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Tips from a (second) week-long visit to Paris

Hi All - just wanted to share a few tips from a recent (my second) week-long visit to Paris with my two teenage daughters. I'll assume that most of you will read the Paris guidebook, so will try to avoid redundant information:

  • For transportation, the Passe Navigo Decourverte was a FAR better deal than the guidebook recommended carnet tickets. We did the 10 packs of carnets on the last trip and it was total pain. The transit card is not only a better deal economically (assuming you're there for a week and arrive over the weekend, and leave the city to visit Versailles at a minimum), it's just plain convenient to tap and go versus dig a ticket out of your pocket, hope it's not one you've already used, etc. Per the advice in the guidebook, bring a 2.5cm x 3cm photo (just scan your passport or drivers license picture) to save 5 Euro per pass.

  • Uber is the best alternative to Metro, and the best remedy for sore feet and complicated Metro routes with multiple connections. We had great success using it sparingly to save time and precious steps. Was also great to/from CDG as we were a party of three and weren't mentally ready for the Metro after a 10hr flight. You can book your Uber ride from your hotel to the airport several days ahead in the app, which is a nice stress reliever. Our Uber driver arrived 20 minutes before my requested pick-up time and was happy to wait until we were ready to go to the airport.

  • Hands-down best sightseeing advice I can give: grab an early dinner and visit the Louvre after 18:30 on Wed or Fri night, then take the Metro up to the Arc de Triomphe and stroll the Champs Elysees. You will have a wonderful, crowd-free experience and you've just freed up an entire day to see more of Paris! CAUTION: they closed the Louvre without warning on the evening we planned to visit it, so we adjusted and went Friday instead of Wednesday.

  • Google Maps is amazing - it even plots out your Metro trains and connections (which I think is fun to do, but sometimes you're just exhausted and it's nice to have something do it for you)

  • I ditched my larger backpack and used a 'sling' (mine is from Patagonia) for my day pack and it was great - held all my stuff and never once had to check it at any museum or attraction as it slips down easily into 'purse/handbag style'

  • Microsoft Translator app is great for taking a picture of a menu (for example) and having it quickly translated into English. This came in very handy at restaurants with no English menu and no English speakers (rare, but occurs off the beaten path)

  • Jet lag tip: We picked our arrival evening to visit the Eiffel Tower as it forced us to stay awake until our timed entry, and was a great way (combined with a stroll through the Trocadero) to make through to a local bedtime.

  • Tip for parents: We stayed on Rue Cler (Grand Hotel Leveque), which was a great neighborhood for my teenagers to explore by themselves without a worry in my mind. We practiced proper boutique store etiquette on our arrival day, and that empowered them to try it out on their own. They loved being able to visit the crepe stand by themselves, pop in and out of the multiple candy shops on Rue Cler, and fawn over all the cute dogs (French Bulldogs, of course) out walking their humans.

  • Tuesday advice: Tuesday is a tough day for sightseeing - no way around it. We hit the Orsay first thing, made a b-line for the impressionists, and were able to get through before it was mobbed. We then did the Army Museum/Napoleon's Tomb/Rodin Museum in the afternoon, and that worked really well. On my previous trip, we spent Tuesday in the Marais, and that was really fun.

Posted by
14241 posts

Thanks for your trip report! It sounds like you and the girls had a wonderful time.

I'm glad the kids had some freedom on Rue Cler. It cracks me up to be at Amorino in the afternoon when the local Jr High/High school lets out and the local kids swarm in for waffles and ice cream, then sit and giggle on their phones while they eat. Fun that yours could enjoy the area!

Posted by
232 posts

Thanks! Great advice! How do you get the Passe Navigo? Can you top it off like an Oyster card?

I useless the google machine and figured it out! Looks fairly simple.

56 days to go for our first trip to Paris!

Posted by
145 posts

Matt - this is so helpful! We are heading to Paris with our two teen girls later this month, also staying in the Rue Cler area (renting an apartment). Sounds like we made a good choice! :) A couple of questions:
Eiffel Tower - We are booked for 8pm - the day we arrive is the day that daylight savings time begins in Paris and sunset is at 8:19pm. How early should we line up at the base for our entrance time? Any advise on getting to the top or managing that visit?
Cell phone service - how did you manage cell phone service in Paris? What carrier?
What were your girls' favorite sites and experiences?
Thank you!

Posted by
52 posts

Eiffel Tower - We are booked for 8pm - the day we arrive is the day that daylight savings time begins in Paris and sunset is at 8:19pm. How early should we line up at the base for our entrance time? 15-30 minutes

Any advise on getting to the top or managing that visit? Following the strategy in the RS Paris book worked for us

Cell phone service - how did you manage cell phone service in Paris? What carrier? Verizon, and I signed up for their TravelPass, which basically just taps into your existing plan for $10/day

What were your girls' favorite sites and experiences? *My girls are 13 and 16, and their favorite moments were the Catacombs, Louvre, Versailles, walking through the Latin Quarter, anytime we ate crepes or gelato, and Disneyland. *

Posted by
41 posts

Matt, great tips, thanks. About Uber, I understand that it is the same price as a official taxi; did you find that to be true?

Once you were out and about, did you schedule Uber using the same Uber app we use in the states?
Were you able to "find" your ride easy at the CDG airport? Do they have a specific meeting place? I ask as we had issues finding ours at the Nice airport and finally just used a taxi. Thanks, Fran

Posted by
52 posts

@Fran: correct - same Uber app that you use in the US. I did not use the local taxi service so cannot comment on the price difference and/or similarity, but according to the RS guide it is very close. The Uber benefit, of course, is that you know what your price is before you request the ride so the driver can't rip you off. Our Uber driver took us on the scenic route into the city even though it wasn't the quickest route, so I gave him a nice tip.

It wasn't super intuitive to find the meeting place at CDG, but it wasn't terribly difficult either (maybe I was just rummy after the long flight). The app knew which terminal I was in, and then showed me the meeting place, which was a letter-number pair on the entry/exit door. It look a LONG time for the driver to arrive because there are so many traffic gates they have to go through, so if you're in a hurry or anxious to get into town, just hop in a waiting taxi.

Posted by
10340 posts

Curious what an Uber from CDG to your hotel cost since a taxi would have been a fixed price of €55. It would be good for others to know. For example, today in Chicago, Uber quoted me a price of $15, so I hopped in a taxi instead. It cost $6.75. Glad I took the taxi.

Posted by
52 posts

52EU from the airport on a Sunday morning, 50EU to the airport on Saturday morning.

Posted by
45 posts

Thanks Matt! We are headed to Paris with two 18 year olds in early June, so this is a big help! Especially about Uber. My husband only has so much patience for the Metro, especially later in the day, so glad Uber is a nice option. We are in an apartment over by the Louvre, and have been trying to find markets like Rue Cler for some of the same reasons.