Granted my main focus for going to Paris was to meet up with 6 of the most wonderful friends ever for a proper week of girl chat, wine consumption & sight seeing but of course it was to include some of the best food on the planet. I had done plenty of studying up on the city, the language and culture, the history, its sights and its secrets before hand but nothing prepares you like a proper day(s) of getting lost with a case of Parisian Overload!
Some preparation is key to having a proper experience when traveling. Alot of wasted and frustrating time can be spent just moving between point A and point B, which could be time spent actually just enjoying yourself in the moment and place. Paris can be a frustrating place if your not prepared and equipped to some degree, so this first Paris Blog is just a few helpful tips with links mixed in to share with others as they prepare for a Paris adventure, as requested by many of my readers. Follow up posts will be filled with deliciousness for all the senses and where to find it in Paris. As with all my blogs, words in Bold Face Type or underlined have links to further information on the subject, just click on it!
A slow start that first morning for me upon arrival off the bus from London, as both the near by Metro stations were closed for Sunday maintenance, however I took great comfort as I looked around me and realized I was definitely not the only lost, clueless soul in the Paris underground! A nice American couple approached me for directions in broken French (I must have looked like I knew something..that’s the trick you know just LOOK like you know) and soon we had formed a pack and surfaced for the city bus to find a working line open. Near every Metro Station you’ll find a newstand and i quickly grabbed a recommended Paris Districts pocket map book (the blue one). Despite having a metro map and others in our group had full fold out maps, this this book hit the nail on the head showing all the transit stops, motorways, side streets, bike lanes, sights of interest and paged out in districts but with bleed overs from the other pages, PLUS it fit into my pocket all for 7€.
Now i was ready to hit the ground running! Meeting up with 6 best friends you haven’t seen in 6 months in a city like Paris, is wonderful and surreal. The tears and squeals hello as we met on the street echoed our arrival throughout the Parisan neighborhood of Montemartre (in the 18th). Our fearless leader and organizer Jill had found us a palatial 5 bedroom apartment,
with fully equipped kitchen, dining and living areas, 3 baths, encompassing 2 stories of 5, with a balcony over looking the bustling yet charming Rue Lepic. Surprisingly for our group size, the affordability of this exquisitely decked out “bunk house” was more of a value than most standard accommodations. There are numerous websites out there for holiday (vacation) rentals and it is all about location, compared to value, compared to needs, and many times paying a bit extra for an apartment with a kitchen to prepare some of your meals (because Paris “grocery”/market shopping is a wonderful thing everyone should experience) and saving travel time due to a great location base is worth the little extra per night. We used a sight called Paris Rental Connections and were just thrilled not only with the booking service and especially the location choices but the property manager who greeted us went above and beyond to make sure we were familiar with every inch of the property and all comfortably settled in as well as being a simple phone call away if any problems arose.
the 19th century. It’s views overlooking Paris are breathtaking……well that and the gazillion of steps you climb through the neighborhood streets to get there, but it’s worth it! Montemartre was a simple village dating back to the Romans and to some degree it still feels like a simple village, with it’s narrow streets nd peaceful hum all about. Paris’ last remaining vineyard, Clos Montmartre can be found amongst 12th century walls and lovely 19th century architecture. Though the windmills of past centuries that dotted the area are all gone and at it’s base one can find risqué cabaret nightlife at places like the Moulin Rouge, Montemartre’s charming hillside essence that has attracted saints, scholars, and artists for centuries has remained and one could spend a week alone discovering beautiful churches, studios of the great painters, and endless sidewalk brasseries and shops.
We’re all familiar with the famous landmarks of Paris and grabbing a good sense of where they are amongst the neighborhoods is a big step forward. We had invested in the “Paris Pass” and if you find yourself really wanting to see a wide scope of the city and its museums this is the best value. The Paris Pass provided us with 4 days of free entry at 55 museums and monuments across the city and line hopping at some locations avoiding massive queues and wasted time, which was a pure blessing when we approached the Louvre and saw the mile long line that we were able to casually walk past flashing our “Paris Pass” to join the thousands of others already inside! But most importantly i found
the Paris Pass provided unlimited public transit (which you can specify which “zones” and to be honest zones 1,2, & 3 is all you need) including 24 hours of the hop on/off bus tour and a tour boat ride on the Seine. The Paris Pass was even a bigger bargain with a 10% discount when purchased through RailEurope ‘s website. There was no way for us 7 gals to see EVERYTHING offered with the pass in one week but we sure put a dent in the list!
Over the next few blogs I will highlight the tastes and sights of Paris I enjoyed and share more tips for helping get lost in Paris properly and how to enjoy the Paris Overload on the senses. The Paris Traveler should never fear even if they find themselves lost and clueless, because it is impossible to get bored or go hungry in this city!
Here is a link to a site that i found as a good base start to gaining some knowledge about exploring Paris. Even though it’s a bit dated it’s still a very useful source and then just “google out” for updated info. 30 Paris Travel Tips From A Local