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Looking to spend 3 days and 3 nights in September.
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AlexK



Joined: 20 May 2005
Posts: 7

PostPosted: Fri May 20, 2005 9:51 pm    Post subject: Looking to spend 3 days and 3 nights in September. Reply with quote

Hi everyone! what a wonderful forum and blog!

Now that I've gone back to college I'm looking to go to Paris in September. If you were going to do it on the cheap and stay for say 3 days and 3 nights just to get your feet wet and walk the streets and sample the food, what would you recommend? Is it safe to stay in a Hostel? if so, where do you recommend or is it best to stay in a hotel. I'm on a limited budget.

Thanks!
Alex
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elemenoh



Joined: 10 May 2005
Posts: 17
Location: Scotland/New Jersey/Connecticut/Massachusetts

PostPosted: Sat May 21, 2005 3:33 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

This may be more info than you're looking for, but this is what happens when I get a chance to offer advice Wink

I've stayed in hostels lots of times in a number of countries and never had a problem, but every hostel is different, and bad stuff does happen sometimes, so take that with a grain of salt, I suppose. If you make sure the place you stay has lockers available to keep your stuff secure while you're not around, you usually won't have to worry about theft. (Just, you know, don't wander around all 'Here is my new iPod that I am leaving on my bed while I go shower! It is fancy and expensive and unattended!')

Hostels are often a good way to meet fellow travelers when you're on your own - if you really like to meet new and interesting people, hostel common rooms are a great place for that. (Many of these new and interesting people, though, will be American college students, which, although we are fun, we are not a demographic that appeals to everyone, so you might want to temper your decision with that knowledge.) One thing about hostels is that you can't usually go back to them during the day - you'll need to be out by a certain time in the morning, whether or not you're staying the night, and there's a limit on how early you can come back.

If you're traveling with someone, though, I've found that it's about as inexpensive to share the cost of a cheap hotel as it is to stay in a hostel, with the added benefit of (usually) an ensuite bathroom and privacy.

I'd recommend that you get ahold of a 'Lonely Planet' book or the Rick Steves Paris travel book - they're a good source for hotel/hostel reviews, as well as general travel, sights to see, etc. (Rick Steves' Rome book is excellent. I'm not familiar with his Paris or France books, but if they're as good as the ones I've used, you'll be glad to have them.) Hostelling International is a good resource for finding out about hostels, and googling 'France hostels' turns up tons of helpful-looking stuff.

Anyhow, hope this was helpful and not just long-winded - have an excellent time in Paris!
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AlexK



Joined: 20 May 2005
Posts: 7

PostPosted: Sat May 21, 2005 6:31 pm    Post subject: Thanks you! Reply with quote

Ok, how many dollars a night is a cheap hotel? 100? 150? more?
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elemenoh



Joined: 10 May 2005
Posts: 17
Location: Scotland/New Jersey/Connecticut/Massachusetts

PostPosted: Sat May 21, 2005 8:54 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Cheap hotel = ~40-60 Euros = ~$50-$75. (For a double room.) Hotels with these kind of prices are generally rated 0-1 stars, but I've found that if you check out the place ahead of time (through their website or reviews or whatever), they actually aren't so bad, so don't be intimidated, necessarily, by a low rating. They're not luxury, but they're a step up from a hostel.

You'll find better prices if you stay a bit out of the city, most likely. Again, my experience is not specific to Paris, so maybe someone else here could advise you more specifically, but that's what I've found to be the case elsewhere, and the impression I get from a bit of searching around the web.

Another option I forgot to mention is Craig's list Paris. You might find vacation rentals or temporary sublets there that fit your budget.[/url]
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psychchef



Joined: 02 Apr 2005
Posts: 2

PostPosted: Mon May 23, 2005 11:20 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I was just in Paris and stayed at the Henry IV Hotel on Place Dauphin, on Ile de Cite. Definitely less that 1 star, but rates are 28 to 45 euro for a room with or without a shower or toilet, but great location, central, yet quiet square.
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psychchef



Joined: 02 Apr 2005
Posts: 2

PostPosted: Mon May 23, 2005 11:23 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

We actually moved from that hotel to Hotel Voltaire on the Seine, 3 star, for 128 euro a night. That was nicer with its own bathroom. Also the best way to do it cheap is to go to the markets each day. A great book is Paris in a Basket, which describes all the markets, and Patricia Wells book on Paris for Foodlovers.
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creampuff



Joined: 10 Mar 2005
Posts: 104
Location: Oakland, CA

PostPosted: Tue May 24, 2005 5:34 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Congrats on being able to go to Paris. I'm just back and I have a lot of tips for maximizing time and/or money (sometimes there is a trade off!)

