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Destination Guide: Paris

13 June, 2016

Destination Guide: Paris

Topics

  • Why France? Why Paris?
  • Accommodation
  • Airports
  • Climate
  • Currency
  • Getting Around
  • Internet Resources
  • Orientation
  • Passes
  • Passports & Visas
  • Public Holidays
  • Shopping 
  • Speaking the Language
  • Tipping
  • Tours
  • What & Where to Eat

Why France? Why Paris?

It's hard to deny the unmistakable allure of Paris. Just strolling the city's vast avenues and boulevards is a pleasure whether it's your first trip or your seasoned return!

And the major attractions will not disappoint - there is nothing like the timeless icons of the Eiffel Tower, Arc De Triomphe and the Louvre but where Paris really earns its title is in the dawn-to-dusk calendar of cultural events, historic monuments, sights and colourful galleries. And with regional attractions such as Palace De Versailles a short train trip from the city centre and the battlefields of infamous world war battles such as Flanders and Passchendaele an easy day trip, there really is something to suit everyone.

Go on, have an affair with the city of love!

Accommodation

Before I travelled overseas last year I spend over 6 months searching for the best hotels to stay in around Europe. Wherever possible, these hotels had to: Be within walking distance of the centre of the town/city, the main attractions and the train station

  • Be in good condition with at least 3 stars & have good feedback from past travellers
  • Preferably have access to wireless internet facilities
  • Preferably have breakfast included in the nightly rate
  • Have reasonable rates preferably no more than 150 per/night Paris is one of the hardest destinations in which to find a good hotel, with reasonable rates and in a great location but with sheer hard work I found and now recommend the Hotel Etats Unis Opera. This hotel fits this criteria so well that my travel agent now also recommends the hotel to her own clients!

Paris has so many major attractions that it is impossible to find a hotel that is close to all of them however the hotel Etats Unis Opera can be found in the heart of the major tourist district between the Opera and the Louvre.

Musee du Louvre - an easy 10 minute walk

Musee d'Orsay - 20 minute walk past other sights including the River Seine

Concorde - 15 minutes walk

Opera Garnier - 3 minutes walk down a grand boulevard to one of the most beautiful opera houses in the world

Trocadero - 10 minutes by metro and then a short walk of approx. 5 minutes to the Eiffel Tower

The Jetsettr team uses and recommends the Hotel Etats Unis Opera.

Head to their website www.hoteletatsunisopera.com to book!

PLEASE NOTE: We do not receive any form of remuneration or benefit from recommending this hotel. This hotel has been chosen on the basis of its location and services.

Airports (main)

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Roissy/Charles de Gaulle       23km north of the city

Orly  14km south of Paris

Climate

The Parisian climate is best described as temperate. Springtime is regularly suggested as the best time to travel to France due to the ideal temperature for sightseeing however showers should be expected. Mornings in Paris can still be crisp - even in May and June so pack layering options to bulk up when necessary. Thankfully, the clear, bright skies usually prevail by midday making for lovely afternoon strolls along the River Seine.

Currency

The official currency is the Euro  (100c = 1).

Most credit cards are widely accepted (especially Visa) which is known there as Carte Bleue or CB.

Getting Around

To/from the airport

Aéroport D'Orly

There are several shuttle buses that link this airport to the city. Tickets are sold on-board and the journey takes approx. 30-60mins. Expect to pay between 6-10 for the trip (single) depending on which service you use.

A taxi to central Paris from Orly will take approx. 30 minutes and will cost approx. 40-45

Aéroport Roissy Charles de Gaulle

There are two train stations from this airport - both of which can be reached by a free shuttle bus from the airport terminal. There are numerous options that will get you to the centre of Paris. Tickets for the public buses can be purchased on-board.

The trip can take from 35-75 minutes depending on which option you choose and will cost between 5-12 (single).

A taxi from Roissy Charles de Gaulle to the city centre will likely cost from 40-55 and will take a minimum of approx. 30 minutes depending on traffic and time of day.

