Vacation rentals in France (farms, cottages, gites, apartments)
Travelers Tips for Paris
Paul from Paris
Museums In and Around Le Marais
Paris has 164 museums (almost as many as London and New York combined!), but walking from the Marais, I make the following selections.
Louvre: Open 9:30am - 6:00pm, closed Tuesday
Carnavalet History of Paris: 23 rue de Sevigne 75003, Metro Saint-Paul
Picasso in Hotel Sale: 5 rue de Thorigny 75003, Metro Chemin Vert; open 9:30am-5:30pm, closed Tuesday
Jewish Art and History in Hotel de Saint-Aignan: 71 rue du Temple
75003, Metro Rambuteau
Arts et Metiers: 60 rue de Reaumur 75003, Metro Arts et Metiers
Conciergerie: 1 quai de l'Horloge 75001, Metro Cite
Archives in Hotel de Soubise: 60 rue des Francs Bourgeois 75004,
Centre Pompidou: (Or Beaubourg as French call it) 75003, Metro Rambuteau,
Cognacq-Jay: 8 rue Elzevir, 75003
Victor Hugo's House:
Cluny Abbey: Metro Cluny, closed Tuesday
Orsay: open 10am-6pm, Tuesday-Saturday, Metro Solferino
Like at London's Leicester Square or Times Square in NYC, you can buy today's theatre tickets at half price if you go to the Kiosque at Place de la Madeleine, Metro Madeleine, after noon.
At any time during the year, cultural events take place such as quartier d'ete festival (in Tuileries and Palais Royal gardens for example), open air cinemas in August, the gay and lesbian film festival at Les Halles.
Paris also has three operas houses:
One can obtain book on line on www.opera-de-paris.fr, by mail or at Opera itself by getting in line at 10am for last minute availabilities (inexpensive).
Many classical concerts are organized in Paris' beautiful churches such as Notre Dame or Saint Eustache. There is always a free concert on Saturday night in St Merri Church, next to the Pompidou. It's a great experience to do at least once.
Driving and parking in Paris is a challenge if you are not from a Mediterranean city. That's why a majority of the Parisians use the efficient and cheap public transportation. Also one can rent bikes.
Taxis: Paris Cabs are reasonably cheap. However, be it will be virtually impossible to flag a taxi down on the street on a Friday or Saturday night, in particular after the subways close at 12:45am until around 3am.
Subway: Paris has the biggest and probably the best Metro system in the world with over 500 stations! The Metro is cheap, convenient and runs until 12:45am. The best deal is to buy a carnet of 10 tickets.
Buses: Buses are an excellent service and one of the best ways to see Paris. You can use Metro tickets to take them: for same price as metro you get to sight see Paris! Ask for a combined bus-museum pass.
Diversity is the competitive advantage here. Many small, innovative shops as well as luxury goods (both fashion to wear and specialty staples to eat).
The best of all is the UGC Cite Cin in Les Halles, near the church of St Eustache: more than 20 screens with the terrific sound systems and wide screens. Most films are shown in their original language version (listed as "vo" for "version originale") but with French subtitles. The MK2 cinema at la Bibliotheque Mitterand has a charming feature of one seat for 2 people to share while MK2 at Beaubourg-Pompidou often shows gay movies.
You do not have to tip for services or in restaurants. If your waiter is nice and helpful it is customary though to leave a little extra but it is not compulsory.
Cash & ATMs
France is the number one country in the world for the number of cash-points per capita! ATM's are everywhere (look for bank signs such as SG, BNP) and it's the most flexible and reliable way to obtain cash in Euros. There is no need to change money before you leave home. Almost every shop accepts payment by Visa or Amex
Paris is unlike many other major cities in the world. Despite an increase in crime levels of some suburbs, crime in the historical centre of Paris is very low. Due to strong gun and weapons control laws, crime in the city is virtually non-violent. Of course, like everywhere, you should always be careful and sensible, especially in the metro (possible pickpockets). Walking at night or day in the Marais neighborhood is probably the most peaceful thing to do.
Although a third of adult Frenchmen still smoke, the non-smoking campaign is catching on in France like wildfire. Virtually every restaurant has a non-smoking area but often the separation is only hypothetical. Only few cafes, hotels or restaurants have declared themselves to be smoke-free on a voluntary basis. See: www.droit-air-pur.com/nosmokingrestaurants.htm
The best papers to find out what's on and where to go are definitely Pariscope, found at any bookshop with its English section Time Out Paris. Try Zurban, the new weekly city magazine (in French).
To go out in the gay scene, pick up the free papers E-male or Illico where you'll find a lot of addresses and info on theme-parties. Many businesses in Marais will have these free publications. See also: www.citegay.fr
Paris Tourist Office
New headquarters between the Louvre and the Opera Garnier.
Tourist Info: 9am-8pm (or low season: 11am - 6pm) 25, rue de Pyramides 1st district, tel: 01 49 52 53 00, summer kiosk next to Pompidou Centre.
Slow Travel - Where to Stay in Paris: Thomas describes the neighborhoods of Paris.
www.opera-de-paris.fr: Opera tickets
www.droit-air-pur.com/nosmokingrestaurants.htm: Information on non-smoking restaurants.
www.citegay.fr: Gay guide to Paris
www.ratp.com: Paris - RAPT, public transportation
Tom's Guide to Paris: Good information for Paris, getting to the city from the airport, public transportation, cafes, restaurants, things to do and see
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