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tcmagnum

Paris - Must see in only 2 days...

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We will be in Paris for 2 days in June on our way to Rome.  We are in Paris Monday morning to Wednesday noon-ish.

Our goal is to see the "everyday' or 'tradition' Paris things.  I would like to see the side of Paris that the Pariseans live, with some

of the can't miss tourist items. 

 

Plans so far...

1- See Eiffel Tower.  A few will be walking up steps and others will be taking elevator.

2- Have a picnic in a pretty garden with cheese/bread/wine we buy in a local market.

3- People watch while sitting in an outside café while having wine.

 

Our Airbnb is actually right across the street from the Louvre.  But we are not planning on going through the Louvre (not enough time to do it justice).

Any and all suggestions will be greatly appreciated!!  

Thank you!!

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Posted (edited)
3 hours ago, tcmagnum said:

Plans so far...

1- See Eiffel Tower.  A few will be walking up steps and others will be taking elevator.

FYI - queues can be very long at the Eiffel Tower - suggest booking tickets online.

Just so you know, there are 674 steps to reach the 2nd floor. You cannot walk to the top - from the 2nd level you must take the lift. 

We enjoyed Parc des Buttes Chaumont - IMHO, great place to enjoy a picnic (you can reach it by metro). If you want something in the heart of the city, there is always Champs de Mars, located at the base of the Eiffel (pretty cool in the evening when the lights come on). Parc des Buttes Chaumont  is not crowded with hordes of tourists - on the other hand, Champs de Mars usually is quite crowded.

I am sure that you will receive lots of "expert" tips if Hank chimes in - Paris seems to be one of their favorite haunts.

Edited by dogs4fun

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20 minutes ago, dogs4fun said:

FYI - queues can be very long at the Eiffel Tower - suggest booking tickets online.

Just so you know, there are 674 steps to reach the 2nd floor. You cannot walk to the top - from the 2nd level you must take the lift. 

 

674 steps!!  That's why only a few of us are hiking up.  The others - me included - will be buying tickets ahead of time.  No way, no how I'm walking/crawling up those steps.  

 

Thanks for the hints on picnic areas.  My niece has a great picture taken in the area around the Eiffel Tower and we want to recreate that picture.

 

Hank?  Hope he finds time to chime in.  I love getting first hand suggestions...

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18 minutes ago, tcmagnum said:

Hank?  Hope he finds time to chime in.  I love getting first hand suggestions...

Yep, IMHO, he is an expert on all things relating to Paris. His Cruise Critic handle is Hlitner.

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I second the idea of buying your tickets ahead of time, the lines for purchasing tickets can be long. 

 

The following suggestions are more "touristy", though you can find some more local spots if you walk outside of the main tourist streets. 

 

A boat ride along the Seine can be a lovely way to see many different monuments. We liked the Vedettes de Pont Neuf so much that we did it twice - once in the daytime and once at night! It's a one hour cruise with commentary that is quite fairly priced. You can buy tickets once you are there but can also book online if you want. They also offer lunch and dinner cruises for an additional fee, but I have not tried this. 

 

I also like visiting Montmartre and Sacre Coeur - it's a beautiful part of Paris and I have found that if you walk outside of the main tourist area, you can find some more "local" restaurants, as part of that area is also rather residential. I enjoy the Musée D'Orsay myself or the Musée de l'Orangerie (a smaller museum, you can see two rooms full of Monet's Water Lilies displayed in a round room).

 

 

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Posted (edited)

I always agree with Dogs' advice, definitely as to getting the advance ticket for the Eiffel Tower. It didn't used to be sooo crowded or difficult to get up there but I guess, I don't know, it just is now. After my first visit to Paris and I went up top, I never went back up top again but I always, always return there just to be near it. I actually enjoyed seeing the view of the Tower from nearby on top of the Tour Montparnasse....it was a surprising and unexpectedly nice perspective of this beautiful monument and city. You are just to the right of the Tower....well...I guess it would be kind of south, slightly....and in the 6th versus 7th arrondissment....

 

....just in the right place maybe for what you wish, some local flavor, hopefully still some wonderful creperies accompanied by cidre. From there you can walk right down to Boulevard St Michel into Saint Germain and well...it's just about one of the loveliest parts of Paris although I don't know if I can ever pick one. You put me anywhere in Paris and I'm good.

