I wrote this brief hints and tips mail for a friend of mine regarding things to do in Paris. It turned out not to be so brief and I could have written much more. Anyway it received great feedback from him (and the people I sent it to) so I thought I’d share it with you.
I cannot guarantee my information is 100% accurate but for a starting guide I think it could help the Parisian newbie.
Paris hints and tips
On arrival don’t buy a travel card for the metro – buy a carnet, which is a collection of 10 single journey tickets (each can be used once)
Carnet tickets are cheaper and you may find you spend more time walking around Paris rather than being underground
For an interesting view of Paris pop over to the Tour Montparnasse, which is in the Montparnasse, district. You cannot miss it as it’s the only high-rise – from the observation deck (or the heli pad if you’re feeling brave) you get fantastic views of Paris looking toward the city and higher than the Eiffel Tower http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tour_Montparnasse
A little clichéd but to get a great idea of the geography jump on the Batobus (http://www.batobus.com/) which takes you on a tour around the river
If you see one church it has to be Notre Dame!
If you want to see a great church with great views, wonderful restaurants and get a real Parisian vibe then visit the Sacré-Cœur http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Basilique_du_Sacré-Cœur,_Paris
If you go to the Lourve go early as you can spend weeks in here – it’s a mile long. Remember to check where the Mona Lisa is on the map and if you’re early proceed quickly – you’ll be amazed how small she is!
For an alternative museum experience check out the Musee d’Orsay http://www.musee-orsay.fr/en/home.html
It’s a converted railway station; a fantastic building housing famous French modern art including Monet, Manet, Toulouse Lautrec as well as rooms lifted from the most exquisite Art Nouveau homes
If people watching check out the Le Marais – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Le_Marais Traditionally Jewish/Gay it’s a great place to watch the chic Parisian go about their business and there are lots of small boutiques selling gorgeous things as well as wonderful café’s and restaurants (which are of high quality and medium price range)
Tuileries Gardens make for a relaxing afternoon in Paris and are a hop and a skip away from the Lourve – they also have one of the original city big wheels
Jardin du Luxemborg is another great park and it’s very ornate – it’s great for chilling out as you can relax in the free deck chairs around the large central fountain (it’s really close to Montparnasse)
For an alternative park experience visit the Parc Andre Citroen which sits on the site of the old Citroen factory – completely contemporary and angular – it’s well situated for the Montparnasse and the Bois du Boulogne
Bois du Boulogne is a huge park akin to Central Park in NYC and just like NYC it has the original statue of liberty – be warned the park is massive and include it’s own racecourse!
Le Café du Commerce is one of our favourite restaurants in Paris and it’s a fantastic place to eat as well as soak up the real Paris. It’s an art nouveau building and if lucky on hot days, the roof opens up – bring a guide-book though as it’s off the beaten track and menu’s are usually only in French
Our favourite restaurant in le Maris is the Equinox – it looks like a wine cellar inside (street level) but the menu is French Canadian, which makes for some interesting contrasts
Hotel des Gobelins – Last year we stayed in the Latin Quarter and is close to the Parthenon and the Eiffel Tower. – I have not mentioned these above because although I enjoyed them I want you to discover some bits yourself ;0) Nice hotel – some shabby rooms some nice ones (typical Paris)
Hotel Costes – the ultimate in contemporary chic – defined the contemporary hotel
Hotel Costes is achingly cool – As well as being a wonderfully hip hotel it also boasts its own fragrance line and various commissioned French House albums that French DJ Stéphane Pompougnac has created – simply to play in the hotel lobby!
Guys as I write this I can come up with hundreds of things to do – honestly Paris has so much to offer. I highly recommend you explore (best on foot) to get the best feel of the city.
When it’s windy the wind is cold coming down the Sienne. When it’s hot it’s baking!
We like to spend an hour or so watching the world go by – you really can do this in Paris – a personal favourite of mine is to wander around the florists and pet stores neat the Lourve – it’s an experience!
Useful links (and some my reviews online)