France

Was going to go to Greece for my honeymoon, but it won't work with out flyer miles so we are considering Paris... although neither of us speak French. I get mixed reviews so many ppl love it even if they do not speak the language. My question is, how many days do you really need in Paris and is it ok to rent an apartment their as opposed to staying at a hotel. We did that in Italy and loved that route for lodging. Also what are the must sees in paris and is it too much of a hassle to get to go on a wine tour?

Posted by Gail
Downingtown, USA
1558 posts

I speak very minimal French and never had a problem,even outside Paris where some people who spoke not a word of English and did not understand me, were very helpful. You could spend several weeks there and not see it all. My son went to Paris for honeymoon four years ago, five days in Paris and then rental car for touring France. He speaks no French at all and had no problem. Suggest you look up Top Ten Sights in Paris and see what advice it gives. Also some people here will give great advice, some of which I wish I would have had, such as a second entrance to Louvre to bypass lines,going to Versailles as early as possible to avoid lines,etc. Do not drive in Paris. I assume you are from Queens, NY,right? Picture driving in Times Square on New Years with streets in foreign language, get the picture? Enjoy, seeing Eiffel Tower and the Arch lite up at night alone is worth trip.

Posted by Andrea
Sacramento, CA
4871 posts

Of course you don't need to speak French to go to Paris. Do you speak Greek? You were planning to go there. In my opinion, there is no such thing as too much time in Paris. There is so much to see. I recommend you get a guidebook to see what interests you. The Rick Steves book is great for practical tips. I have been to Paris 3 times, the last 2 staying in apartments. Public transportation is fantastic and you don't need a car there. There are places you can go for day trips that are an easy train ride away. If you want to do a wine tour I'm sure you can find one through a tour company.

Posted by Elaine
Mission Viejo, Calif., USA
773 posts

My husband and I went to Paris in 2010 and 2011. We stayed for a total of one month. We loved the hotel we stayed at. It was called the Hotel Le Littre, in the 6 arron. We booked the hotel directly with the hotel on their site. The second time we stayed there, we had an awesome room. We had a balcony. We could watch the Eiffel Tower from our balcony. In May and June it stays light until 11:00 PM. You really get to take advantge of the sites, well into the night. Almost every night during our two week stay, we sat on our balcony and watched the lights on the Eiffel and the regular Paris city lights. It was really cool. You can only book particular rooms on the Le Littre site. We had a short walk to the train station or the bus. The French people aren't the friendliest, I must admit. The language didn't seem to be a problem though. A lot of Parisians speak English. They choose to not acknowledge that fact though. We also took bus tour - day trips - around Paris, out to Normandy, Monet's Giverney Garden (really pretty), Mount St. Michelle, Versailles, etc. There are various day tours offered in and around Paris. Some trivia. If you are into Matt Damon's "Bourne" movies, you will meet one of the bus companies, right where "Bourne" filmed at the Hotel Regina. The tour company is right across from the hotel. Believe me, we were in Greece in 2011. Paris is 100% better. The only place worth visiting in Athens, is the Acropolis. Paris is breathtaking. It is so romantic just to walk around from one end of the city to the other. The Eiffel Tower is just "out there", when you are in front of it. Almost everyday you ride around, you look up and see the awesome site. The architecture is so beautiful.

Posted by Debi
Sherman Oaks, CA, USA
257 posts

Oh my, speak french to go to France, not these days. Maybe in some small cities people don't speak much english, but not Paris.
I would spend as much time as I could there. I always stay in an apartment. There are so many choices. I like parlerparisapartments.com/AdrianLeeds or myparisvisit.com. Happy Travels!

Posted by pat
victoria, Canada
7822 posts

Jarmine, I bet those people you talked to had very little actual experience visiting Paris, those are the types that usuaslly say such things. don't bother listening to them. Thousands and thousands, probably millions of tourists , flood through Paris every year, and guess what, most do not speak any french either. They may have been considerate enough to learn how to say, hello, thank you and a few other basics, but holding back because you don't speak french makes no sense at all ( as asked, do you speak Greek? ) A lovely romantic apartment I stayed in Paris, The Esmeralda, www.parisbestlodge.com/ Wonderful company ( google for reviews, they never get a bad one) the manager is a very nice man, replies in excellant english, they have good terms etc. The only issue I see for you now is that it may be too late to book some of the popular apartments at this date for the busy season but try anyways.