Private Shuttle Buses

Private shuttle buses provide a door-to-door service between both airports and your hotel. Prices are more reasonable than you might expect at around 26 for one person or about 17 per/person for two or more. You will need to book in advance for this service. Your travel agent may be able to recommend one particular company however to get you going try Paris Airports Shuttle (www.parisairportservice.com) or World Shuttles (www.world-shuttles.com).

Getting Around the City

Public Transport

The majority of Paris's public transport system is operated by RATP (www.ratp.fr) which conveniently means that the same RATP tickets are valid on the metro, the RER, buses, the Monmartre funicular and the Paris tram lines. At the time of writing, tickets cost 1.40 per/ticket or 10.70 (5.35 for kids 4-11yrs) for a book of 10 tickets (known as a carnet). Tickets and transport maps can be found at all metro stations.

There are several other tourist passes that provide discounts on transport around Paris however the most economical way to use public transport in Paris is with a Carte Orange which covers the metro, RER and buses. A weekly Carte Orange costs 15.70 for zones 1 and 2 valid Monday to Sunday. To purchase your first Carte Orange, take a passport-sized photograph to any metro or RER ticket window.

Getting Around France

For more than 15 years, RailEurope has been helping travellers to discover the benefits of travelling around Europe by train. Offering a miriad of rail-pass and single journey options, travelling by train offers one of the easiest, most environmentally-friendly and flexible transport options for getting around France and beyond!

Rail-passes must be purchased before leaving Australia whilst pre-booking single journeys guarantees your seat before you leave home.

Jetsettr affiliates with RailEurope Australia to enable you to book and purchase your tickets and passes online and also benefit from promotions and discounts as they become available.

Find out more about Rail Europe products & services & purchase tickets & passes now.

Internet Resources

French Tourism Authority - Official Website

http://au.france.fr

Paris Convention & Visitors Office - Official Website

http://en.parisinfo.com

Metropole Paris - an excellent online magazine about Paris, by Parisians... and in English!

www.metropoleparis.com

Orientation

Paris is situated on the banks of River Seine which divides the city into two known as the Left and Right Banks. Both sides hold their fair share of historic monuments, cultural sights, galleries and museums.

Paris is further divided into 20 districts that spiral clockwise from the city centre. Each district is unique and has its own distinctive character although unless you have a lot of time on your hands, you'll find it hard going to to visit them all in one visit. But don't worry, it gives you the perfect excuse to return to the city again and again!

Passes

There are a myriad of options involving sightseeing and transport passes for Paris. Depending on your length of stay, what you'd like to see, how much you intend to jam-pack into each day and how you would prefer to get around, pre-purchased passes have their pros and cons.

Pros

Probably the most worthwhile reason for purchasing passes is for convenience. For example, with the Paris Museum Pass, there are no further admission charges, no waiting in queues for entry and no limit to the number of visits. And of course the more you visit, the more you save.

Cons

If you're navigating Paris yourself, despite the most organised efforts, it can often be hard to get around to the amount of attractions you need to see, to make the pass cost-effective. When I spent time in Paris, I didn't buy any passes and just bought train tickets and admission to sites as I wanted them. In saying that, the time I did spend in the inevitable lines and figuring out how the train system worked, was time I could have been using to visit more sights.

Jetsettr Tip

Do some homework - have a reasonable idea about what you'd like to see and achieve during your stay and then determine if a pass (and what pass for that matter!) is right for you.

Pass Options

Transport

Paris Visite Transport Card

The public transport system in Paris is an easy and convenient way of getting around and gaining access to all the major sites (and the lesser known ones too!)

The Paris Visite Transport Card allows you to make unlimited travel on the Paris Metro system, buses, RER regional express trains and SNCF île de France trains on consequtive days for the duration of your pass (either 1, 2, 3 or 5 day passes are available).

Prices from A$ per person. Valid Jan-Dec 2010.

