Please sign in to post.

Paris - Post trip review

This is not a question, but a review of our trip if you want ideas...

We were in Paris from May 13 - 17, with really only 3 full days of sight seeing due to our late arrival and early departure.

Posted by
65 posts

Arrival: We came on EasyJet from Hamburg, Germany. I was a little worried of EasyJet, but it was perfect. Just like any other airline (minus the beverage). We hired Parishuttle (online before we left) to get from the airport to our hotel. It was 19 euro per person, each way. I decided on the shuttle due to my fear of an outrageous taxi fare. When you arrive they tell you to call a free # from a pay phone, and sure enough, it worked. The shuttle was on time both coming and going and worked perfect. I went with Parishuttle because we arrived at 10pm and they were the only service I came across that ran that late...

Posted by
65 posts

Hotel: Hotel Valadon, Rue Valadon one street over from Rue Cler near Eiffel Tower. We booked online, directly, before we left (www.hotelvaladon.com). Hotel was 125 euro per night for a double. Rooms were nice and owners spoke perfect english. Location was nice due to proximity to Eiffel tower, metro stop, and cafes on Rue Cler. Breakfast is included which consists of juice, tea, coffee and a croissant and bread with homemade jams. They have a computer for internet, but they charge. I had my iPod touch, and found a wireless signal, so I just used that for free. Email if you are interested in pics of the room...

Posted by
65 posts

Food: Lunch was baguettes with ham and cheese as we were out and about. They're around 3-5 euros each depending on where you are. Soda is expensive, so we would just go to a grocery as we were walking (3 within 1 block of the hotel) and grab a coke and a water to take on the road. We would also pick up snacks to have as we walked. Once you have a water bottle, you can just fill it up in the room. Sink water is drinkable. Our first night we ate at Cafe du Marche on Rue Cler. We liked it so much we ate there every night. Food was fantastic, bread, tap water included free. The price was great (10 euro for a plate) and the service was excellent and they spoke great english with english menus. It is also the busiest cafe on Rue Cler. I was afraid of the rude french stereotype, but it was non existent our entire trip, particularly at this cafe...

Posted by
65 posts

Intinerary: We follow some of Ricks walks and made up our own as well.

Day 1: First day we got a 2 day metro pass, Paris Visit,(14 euros each) and went to the Arc where we got a 2 day museum pass. If I had to do it over, I would get the booklet of 10 metro tickets. I don't think we took the metro more than 10 times. We then walked down to the Louvre (2 mile walk), stopping at the Orangerie on the way. We got a baguette at one of the walk up to go stands here. We saw the Louvre and followed Ricks podcast tour (about 1 hr). These tours are difficult to follow. May be due to construction or exhibits moved, but make sure to get a map. We got lost after the first exhibit and needed to map to find where the next stop on the podcast was. ...

Posted by
65 posts

We continued walking to Notre Dame. We then took the metro back to the hotel. Each day we would rest from 4-5, then go to the Cafe du Marche for dinner. After dinner we went took one of the boat tours that left from near the Eiffel Tower. This is a complete waste of money. Boring, slow, and you don't get good scenery. DON'T WASTE YOUR MONEY! When we got back, we went up the Eiffel Tower to see the town at night. The top was closed due to over crowding, so we went up to the 2nd deck. In general, this is a miserable experience. Too many people are allowed up, the elevators are not quick, resulting in huge lines at the 2nd deck to get down. If we had to do it over again, we would not go up the Eiffel Tower at all. Seeing it is better than going up it. Maybe if it was an extraordinary clear day I would do it...

Posted by
65 posts

Day 2: We foolishly went up the Eiffel tower again to go to the top (my wife said we had to since we were in Paris). See comments from Day 1 Eiffel tower. We then took the metro to Invalides and saw the Army Museum and Napolean's tomb. We then saw that the Rodin museum was right across the street, so we saw "The Thinker" and left. We then walked to Rue Babylone (picked up a baguette and ate in a park on Rue Babylone) where Rick says to shop at Le Bon Marche department store for gifts. This was a joke. It is extremely expensive. Only go here if you want to spend a lot of money on very nice things....

Posted by
65 posts

We took the metro to the hotel and did the usual rest/dinner. Then we took the metro to Norte Dame and looking for souvenir shops as he also mentions in his book. This was accurate. Just outside the Saint-Michel stop are a ton of shops that line the river. This is where you get the t-shirts, shot glasses, mugs, etc. After shopping, we took the metro to Champs-Elyees to hit up a chocolate store for a gift (Laduree). Then we took metro back to hotel and called Parishuttle as requested to confirm pickup...

