PARIS. Continuing with our list of things not to do in Paris and sometimes other major European cities as well, we begin our second segment on Paris tourist do’s and dont’s. We beginning by discussing transportation, then move along to discuss other helpful travel tips.
1 – Don’t Use Taxis to Get Around Town:
When it comes to transportation within the city, our Paris tourist needs to put the first of today’s travel tips on the top of his or her Paris list. When it comes to getting around this city, Paris is completely unlike New York City where you can flag a cab from virtually anywhere. In Paris and many other European cities, you must either call ahead for a taxi or find a taxi stand. And these stands are not everywhere in the city.
Nevertheless, if you are willing to phone ahead or hunt down a taxi stand, you’ll face your next challenge: urban congestion. So prepare yourself for plenty of traffic, further complicated by one-way streets that can send your fare skyrocketing.
For short distances, why not try walking? It’s a great way to immerse yourself into the fabric of Parisian lifestyles and culture. Europeans typically walk to a great many destinations themselves. So simply walking to your destination, if it’s a reasonable distance, is often the way to go. It’s an ideal way to immerse yourself into a whole new world you cannot experience from a taxi.
For longer outings, use the Paris Metro. Again, unlike New York, most European subways are much cleaner than NYC’s current edition, which has been badly neglected under Mayor DeBlasio. And the Paris Metro is more traveler friendly, too. Even better, the nearest Metro station is always just a short distance away. Service is frequent and inexpensive. And again it’s often faster than a cab. Trains operate until 1 a.m. during the week and 2 a.m. on weekends.
2 – Don’t Go Bohemian on the Left Bank:
Places change. Consequently, once famous locales have often outlived their former character and charm for today’s Paris tourist. The Orient Express was once regarded as the ultimate in European rail travel. But today, the train made so famous by Agatha Christie, though still elegant, has been surpassed by other more luxurious rail journeys.
Yes, the Left Bank is still a destination of legend, particularly with regard to intellectuals and the literati. Jean Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir were regulars at Les Deux Magots on Boulevard St. Germain. Ditto other artistes and intellectuals. While St. Germain still has its appeal, don’t expect to find the great thinkers of the world to regularly hang out in the area these days. Especially when considering the overpriced budget-busting menus. Today’s edition of Paris travel tips offers a delightful alternative.
Today, the place to discover the heart and soul of Paris is in a once run-down section of the city on Canal St. Martin in the tenth arrondissement.
Though France has long been known for its wines, Paris has also kept pace with the now popular micro-brewery trend. An example: The Paname Brewing Company on the Bassin de la Villette. Atmosphere takes first place here, given the brewery’s location overlooking the water. This adds to the romance for our Paris tourist, who can enjoy craft beer that seems truly inspired by the neighborhood.
Our Paris tourist might also consider visiting Rue Beaurepaire. Here is another great, offbeat spot that thrives with lively cafes and chic boutiques.
3 – For a Great View, Skip the Eiffel Tower:
Unless our Paris tourist enjoys standing in long lines and going through airport-style security checks, it is probably best to experience the Eiffel Tower from the outside rather than the top.
While there may be perceived status in seeing Paris from the summit of Mr. Eiffel’s creation, one can actually discover better views a bit off the beaten path. The next of our alternative travel tips can help.
Not far away from the center of Paris is the Arc de Triumph. Its viewing deck offers a great panorama of the city, which also includes the Eiffel Tower. The walk here is pleasant and relatively easy so you can get some exercise in the process. But try to avoid weekends, when you might encounter increasingly aggressive protestors.
Another choice destination for views is the Montparnasse Tower. The Tower also boasts spectacular vistas. Without the long lines.
Until the recent fire at Notre Dame, the cathedral offered lovely views of the city. Such views included the River Seine and other picturesque sights along the river. Complete with its famous gargoyles, Notre Dame was once a charming place to visit. Be sure to check in advance however. The progress of reconstructing this beloved, iconic building will likely take many years, and it may not open again for some time.
You can also find crowds at Montmarte near the Moulin Rouge. Even so, the scenery is expansive. And given the wide open area, Parisian panoramas easily come into view. Here, you can also visit the Basilica of Sacre Coeur and stroll through narrow streets lined with colorful cafes and artists plying their trade.
4 – The Cheapest Hotel isn’t Always the Best Deal:
Perhaps more than any other category, the choice of a place to stay requires the most research from our Paris tourist. In truth, this challgenge generally holds true in major cities throughout Europe.
One thing most Paris tourists do not understand is the hotel star-system. It’s actually based upon the number of amenities and services offered rather than the average tourist’s notion of quality. For example, a 4-star property may prove better than its 5-star counterpart. However, it may lack the higher rating because it fails to offer 24-hour room service. Do you truly need 24-hour room service?
Consequently, price should rank lower when it comes to the determining factor for your hotel choice in many cases. It may be useful to consider other things such as location, access to dining, transportation and various venues of interest when making your choice.
Online booking services are fine for some things. But the Paris tourist will always end up better off by speaking with a knowledgeable person who can provide quality advice. And remember: sometimes that obscure little B&B may just be the ideal match.
Do your homework.
With a little effort you can probably find a furnished apartment that suits both your budget and your taste. In the process, you’ll likely have more space and value for your traveling dollar. Hence the last of today’s helpful Paris travel tips.
Conde Nast Traveler advises “When in doubt, opt for an apartment in a single-digit arrondissement and check how close the nearest Metro station is.” Good advice.
Airbnb and VRBO are fast becoming popular options for today’s do-it-yourself travelers. But if you can to swallow your pride and let experts save you time, hassles and money, try Paris Perfect Guest Apartment Services and/or Haven in Paris.
Bottom line: Travel only becomes difficult if you choose make it that way. Even in Paris.
— Headline image: The Moulin Rouge has long been a Paris institution and symbol of Bohemian lifestyle. But today’s Paris tourist travel tips show you some lesser known alternatives. (Photo: Pixabay, public domain.)
About the Author:
Bob Taylor is a veteran writer who has traveled throughout the world. Taylor was an award winning television producer/reporter/anchor before focusing on writing about international events, people and cultures around the globe.
He is founder of The Magellan Travel Club (www.MagellanTravelClub.com)
His goal is to visit 100 countries or more during his lifetime.
Editors Note: Support Bob’s GoFundMe to give him a hand up
Follow Bob on Twitter – Facebook