12 April 2014

Paris Travel Guide


Eurostar from St Pancras
Standard Premier often available, with meal and drinks included

When arriving at Paris Gare du Nord, turn left and follow signs down to the Metro
You can join the long queue at the ticket office, or just carry on to the much quieter ticket machines about 100 metres further on


Holiday Inn Express, Paris-Canal de la Villette
great views over the canal basin, free breakfast, close to Parc de la Vilette & Cité des Sciences
one block from Riquet on line 7 or from Laumiere on line 5
there are supermarkets between hotel and each station, or for a larger shop, use the Monoprix at Castorama only 5 minutes away

Adagio Aparthotel Philippe Auguste
at Philippe Auguste Metro, turn right at top of stairs and cross pedestrian crossing and bike lane; the road in front of you is Rue Pierre Bayle, and the Adagio is at the top of the road on the corner

Tourist Cards

Travel card: Paris Visite
1, 2, 3 or 5 days (not 24 hour periods, but actual dates, can purchase in advance)
Metro, bus, RER, funicular at Montmartre, SNCF Transilien
small discounts at Arc du Triomphe and other sights
get Zone 1-3 as this covers everywhere apart from Versailles and Disneyland – it’s cheaper to buy separate tickets to those

best iPhone app: SNCF Transilien – gives real-time suggestions for travel routes

Museum card: Paris Museum Pass
60 museums and monuments free for 2, 4, or 6 days (Sundays usually free anyway)
You do not need to queue to go into the museum (well, only with other Museum Pass holders!)
It is not valid for temporary exhibitions, so if there’s something you particularly want to see, you may have to pay full admission anyway
Note that some museums are shut on Mondays and others on Tuesdays, so check carefully.

There is a “City Passport” which combines both of these, but is not as good value. It additionally offers a free Bateaux Mouches boat trip, and a Cars Rouges bus tour, which may sway you, but we didn’t find it worth it.

Tourist Information

There is a tourist office near Opera at 25 rue des Pyramides
Gare de l’Est has a small welcome centre, and so does Gare du Nord/Gare de Lyon


Les Cocottes de Christian Constant
135 rue Saint Dominique, 75007 Paris, 2 blocks from Eiffel Tower
fantastic tiny restaurant serving every dish in a Staub cocotte (ceramic dish) from starters to puddings, no reservations necessary or possible
opens at 6.30pm so for a drink beforehand pop into Le Campanella at the East end of the street


Paris Plages (riverside beaches), July to August
along the Seine, and at Porte de la Villette, near Metro Stalingrad or Jaures
café, dancing, lanterns, showers, deckchairs, petanque, pedalos

Eiffel Tower
Metro Trocadero and walk across Pont d’Iena, or one of the RER or Metro nearby
buy tickets online to avoid ridiculous queues, it’s definitely worth getting tickets to the top

Louvre Museum
Rue de Rivoli, Metro Palais-Royal–Musée du Louvre
The ultimate Parisian art gallery. There’s too much to see in a day, so plan your visit on the website and pick an artist or period to track down

Musée D’Orsay
1 Rue de la Légion d'Honneur, RER Musee d’Orsay or Metro Solferino
An amazing building, and an art collection split into the high art (Roman-style nudes) and the low art (Impressionism and working-class nudes)
Eurostar tickets give you 2-for-1 entry

Notre Dame Cathedral
Place Jean-Paul II, Metro Cité, RER Saint-Michel-Notre-Dame
free entry

2 boulevard de Paris, on Ile de la Cité, Metro Cité
A royal palace used as a prison during the French Revolution, with a recreation of Marie Antoinette’s cell

Bateaux Mouches boat trip
Boarding and landing are at the North-East corner of Pont de l’Alma

Sacre Coeur
Metro Anvers
A beautiful church at the top of a very steep hill! Climb if you want, or use a Metro ticket on the funicular, or take a bus to the top.

Maison Européenne de la Photographie
5-7 rue de Fourcy, Metro Saint-Paul
The French equivalent to London’s Photographers’ Gallery, with a variety of exhibitions. Free on Wednesday evening.

Pompidou Centre
Place Georges-Pompidou, Metro Rambuteau
Great views from the top, a permanent collection of modern and contemporary art, and guest exhibitions

Institut du Monde Arabe
1 rue des Fossés-Saint-Bernard, near Pont de Sully, Metro Jussieu
A beautiful building, with exhibitions and displays from Arab cultures

Arc de Triomphe
Place de l’Etoile, RER line A and Metro Charles-de-Gaulle-Etoile
Always worth a climb in order to see Haussmann’s city layout of radial streets beneath you


Carrousel du Louvre
Entrance to this underground shopping centre is on the Rue de Rivoli, along the north side of the Louvre, next to the archways leading through to the Museum courtyard
Also has an international food court with good deals
Top shop: Delfonics, the best Japanese stationery - http://delfonics.fr/top.html?lang=en

83 Quai de Valmy, Canal St Martin’s West bank
Almost every craft, artist and design idea seems to be in this extensive design bookstore

La boutique Pop Market
50 rue Bichat, Canal St Martin’s east bank
A great gift shop, with lots of design ideas from France and overseas

Day Trips

La Défense
RER line A and Metro line 1 to Grande Arche de La Défense
This cluster of modern skyscrapers has its own charm, and is worth visiting as the equivalent of LA’s Downtown or London’s Docklands
When outside, you will see CNIT as a domed shopping centre to the North, and 4Temps as a block to the South. Both have lots of high-class shops.
CNIT has a “rest area” where every seat has its own power socket, so take your charger and replenish your phone while you chill.
To the East is a view all the way to the Arc de Triomphe. To the West is the Grand Arche, which sadly since 2010 has been closed to the public, but is impressive in its scale.
Restaurants nearby include our recommendations Vapiano and Chipotle, as well as many other cafes and international cuisine.

Palace of Versailles
get a ticket valid to Zone 4 or 5, and take RER C to Versailles Rive Gauche – the trains often have Versailles-inspired decoration!
There are 2 other stations using SNCF Transilien: Versailles Rive Droite (from Saint-Lazare and La Défense) and Versailles Chantiers (from Montparnasse) – all are within 10 minutes walk of the palace
Though it means an early start, if you can get there by 9am you will avoid the queues. Arrive after 11am and you will have a long wait. Though rucksacks are meant to be checked in, after security just show them to the cloakroom attendant and you should get waved through. Food and drink are not meant to be allowed but checking is perfunctory.
See the apartments first, which will take a few hours. In the gardens, there are cafes and toilets, on each side, just past the steps and the fountain, at the edge of the hedging.
If you have time after your visit, the town of Versailles has many interesting buildings.

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