Hello, we will be going to London and Paris next year, we know nothing about Paris what to expect where to eat what to visit. We only have 4 nights and 3 days. What is the best use of our time. Also, a friend went to Paris last year and said the pick pocketers are out of control. Any tips will be greatly appreciated. Thank you
Hi Filomena. Best tip I can give is to get the Rick Steves Paris book; it has a wealth of useful info. Enjoy your trip!
If you want to have an expensive dinner or two, you will need to research that. It's hard to find a bad restaurant, just avoid the ones that have menus in several languages - they cater to one-time tourist customers and are overpriced and not always very good. There are scammers and pickpockets. Common sense and security precautions will get you through London and Paris without incident. Guide books will give you instructions. There are things to see and do every evening in Paris. If you want to maximize your time, make a list of them and choose the ones that interest you most. Several museums have evening hours at least once a week, the Eiffel Tower and the Arc de Triomphe are open every evening. There are evening tours (Segway, bike, walking) and Seine cruises. And more. What to do there? Think about what really interests you. There are many fine museums, a couple of palaces, sidewalk cafes, gardens, walking tours, great food and wine, wonderful churches, fascinating cemeteries. Planning is half the fun. I make a list of what I want to see and do, pare it down to about twice what's feasible, and organize by area. Pay attention to opening hours and days. And in my opinion, you absolutely do not have to go to the Louvre or up the Eiffel Tower. You can have a wonderful time in Paris without them, as long as you've done things that interest you as much (or more).
Paris is wonderful, I'd suggest looking at a guidebook and picking the things that interest you most - obviously you can't see everything in 3 days, but if you research ahead of time, you can easily see many things of great interest to you. My personal input is that Paris is so beautiful that you need to make sure to have time to just walk along the river or in some neighborhoods, just to enjoy the ambiance. Also the museums (Louvre if you like old-master style art, and the building is beautiful, Musee D'Orsay for impressionist art, and Pompidou if you like modern art and a crazy building and fountain area in front). Parks and gardens - Paris makes beautiful parks. I like Tuileries and Luxembourg Gardens, as well as smaller parks all over the place. At least go to the Eiffel Tower, even if you don't want to go up, because it's fun to see the size and the crowds. Shopping, if that's your thing. Sit at a sidewalk cafe for hours with wine. Pickpockets are there, and you should take precautions, but I wouldn't say "out of control". I had one attempted pickpocketing - the usual scam where one comes up to you with a petition, and while you're trying to say no to signing it, another gets into your purse. I saw this and yelled at them to go away, her hand was in my bag, but she ran off immediately. So my advice is to not be afraid to make a scene with these run-of-the-mill pickpockets. They aren't violent muggers - they don't want to be noticed.
The Rick Steves Paris guidebook will give you all the information you need. Check it out from the library or purchase it. For first time visitors, it is essential. I have been to Paris 9 times, and lived there last year and never encountered a pick-pocket. I think it helps not to look too much like a tourist if possible. Just pay attention to your valuables. There are scams around that I saw though, the "found gold ring" was very popular, as were people on the street asking you to sign a petition, and the people trying to give you a bracelet up on Montmartre. Just smile, say no and walk away. I live near San Francisco and this city is currently experiencing a rash of young pick-pockets/thieves taking iphones and other valuable away from tourists on Fisherman's Wharf. Pickpockets are everywhere. I hope you have a great time in both London and Paris.
Paris is wonderful. My favorite place in the world. Bob is right, the RS Paris guide will be very helpful. I agree with BG... "I live near San Francisco and this city is currently experiencing a rash of young pick-pockets/thieves taking iphones and other valuable away from tourists on Fisherman's Wharf. Pickpockets are everywhere." I live a few miles north of SF myself and have to add that unlike Paris and other cities in Europe (where you usually don't even know you're being pick-pocketed), here in SF they often violently attack a person to grab their phone and/or purse. The SF Chief of Police keeps telling people not to show or use their phone anywhere in public. Here's a very recent example... http://blog.sfgate.com/cwnevius/2013/07/11/no-one-speaks-up-for-woman-who-was-kicked-in-the-face/?plckOnPage=5&plckItemsPerPage=10&plckSort=TimeStampDescending
If you haven't already, check out the Tourist Scam Alert section on the Graffiti Wall. I have never been approached anywhere, but my husband was in front of Notre Dame while I was inside. It was the mom with the fake baby scam. He very firmly said "Nyet!" and they walked off mumbling, "Russian..." He's not. Just follow all the guidelines you will see in the Rick Steves' book(s), on the Graffiti Wall and the Travelers' Helpline and you'll do fine. I have observed the "begging urchins with the open newspaper" pickpocket groups in many countries and as long ago as the 1980's when I lived in Germany, so this is not exactly a new thing. For fun, you might find out how to say no in a number of uncommon languages and use that if you are approached. Paris is the most visited city in the world and there's a reason for that, it's magic!
Hi Filomena, We just returned from 3 weeks in France with a week of that in Paris. We had a wonderful time and did not get pickpocketed. Some things we did: -I bought the RS France book on kindle and put it on my kindle app on my iPhone. I was able to do quick searches on sites, customs, etc, any time without an internet connection. -I carried very little on me when we were out sightseeing. If I carried a backpack, it only had things like a sweater, various pamphlets on sites we saw/had seen, a hairbrush, and a water bottle. -I carried my iPhone in either a pocket that had a button on it or in a front pocket that was very deep and concealed by a shirt. I almost always had my hand on it. -A lot of people here will disagree, but based on the place we were staying, I left my passport and other non-essential items for the day (such as credit cards) in my hotel room. I know people who have been robbed doing this, so this is not advice one should take lightly, if at all. We felt safe with it in some places and so we did it with no consequences. But again, not everyone has had that experience. On days when we carried these items it was always in a money belt around the waist. -If you want to see "must see" sites such as Louvre, Versailles, the Arc de Triomphe, etc, consider the Paris Museum pass. We bought ours at Les Invalides (no line) and ended up enjoying that museum the best. We used it over the course of two days, capping off with climbing to the top of the Arc de Triomphe at dusk. Beautiful! I hope you have a great time on your trip! Paris and London are two of my favorite cities.