 

If you're at an AirBnB by the Louvre...why not go for a guided tour inside? I did a 90 minute-ish sort of thing that went closer to 2 hours which was glorious (again, this was my first visit to Paris) because you're not just visiting a museum which I think is forgotten most of the time....it was a palace first, a residence. Then it became a museum and you see these works of art that are also not just whimsical bits of decoration but tangible pieces of time and place. It's incredible. And....some of that art is also fairly amazing too 😉 Great photo ops outside too by Le Pyramide as well, plus you'll also be near the Le Tuileries which is iconic and, if you don't feel like searching for an out of the way place to picnic, you can't go wrong with Le Jardin de Tuileries. It's an iconic place you'll recognize from films and television and on a weekday it would probably not be too overrun with people to feel like you couldn't feel a place to just blend. Parisians are there hanging out all the time, or passing through.

 

Another possible place to picnic or just visit as well is Jardins du Luxembourg which many people absolutely adore more than Tuileries or other parks. Best of all would be the private gardens and courtyards we can't see behind what *look* like mostly driveways or garage entrances on a lot of Paris streets or boulevards but when opened, sometimes if you are walking past or are lucky enough to be invited in (!!) tend to have the most beautiful sitting areas and gardens of all. This hones in on my favorite travel tip of all: talk to local people. You never know where you might get invited. I know you only have two days this time BUT....who knows? Make connections now, sometime in the future, you could find yourself in a private Parisian garden sometime. I got to attend a party one time where a friend's beau was playing bass inside this glorious apartment with those magnificent high ceilings, carved thick moldings, balconies...heavy doors - I couldn't believe where I was. Years ago, this friend whose beau was playing bass? She was a manager in the hotel where I stayed on my first visit to Paris.

 

I also took a Seine cruise but used Bateaux Mouches based on recommendations and it was wonderful. I was not originally sure I would do the cruise but was so glad that I did. I'd been having a coffee at Cafe de la Paix (cliche and over priced but again, it was my first visit) when I ended up talking to two girls who were students at the same grad school that I was at. They were going on the boat and invited me to join them so I went along. It was nearing sunset which in June is rather late and it was incredible. You get to see prominent landmarks of the city which are pointed out (also there are spotlights shining shoreward at night) and details are explained. A memorable and worthwhile experience, can't believe I was going to skip it! We got dunked on by some pranksters pouring water off a bridge (well, I hoped it was water) as the boat passed beneath, but you know, coming from the major tourist city that I do and having been a kid once myself, I kind of get it. I didn't douse tourists but I can get cranky sometimes. Mostly only a few days before Christmas but that's my fault if I don't remember to stay clear of certain places and if I do decide to go somewhere....well...we walk this way people 😉 (ha!!) Anyway....

 

Sadly, Notre Dame will be closed for awhile but of course it will be back. Instead, it can be worth going to Sainte Chappelle to see the stained glass there and, there are concerts. I don't see this place mentioned here ever but perhaps that's because Notre Dame is the grande dame, rightfully so. Sacre Coeur is another beauty if you make it up to Montemarte which is another iconic Parisian quartier you'll recognize those stairs...the artists painting, the Moulin Rouge is there etc. But, if you want a few things 'different' Sainte Chappelle might be worth looking into. The light cast from the stained glass is like a symphony itself. 

 

Good people watching can be had anywhere but Le Marais district might be a good place to head to. The Champs Elysees is beautiful and spectacular....the view from Place de la Concorde to Arc de Triomphe is incredible and historic but along the way it is much like many other commercial streets these days with a lot of mega stores from big name brands or posh shops you know. Not very much 'French' about it lately overall but indeed some of the stores are for French luxury brands so that's something and the Georges V hotel is there. 

 

It's nicer to pop into Galeries Lafayette along Boulevard Hausmann to see the incredible dome and take in the atmosphere....it's sort of like the Harrod's of Paris but, not really. 