Here is part one -- kind of how to save money on the logistics of getting there and getting around. As my schedule permits, I'll post more info gleaned from my recent trip on this forum and others, so watch for more recommendations, unsolicited advice and candid opinions to come!

Enjoy,

Creampuff

Budget Paris - Time and Money

Based on my recent eight-day visit, I have some tips for anyone who is short on time and/or money on their visit to Paris.

Before you go:

You don’t need to spend a lot of money of guide books or maps. The City of Paris prints a very nice guide. I got mine from a travel agent in the states, but I also saw it at the official tourism offices in Paris. I suspect you can get it from the consulates as well.
The main tourism site is www.parisinfo.com
Poke around and follow the links and you’ll find info on almost anything you’d want to do in Paris. There are lots of other sites, but this one is a good place to start. For one person's opinions on just about everything to do with Paris, check out www.anamericaninparis.com

I recommend buying one really up to date guidebook that reflects the way you like to travel (Rough Guides, Lonely Planet, Fodor’s, etc.) and write in it all the stuff you find from the internet and elsewhere. I was able to borrow a number of guides and reference books from friends and my public library.

You don’t need to buy a fancy map. I mostly used the free maps that are everywhere from the department stores. My travel agent had one of those for me, too, and they are available from your hotel and the tourist offices. (The main one is in the shopping center by the Louvre, but there are smaller ones in other locations including near the Eiffel Tower.)

It’s handy to have one of those big Michelin maps that list every alleyway. I used mine from 20 years ago exactly once this last trip. Ask around and see if any of your friends can loan you one or wait until you are in Paris and buy the Plan de Paris map from a magazine kiosk. It has a blue cover. It is very reasonable.

Every metro station has free subway and bus maps, there is no need to buy one, the freebie is excellent.

Getting Around:

From the airports, take the Air France bus. (You don't need to have flown on Air France.) It costs 12 euros each way and there are several routes with convenient stops at different locations in the city. From there you can take a taxi or the metro depending on the size of your baggage and wallet.
It was very easy and not too confusing for a time-lagged, non-French speaking traveler.

If the timing works for you, invest in a Carte Orange. It’s a weekly pass for the metro, bus and trains that you can buy Monday through Wednesday for the week ending that Sunday. You buy it by zones, so for example, if you plan to go to Versailles you would need to make sure you bought one that covered the zone the palace is in so you can take the train there without additional charge. (Sorry, I can’t remember its zone number, check your free metro map.)


You buy the Carte Orange at the ticket counter at the metro. Ask for the holder, too.
You’ll need to bring a photo of yourself to attach to the pass. I scanned one in and sized it about 1 inch x 1 inch and printed it out and it worked fine. You can also use one of the photo booths in just about every metro station and take your photo there, ala Amelie.

The Carte Orange is MUCH cheaper than the official visitor metro card which is also available.

If your visit’s timing makes a Carte Orange undesirable, buy a carnet (pronounced carney) of 10 tickets, you’ll save a bit on each metro ride and feel more like a native.
The metro tickets are also good on the bus but you’ll have to use a second one if you transfer.

The metro and bus system site has some info in English and a trip planner. The address is www.ratp.fr Unfortunately, the Carte Orange info is only in French.

Still to come, some advice on hotels (sorry, I don't know any info on the hostels), sightseeing and more.
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creampuff



Joined: 10 Mar 2005
Posts: 104
Location: Oakland, CA

PostPosted: Tue May 24, 2005 11:02 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

More from Creampuff's Very Idiosyncratic Guide to Paris

Part 2 - Budgeting Time & Money While You See the Sights

Your trip is such a quick one you will need to prioritize what you want to do. I speak from experience it is easy to be over ambitious about what you plan to see and do. It is so easy in Paris to just stumble into something you never expect you never quite get around to seeing Notre Dame. Despite everything I read I was also unprepared for the unbelievable long lines to get into some of the more popular attractions.

Here are some tips:

1. Consider buying a museum pass, available at tourist offices and most big museums. One day is 18 euros, three days is 36. There is also a five day pass for (I think) 54 euros.
It is an expense, but if you want to see the Louvre and the D’Orsay, it will literally save you hours in line to get in. It is good at a huge number of museums. Check out http://bonjourparis.tourpackagers.com/Participants/ParisMuseum.htm for a list of participating museums and check out www.metropoleparis.com/musees1.html for a list of Paris museums with opening hours, prices, and descriptions of collections. The pass does save you the admission price, as well.

