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Christmas in Paris!!!
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Debbie



Joined: 21 Feb 2005
Posts: 861
Location: Paris

PostPosted: Thu Sep 22, 2005 10:21 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thank you Deste! I also think that seeing the Mona Lisa is highly over rated. The crush around her is horrid, and the woman herself is not quite what you expect. Still wonderful and old and everything, but just not a pleasant serene experience.

My favourite part of the Louvre is the ruins underneath. It is nowhere near as busy as the rest of the museum, and really interesting to see what the Louvre was built on top of.

We bought yearly passes to the Louvre so we can go in and have a few hours looking, and then leave. To come back again another day and do the same. Only way to preserve your sanity. THe passes are great value and you also get free or reduced price entry to other museums and art galleries around France.

I love the Musee de Moyen Ages. It is across from the Sorbonne (where I will be studying in a few short weeks!!! so excited) and that whole area is very interesting.
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Karmakeys



Joined: 22 Aug 2005
Posts: 1
Location: Atlanta, GA, USA

PostPosted: Fri Sep 23, 2005 4:35 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

This is wonderful! I too will be in Paris for Christmas and New Year's Eve. It will be my first time in Paris - or France, for that matter, and all of these suggestions are great. Any tips for New Year's Eve festivities?
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Pesto Man



Joined: 17 Jun 2005
Posts: 185
Location: New Orleans Louisiana

PostPosted: Sat Oct 08, 2005 1:40 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well, Mother nature in all her fury, cannot deter me, we got final ok for my wife's vacation days, and made our reservations WE WILL BE IN PARIS IN 2 MONTHS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

A nice little "prize" to look forward as we dig out from the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina

now my questions will get more specific Smile First things first... getting from the airport....The Air France Bus stops very near the Apartment, and I have been told that it is most convient, but for a little bit more, I am seriously, considering a shuttle service which will meet us @ customs and take us to our doorstep, any opinions?, experiences? reccomendations for specific shuttle companies (I am looking at Bee Shuttles) any advice will be greatly appreciated

is it December yet? Wink
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I would like a gin martini, straight up, olives on the side, as dry as my wit, as clean as my conscience.
and... as cold as my heart!!!!
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Erin



Joined: 18 Oct 2004
Posts: 1654
Location: Within view of Elliot Bay, The Olympics and every ship in the Sound

PostPosted: Sat Oct 08, 2005 5:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Pesto Man,

I was wondering if you would still be going, that's wonderful!

I was recently told that the easiest way was to take either a cab or the RAR train. I am flying into Orly, but I know CDG has the train service as well. The train will be cheaper and faster, though unless you have a stop near your hotel like I do it may be a bit of an annoyance to tote your luggage. A cab from Orly is about 40 euros, I think CDG is a bit farther so obviously more. If I am wrong about that info someone please correct me.

My friend took a bus from CDG and had a horrible experience, though I think it may have been passenger related and not company.

Have fun and I want a full report when you get back. Phil and I are going in a few months and could use more info.
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David



Joined: 30 Sep 2004
Posts: 1855
Location: Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

PostPosted: Sat Oct 08, 2005 6:45 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

What great news Pesto Man!! You folks really deserve this trip after what you've been through.

And Erin, that's right about the train---great value and service and is easily found at CDG airport, well marked!
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simona



Joined: 11 Mar 2005
Posts: 696
Location: israel

PostPosted: Sat Oct 08, 2005 9:43 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Dear Pesto Man,
paris in December , decorated, bright, rich - decadently rich, is wonderful. As for transportation: Train, Bus etc are either for very young (backpackers) or for people travelling light. I undersatnd you're coming for 20 days, so you will have some luggage, and I understand you're not 20 years old either. So, after a long flight, arriving in a ( probably) cold Paris, with quite a bit of luggage, I wouldn't dream of a bus or the RER. Think of the stairs, or the walking from the bust to the appartment, etc. For once, indulge yourself, shuttle is OK ( though check the price, a shuttle for two can cost nearly as much as a taxi ). You're in holiday, after a very hard time, take it easy, pamper yourself. Have a wonderful stay!!
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Barbara



Joined: 13 Nov 2004
Posts: 899
Location: Gold Coast Australia

PostPosted: Sat Oct 08, 2005 10:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'd treat myself to a shuttle or taxi just because it will be cold. Last time we arrived in Paris was early April and we almost froze waiting for the bus. OUr plan was to take the RER but somehow we missed the signs and ended up on a bus. Have a wonderful time.

David - nice to see you back particiapting in the forums. Big hugs to you and a special big hug to Dick.
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Debbie



Joined: 21 Feb 2005
Posts: 861
Location: Paris

PostPosted: Sun Oct 09, 2005 11:21 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

All of the suggestions are fine. However, there is a cheaper and easier option if you are staying in the centre of Paris.