 

There's more than enough to fill the time of two days. Mostly what I began to do on return trips, although I tended to stay in different arrondissments and then ultimately with friends in Le Banlieue, was find a cafe that I liked and call it home. It didn't matter where I was situated/staying. That was my place and that was ultimately what helped anchor me to Paris although really on my second day, I woke up with the oddest feeling - that cranky sort of 'here-I-am-with-this-map-flapping-in-the-rain-and-wind-in-Paris-!!!*&^%$#$%^&*' and then I sighed because I immediately knew it was that same cranky feeling I mentioned above....I was home.

So the cafe thing...or whatever it is....Costa Coffee...a Tabac....go there twice or three times each day if you can. They'll know you and you will be a little bit at home in Paris. You'll get more coffee in your cup or wine in your glass (if it's really a cafe, and yes, they are harder to find now) but it makes you feel like you really are there and not just passing through.

 

How to know, even for a restaurant or bar or cafe? Stop and listen to the people talking. What language are they speaking? Not everyone, it's not possible but a few if you can. (Never mind who's watching, they are not looking at you!) Just take a second and if it sounds mostly French and/or international (some quartiers are quite exciting!) go for it. Be wary of the hawkers outside places looking to draw you in, especially outside some places in the Latin Quarter - around near St Sulpice. I don't know why but it could be particularly bothersome around there with all the foot traffic...everyone has to make a euro I guess. I get incensed when I see it here in NYC and the bus people are charging at everyone to take the tours. That's not my cranky part 😕 It is what it is.

The way I figure it, with all the menus already posted easy to see, people can decide for themselves. 

 

Last bits: to save time, use the metro when you can....the city is compact and easy to walk but, if you want to get from the Eiffel Tower to Montmarte, or Marais etc, you definitely want to hop on the metro. It's easy and quick but depending on where you are a bus can be good too and you are above ground so you can see things!

 

HoHo buses - you didn't ask but not good here because the streets that get close to some of the areas you want to be are just too small for these buses. Metro will actually get you closer underground.

 

There is a spectacular panoramic view of the city from up by Sacre Coeur and so if you're into photography or anything, that's an incredible vantage point and there is a funicular type of thing that goes up there now too. Didn't used to be! Be mindful in the area around the stairs of the basilica. Very little, next to nothing concerns me anywhere because I have my life-long big city hyper tuned radar going at all times but up there....nothing ever happened. It's just very busy....the steps can get crowded....and because of that unbelievable view combined with the spectacle of the gorgeous white basilica, it's easy to get distracted. Simple thing is this - easy to trip or lose your balance more than anything else. Elsewhere in the city, it's all quite level and easy. I'm just clumsy 😄

 

You're staying in a great part of the city, you'll have an easy time getting around quickly as you are near the Opera line most likely or near to Chatelet....etc, basically smack in the middle of the city. Perfect. 

 

Any other questions, hit us back. Don't over think it either. Parisians don't. Plan a few things but then have Paris on your terms. Enjoy it. 

And then go back 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

 

Edited by Host Bonjour

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OMG!!  You gave me goose bums with your excitement about my trip to Paris.  Thank you so much.  

How could I forget about mentioning crepes....Lots and its of crepes. 

There is a bakery in the first floor of the building our airbnb is in. Some figure every morning...

And your last statement...

"Don't over think it either. Parisians don't. Plan a few things but then have Paris on your terms. Enjoy it. 

And then go back 🙂"!!!

I love it and that's my attitude exactly.  

Thank you!!

 

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I forgot to comment on Notre Dame...

So very sad.  But we will still visit her from the outside and we will make a trip back when she is rebuilt. 

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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, tcmagnum said:

OMG!!  You gave me goose bums with your excitement about my trip to Paris.  Thank you so much.  

How could I forget about mentioning crepes....Lots and its of crepes. 

There is a bakery in the first floor of the building our airbnb is in. Some figure every morning...

And your last statement...

"Don't over think it either. Parisians don't. Plan a few things but then have Paris on your terms. Enjoy it. 

And then go back 🙂"!!!

I love it and that's my attitude exactly.  

Thank you!!