Posted by Judy
Grass Valley, California
111 posts

Just got back from Paris 4 days ago, we only know enough words to be polite and had no problem at all. Even menus could be explained. And everyone was very polite to us. As far as how much time, we were there 5 days and didn't do everything. It is a big city and most of the big sites seem to always be crowded. Even using the passes and Ricks advise we had waits. The metro was great to get us across town. But all said it is a wonderful city you cannot go wrong with Paris!

Posted by Susan
Sausalito, California
3203 posts

I could not disagree more with Elaine re: the French. They are wonderful. As Pat mentioned, do learn polite phrases like hello, goodbye and thank you. When you walk into any place of business always say Bonjour Madame/Monsieur, and when leaving say Au Revoir Madame/Monsieur. And always say Merci. Politeness goes a long way. A lot of tourists don't know this and when they aren't welcomed with open arms they blame it on the French. Read the thread "How Rude are the French" in the West section for good info. As Andrea said, you can't stay too many days in Paris. I can be there for a month or more and I still hate leaving. I like hotels and apartments equally, for different reasons. Apts are usually less expensive. As suggested, RS Paris would be invaluable to have before and while you're there. I also recommend staying in the 4th (Marais), 5th (Latin Quarter), or 6th (St. Germain) arrondissement. Most central and most fun area of Paris imo.

Posted by Harold
New York, NY, USA
2848 posts

If you managed well in Italy without speaking Italian, you will do fine in Paris without speaking French. And this canard of "they all speak English, they just don't want to" annoys me greatly. My experience is certainly different. I've never had a problem getting people to speak English, when they could. But their "English" was often far from fluent, heavily accented, and sometimes hard to understand; and that wasn't an act. If someone says they don't speak English, how come it's accepted everywhere else, but in France the assumption is that the person is lying? In my experience, they're not lying; they really don't speak English. No subterfuge involved. Sure it's "OK" to rent an apartment instead of staying in a hotel, if that's what you prefer. continued..

Posted by Harold
New York, NY, USA
2848 posts

continued.. The "must sees" in Paris are the places that you, personally, must see - nothing more and nothing less. To get started, start by looking at guidebooks or websites: they usually have a section "If you have one day...If you have two days...If you have three days" with specific recommendations ( Rick Steves Paris certainly does). These will be the highlights, in the opinion of that writer. Then, adjust based on your own interests. Paris is my favorite city, and I think a 7-10 days is a good amount of time for a first visit; not because it's enough to "see everything," but because it's enough time for any one place in a single visit, for me. (I've now been a total of 6 times, and am thinking of returning later in 2013). Of course, if you want to combine it with somewhere else, you can cut that to 3 or 4 days. And don't let anyone tell that's "not enough time;" of course it isn't, but it may be enough for you for that trip. If you find you don't like Paris, there are lots of daytrip possibilities. I've never even been to Versailles, because it didn't interest me enough to take time from the city itself (see first paragraph above), but many would consider it a must-see.

Posted by Adam
Boston
2632 posts

Congratulations! How much time is very subjective, but for a first-time visit, with jet lag, I should want 5 nights, longer with day trips and really more time would not be wasted. 5 sounds like a lot but it is really only 3 days without the worst of the jet lag. For must-sees, do get a few good guidebooks and read them in advance. Apartment rental is common. Paris is really the hub of France, so I am sure you can find a tour to some caves. Champagne is just an hour or so away by train, and the major producers offer tours, so if that's of interest you can do it yourself. And there are wine bars in Paris where you can have your own tastings. For more wine thrills, nearly every region has its wine scene, so if you will be moving on from Paris you can incorporate that into your plans. Burgundy, one of the world's most famous wine regions, is not far. Spend a night or two in Beaune and rent a car, or bicycles, and go see some vineyards. Have an awesome honeymoon!