Programme  Zone  Days  Price

Paris Visite        

1 - 3     

1 Day  21

2 Day  34

3 Day  46

5 Day  66

1 - 6     

1 Day  43

2 Day  66

3 Day  92

5 Day  113

The pass also entitles you to special discounts and offers at many Paris attractions (see the full list of them here).

For your convenience, the Paris Visite Transport Card can be purchased before your leave Australia. Purchase it here.

Hop-on Hop-off Tours

Hop-on Hop-off buses are a great way of streamlining your sightseeing. They're a no-fuss way of getting around to all the major sites and being dropped at their doorstep.

Paris L'Open Tour

The Paris L'Open Tour offers 4 different routes with a total of over 50 stops. Tickets are available as 1 or 2 consequtive day passes. Commentary is available via individual headphones in various languages including English. Operating times can change due to traffic conditions but the service is generally very reliable.

Prices from A$ per person. Valid Jan-Dec 2010.

 Programme  Days  Price

 Paris L'Open Tour   

1 Day  54

2 Day  60

Le Cars Rouge

Le Cars Rouge operates around 9 of the most popular attractions in Paris -

Tour Eiffel -> Champ de Mars -> Musee du Louvre -> Notre Dame -> Musee d'Orsay -> Opera -> Champs Elysees-Etoile -> Grand Palais -> Trocadero

Buses leave every 10 minutes in summer and every 20 minutes in winter which means you can get off, have a wander around and get back on anytime you like - the next bus will never be more than 10 minutes away (in summer).

Your ticket is validor 2 days and has unlimited use within that period.

Prices from € per person. Valid Jan-Dec 2010.

Programme  Days  Price

Le Cars Rouge  

2 Days  24 (children 12)

Sightseeing Passes

Paris Sightseeing Pass

Pre-purchasing the Paris Sightseeing Pass enables you to save money on admission charges at over 55 museums and more than 60 attractions across Paris as well as enjoying offers in a range of shops, restaurants and entertainment venues.

The Paris Pass offers excellent value by combining two passes in one. Your Paris Pass also includes a Paris Visite transport pass (zones 1 -3).

The Paris Pass is available in 2, 4 and 6 day passes.

Jetsettr customers receive 5% discount on the ticket price. Click on the link below to purchase your passes using voucher code: parpas05 when requested. 

Prices from $A per person. Valid Jan-Dec 2010.

Programme  Days  Price

Paris Sightseeing Pass    

2 Day  173

4 Day  252

2 Day  309

Passports & Visas

All visitors to France require a valid passport.

For leisure travelers, a visa is not currently required by Australian or New Zealand passport holders (for stays of up to 90 days).

Citizens of other countries may require a visa.

Different regulations apply for stays of more than 90 days. For further 

information please consult with the French Consulate or your travel agent.

Public Holidays

 1st January  New Years Day  3rd May  Whit Sunday

 2nd April  Good Friday  24th May  Whit Monday

 4th April  Easter Sunday  14th July  Bastille Day

 5th April  Easter Monday  15th August  Assumption Day

 1st May  May Day  1st November  All Saints' Day

 8th May  Victory Day  11th November  Armistice Day

 13th May  Ascension Day  25th December  Christmas Day

Shopping

Large stores are generally open from 10am to 7pm (no lunchtime closing) and late night shopping in Paris extends to 10pm.

The major shopping neighbourhoods within Paris include Palais de Congres de Paris, the Montparnasse and Saint Germain areas and the Forum des Halles.

Department stores such as Galeries Lafayette can be found on the Grand Boulevards and Rue de Rivoli. Many antiques dealers are centered around the Museum d'Orsay.

Speaking the language

Hello.    

Bonjour.

Hi.

Salut.

Thank you. (very much)

Merci (beaucoup). (mair-see (bo-koo))

Goodnight.

Bonsoir.

Goodbye.

Au revoir.

Excuse me.

Excusez-moi (ek-skew-zey-mwa)

Yes.

