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Note: This post is under construction. If you are in a hurry and want to go directly into the matter of vacation rentals in Paris, France and Spain, my represent, Pierre et Vacances, is the #1 in Vacation Rentals in Europe and you can reach the site to have a look at what they have for your convenience. If you are planning to go soon, in spring or summer, it's time to make your reservation. Paris is a very popular destination and availabilities are soon depleted. And remember, for Paris it's never too early to book. Term & Conditions of Sale in English, which comply with the provisions of article R.211-12 of the French Tourism Code, in a few words, protected by the French Law giving you always the possibility to present a compliant, are here. If you prefer to write me feel free to leave a comment below. I will contact you asap.
Paris is the most visited city of the world. It has over 30 million tourists every year and over 70 million people visit France either. Most people say that French are unfriendly but visits to France increase year after year in an impressive way. Why? Because France and particularly Paris have beautiful places to visit and the atmosphere is so nice that causes it to stay for weeks.
On the other hand you and your family want to go and in fact this decision has been postponed with no end to realize the visit. Do you know what I could say you? That if I could take the time back, I had visited Paris very young and had long enjoyed everything this beautiful city has to offer the tourist. So cheer up, do not give more long, grab your partner or your entire family and make this incredible journey in sure that ever regret having made the decision.
How to start?
First decision to have is the budget - Can I go? Having the budget the next is when. Paris is always amazing but particulary I recommend you to have your trip in spring (april-may) or autum (september-octuber). Winter is too cold and summer is too hot. About the budget I'm going to write something below.
Next you have to decide how you are planning to go. You have two choices: a.- Using a turism service enterprise (taking a tour). b.- Planning yourself your trip with the help of your couple or your enterily family. Personally I prefer to plan my trip by myself. My wife is really smart planning incredible trips. And because we hate they taking us on a bus as cows (hop off, time is over, hop on), we prefer to make our trips alone, more uncertainty, more fun.
Where to stay?
Having decided to prepare yourself your trip to Paris and having decided when, your next step is to ensure or guarantee the location where you and your related are going to stay. Paris and France are very popular destination and never is too early to book and assure your stay. Again I do recommend Pierre et Vacances. They are #1 in locations in Europe and very responsible people. Only when you have bonded the location to stay you can advance to the next step. I know many people with all things prepared except the most important and difficult to find... exactly, the location to stay.
Why an apartment at all?
Very good question! It has its advantages and disadvantages as all in this life. Apartments, for the same level of quality than a hotel, are cheaper. But, of course, you do not have room service. It is as being in home. Do you have room service in home? Yes? Congratulations! I'm not so rich. But talking seriously, apartments are also cheaper because you have kitchen available and if you and your couple and your family (kids do not help, well, you know), are not afraid to share some time in kitchen, you can save a lot of money in meals. Do not be foolish. Paris is a very expensive city. They don't make money with sales (but you are going to find enough). Then having some meals in home is a good way to reduce the cost of the trip.
Our apartments have the best price you can find ever in France. Depending on the season and place to stay they start as low as $220 per week, i.e. Residence Les Jardins de la Madragde, Mediterranean, French Riviera, Cap d'Agde, France, very close to the beach, up to luxurious apartments as Premium Residence L'Ecrin des Neiges, Alps, Espace Killy, Tignes Val Claret, France, in the French Alps, at a cost of $1,974 per week. Have a look at some of them to the right of this post.
Oh la la... now the airline tickets!
Ok, our location is guaranteed, next step is to buy the airline tickets. If you have a trusted airline that you already know and they fly to Paris go with them. But tell them you want to land at Charles de Gaulle Airport - also known as Paris Roissy. This airport is the most modern and has all kind of facilities. If you don't have an airline already selected I do recommend to try with Air France. They are the french flag airline and they know what are doing. And probably rates will be cheaper because it is a French Government Airline and some tax advantages in its country they could have.
