have a great time!! I went to France alone in September and had a great time. If you speak a little French 90% of the time they will speak English back to you.