 

 

Et voila...la boulangerie tous les matins. Crepes for breakfast, crepes for lunch, crepes for dinner. You can put anything inside really, and they do (pourquois pas?) so it's possible this could be your place for, if not a crepes addiction, a coffee to start, a crepe, a bottle of water...whatever. It's your home base. Believe me, it's a cozy little way to be connected. And I can't take credit for the idea either, I found it somewhere and it's often suggested by other travelers who found that it gave them an insider's feeling. An upside of course, is the crepes 😉

 

And yes definitely, Paris, Parisians....there's this air of, I'm not sure I could put words to it but they do and it's the "je ne sais quois" which is exactly, "I don't have the words" to say, basically what they would never say....they are chill. And they live in an incredible place, but it's also a place that has had it's struggles, like....Monday night, or the French Revolution, or before Notre Dame was ever  built. But they're still here. So this is a thing you cannot put into a sentence and while it is nothing to ignore, it is also nothing to belabor endlessly either. Le joie de la vivre is another great French saying too. So, you get the whole not overthinking it thing.

 

Whatever it is you see and do in Paris, you will have had a wonderful time because you're in the heart of the city and you are THERE. Also, can't recall (I can't see you're OP this second) but you're pre/post cruise so it'll be an incredible part of what I'm sure will be an amazing journey. Win/win.

 

So glad the post helped get you even more thrilled about your visit. Luckily, you'll still be able to enjoy the majesty of Notre Dame from at least the outside which itself is a glorious site - actually my favorite view of it is from the left bank, just to the east - so as if from the 5th arrondissment if you look on the map, or....if standing on the Ile de St Louis - because I love, love, love that vantage point with the greenery draped over the brick walls down to the Seine and the flying buttresses, which cannot be seen if standing in front of the church due to the immensity of the bell towers. From behind, it's possible to see ALL of the amazing aspects (well, not all, but many more of the exterior) of this incredible gothic structure.  And while it's too soon yet to know when or how reconstruction will begin, it's yet another point in Paris history to witness. You'll be there for it. 

 

I hope when you're back you will come back to tell us how it went for you. We love to hear what worked, what didn't or just...whatever. Follow ups are fun and it definitely helps others who are making plans to go. Selfishly, it gives me a little postcard into my favorite other home city in the world. 

 

And if you feel yourself in a moment going "ugh" don't fret....it's just Paris. A local right next to you probably did the same thing a short while ago (or will!) Everything will be ok. It's PARIS!!!

 

Bon voyage 🙂

 

PS: If you haven't already, learn your basic "bonjour, bonsoir, merci, au revour, s'il vous plait"  (or more if possible!) just to make your encounters that much more fun. In Paris you can do OK without but it's fun, and feels like an embrace, when you do. It does't have to sound great but the effort is always well received. 

 

PPS: I have left off the accents from the French words I wrote...no one tell L' Academie Francaise. Too tired to figure out what's going on with my keyboard tonight to fix it so the letters look right!

Edited by Host Bonjour

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Posted (edited)

"Bonjour" has mentioned all the things I have loved about Paris. I have a few to add :

  •  I LOVE the Musee Rodin and gardens with it's small cafe http://www.musee-rodin.fr/en/visit/plan-your-visit-paris/cafe-musee-rodin
  • The Musee D'Orsay gives me goose bumps and more intimate than the Louvre
  • My absolute favorite thing to do is gather up fresh bread, cheese, fruit, and cider to have a picnic  with a great view of Notre Dame and the Isle de la Cite. 
  • I'll mention St Chapelle again -- breathtaking light vs the massiveness of Notre Dame. 

 

Edited by Host Bonjour

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The problem with booked tickets for Eiffel Tower, you will have to go no matter what. The last time I've been to Paris it was so foggy that you could not see the upper half of the Tower. And it would defintily a pitty when you have booked tickets for a certain time slot just to see that the weather was much nicer on the other days.

 

Therefore my recommendation as someone, who has been up Eiffel Tower last year. Go there 30 Minutes before opening time in the morning and find the right queue to stand in. I was (with the lift) all the way to the top within an hour (30 minutes from the time the counters opened).

 

Another nice and often neclected lookout is on top of the highriser "Tour Montparnasse". It's almost as high as the Eiffel Tower and in my eyes has the better view as you can see the Eiffel Tower from there.

 

Another nice park beside Champs de Mars and Buttes-Chaumont is the Garden or "Jardins" du Luxembourg, it's in walking distance from the old part of Paris beside Notre-Dame.

