Sunday, December 11, 2016


My ex-boss once referred to this city as "A city like no other". An old friend called it " A city for a lifetime". Paris. In reality it is something in between. More later.

Dates : July 23rd to July 27th
Stay : Booked through "Open House". Stayed near Pigalle / Abessess (Both 200 m / 4 minute walk)
Cost : 180 Euro per night for a full house (2 rooms / 1 bathroom - we were two families)
Weather : Warm during the day, very comfortable during evening and slightly chilly at night. Sun sets at 9 pm during this time.

First up, wrong time to visit Paris. Purely from an expenditure / prices perspective. If you have money, then probably, weather-wise this is the best time to visit. Which is why it was crowded in most places we went to.

  • Within the 20 arrondisements to stay, anywhere you stay, you are always 200 metres from a metro station. The network of Metro is that good.  
  • Buy metro tickets in stacks of 10, if you are traveling in a group of 4 or more or if you plan to visit more than 3 places in Paris on the same day. The tickets are valid only for that day.

  • Food is expensive. If you are fine with pizzas and pastas, then each meal for 2 will cost about 16 Euros. Else, it will be close to 25 Euros. 
  • Pretty much most restaurants serve bread free with butter / cheese. Chicken is not very easily available. Pork and beef rule the roost. The chicken is usually half-cooked.

  •  If you are travelling with a kid, its better to check for 'child-friendly'-ness before entering. The French are not known to be prolific procreators and do not, for most part, like company of children when they are enjoying crepes or wine. They are polite, for most part.
  • They will politely come and tell you "Your kids are making a lot of noise and I am losing business". You will feel like smacking them. But don't. Not wise to fight in a foreign land !  
  • A stroller is a must.
  • Air France allows you to keep the stroller inside the aircraft.
  • EasyJet & Vueling does not

  • Stay : Ensure that you have a bathroom for your exclusive use. Cuts down on time to get ready. 
  • Check room size / cupboards to keep luggages. Apartments in Paris are small and apart from the bed, there is hardly any space in the bedroom.
  • Check for microwave in the apartment. It always helps. We did not have one.

Places to visit :
  1. Notre Dame, 
  2. Sacre-Cour, 
  3. Louvre, 
  4. Eiffel Tower, 
  5. Roland Garros, 
  6. Invalides, 
  7. Muse d'Orsay, 
  8. Cruise on Siene
  9. Versailles Palace

Notre Dame : No entry fee. Easy to get in. Lovely cathedral. Nice setting. Nice eateries around. Wrong place to shop. Good open space in front. Nice place to sit beside the Siene. There is a park beside which lets you go behind. We did not get in. But looked to be a nice place. Must do.

Sacre-Cour : The steps of Sacre Cour allow for a superb view of the city. To view Eiffel, need to walk to the right of the church (with your back to the church). There is a lift which takes one up. The walk is quite a walk. Take the lift on the way up, walk down. Must do.

Louvre : Grand. Magical. The place where you stand and you are wrapped with a sense of history. Its mind blowing. We did not go inside the museum. History and children are not the best of combination. Must do.

Roland Garros : Prudent to arrange for a guided tour before coming. Its far from Paris. Getting to Roland Garros is not easy. We reached and the gates were shut. We could not enter. We could see from outside, the top of the stadium with names of French Open winners engraved on them.

Cruise on Siene : Must do. Gives a flavour of the city. The French know the value of history and are adept at preserving it. The buildings are imposing. Old. Yet majestic. I wonder why Hitler kept them intact during the German occupation of Paris. Probably, he had a sense of history too. Or probably, he could appreciate beauty.

Jardin du Luxembourg : A big garden. Not exactly the most wondrous of all places. Just a very good garden with lots of open spaces. Takes time to reach. No direct metro to reach. Metro + Bus or Metro + Walk. Not a must-do.

Eiffel Tower : A civil engineering marvel. Worth going up to the 2nd floor. Come early in the morning. The queue is short. Avoid weekends. Takes about 3-4 hours. Definitely have the macaroons. You get tickets to the summit as well from the ticket counter. But that takes a lot more time. 2nd floor is good enough.

Versailles Palace: If you are from India or places where castles, forts, palaces are in abundance, this will be a damp squib. The splendor, grandeur, architecture, beauty, sculpture - are far more intricate and awe-inspiring in India. Versailles is good. But not worth waiting in the queue for 2 hours (No shade - the sun can beat you down) and then roaming inside for an hour more, paying for expensive food inside and then out. In its defence, some of it is good. But getting here is pain (if you are coming by yourself). Not a must-do.

We did not go to Muse D'Orsay & Invalides. The former has the Van Goghs and the latter has Napoleon's tomb. If we had time, we would have. Any given day, would have gone to these in lieu of Versailles.

  1. Should do Eiffel & cruise on Siene together
  2. Go early to Louvre. Before you go, check out where you want to have lunch/ snacks. Restaurants nearby are expensive.
  3. Wi-fi is a problem. Specifically Google Maps for walking can screw you big time.
  4. Always, always take a cab from the airport to your accommodation for the first time.
  5. Stay near one of the must-dos. Would recommend near Sacre Cour.
  6. The crepes in Paris are very good. So are the desserts. Be prepared to eat a lot of pizza & pasta

No comments:

Post a Comment