2. Consider going to some of the less well known museums. Check the metropoleparis site. For example, the Marmottan has a huge collection of Monets and other impressionists and usually has no wait.

3. Skip the tourist bus tour of the city and try using the city buses. Rick Steves recommends the #69 from the Eiffel Tower to the Pere Lachaise cemetery. It only costs one metro ticket (1.40 euros), or use your Carte Orange, and takes about an hour. If you want the quick, city overview tour, by all means save time instead of money and take a bus sightseeing tour.

4. Cruise the Seine, but skip the big tourist boats. Take the Batobus, a water ferry service that has stops pretty much near all the big tourist spots in the city. One day’s pass is 11 euros, two days’ just two euros more. Well worth it, you can combine transport with sightseeing at a big savings plus no canned commentary!

5. Be aware of your time budget but don’t skimp on your dreams. It took us almost two hours to get to the top of the Eiffel Tower on a sunny weekday. Half hour wait to pay, half hour wait to take the elevator to just the second level and then a wait to go to the top and then waiting to go down again. It was worth it, but it was an unexpected time drain. If seeing Paris from the Eiffel Tower isn’t as important to you and the line is long when you get there, visit the base, see the neighborhood, etc., and get your views elsewhere or consider coming back late afternoon to see if the line is gone. (FYI – museum pass not valid here.)

6. Ride the funicular in Montmartre up to the Sacre-Coeur. It is the regular metro fare and runs until about 12:30 p.m. Montmartre stays up late and there is quite a crowd up at the basilica until fairly late.

7. Reserve a free fashion show through the department stores. See www.parisinfo.com for more info on that.

8. If you are going to be alone, you might want to consider a Paris Walking tour. This company is very reasonable (10-12 euros) and it will give you a chance to hook up with fellow English-language travelers -- http://ourworld.compuserve.com/homepages/pariswalking/

9. Enjoy where you are. Paris is a great city to explore without a lot of money. There are wonderful parks, the city of Paris-run museums are free, loads of cafes in interesting areas to spend a few euros and a few hours, lots of theaters and shows (there is a half price theater kiosk – concerts and musicals need no translation. Spend 40 cents and buy a Pariscope. It’s all in French but easy to figure out your entertainment options.)
Plus there are all the wonderful shops to wander through and all that the architecture, public art and sense of style to gawk at. I found myself walking for hours, just looking at things, taking photos, seizing the moment as much as I could. You can’t do everything, so do what you can well not try to do it all. After all, this is just your next trip, right? You’ll be back.


Still to come, some hotel, shopping and food suggestions.
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David



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

PostPosted: Wed May 25, 2005 7:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

creampuff---you do Paris right!! Wimp that i am, I couldn't make it past the first level of the Eiffel Tower.
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creampuff



Joined: 10 Mar 2005
Posts: 104
Location: Oakland, CA

PostPosted: Wed May 25, 2005 7:30 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Oops - typo -- the funicular (and the rest of the Paris metro system) runs to about 12:30 A.M. (not p.m.) I guess I should stick to the 24 hour clock!

Please note my first avatar. It is part of a photo I took in a Paris souvenir shop near the Eiffel Tower. I am searching local bakeries to take for a good photo of a truly photogenic creampuff (what else) to replace it with.

I guess this is a good time to mention that if you want traditional souvenirs, they are cheaper EVERYWHERE else compared to what they charge near the Eiffel Tower and Trocadero!
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creampuff



Joined: 10 Mar 2005
Posts: 104
Location: Oakland, CA

PostPosted: Wed Jun 01, 2005 12:39 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Continuing my budget info:

To check out a hotel and see what real people have to say about it, try www.tripadvisor.com I found it very helpful to get a realistic idea of a place.

I heartily recommend the hotel I recently stayed in. It was 95 euros a night for a double and included a very nice breakfast. It is the 16th, about two blocks from Trocadero metro, yet in a very residential neighborhood with a small outdoor market and a wonderful shopping center (bakery, grocery store, wines, cheese and more) nearby.

(I was also quoted the same rate for a single)

The hotel was relatively small, family owned, nicely maintained. The rooms and baths were very clean and comfortable and not too small considering this is Paris. Rooms with views of the Eiffel Tower are available. It was a quiet, safe neighborhood.

(Remember in Europe, if you want two beds in your double room, you need to specify, two people, two beds!)

If you can't get a deal on breakfast included at this hotel (or any other), skip it, the buffet goes for 12 euros and you can do better at local cafes.