 

Also if you're into such things you might like to visite the Cemetery of Pere-Lachaise and find tombes of Jim Morrison (The Doors), Oscar Wilde, Sarah Bernhard and many more famous people. You can get a map in the flower shop on the other side of the street opposite the main entrance.

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On 4/19/2019 at 1:52 PM, Alaskanb said:

"Bonjour" has mentioned all the things I have loved about Paris. I have a few to add :

  •  I LOVE the Musee Rodin and gardens with it's small cafe http://www.musee-rodin.fr/en/visit/plan-your-visit-paris/cafe-musee-rodin
  • The Musee D'Orsay gives me goose bumps and more intimate than the Louvre
  • My absolute favorite thing to do is gather up fresh bread, cheese, fruit, and cider to have a picnic  with a great view of Notre Dame and the Isle de la Cite. 
  • I'll mention St Chapelle again -- breathtaking light vs the massiveness of Notre Dame. 

 

 

 

D’Orsay and Rodin are near to each other but what might make Rodin more appealing is that there’s an outdoor sculpture garden. D’Orsay is an absolute favorite that I adore but I still went to the Louvre on my very first trip (the guided tour) and then visited D’Orsay I think twice more on other visits. Just love if there but it’s not a palace and has different history than the Louvre. The clock tower of the train station that houses the D’Orsay museum is iconic as is much of the artwork. If you do choose this one, head straight up to the top floor and work your way down, especially if you go early with a timed entry ticket. More efficient way to get though the impressionist galleries. 

 

Is Alaska talking about hanging out on Ile de St Louis to get the view looking across over to Ile de la Cité where Notre-Dame is? Because yes, from the west end of the Ile de St Louis just where it would connect to Ile de la Cité, it’s beautiful- or, even further back is where Henri Cartier Bresson took a famous photo of a couple looking out over bridge onto the Seine but ahead we’re the islands and Notre-Dame...it’s such a spectacular photo. Oh and get some Berthillons ice cream on Ile de St Louis if the line isn’t too long or even if it is...it’s really great! Great way to finish off your picnic lunch and Ile de St Louis is sooooo pretty...I walked around there and was enchanted by how pretty it was!! Really wanted to linger there....

 

Did I leave out Place des Vosges? It’s pretty cool in Le Marais, more just in terms of the structure, history and now, a more thriving area than ever. But I love the moorish looming Square and what’s around there, Bastille not far off or Beaubourg (Pompidou) so...it’ll be very very excellent anywhere you go 😉 or...magnifique!! 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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On 4/17/2019 at 7:22 AM, tcmagnum said:

 

 

Thanks for the hints on picnic areas.  My niece has a great picture taken in the area around the Eiffel Tower and we want to recreate that picture.

 

 

 Expectation v Reality.

The (tourist) world and his wife think it's a great idea to have a picnic in front of la Tour Eiffel!

Picnic Tour Eiffel 1.jpg

Picnic Tour Eiffel 2.jpg

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2 hours ago, sailing canary said:

 Expectation v Reality.

The (tourist) world and his wife think it's a great idea to have a picnic in front of la Tour Eiffel!

Picnic Tour Eiffel 2.jpg

Exactly - very crowded as well when we last visited. I would not be interested in attempting to picnic here.

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Posted (edited)
15 hours ago, Host Bonjour said:

Is Alaska talking about hanging out on Ile de St Louis to get the view looking across over to Ile de la Cité where Notre-Dame is? Because yes, from the west end of the Ile de St Louis just where it would connect to Ile de la Cité, it’s beautiful- or, even further back is where Henri Cartier Bresson took a famous photo of a couple looking out over bridge onto the Seine but ahead we’re the islands and Notre-Dame...it’s such a spectacular photo. Oh and get some Berthillons ice cream on Ile de St Louis if the line isn’t too long or even if it is...it’s really great! Great way to finish off your picnic lunch and Ile de St Louis is sooooo pretty...I walked around there and was enchanted by how pretty it was!! Really wanted to linger there....

 

Did I leave out Place des Vosges? It’s pretty cool in Le Marais, more just in terms of the structure, history and now, a more thriving area than ever.

 

On our very first trip to Paris (in 2005), we stayed in small hotel in a centuries-old building on Ile St. Louis; what a fabulous experience that was, and what a great jumping off point for seeing this beautiful city!   

