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France - August 2019

Just a few comments/observations from my trip to France in August 2019.
*I planned the trip using Rick Steves' many resources; trip advisor; etc. No trouble at all.
*Take heed of the many warnings about pickpockets. The potential is real. Almost got pickpocketed in a Paris Metro station. Attempt was thwarted though because I had heeded all the warnings.
*I probably wouldn't go to Paris in August again. Many of the restaurants; buses; metro stations; train stations are not air conditioned and the heat just made it uncomfortable. Nothing that wrecked my trip - again just uncomfortable.
*If your looking for a good (clean; hospitable; accommodating) place to stay in Paris close to numerous public transportation options and also centrally located, I recommend Best Western Ducs De Bourgogne at 19 rue du Pont-Neuf. Staff speaks English; rooms are quite and remain dark in the morning if you choose to sleep in. Rooms are not that big, though. Good breakfast.
*Taxis operate based on "time" and not on "distance". I took a taxi from Eiffel Tower to the Pont Neuf area and incurred 9 Euro on the meter by getting stuck behind a slow-moving trash truck. (Travelled approximately .25 mile while stuck behind the trash truck and it cost 9 Euro). Just be aware.
*Try the BatoBus to get around. It's a bus boat that moves about the Seine stopping at centrally located areas in France. The Navigo Deovuerte pass does not cover the BatoBus fare, though but rather the Navigo Deovuerte allows for a discount on the BatoBus ticket.
*The Orsay Museum is awesome and in my opinion is better than the Louvre. Of course, see the Mona Lisa; Winged Victory and Venus de Milo at the Louvre but don't miss the Orsay. It's really an experience to see, up close a Van Gogh; Renoir; Monet painting.

*Believe what you hear about Paris being expensive. Compared to the US, it is expensive.
*I don't think France has anything close to the what the "Americans with Disabilities Act" does for us here in the States. Many places in France do not have elevators. Bathrooms that are not easily accessible. Although I'm not disabled, I was with an individual who has trouble walking up and down stairs. I certainly take ADA for granted here in the States.

*Loved Sacre Coure. View is awesome.
*Many of the public restrooms require a Euro or two for entry. Have coins with you just in case.
Much more to report on but I'll try to do that in another report.
Happy Travels;
JS

Posted by
293 posts

" I recommend Best Western Ducs De Bourgogne at 19 rue du Pont-Neuf. Staff speaks English; rooms are quite and remain dark in the morning if you choose to sleep in. Rooms are not that big, though. Good breakfast."

This informnation is actually VERY USEFUL to me! Thanks, will keep this in my Paris folder. Love a good breakfast, PLUS - dark room for a sleeper-inner. Thanks.

Posted by
3893 posts

It sounds like you had a great trip and you offer lots of good advice. I would like to respectfully disagree with you on Paris being expensive. Now we are not fancy people, but, I can typically get a well located hotel room for about 100 euro in Paris. I'm hard pressed to find rooms around $100 in the U.S. and the Paris rate already has most taxes and fees. I am always quite annoyed that I can get a better and cheaper hotel room in Paris than I can in small towns in Iowa of all places. Further, anywhere I've been in the U.S. in the last couple years I've paid more than $100. That's Chicago, Madison, Milwaukee, St. Louis, New Orleans, a dinky town in Indiana and hotels all from Minnesota to Alabama. I feel good when I can get a room at about $140 in St. Louis or Chicago.

I also find it cheaper to get around in Paris either by walking or metro. I have been to Paris four times and I've only ever used the RER, metro or bus. As far as restaurants, we've always commented that we can get lovely meals at a Brassiere for less than comparable in the U.S. I live in Minnesota Twin Cities metro and the quality of food for the price in Paris is much better. Also, if one does want to watch the budget, the markets are fantastic for excellent food at a good price. I love the roasted chicken in Paris. Just a piece of chicken and a croissant is heaven to me! Baguette prices are regulated by the government at 1 euro. I'm freely given tap water in French restaurants without getting charged 2-3 euro like I'm charged in other countries and when I want wine, good quality wine is also well priced.