Oui. (wee)

No.

Non. (non)

Sorry.

Pardon. (par-don)

Please.

S'il vous plaît (seel voo pley) 

Do you speak English?

Parlez-vous anglais? (par-ley-voo ong-gley)

How are you?

Comment allez-vous? 

How much is it?

C'est combien? (sey kom-byun)

I don't understand.

Je ne comprends pas. (zhe ne kom-pron pa) 

I have a reservation.

J'ai une réservation (zhey ewn rey-zair-va-syon)

1, 2, 3

un (un), deux (deu), trois (trwa) 

Where's the local internet café?

Où est le cybercafé du coin? (ou ey le see-bair-ka-fey dew kwun)

One ticket to Bordeaux, please.

Un billet pour Bordeaux s'il vous plaît (um bee-yey pour Bor-do) seel voo pley) 

I'd like to buy a phone card.

Je voudrais acheter une carte téléphonique. (zhe voo-drey ash-tey ewn kart tey-ley-fo-neek)

Tipping

In cafes and restaurants you can expect that a 15% service charge will be added to your bill. A tip of €1-2 is polite for other services such as porting and ushering and extending through to doormen, taxi drivers and hairdressers.

Tours

From Versailles to the battlefields, the vineyards to the city, Paris and its surrounding region offers an array of things to do. There are too many options for us to list here but you can view a huge range of tours, day trips and other things to do in and around Paris, and conveniently pre-purchase all of your tickets from the Jetsettr website thanks to our Travel Partner Viator. Browse and book tours and travel experiences for Paris and its surrounding region  

Jetsettr Tip

If there is something you specifically want to do or see, pre-booking is recommended- especially for visits in the mid to high seasons. Shows like Moulin Rouge and dinner at the Eiffel Tower for example, are extremely popular tours and often get booked out well in advance (I made this mistake myself!) so get over there and get your tours booked to avoid disappointment!

What and where to eat

It's hard to know where to start when writing and recommending food and beverages from a country as well known for its cuisine as France. Simple put, it's an institution! Its chefs and its countrymen and women alike are custodians of tradition and a proud history - even if the basis of a few French favourites are based on what was once known as peasant food such as ratatoille.

Whether you're on a budget or looking to splurge, you'll find a miriad of options and restaurant styles to satisfy your hunger from sweet breakfast pastries to decadent dinner options for you to explore and enjoy!

Breakfast

Don't leave France without trying a pain au chocolat (chocolate croissant) or escargoe (sultana and custard pastry) for breakfast... or any time of day for that matter! There's nothing like a warm pastry from a little Parisian boulangerie on a chilly morning! Grab yourself a coffee to go with it and take a seat to watch the world go by - you'll have yourself believing you're a local!

Lunch

Grab a baguette and some ham and cheese and have a picnic in the Jardin des Tuileries or...

Fill yourself up with a yummy piece of quiche Lorraine and side salad from a bistro or brassierie or...

If you're in a hurry to get to the Eiffel Tower, pick up a selection of the best pre-packaged/made meals you'll ever find from Class Croute or Monoprix (this is where you'll find the locals too!)

Dinner

If you're feeling adventurous, track down a nice restaurant with escargoe on the menu and give this French specialty a try - it'll certainly be a story for your family and friends! And why not wash it down with a glass of wine wine or perhaps even some French champange? If you're not sure, ask your waiter to direct you to the perfect accompaniment!

Missing home? Console yourself with a comforting French stew such as beef bouguignon from a nearby brasserie and relish the depth and intensity of a dish cooked with a good red wine. Try Le Pain Quotidien for a great meal and community atmosphere.

Jetsettr Tip

Bistros can simple be pubs, bars with snacks and light meals or full on restaurants.

Brasseries often look like cafes and serve beverages and full meals from morning till late.

Menu Du Jour is the Menu of the Day that is basically a three course meal (entrée, main and dessert) for a set price. Drinks are usually extra.

 




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