traveling in Paris
Before I went on my trip to Paris in April '01, I wasn't sure where I should stay. After all, there are a gazillion hotels, motels, and inns to choose from! Thanks to the organization called San Francisco Women on the Web (SFWoW), however, I've met people who were able to give me some suggestions. I had done some research on Expedia.com and found the Golden Tulip Cayre Hotel; it is supposed to be very close to all the major museums. I posted a question about it on SFWoW's email discussion group, and below are responses from the members of the list. Some are specifically about the hotel itself, but you will also find excellent tips about traveling in Paris.
This is my original post:
So, I'm planning a 7-day trip to Paris in April, and Expedia.com gave me a package that includes a stay at the Golden Tulip Cayre Hotel in the Left Bank at 4 Boulevard Raspail, which is supposedly very close to the Louvre, Musee d'Orsay, Musee Rodin, Notre Dame, among other places.
The responses to my question follow below. Please note that I do not claim credit for them. I am grateful to all the SFWoW members who took the time to reply and give me these wonderful tips about traveling in Paris.
Jeannie..I don't know the hotel, but it is my favorite neighborhood, and Rue de Raspail my favorite street. There are wonderful nooks and crannies...the hotel address sounds as if it is very close to the Seine bridge over to the Tuilleries (and Louvre is at that end). Push the button! And have a wonderful time...Jane
I'm not familiar with that hotel, but if it's where I think it is, then yes, it's a good area. I think it's in a great shopping area and safe to be there at night or during the day. The area right around the Louvre is pretty safe. I think it may be some blocks away (Raspail, that is). I've been to Paris three times and I'm jealous cause I've never been there in the Spring! Enjoy!
Congratulations on your trip to Paris! And good for you to go off-season. The trip will be better because of it. I spent a couple of weeks in France last October-November.
In Paris, you get what you pay for. I don't know this hotel chain, specifically, but let price be your gauge. The Left Bank has a number of attractions, so you'll be in the company of tourists. It's crowded and on the loud side (do you like to sleep in the morning?) because tour buses, food stands, and t-shirt shops are open and looking for business. I've always chosen to stay on the Right Bank to be closer to the Parisians. The underground railway is the best in Europe, IMO. Hold on to your ticket, though, until you get onto the street. They have people who check tickets and they'll not understanding if you lose or toss the ticket in advance. Make a point to travel across Paris via the underground at least one afternoon.
Give 2 days for the Louvre (headphones are good). It's big, it's wonderful, and deserves more than a cursory visit. The Eiffel Tower at night is great, but my neice prefers the Arc d'Triomphe view at night. The other thing I love about France are the price tags. When you get to the check-out stand, the price on the item is what you pay. Tax is already included. I LOVE THAT. (You can count on the tax being approximately 25% of the total price, if you're interested.)
Last, the French say "Thank You Bye" rather than just "Thank You" when leaving a store, restaurant, asking for directions. Even if you don't speak French, remember "Merci au Revoire." Have a great time!
I've been to Paris three times, my longest trip was a few months, my shortest three weeks.
I don't know the hotel of which you speak, but the arrondisement is fine, somewhat upscale and safe. Actually all of Paris is pretty safe - I feel safer there than in San Francisco - although I am one thick skinned bird!
I was in paris a few years ago, for a while. I found that traveling on the metro at night is okay if you remember the closing time, and don't wander around looking like a tourist. If you're not familiar with Paris, I wouldn't recommend staying in the Latin Quarter (though, it might have changed int he last few years since I was there... I was nearly mugged there my first night in Paris). If anyone is looking for a nice, clean hotel, the Hotel Leveque (on Rue Cler) is quite nice (and they finally installed an elevator so you don't have to lug your bags to the third floor).
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Lucky you! I have lots of suggestions for you, having spent oodles of time in France and particularly in Paris.
First off, a book that I found really useful was French or Foe by Polly Platt. She's great at understanding the cultural differences btw Americans and French, and explaining them in a way that is respectful of both cultures. Sometimes the French just make me want to scream, and this has helped me deal. My friend read it just before leaving France after working there for 2 years, and said it would have made her experience there a lot easier.
They do admire intelligence, so the more you know about your country and theirs, and the more interest you show in their history, language, culture, etc., the better your experience will be (and you'll shatter a few of those anit-US stereotypes as well!).
A colleague of mine had a book called Cheap Eats in Paris which we used whenever either of us was there. We always had great luck. Some of the recommendations below are from that book.
I lived in Tours for 6 months in college, and the first week, our French teacher gave us a list of her favorite things to do in Paris/must-sees for visitors. This was 10 years ago so I can't vouch for everything being current. But here they are:
Here are some suggestions I sent to a friend who went last year:
Bistrot Le P'tit Troquet
La Table de Fes, restaurant marocain
Asian, French pan-Asian
Place des Vosges
Bois de Bologne
Bon voyage et bonne chance!