I left the budget here because if you are planning to go in a tour they have to prepare a budget for you. If you are planning to go by yourself it's time to know how much is going to cost. Here you have an aproximation for two people:
Description Cost Notes Airline tickets for two people New York-Paris-New York $2000-3000 Depending on the season (Low-Med-High) Airline tickets for two people Los Angeles-Paris-Los Angeles $2400-3400 Depending on the season (Low-Med-High) Taxi from home to airport $100 Depending of the distance Taxi from Paris Roissy to Paris accomodation $130 Depending of the distance, price is from Paris Roissy to Paris downtown (Opera) ~80-100 euros Bus from Paris Roissy to Paris downtown (Opera). Called RoissyBus. Use the Paris Pass card instead. See below. $26 Two people, 10 euros per person (p/p). It's a cheaper alternative. The bus stop is at a walking distance leaving the airport. If you don't mind you save some money. Try not to use heavy baggage. Light is always better. You can buy tickets at RoissyBus, but I do really recommend to buy the Paris Pass card. See below. Bus Paris downtown (Opera) to Paris accommodation. Use the Paris Pass card instead. See below. $10 Two people, 4 euros p/p. Using a high quality public transportation (metro+bus). Again, do not forget, light baggage is always better. Metro(FR), Subway(US), Underground(UK). 6 days Paris Pass card $546 (2 cards) + $48 (shipping to your home in US. Buy in advance at least 5 working days). Click on the left to buy. Two people, 210 euros p/p. Last 6 days and it gives you:
- Paris Museum Pass – free entrance to over 55 of Paris’ world famous museums and monuments.
- Paris Attractions Pass – free entry to Paris’ best attractions including a Seine River Cruise, Musée Grévin, Tour Montparnasse and even a Wine Tasting experience!
- Paris Visite Pass – free unlimited travel on the metro, buses and RER (Paris Regional Train) within central Paris. Using RER you will go to the Palai de Versailles.
- Paris Bus Tour - Free Les Cars Rouge hop-on-hop-off bus tour of Paris, every Paris Pass comes with an unlimited use ticket valid for 1 day.
- Skip The Lines – at a selection of the busiest museums and attractions in Paris.
- 120+ page Guidebook – a detailed guide to all of the sights and landmarks in Paris including a map and directions as well as loads of helpful tips and hints.
- Special Offers – exclusive offers at shops and restaurants in central Paris.
Accommodation $30-$360 per room Hotels vary being as cheap as $30 per room per night up to $360 or even more per room per night. Do not be foolish about high prices. High price does not mean superior quality. Check customer review in Booking to select the best one for you to the lower price. In general our apartments are cheaper with the advantage that kitchen save you a lot of money having some meals at home. Check Pierre et Vacances for more information. Transportation Taxi, Metro, Bus, Train Use your Paris Pass card. Really. If you want to take advantage of your time without being worried about the money, use it. It's cheaper, better and convenient. You don't need to spend your money in taxis because the public transportation in Paris is one of the best in the all world. Using the metro, buses and trains (RER) you can go everywhere. Spending a little. Here you have more information: Official Website about Paris Public Transportation, Paris Metro Map and Paris by Train. Visits, Attractions $8-$26 p/p If you buy the Paris Pass card a good bundle of visits and attractions are covered. Most but not all of them. Price to visit attractions normally vary between $8 and $26 p/p. Of course there are attractions very expensive, as the Moulin Rouge that costs between $130 and $273 p/p. Disneyland Paris day tickets cost between $80 and $160 depending on the season and the attraction to be visited. Meals $4-$150 p/p Meals are expensive in Paris. You can have a Crêpe by $4 just in the street. A lunch in a very good restaurant as Epicure (rated #1 by Trip Advisor) can cost $150 p/p. If you rent an apartment via Pierre et Vacances you can save a lot of money having some meals at home.
Well, here you have. With this information you can prepare a budget for your trip.
More about transportation
Paris has one of the best public transportation system of the world. But more important: easy to learn, easy to use, easy to achieve. Metro (Subway) and Bus lines are identify by a simple number: Line 1, Line 20, etc. Train (RER) lines are identify by a simple capital letter: Line A, Line C, etc. Being in a line, stations or stops are identify by a name. Maps (Metro, Bus, RER), that you can get for free in the Tourist Office in Roissy Airport, indicate lines by color and each line has indicated all its stations by name. There are stations, as Saint-Lazare, where Metro, Bus and Train concur and you can change or switch between lines.