Hotel du Rond Point de Longchamp
86 Rue de Longchamp
33-1-45051363
fax (which they answer fairly promptly): 33-1-47551280
From America, please dial the country code first - 011

One tip about ATMs, check to see if your bank has a partner in Paris. For example Bank of America partners with Banc Paribus. I saved all sorts of fees, including a relatively new fee most banks charge -- an administrative fee of up to $5 every time you use an ATM, no matter how much or little cash you withdraw.

Don't forget to let your credit card and bank ATM companies know you are traveling. Many will freeze your account if they don't have notice the cards are being used overseas.
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Barbara



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

PostPosted: Wed Jun 01, 2005 4:52 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The Museum Pass is vital to reduce the time you will wait in queues. On one of our visit to Paris we arrived at Musee Dorsay just before opening time and the queue stretched around the block. We were able to go to the front of the queue and gain admittance immediately....and I have no idea how to spell queue!
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Debbie



Joined: 21 Feb 2005
Posts: 861
Location: Paris

PostPosted: Wed Jun 01, 2005 9:27 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Another tip.... If you wan tto see over Paris but can't be bothered fighting the queues at the Tour Eiffel, go to Montparnasse and go to top of the tower. Another spot is La Defense. You can go to the top of the tower there and enjoy the view.

If you want to see some of the cute winding streets of Montmartre, don't take the furnicular to the Sacre Couer. Catch the Montmartre Bus from Abbesses metro station. It is one purple metro ticket, or use your carte orange. It takes only a few minutes to reach the top and you have seen some of the nicest parts of the arrondissement on the trip. It takes a different route back down the hill, so you get to see more of the area.

I think the street directory that was mentioned is the one that most people here use. It is called Paris Pratique. Costs about 6 or 7 euros at a newsagent or tabac. It has metro, bus, RER, trams etc all listed as well as an index of streets and maps of each arrondissement. Pocket/purse sized so it is very easy to carry. Mine lives in my handbag and is referred to almost every day.

If you have the time, catch the buses. You see so much more of Paris. Metro is quick and easy, but the buses have the view.

The museum pass is a good idea. We have an annual pass and use it all the time. It does reduce your wait and also gives you other offers. Sometimes you can have access to museums not on the pass or to special rates for exhibits. If you get the booklt l'offical de spectacle or Pariscope (a few centimes at the tabac or newsagent) you will see what special offers are going for that week. Think it comes out on a wednesday or thursday.

If you want to shop at Printemps or Galleries Lafayette go to the info counter in the stores first. You can get a discount card which you present along with your passport when you make a purchase. You get about 10% off the price.
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AlexK



Joined: 20 May 2005
Posts: 7

PostPosted: Wed Jun 01, 2005 4:48 pm    Post subject: Thank you Creampuff! Reply with quote

I've heard the Louvre is so big, you could spend a week in it! I was thinking of waiting to see The Louvre when I can return for say...10 days. I just wanted to get a feel of "The Moveable Feast." Shops and restaurants.
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creampuff



Joined: 10 Mar 2005
Posts: 104
Location: Oakland, CA

PostPosted: Wed Jun 01, 2005 9:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Moveable Feast, huh.

Okay, check out some of the street food markets, which often sell other things as well. See the forum topic on the markets in this category for more information and suggestions.

If you are in Paris on Saturday or Sunday, do the Paris flea market at Clingnancourt. It is like cruising the world's largest museum gift shop with things from one euro to so expensive I didn't even ask.

It is open Mondays as well but I'm not sure how much is open on Mondays. While at the market, check out Chez Louisette. It is decorated like a cajun dance hall and features accordian players, singers and is just full of atmosphere and fun. The food was okay, too.
Let me know if you want directions to the actual flea market (as opposed to all the tables of interesting enough stuff from scarves and bags to African and Arabian artwork before you get to the market) and the restaurant.

You might want to pick a neighborhood or two and just wander and explore there. Every neighborhood seems to have a gourmet shop, cheese store, bakery, chocolate store, produce stall and more as well as other charming shops and cafes. Rue Cler is a famous one that is very publicized and near the Eiffel Tower and the Champ de Mars and the Invalides.

Rue Mouffetard is another area that is good for "moveable feasting"

The Place de Madeline seems to have a confluence of very very high end food stores. If you want to just look at foods that are as gorgeous as jewels, I guess this is the place. I preferred the neighborhood experiences and open markets.

All the big department stores have food halls where you can wander and wonder.

Don't forget to check out some of the French supermarkets. The ones I saw were full of interesting sights and goodies, much more "gourmet" than the average Safeway.

If you are on a budget, get some goodies at some of these places and picnic somewhere. I emptied out my room's minibar and used the fridge to store all sorts of cheeses, olives and the like. (Be sure to put everything back in and check you are not charged!)

Happy feasting
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