I go to Paris for at least a month every year. EVERYTHING in Paris is close to everything else. I love the Left Bank, and prefer that part of Paris for my lodging.
I think you will be fine at 4 Bvd. Raspail, but if you decide you want to check out other options, here are some hotels in the Latin Quarter and St. Germaine des Pres that are within five to ten minutes (walking) of the Seine, Musee d'Orsay, Louvre, etc. (Of course, if you take the Metro, you are within five to ten minutes of those places no matter WHERE you are!) I made this list for a friend who is also considering a trip to Paris in April!
Say hello to Paris for me, and tell her I'll be back soon.
In case you haven't come across it, a most useful site on the Web for planning your Paris trip is actually the Paris Tourist Office site. (Quel suprise!) It's at:
Hotels (all bed and breakfast style, not too many American-style "room service" type hotels in Paris for $100/night, if any!):
Le Clos Medicis
Grand Hotel Des Balcons
Oh, if you should hit the lottery between now and March, you WILL want to stay at:
Dunno if any of any of my French spelling is correct, BTW.
Also, for good insight into French culture and customs, read Culture Shock France, one of a series of books that offer information about how best to get along with people in various countries. If you say hello, please, thank you, and goodbye at the right times and in even the most fractured French, for example, you will encounter little or none of the notorious Parisienne attitude toward Americans.
Check out Rick Steves' Paris city guide. He specializes in Europe guidebooks and has traveled extensively to Europe for about 25 years. His guides offer very practical travel advice.
Have a wonderful trip,
> If you say hello, please, thank you, and goodbye at the right
Have to disagree slightly, the notorious Parisienne attitude extends
beyond just Americans. I am English, and on the occasions when I have
been to Paris I have encountered this attitude in abundance (and I like
to think I am very polite). In fact I don't know anyone who hasn't
experienced it. However, the place is absolutely gorgeous and I would
recommend it wholeheartedly. It is one of THE MOST beautiful cities that
I have been to. I hope that you have a wonderful time!
> > Le Train Bleue (a restaurant in Guare de Lyon, the train
I haven't eaten there, but I've heard great things about the restaurant. Plus Gare de Lyon is a cool train station.
Don't forget a day trip to Giverny where you can visit Monet's house and gardens. It's about 1 hour outside of Paris and an awesome thing to do....you stand on the famous bridge, overlooking the water lily ponds. It's a not-to-be-missed adventure.
Also, when you visit Sacre Coeur in Paris, ask someone how to get to Place du Tertre. It's right behind Sacre Coeur but a lot of people don't know about it and miss out! It's a great little square with lots of artists painting portraits, cute little shops and restaurants, etc.
As for restaurants, try Les Philosophes in the Marais district. I had a fabulous meal there.
I am SO jealous :-)
Have fun and tell us all about it when you return,
I went by myself and what I did a lot of was booking myself on day tours with a little tour company. I think it's this company...they are directly across the street from the Louvre on Rue de Rivoli.
I booked myself on a tour of the Louvre (even though I'd been to the Louvre already), a tour of Mont. St. Michel, Versailles, and the Chateau Country. I hooked up with lots of people (some Australians, two American Travel Agents), directly from the tour and gained shopping and dinner companions. It was lovely, plus I didn't have to worry about driving or taking the train. I was also lucky because I hooked up with family members who live outside Paris and some business associates as well so I did get to see parts of Paris that I'm sure I would have never seen.
I can also give a hotel recommendation to include.
Hotel Alcyon (near the Place Bastille)
My pleasure. You'll have a wonderful time and I agree with whomever it was that said Monet's house was wonderful. I actually admired Monet's gardeners more than Monet! And even if you're there so early in the spring that most of the garden isn't blooming, the house itself is a delight.
I really didn't like impressionism before I went to France....
Anyway, have fun. (I know you will.)
Hi Jeannie -
I can't speak to the location of your hotel since I only went to Paris once, briefly, in high school....however, I recently stayed in a Golden Tulip hotel in The Hague, Netherlands. I wasn't sure either what my hotel would be like...if it would be a huge, blah hotel. It turned out to be an old, charming, small hotel. I had a room overlooking the town square. I really liked it; it had a lot of character. From what I understand, Golden Tulip is American-based(?) and has an 800 number you can call to make reservations through them at one of many world-wide hotels, which probably span the whole range of hotel types..so while it may feel like you will end up in a big, blah hotel, you might actually be in a smaller charming one in Paris somewhere. Try looking up the Golden Tulip website, there might be a page about your specific hotel, with a picture etc.
Read Jeannie's Paris Restaurant Recommendation