Another fact I love from Metro in Paris is that being in a car you always leave it by the same side. It's great because it helps you not to feel lost. Want to go? Take your maps. Identify the nearest stations where you are and where you go. Check both lines and if you have to switch, check station to make the change. And go without being worried. All is enough and well indicated. A lot of notices. Metro or RER station is far away where you go? Check the next level through buses. Same metodology. Just identify stations from and to in your movement. And go. Buses are very comfortable. And route and stations (as Metro and RER) are clearly indicated. Go without being afraid. And you will love Paris as I love.
First day in Paris take the Paris Bus Tour: The Red Hop-On Hop-Off Bus (Les Cars Rouges). They are going to tour the city and you can hop off and hop on in popular places to have a best knowledge about Paris. They stop at: Eiffel Tower, Champ de Mars, Louvre Museum, Notre Dame, Orsay, Opera, Champs-Elysees - Etoile, Grand Palais and Trocadero. Each bus has a multi-lingual system allowing you to hear commentaries in 8 languages: French, English, Spanish, German, Italian, Portuguese, Japanese and Russian. When you leave the airport and take the Roissy Bus to Paris they are going to leave you at Opera. Being in Opera with your Paris Pass card collect your 1 day Car Rouges ticket from 11 Avenue de l'Opera 75001 Paris. Next days you can visit more quietly the same places again.
Save a lot of money eating Crêpes and Paninis in some meals. Give yourself a pleasure to eat in a very good restaurant but also save money with these snacks that are sold in almost any place in Paris. Below I will give you some good and not very expensive restaurant to have a nice soiree with your couple or family.
Change your dollars in euros in a bank or using your credit or debit card in ATMs. Being in the States change some money in euros before arriving to Paris. 200 or 300 euros in paper money of 5, 10 and 20 is fine. Do not pay in stores with dollars. They will fool you giving a poor change. Have enough euros with you to avoid paying in dollars.
Les Arrondissements (The Boroughs) and Les Quartiers (The Neighbourhoods)
Borrowed from A view on cities: "The city of Paris is divided in 20 arrondissements. The first one is in the center, the following ones spiral outwards in a clock-wise direction. Most of the famous tourist attractions can be found in one of the central 8 arrondissements".
It is very good to know about this to be well located in Paris. When asking for an address you inquire: what borough? Quel arrondissement? in french. Having the information you will be inmediately located knowing how far is the place from where you are. Also there are Les Quartiers (The Neighbourhoods). Being one of the most famous Le Quartier Latin (The Latin Neighbourhood) that spread across the 5th and 6th arrondisements and where l'université Paris-Sorbonne (Paris Sorbonne University) is located. The neighbourhood is called "Latin" because during the Middle age the students spoke in Latin as academic language.
Places to visit
Île de la Cité and Île de Saint-Louis
Île de la Cité
Île de Saint-Louis
Île de la Cité and Île de Saint-Louis are two island in the middle of the Seine river. If you look at Île de la Cité from the other site of the river, it's really impressive. It seems that first Gallics or Gaulishs founded in this island a small urban center with the name of Lutetia to protect themselves from the barbarians. It was the first civil and religious center where the Cathedral and the Palace of Justice arose. Here (Île de la Cité) I recommend to visit the following places: Cathédral de Notre Dame (explained better below), Pont de l'Archevêché, Quai de Montebello, Memorial des Martyrs de la Deportation, Sainte-Chapelle, Conciergerie and Pont Neuf. There are a lot of places to visit here as in all Paris but let's go little by little. First take your Metro Map and plan your day to hop-off at Cité Station, line #4.
Île de la Cité has 8 bridges that connect the island with the riverbanks. Across the riverbanks there are Les Quais (The Docks). Have a look at the photo above. Hop-off at Cité Station and ask people to go to Quai de la Corse. Being here walk to your left and ask for Conciergerie, the first place to visit, via Quai de l'Horloge (The Clock). If you are not sure about your pronunciation just have a piece of paper with all these names written in french. Sorry, just working...
Quai de Montebello
Cathédrale de Notre Dame
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Palais de Justice
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This story will continue... have in contact... follow me by twitter at @leoballiache. Write me when you like. I'm to help you.