Posted by
65 posts

Day 3: Versailles
We walked to the C-RER stop near the Eiffel Tower and bought the "Le Passport" Rick mentions to get to and from Versailles with admissions. I didn't see it called "Le Passport" in the metro stop, but they have a sign for "Versailles" which explains the tickets. The trains have 4 letter names, and as Rick says, take "VICK." Took the train and got there around 10am. Toured the palace with his podcast. Again, the podcast was off. They make you tour 5 or so rooms before you head upstairs where Rick's tour starts. This confused us. Then his tour was right on. Palace is so/so with the Hall of Mirrors standing out as the highlight. Then we walked through the gardens and down to the Grand canal as his audio tour suggests. We picked up a baguette here then walked to the Trianon, toured it, then the Marie Antoinette's complex. This is the most impressive part to us. The garden here is beautiful and the buildings are truly straight our of a fairy tale. Incredible. Took the train back and did the usual rest/dinner...

Posted by
65 posts

Departure: Parishuttle was right on time at 6am for pickup.

Phone: We have T-mobile cell phones. We went online before we left to activate the free world service (don't remember what it is actually called. It's free. You just have to activate it). I then called to confirm it was activated. It worked great. It's relatively expensive at $1/minute, but handy for quick calls. We only used it the one time to confirm the shuttle and the call was less than 1 minute...

Posted by
65 posts

Weather: Around 80 degrees F! Unbelieveable. We got some rain (only rain of out 2.5 week trip), but just drizzle. It was still hot and humid when it rained, so it wasn't bad at all. We had a rain/windbreaker and umbrellas, so we were fine.

This site helped me out tremendously before I left. Thank you to everyone who helped me. If you are interested in pics from any of the above, just email. I'm sure I forgot some details, so please ask. I hope this helps some of you out.

Andy

Posted by
2030 posts

Andy -- did you have the duck confit at Cafe du Marche? My favorite!

Posted by
65 posts

We did not have the duck, although it looked great. I think it came with salad and potatoes. I had pastas each night which were excellent: one with a mushroom sauce (Truffe, I think) and one tomoato and basil (had twice). My wife had the half a chicken two nights and she thought it was excellent as well.

Posted by
3247 posts

Thanks for taking time to write your review Andy--you packed a lot into a short time. I haven't been to Paris in awhile and it made me want to go back soon--especially for the ham and cheese baguette. Sharon

Posted by
2030 posts

The chicken baguette sandwiches are very good also!

Posted by
11507 posts

Thanks for taking the time to write a great trip review, I always enjoy reading them. I tend to agree with you about the ET, done it once or twice over the years and I could live with never doing it again, but, a hint for others is take the stairs to second level from ground , shorter line. Then pick up ticket to top( if you feel you must). On a hazy or rainy day don't bother going to top, view is not amazing. I personally prefer view from the Arc De Triomphe.

PS I know this site is not about spelling so please don't be hurt, but just to educate, it is Notre Dame, which means " Our LADY( dame) " although it is pronounced "damn" . The church is dedicated to Mary ( who is a biggie in the Catholic faith, LOL ) .

Posted by
22 posts

Andy - Great Review!

Pat - I think it was just a typo. He spelled it right earlier.

Posted by
65 posts

Thanks for all the positive feedback. I fixed the "Damn" typo. Hopefully that will save me from being struck by lightning. I wrote this really fast at work over lunch, and there are a lot of typos. I've been trying to edit the ones I find.

I agree with walking up the ET. Although it's 360 steps to the first stop, then 360 to the second, so gauge your fitness level. There is no discount for buying a ticket from the ground to the top over buying one from the second to the top, so you're not penalized (The difference is the same).

Thanks again for the positive feedback!

Posted by
590 posts

The ET is neat to go to the top but definetley not the be all and end all experience of Paris. Go up the Arc de Triomphe. No lines and you can use your Museum Pass.

Posted by
1455 posts

Thanks Andy for the review! I'm heading to Paris in 29 days. While I have been before, its always good to "see" it again thru someone else's eyes.

Posted by
273 posts

Thanks Andy, I'm leaving for Paris in 6 days and your info is really helpful! Unfortunately it looks like it will be raining when we are there from the forecast. So the Eiffel Tower is not worth going up. It's crowded at night as well? Darn. I think we are going to skip Versailles as the days we are there are the most crowded.

Posted by
102 posts

Andy, the shuttle service that you use do they work 24 hrs?
I need to catch a flignt in CDG on sep 1 at 7;00 am (that means I have to be there at 5:00 am) so i'm debating whether to use a shuttle servcie from Paris or check out a day early and stay at the Ibis near the airport..but i'm not sure if it is worth the hassle.

Posted by
10344 posts

Ohhh, go up the Tower! We all do it once. But not if it's socked in, and probably not if it's unusually windy or unusually cold.

Posted by
65 posts

First, the ET was crowded at night was well. We went up in a drizzle, although it was still relatively clear. The wind is worst at the top, so take a jacket.

Second, We used www.parishuttle.com (not to be confused with paris-shuttle.com). It looks like they have raised their rates to 20 euro per person each way. This is a quote from the FAQ page...

"Our shuttle service operates between 5am and 11pm (approximate times)."