Air France buses are great if you are going to near the etoile. A good option for you Pestoman. My friend who lives near there always takes the airfrance buses.

Coming in to Paris from CDG or Orly there is the Roissybus or Orlybus which are operated by the government transport department. They are very cheap (8euros 30centimes from CDG to Opera) and very convenient (running about every 15 mins). This is how I travel to the airports all the time.

Taxis seem a good option, till you get caught in traffic and don't move for 30 minutes.... and the whole time you are just watching the meter click higher and higher, wasting your holiday spendings.

The train is ok, but if your luggage is heavy it is horrid to be trying to lug it up and down the stairs in the metro stations. We have also found that some suitcases are too wide to fit through the turnstiles.... my husband had to buy a new suitcase as his was too wide to be practical.

The Roissybus and Orlybus don't have a set route as they pick up at all terminals at the airport and then drop off at Opera (and vice versa). There are no stops in between. If there is traffic or an accident or any kind of obstructions, the driver is informed and can avoid the situation. We have a joke that we never seem to go the same route twice.

Seriously though, the buses are a lot easier than the taxis, trains and being picked up. There are dedicated bus lanes everywhere and so the buses can always get through.
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If you cannot feel your arteries hardening, eat more cheese. If you can, drink more red wine. Diet is just "die" with a "t" on the end. Exercise is walking into the kitchen.
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claudine



Joined: 06 Oct 2005
Posts: 16
Location: UK

PostPosted: Sun Oct 09, 2005 12:40 pm    Post subject: paris walks Reply with quote

check out the Time Out book of Paris Walks (out of print but usually available second hand from amazon or abe). It's the most fantastic guide to the Paris you know and the Paris you might otherwise never see...
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Pesto Man



Joined: 17 Jun 2005
Posts: 185
Location: New Orleans Louisiana

PostPosted: Sun Oct 09, 2005 5:40 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Everyone, thanks for the prompt response! Here is what I have it narrowed down to, Either the Air France Bus of which I have only heard good things about, or a Bee Shuttle which for 5 Euro per person more (approx $6.06) will meet us @ Customs and take us to our door. Considering the weather, jet lag, excitement, and a pathetic knowlege of French, I am leaning twords the extra $12!

Now for the next questions changing our dollars into Euros. I have heard that some of the best exchange rates will be had using our credit cards visa/master-card, but I like to pay cash and wiill at any rate need euros for day to day commerce. Get them (dollars) exchanged at a bank here?, WHile in Paris?, a bit of both? How hard is it exchange dollars in Paris? Where do I get the most favorable exchange rates? Any and all advice or comments will be welcome!
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I would like a gin martini, straight up, olives on the side, as dry as my wit, as clean as my conscience.
and... as cold as my heart!!!!
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happenstance



Joined: 30 Sep 2005
Posts: 32
Location: Oakland, CA

PostPosted: Sun Oct 09, 2005 10:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hey Pesto Man,

I too will be in Paris at xmas and new year's. I am newish to this blog, but have been reading your story and lurking in general for a while, and am so glad you are going after all the horrendous times you have been through.

Anyhow, take the the shuttle that drops you at your door. After that flight, you will appreciate it. Also, you can just get money at any ATM in Paris. That's what we do. I never even bother with Traveler's checks anymore. Also using the banks will give you the up to the minute excahnge rate, which is ALWAYS better than money traders.

If you want to get a few Euros ahead of time, so you have some with you on the plane, you can sometimes order them through your bank. If not, they will direct you to a place you can get them. The exchange rate at the Airpoirt traders is horrible, so avoid them if you can.

Good luck to you and a big toast to the City of Lights!

All best,
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Sharing her home with Rimsky the cat, Cody the partner, and 9 happy hens.

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Pesto Man



Joined: 17 Jun 2005
Posts: 185
Location: New Orleans Louisiana

PostPosted: Mon Nov 07, 2005 6:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Just looked @ the calendar ,and we are leaving in just in a mere 30 days!!!!
(as excitement and panic begin to blend) Smile
have begun placing all the various notes I have gleaned off the net into a ring binder, divided into chapters (apartment, shopping, eating,[looks like this will be the biggest chapter by far] sightseeing, etc) so I will be better able to find anything in the truely massive sheath of paper I have accumulated.

