||Ideas and activities for your vacation in Paris:
The Mayor of Paris has opened the parks and quais along the river to cycles, skaters and scooters on Sundays -- closing them to traffic. You can rent a bicycle at the Alma Bridge nearby. Or try a tour on Mike's Bikes: www.MikesBikeToursParis.com. You meet at the Eiffel Tower and they provide everything, bikes, infant seats, etc.
Transportation and Museums:
Go the the metro station and buy a carnet of metro tickets as well as a museum pass!
The pass allows you to avoid all the horrible lines to get into every monument historique in Paris!!! You go in through a special, no-wait entrance; this can save you up to an hour in peak season; you will thank me for having bought your pass.
Buy a carnet of metro tickets from a news agent or in the metro.
Nearest metro stops from vacation rental apartments: Ecole Militaire or Pont de l'Alma. Walk up Ave. de la Bourdonnais to Ecole Militaire or down Ave. Rapp and cross Pont de l'Alma.
TAKE THE BUSES; they easy and great! They take a single metro ticket. These lines are located near the vacation rental apartments:
- 42: Goes from next to the park to Madeleine, Opera and Gare du Nord. Great line! Doesn't run on Sundays.
- 87: Goes by Sevres Babylon (think shopping at the Bonne Marche) and along Blvd St. Germain (Latin Quarter) to the Gare du Lyon.
- 69: Goes down rue St. Dominique, through part of the Latin Quarter, crosses the river at the Louvre and down to Hotel de Villes/Chatelet.
- 92: From l'Etoile down Ave. Bosquet, near the Cordon Bleu to Montparnasse.
- Batobus: the river bus which stops near the Eiffel Tower and goes up and down the Seine every 15 minutes.
- RER: This is the urban/suburban train. It's great for getting around Paris as well because there are fewer stops. If you're staying in Paris, you just use a regular metro ticket. It's at the Alma Bridge: takes you right to Notre Dame in 3 stops, direct to the Musee d'Orsay and Blvd. S. Michel. This is a great way to get to the Latin Quarter: fast, frequent and direct - particularly to get home quickly after a long day of sightseeing or shopping.
Also on a nice day, use it to take a picnic to Versailles; and transfer once in other direction to Euro-Disney. For these places, you need to buy tickets at the ticket booth.
France has finally entered the world of ATM's! If you have a major cash card (most Visa/Mastercards), then we tend to use the cash machine at the bank across the street. Make sure you know your code as a number rather than letter. We find we get better rates and it's easier than most banks. Friends tell us that the lowest charges are to go is the Post Office on rue Cler - otherwise, any bank in the area.
Take a Bateau Mouche boat ride -- it's not expensive and is just a few minutes walk away from the vacation apartment, across the Pont de l'Alma. It's one of the best ways to see how beautiful Paris is. Also at night. Philippe says the supper tour is too expensive for the quality of the food, but they also have regular tours at night. The competing boat tour company is next to the Eiffel Tower and a little bit closer. I would try their tours, just to see if you escape the one annoying part of the Bateau Mouche's, the blaring tape recorder which comes on in 4 languages at every monument...
Just before you cross the Alma bridge to Bateaux Mouches, you'll see the entrance for the tour of the sewers of Paris. It's very interesting -- I highly recommend a visit. Paris is very proud of how it gets rid of its ordure. I'm sure it's very symbolic...
Just after you cross the Alma bridge, on the left, is the tunnel where Princess Diana was killed. The gold flame was not a monument to her; it was put up by the Herald Tribune to mark their anniversary in Paris a number of years before. But it seems to have become her memorial. Don't be crazy enough to walk down into the tunnel like some tourists we've seen; cars don't slow down!
There are several bus tours you can catch in front of the Eiffel tower as well as at the large round-about with fountain which cuts across the Champ de Mars (near the apartment). Friends say the double decker red one is pretty good, especially because you can hop on/hop off.