 

As for Place des Vosges, it's one of my favorite spots for just sitting and watching the world go by.  :classic_smile:

 

enhance

(Ile St. Louis; turtles06)

 

enhance

 

(Place des Vosges; turtles06)

 

Edited by Turtles06

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Yes!!! Oui!!  So excited...

Berthillons ice cream is on our list of have to places for ice cream.  Very walkable from our Airbnb.

Yes we've been hearing the picnic in gardens around the Eiffel Tower has been undoable.  We are planning 

on getting to the Eiffel early early and being in line before they open and hope to miss the big crowds.  My cousin

wants us to do the picnic in Luxemburg (sp?) Garden.  

 

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2 hours ago, tcmagnum said:

My cousin

wants us to do the picnic in Luxemburg (sp?) Garden.  

 

Luxembourg Gardens is a good choice!  Don't miss the little kids pushing their wooden sail boats around the Grand Basin with long sticks.  So wonderfully NOT the 21st Century.  :classic_smile:

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Reading all the posts with interest because we will be in Paris next month. I do have one question. Are taxis difficult to hail or find? I know about the taxi stand but have also heard that often there are no taxis at the stands. I know one can be called but I Do not speak French and fear that my location details will be misunderstood. I will have very limited cell service so waiting on the phone to speak to someone may become very expensive. 

 

Of of course I know we can use the various forms of public transport but I am particularly interested in taxis this visit. 

 

Merci for your help and suggestions

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Some things which may be of use to you.

You can get a taxi at a stand, or hail a taxi on the street, provided it is more than 50 metres from a taxi stand. A taxi for hire will have a white light on the roof. He must pick you up if this is lit, unless he is on the last 30 minutes of his shift - the meter on the rear window shelf will note this.

If the light is orange, he is already engaged.

No light, or the meter covered means he is off duty.

As you say you do not speak French, write clearly the name of your destination and give it to the driver.

 

Check to make sure your Airbnb is officially listed with the Mairie. It should be registered and display a number on their advert (Loi Elan). If it doesn't then the owner is renting out the property illegally. There have been instances of (unregistered) properties being reported to the authorities by other permanent residents in the apartment block who were sick and tired of a constant stream of short stay visitors. It would be somewhat disconcerting to find when arriving at your rental it was no longer available!🙀

More background on this

www.thelocal.fr

 

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On 4/26/2019 at 11:46 PM, purduemom1 said:

Reading all the posts with interest because we will be in Paris next month. I do have one question. Are taxis difficult to hail or find? I know about the taxi stand but have also heard that often there are no taxis at the stands. I know one can be called but I Do not speak French and fear that my location details will be misunderstood. I will have very limited cell service so waiting on the phone to speak to someone may become very expensive. 

 

Of of course I know we can use the various forms of public transport but I am particularly interested in taxis this visit. 

 

Merci for your help and suggestions

 

Your hotel can get a taxi for you but as stated, it is very easy to get one if you wish as mentioned in the previous post. I have only used them rarely but if you wish to get one in Paris, this will not be a problem. If you have a rendezvous (scheduled plans somewhere) be sure to leave enough time for traffic etc as these streets can get rather jammed during certain hours of the day. Metro is always the best way to go and it's easy, quick, goes everywhere. 

 

Champs du Mars is crowded but I never saw it THAT crowded 😉 except for big events and such although when visiting in Summer I didn't go near the Eiffel Tower, I could barely handle sidewalk traffic. Felt too much like home at Christmas time near the big tree. But the photoshop was effective....

 

I have a friend in Paris right now for the first time and on to Rome tomorrow...been messaging ideas and tips live although I shared a lot pre-trip. Can't think of everything and then it's quite another thing upon arrival but it's been a big, happy, thrill!

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I like the Musee de Cluny, which is where the set of Lady and the Unicorn tapestries are on display. However it is partly closed for renovation, so you pay a reduced entrance fee for fewer exhibits, which seems fair enough. 

 

The main Tourist Information Centre is in the Hotel de Ville, and I recommend paying a visit for a good supply of maps (particularly the RATP one showing bus and underground stops) and the City Guide booklet, which has a list of attractions, opening times and details for public transport. 

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