I think it would work for you. You can call and ask. They speak english. The airport was dead when we were there at 7am, so I'm not sure how early you need to be. If you are by yourself, I'd probably go shuttle, but if you are with someone else, the traffic shouldn't be that bad that early in the morning, so a taxi may actually be cheaper, but I'm not sure.

If you check out and stay by the airport, will you taxi or RER there? Either way, you could just do the same thing the next morning, right? I guess the benefit is you can sleep in 30 min later in the morning if you stay near the airport. Plus the rooms may be cheaper.

Posted by
331 posts

Thanks for the "Paris Review". We will be in Paris for 4 days/4 nights this July with 2 pre-teens and your travelogue will definately save us time, money and make our trip even better.We were going to take the "scenic boat cruise" but are now not going to bother,but we will certainly be going to Rue Cler for our meals.

Posted by
11507 posts

To get to the top of the ET yo must get off the elevator on the second level and transfer to another elevator, so you do in fact pay the same amount to go to the top no matter , but, it is cheaper to walk to the second level then it is to take the elevator, so the savings is in the walk up to second.

I really did enjoy your review Andy, and was not trying to throw lightening bolts, and since Notre Dame is pronounced Notre Damn I just clarifying for those who may only know it by how it is pronounce, I personally make horrible spelling errors and typos all the time, trust me, I am certainly living in a glass house!

Posted by
9335 posts

It's actually pronounced "Dahm" not Damn :)

Posted by
264 posts

Susan, "Dahm" is English.
If you want to say it in French, and you should,
say "damn!!"

Posted by
27 posts

We stayed at an airport hotel the night before we left. Our flight was 10:30 a.m. and we got there for 7:30 a.m. we were glad we did because it was busy. It was on Wednesday. The Ibis probably has a free/or not hotel shuttle. I found it was worth the peace of mind as I was traveling with my two sons, 21 and 25 and it got them out of bed easier knowing they didn't have to get up earlier if leaving from Paris. Anyway...have fun.

Andy, great review, we stayed in the Rue Cler district and loved it.

Posted by
9335 posts

With all due respect Bill, I grew up in Paris and I speak fluent French and it is pronounced "dahm" in French.

Posted by
102 posts

Nice job. What stuck out to me, was that you are not exactly adventurous, when it comes to eating. Sounds like what my hubby would do. He is afraid to try anything new. The other thing I noticed that you passed on the nice stuff and went for the cheap touristy knick knacks. I used to always get a great pair of shoes and a nice outfit. Those were the days! I wish I could go to Paris again! Meanwhile I am leaving for Finland next Wednesday for 2 months. I really want to go to Paris but the dollar is so weak! Weap, weap!

Posted by
65 posts

Alright, no more "dahm", "damn", "dame." I think we're on the verge of a fight.

Yes, we were buying souveniers for others, so I wasn't buying them a $150 dress shirt. They can buy the same shirt at Nordstrom at home if the want. I just didn't see how anything in that store was representative of Paris. I don't get buying clothes while on vacation, but that's just me.

As for food, yes, cheap was good. Even two 11 euro meals with drinks winds up being $50 when your done. I didn't see anything "new or adventurous" on the menu, unless raw ground beef is adventurous. It was stuff just like here at home (pastas, chicken, salads, etc...well, the duck, but duck is fatty for my liking). May have just been the cafe. Rick says in his book that Paris isn't known for a unique food. We thought the baguettes were unique, so that's what we ate. For nicer restaurants, we packed with carry-on only, so formal wear was not an option.

Posted by
4555 posts

I think you're missing out if you don't take the scenic boat cruise. Select one of the evening cruises so you can take advantage of Paris at night, especially when the Eiffel Tower lights up on the hour with a flashing spectacle of strobe lights! I'm not sure what Andy meant by "you don't get good scenery," and I'm not sure what he was expecting, but I found it fascinating to see Paris's architecture (especially Notre Dame) from a completely different vantage point. I also think it would be a shame to miss Versailles based on one review that calls it "so-so." To me, the magnificence of the palace, the money, time, and effort spend on its grandeur while the peasants of France starved, brings into stark reality the power of an absolute monarchy, and why it came crashing down in 1789. If you purchase a Paris Museum pass, you can bypass the long lines for general admission, and get in the much shorter line for passholders.

Posted by
65 posts

Thanks for the reply on the boat cruise. It's good for others to see various opinions. I'll clarify my issues...

I did not see anything on our cruise that was any better than I had seen by walking. Notre Dame was more impressive to me up close and personal. The Eiffel tower was more impressive from land. Just my opinions. Maybe it was our boat and others are better. We took Bateaux Parisiens. It went just past Notre Dame, then turned around.

As for Versailles, I don't believe I said not to go. My wife and I were simply more impressed with Marie Antoinette's complex than the palace. Again, just us. It did inspire me to read up on Louis the XIV, XV, and XVI when I got back, along with a lot more on Napolean. The history is very interesting. The size of the property is incredible. The canal is a mile long!

Thanks for all the comments, both those agreeing and disagreeing with me. They will definitely help others who are going for the first time which is what this is all about.