Good information on following websites:
Champ de Mars: The wonderful park across the street. All of the families in the neighborhood bring their children there; lots of grandparents with their grandchildren especially after Sunday lunch. The parks are one of the special experiences of Paris: the parents rode the same hand-cranked carousel, tried to catch the ring with their little 'batons', raced the pedal cars around the small track and went to same Puppet Theatre (Guignols) when they were small.
There is a basketball court with informal play and good surfaces for scooters and bikes.
The Ferris Wheel - La Roue de Paris: Designed for the millennium, this giant ferris wheel is 60 metres high and provides great views of Paris, plus being fun. Take the 42bus or metro to La Concorde - or cross the river and walk to Place de La Concorde, about 25 minutes.
Eurodisney: www.disneylandparis.com Phone: 01 60 30 60 30
Parc Asterix: www.parcasterix.fr The French love this park starring their favorite gauls, Asterix and Obelix. Rides, shows, etc. RER to Roissy/Charles de Gaulle and bus or drive 30 km from Paris.
Sewers of Paris - Egouts de Paris: Just 4 blocks away. It's interesting! Adolescents think it's particularly cool.
Catacombs of Paris: Hundreds of thousands of bones collected from the cemeteries of Paris and put on display in 1810. Formerly a quarry. Just reopened and also a hit among older children.
Parc Zoologique de Paris: Bois de Vincennes; metro is Porte-Doree'. Summers from 9am to 6:30pm. Besides the zoo there's a big rock they can climb for a supplement.
Menagerie du Jardin des Plantes: 57 rue Cuvier, 75005. Metro: Jussieu, Gare d'Austerlitz. Natural History Museum.
Bois de Boulognes: Jardin d'Acclimatisation. My children loved it when they were under age 10; lots of little rides and fun things to do.
Call and find out what their schedules are. You can check out the schedule and reserve for a single session or book by the week. Otherwise, you can enroll for a series of 1 to 6 weeks and do the cooking as well.
Cordon Bleu: 33 1 53 68 22 50 (local = 01 53 68 22 50) : 8 Rue Leon Delhomme. 15 arr.
Ritz Escoffier: www.ritz.com: 33 1 43 16 30 50 (local = 01 43 16 30 50): Ritz Hotel on Pl. Vendome. This is the more deluxe of the two cooking schools.
Promenades Gourmandes: They offers day or half day courses, including market visit, lesson and preparion. Call: 01 48 04 56 84. Paule Cailat, who runs it is very friendly and perfectly bi-lingual.
French For a Day sounds really fun. The day includes: market visit and lunch preparation, then shopping expedition and tea in the afternoon! It sounds really fun and please let me know if you enjoyed it, if you decide to try!(01 47 53 91 17) Email them at: [email protected].
Kitchen Things for Chefs: My two favorite stores are: E. Dehillerin at 18 rue Coquilliere, 75001 (01 42 36 53 13; www.e-dehillerin.fr) and A. Simon, located at 48 rue Montmartre in the 1st arrondissement (phone: 01 42 33 71 65. They cater to French chefs, with everything a restaurant needs from monogrammed dishes, to blank menu boards, to wonderful porcelain terrines, to knives, pots and pans. There are several other stores in the area and it's fun to wander around.
To get there: go to Les Halles by Metro. Look for the beautiful old cathedral (St. Eustace). Walk down the street just to the right of it (rue Montmartre I think) and you'll enjoy seeing and buying many of the fresh foods the chefs buy, especially foie gras and pate de fois gras. There are interesting cooking supply stores on the way, plus a beautiful old café on the left - with beautiful wood and tiles inside. At the corner of rue du Louvre you will see A. Simon across the street. Establissement Dehillerin is diagonally across the street and sells Styrofoam shapes, such as the Eiffel Tower, which you can take home as a kitsch souvenir or use for cocktail parties, covered with cheeses and cold meats, tomatoes, etc (yes, that's what I use mine for).
Click here for our insider's list of best restaurants in the neighborhood.
Click here for our favorite ideas on food shopping.