Paris, is, as everyone knows, always a good idea. One of the largest European capitals its situated on the shores of the Seine (a river which has been cleaned up in recent years so much that a man made beach now graces some of its shore) Paris is truly a beautiful and a grand city. Its architecture and landmarks compare to none, and the cuisine, lifestyle and local flavor is like nowhere else to be found.
Paris – The Culture:
Paris does have a rather undeserved reputation as a rude city. This is patently untrue. Most Parisians are very nice and kind and will go out of their way to help a lost tourist (and I get lost a lot, so I speak from personal experience here). Many French now speak English as well, so a smile and an attempt at a basic “bonjour” is enough to get them to switch to English for your sake. This really goes true for everywhere you travel. Try to dress and act like a local. French women (and men) are very chick so it’s best to put a little effort into your appearance. Don’t speak in very loud tones as that’s not accepted as normal here. As long as you are kind and open people will return the same.
There are many direct flights JFK to Paris available, and with an addition of a new airline XL Air the travel is more affordable than ever. Follow my twitter @traveltipstergo for great deals from NYC including Paris travel.
Paris – Eiffel Tower:
To get up to the top of the Eiffel Tower you should probably be wearing comfortable shoes. There are two ways to get to the top – the first is by foot, the second is by elevator. Either way you’ll need to purchase tickets and to avoid long lines just do so online in advance. Also don’t forget to download the official visit Eiffel Tower app which is a beautifully recited history of the tower.
I chose to walk up to the second floor, it took me about 30 minutes but I am in decent shape and passed a bunch of people. Afterwards you’ll need to take the elevator to get to the summit, there is no way to get there by stairs (although I must admit I looked for employee access stairs, I figured if I’d find one and get caught I can always claim no knowledge of French). I found none and so had to take an elevator to the top. Check out my stories for a video taken from the elevator. At the top pick up a glass of champagne and enjoy the view. If you have the opportunity to, try our Jules Verne restaurant on the 2nd floor, considered one of the best restaurants in the world, reservations must be made far in advance.
Paris Travel Tip: Be sure to purchase tickets for both the Louvre and the Eiffel tower in advance online. Download the Eiffel tower app before visiting.
Paris – The Louvre:
The Louvre is an amazing place. First of all its huge. You don’t realize how physically big it is until you walk for hours without ever visiting the same room twice. Most people just run into the louvre for a quick look at the Mona Lisa. They are doing a huge disservice to themselves! My suggestion is to get the audio guide and to take the whole day. Start with the masters tour and then just wander the halls stopping to hear all the amazing history behind some of the big art works.
Be sure to visit all the wings – there are parts of the louvre that are almost empty, and it is in those rooms, if you sit very still and listen very closely you can hear ghosts walk down the hallways. You can almost hear the muted conversations of Louis the XIV court worshipping the Sun King or maybe just scared of his latest whim…. Napoleon’s loud steps plotting to take over the world… Marie Antoinette’s large stable of ladies in waiting wearing the finest garments imaginable, the rustling of the skirts bringing with it the faint rumblings of a bloody revolution… they can all be heard here at the Louvre. Just take your time and listen.
Paris Travel Tip: A great way to get around Paris is the hop on hop off bus, which goes to all the major locations.
Paris – Safety:
A note about terrorism. There has been a lot on the news lately about Paris being under attack. So much so, that several of my friends have suggested it is unsafe to travel to Paris. Another thing that’s basically untrue. Truth is we live in a complex world and attacks can and do happen. Paris, like the every major city is a target. You may see army men and women on the streets – but not more so than you would NYPD in New York City. I grew up in NYC and am very aware of my surroundings (by need as well as a good dose of PTSD). During my stay I noticed normal preventative action on the streets. I felt very safe in Paris, much more so than in many other places ive traveled, and I hope a bad news cycle doesn’t prevent anybody from visiting this beautiful city.