Anyone here been to Paris? Looking for a bit of advice regarding the best way to get around.
I understand there are various ways to pay for the Metro. Books of tickets (Carnet)? An 'Oyster' type card? If you've been, what did you use?
I dread using the Underground in London and not knowing where to go, so I'm trying to get a grasp of the French Metro beforehand!
I went to Paris many moons ago and used the Metro without an issue, I bought a ticket while there which was valid for X amount of journeys. I'm daft as a brush with navigation and was at the time 16 and managed it fine, so i'm sure you will :)
WALK. Myself and my SO went the other year for her birthday, we got off the train from CDG at about Notre Dame and walked from there to the Eiffel Tower and several places inbetween. Although we only stayed for one night so wanted to see alot and walk around.
NOTE: if you are thinking of going to the louvre, take lots of money and be prepared to queue!
If you are going to the Louvre, watch out for pickpockets... It's something of a hotspot.
To get round the main sights in Paris, consider the hop-on hop-off tourist bus. There's commentary in English and you can get a 3 day pass. We used it a few years ago when our son had his leg in plaster. It was easier than the metro for him.
The metro is pretty simple but as @elsiegee40 says, the tourist bus is really easy to deal with. I agree that walking is good too - you can certainly see quite a lot of the sights without walking for miles.
City Sightseeing Paris, Hop On - Hop Off Bus Tours
Paris Bus Tour - Free Hop-on Hop Off Bus Tour of Paris
Paris Self-Guided Walking Tours
I love Paris. Last few times I have been I have driven everywhere so transport has not been an issue for me.
Walking is the best way to see the sights and soak up the atmosphere
I walked everywhere in the day, then used the Metro to get back to the hotel.
Watch for pickpockets and you will be harassed by "beggars" who are small children, asking for money to give to their "mothers". Ignore them, if they are persistent then speak French at them, they soon go away as they aren't targeting french people only tourists. I enjoyed the sites of Paris, but the problem with beggars, and groups targeting tourists was beyond belief, we had some african gentlemen try to force sell us some wool bracelet for 10 euros and he got really annoyed when I told him "No", started getting a little aggressive.
Oh, this is filling me with confidence! Think I might pick up one of those loud personal alarms from eBay!!
No need to panic. Leave your valuables in the hotel safe, don't keep your wallet in an outside pocket, carry bags in front of you and hug them when in crowded places and on the metro.
Originally Posted by Edu-IT
Oh... and personally, I prefer Musee d'Orsay over the Louvre any day. The Mona Lisa really isn't worth the crowds!
Sorry to dive in but how do people struggle on the underground? The map for that is a complete work of art and engineering it is simple and well designed :)
Originally Posted by Edu-IT
Enjoy Paris :) I'm sure there will be an iPhone App to help you get around :)
We walked it as well...we were there two days, two nights and were shattered by the end of it, but it is a stunning city.
As has been said, the Mona Lisa isn't worth the queue (however it allowed me to tick off another turtle...), however I found the Venus de Milo to be absolutely stunning and well worth seeing.
Don't be overly worried though about crime, it's the same as any other big city. Just be careful, keep an eye on your valuables and you will be fine. Same goes with the beggars, we got particularly harassed by them outside Notre Dame, so being clever I tried speaking Spanish to them....but they apparently are multi-lingual beggars and that doesn't work :-(
The Metro is straightforward to use and clean and reliable. It does rather depend where you're planning to stay.
Originally Posted by Edu-IT
If you get a chance, then travel to the Arc de Triomphe and then walk the whole of the route to the Tour Eiffel (Arc -> Trocadero -> Tour) and down to the Champ de Mars. Paris was designed with sight lines in mind. What you won't get if you use the tube to go everywhere is a sense of the majesty of the place. The walk will take about 40 minutes in total. But it really is worth doing, it's quite breathtaking.
If you've got the legs for it, you can then walk to Les Invalides and see the Tomb of Napoleon.
Some other thoughts:
Don't imagine that pedestrian crossings on roads mean anything at all. Their job is solely to keep line painters in work. Parisian drivers ignore them. It helps to keep the pedestrians lively.
Don't wander around looking like a tourist. This means - camera in a bag, no socks with sandals. If you're going to look at a map to find your way, find a quiet corner to do it.
Do try to use your French if you have any. The effort you make to communicate in French will be appreciated.
Parisians tend not to do breakfast - it's just coffee and a pastry (and sometimes not the pastry). So if, like me, you admire the Germanic style of breakfast (5 kinds of pig, 3 kinds of cheese and a loaf of bread) you will be disappointed.
The Europe-wide smoking ban in public places does not apply in Paris. Nor do any of the other EU rules the French don't like.
Paris is expensive.
I spent a couple of days in Paris in 2011. Beautiful place with tons to see, we used the Velib hire bikes and travelled all over the place for (nearly) free. You see loads more than on the metro etc and there are docking stations everywhere (many more than in London) so you can ride around & ditch the bike whenever you want to stop & see something. There are a lot of car-free routes along the canals and some separated lanes on the larger roads. There were one or two moments when we were ejected onto Place de la Concorde or other large junctions but the drivers were very good. We even did some of the Champs Elysees and Arc de Triomph (A d T not recommended!). Side note - my wife & I ride everywhere in the UK so we might be more hardy than some but it's definitely worth a try - maps are available from bike shops / tourist info.
+1 for using a tourist bus (open top if the weather is nice). They go round all the major tourist attractions constantly and once you have paid a fixed fee for a day or two days, you can just hop on and off as you like.
Much preferred Rome to Paris myself, but still a good place to visit.
Yes indeed... I found that there were quite a lot of hawkers around the popular tourist sites, especially around Sacré Cœur - one of the most popular ruses is to greet you and try and shake your hand with the aim of rather skilfully and subtly removing any rings or watch you might be wearing. So be savvy about that.
Originally Posted by Achandler
Paris is beautiful. Don't worry about the Metro - it's easy, I've got no sense of direction whatsoever but managed fine.
The open-top tourist bus is a lovely way to spend half a day or so - it's a great way to check out what you might like to see closer up and where these places are in relation to one-another.
Don't be nervous about Paris - it's really pretty safe as long as you're sensible. Don't wear crazy jewelry/watches, don't walk around counting cash. Don't leave a camera dangling over one shoulder.
Oh... enjoy the food. It's great. Go to Ladurée... (Ladurée | Fabricant de Douceurs & Gourmandises) it's a lovely place to have lunch and the macaroons and hot chocolate are fab.
One of my favourite things to do is to find a nice café with seating outside and watch the world go by with a café creme... but try not to look too shocked when they charge you a fiver for it! :-)
One last thing - Parisian waiters are hilarious if you won't speak french - very grumpy... so make an effort... they do appreciate it. There are some great phonetic guides to how to say simple things.