I certainly agree with you regarding accessibility. There sure are a lot of stairs in the metro just for one thing. In terms of rest rooms, I try to make use of ones in the museums and hotels generally have restrooms that are easily located if one is discreet.

Another trick, I like local--local inns, local restaurants, local bars, local coffee shops. I typically avoid chains. BUT, I found myself in Montmarte with an empty water bottle and a need for a restroom. I also felt I didn't get enough caffeine that morning. For a bit more than 1 euro, I got a coffee at Starbucks along with tap water, a restroom, AC and wifi!

Happy Travels!

Posted by
236 posts

I don't think France has anything close to the what the "Americans
with Disabilities Act" does for us here in the States. Many places in
France do not have elevators. Bathrooms that are not easily
accessible. Although I'm not disabled, I was with an individual who
has trouble walking up and down stairs. I certainly take ADA for
granted here in the States

I made that very same observation last time I was there. I'm able bodied but still found it challenging hauling my suitcase up and down the stairs in the metro, wrestling it through turnstiles, racing for trains or buses and jumping on right before the door slammed shut only to find standing room only and hanging on for dear life. If there were elevators in the metros, I never noticed them, or if there were "kneeling" buses, I never noticed those, either. Even cars are small, so I don't know how many taxis could easily accommodate a wheelchair, not to mention most hotels which have only a tiny ascenseur which barely holds two people and their bags - IF it's working. Also most places you'd visit like museums and monuments had lots of stairs and no ramps or elevators in sight - if they're there, they're well hidden. I don't remember seeing many handicapped bathroom stalls, either. (I guess this is mostly due to the fact that many buildings in Europe are very old and like in the U.S. they'd be "grandfathered" in without having to be brought up to code. Not sure)

Really not sure how people with mobility issues manage in big European cities!

Posted by
11450 posts

Sounds like you enjoyed yourself .

I agree about August - I have gone in August quite a few times ( as it’s when I could ) and while I liked the sometimes cheaper hotel rates , I too disliked the heat I’ve sometimes encountered.

I disagree it’s expensive ( compared to day London or Amsterdam $$$) as I can always find a hotel in what I consider the budget to moderate range ( 90-120 euros ) .

As for the disabled accessibility- yup, but ALL the European cities I’ve been have been the same , Canada and States are “ new” countries , try retrofitting elevators into a 200 + yr old building , and they can’t just rip up the streets for pavement - but I think more ramps and curb ramps could be retro fitted

Posted by
440 posts

Sounds like you had a good time.
Some of the things mentioned are just unfortunate as Paris experienced heat this summer that is very unusual.

Posted by
6841 posts

Paris is not expensive compared to the other great cities like New York, San Francisco, Chicago, London, Amsterdam

Posted by
8266 posts

Thanks for your Trip Report! It sounds like you had a great time.

I'd agree about August. I hit it at a heat wave in August 2016 and ugh....

Posted by
14335 posts

Thanks for the report. I have one quibble.

I just checked the prices for Best Western Ducs De Bourgogne. Their website shows prices through May but zero availability. The lowest price I saw was €130 and that was only for a single night, most nights are nearer €200, even in what would seem to be low season, like mid-November, mid-January. I tried booking.com and their best offer for 5 nights in November (when the hotel's site shows lowest prices) is over €1000, add €20/pp for breakfast.

I really think it's much more useful when people who recommend a hotel also include the price they paid - and if they got a bargain, how they managed it.

Posted by
7 posts

We were also there in August and I would go back in a heartbeat. It's true that some restaurants we were hoping to visit were closed but the city as a whole was quieter and more relaxed than on previous visits. We stayed in Montmartre which was still teeming with tourists but a fun place to stay with the family. My daughter and I tried to use our basic French language skills as often as possible and actually got a couple of "bravos" in response.

Trying not to stand out as American (and thus become a target fro pickpockets and scam artists) I didn't bring running shoes, T-shirts from a US college or baseball caps, only to find that the streets were filled with French-speaking natives wearing Yankee hats (go team!). I thought that was pretty funny!

Posted by
3893 posts

In comparison to more local hotels or inns, it appears that the Best Western is quite expensive. Maybe this is why OP was left with the impression that Paris is expensive. There are many less expensive options.