My friend is also making his computer available so I will be able to access my e-mails (and keep in touch w\ all my good friends @ CZ) I also intend to e-mail myself a list of useful links so that I can better access all the resources i have found
while I would love to hear any and all suggestions about any and everything!
I have 2 major lines of inquiry at the moment

1st I have "reservations" about reservations ....at least one source, I have read insists that I should "always make a reservation"(even at "neighborhood resturants") this willl be difficult as i will frequently not know exactly what time I will be able to get to a location (the vaguries of travel in a foriegn city and the carefree pace of "sightseeing") and perhaps most importantly, WE Speak VIRTUALLY NO FRENCH!! and while I trust my ability to smile, pantomime, and point my way through most face to face situations, I really would not have any confidence over the phone. In addition, not staying at a hotel there isn't an option of getting the concierge to make reservationas for mme. While finances would preclude any truly "3star" dining experiences, we would like like to go to some of the neighborhood places" we have read about (especially on CZ) so my question, would I be comitting a major "faux pas" if we just showed up ? any insights, suggestions?

2nd What to read?? we are both major readers and cannot go to long without a book in my hands so my question: considering our location, and season what books would you reccomend? out tastes are pretty eclectic so suggest away!!!
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I would like a gin martini, straight up, olives on the side, as dry as my wit, as clean as my conscience.
and... as cold as my heart!!!!
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Debbie



Joined: 21 Feb 2005
Posts: 861
Location: Paris

PostPosted: Mon Nov 07, 2005 9:45 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think I have only ever booked into a restaurant once in the whole time I have been here. And that was only because we wanted to take over the whole restaurant! If it is just the two of you don't worry about reserving unless it is for a really special resto that you know you want to go to on a particular day/time etc.

Books..... if you want to, I can loan you books while you are here. I have heaps!!! My husband jokes that I devour books, as I always have one with me and it never lasts more than an hour or two before I have finished it.... Rolling Eyes so then I have to buy another..... Laughing

If you want to PM me we can swap details and organise a care parcel of books for you and your wife to borrow while here. I am over in the area you will be staying in everyday at my friends house (she is due to have a baby and on complete bedrest, so I am helping her out every afternoon till it is due on Christmas eve - or sooner depending on the baby Wink )

It is so exciting that Christmas is almost here. I have all my presents bought and wrapped and sitting here looking very festive..... I feel like I am 6 years old again! Laughing
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If you cannot feel your arteries hardening, eat more cheese. If you can, drink more red wine. Diet is just "die" with a "t" on the end. Exercise is walking into the kitchen.
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Chicago Bear



Joined: 02 May 2005
Posts: 240
Location: Chicago

PostPosted: Mon Nov 07, 2005 9:46 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I was in Paris for Christmas two years ago. Here are some random thoughts:
1. I used my debit card to get euros directly from ATM's. They have the best exchange rates, especially because some credit cards are now charging 3% (!) as a foreign exchange fee just to process credit card purchases overseas.
2. We had an apartment on Rue St. Dominque. The Christmas lights were great; it's close to the Eiffel Tower, which is one of the few tourist sites open on Christmas Day.
3. People might disagree with this, but my experience has been that a lot of restaurants find it rude if you show up without a reservation. It's worthwhile to call, even if you don't speak French, and at least try. I almost always got interrupted halfway through my request in French, because everyone could tell how brutal my French was anyway, and the maitre d' would switch the conversation to English. Bon soir, je suis homme de pesto, and je voudrais.......
4. The unicorn tapestries are fantastic at the Cluny. I loved the modern art at the Pompidou. Actually, I found the Mona Lisa display to be pretty well done all things considered, and it wasn't very crowded right around Christmas. But my passion was the Northern European paintings, and the Louvre has a spectacular collection which is pretty empty. Don't pass the audio tour, though. For a fairly modest fee, you can punch in the number of about 1,000 works of art, and you get a very interesting description of whazzup with the painting. You can go in any order you want, which I found to be a lot of fun.
5. I'm for wine bars. As you might suspect, there are some really good ones. (What? wine is available in Paris?) And....here's a bonus, they have good food too. I liked L'Ecluse on Grand Augustin, which is on the left bank not a heck of a long way from Notre Dame. (Get drunk, see church) But Willy's (or maybe it's Willi's) Wine Bar was also quite good, even though it's more upscale and definitely more known to the tourists.
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Bill



Joined: 24 May 2005
Posts: 10
Location: Ireland

PostPosted: Mon Nov 07, 2005 11:05 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi Pestoman, whatever you do, Christmas in Paris will be fantastic. Just two tips, we took the shuttle from CDG to our apartment last year, and it was a great way of getting into the city. However on the journey back we tried the same, it turned up late, and then we sat in traffic in the pouring rain until we had almost missed our flight... very, very stressful! So definitely use it on arrival, but I'd recommend the train/ bus back.

The second is very simple, with or without French, always catch the eye of the waiter/ owner/ assistant in any shop/ restaurant etc as you enter and say "bonjour". It seems strange, but believe me it will make everything go 1000 times more smoothly!

Enjoy it!
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