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Learn about Paris, France, by reading Paris – Everyone’s Dream by Bill Condon, Leisure/Business Traveler and WTA President. It features a mini, but thorough tour of the destination, plus all you'll need to know to plan your trip including how to get there, objective information on places to stay and eat, and things to do. At the end of the article, we've provided a summary of the contact information for your easy reference. Enjoy!

Paris - Everyone’s Dream

By Bill Condon, Leisure and Business Traveler; WTA President

A visit to Paris is a magical experience for people of all ages. The romance of a stroll on the left bank or sipping coffee at a sidewalk cafe on the Champs-Elysees does wonders for the spirits of young and old alike.

Paris is the kind of city where you can spend as much time as you have and never experience all that it has to offer; yet you are satisfied and blessed by what you were able to do. We recommend a minimum of four days in Paris and that is especially true if you are arriving from the United States and do not readily adjust to time changes of this magnitude (Paris is 6 hours ahead of the U.S. east coast during Daylight Savings Time).

From the Eiffel Tower to Montmartre you will find much to see and do, all of which that will be interesting and rewarding experiences. There are a number of ways to see Paris and with some advance planning you can make the most of your stay. In our case, we had been to Paris several times before and knew some of the places we wanted to visit and things we wanted to experience. Even with our familiarity and advance planning, we decided a city tour would be very worthwhile as it would allow us to see things we would not otherwise be exposed to and would help us focus our extra time on where we would find it most enjoyable. We decided on the L’ Open Tour, which has three routes through Paris to explore with opportunities to get on and off at any of the stops along the way. In fact, we purchased a two-day ticket because the routes they followed passed many of the places that were on our agenda and this mode of transportation was one of the easiest ways to get to them.

From April to October, the buses run past each stop every ten to fifteen minutes, which with some time planning allows you to see all of the major sights with a minimum of transportation challenges. The cost for an adult for the two day ticket starts at  $27.00 (14 Euro) and for children 4-11, $9.00 (7 Euro).

The must see list for most visitors includes the Eiffel Tower, Musee d’Orsay, Musee du Louvre, Pantheon, Notre-Dame, Place de la Bastille, Luxembourg Gardens, Tuileries Gardens, Sacre Coeur and the Arc de Triomphe.  All of these attractions are on the L’ Open Tour with easy on and easy off stops. For many of the attractions, you must wait in line, but the waits are not excessive. We avoided the one line that was quite long and in the rain by using the “back entrance.” This was at the Louvre, where the line to enter through the Pyramid entrance stretched across the square and wound around the building overhang. There are two other entrances for individuals that offer easier and timelier access: the Porte des Lions that you access through the Carrousel garden and the Quai des Tuileries, or via the shopping area Carrousel du Louvre that you access through 99 Rue de Rivoli or the Carrousel garden. We walked a short distance to the Lions entrance and walked in without any wait, avoiding over a one-hour wait in the rain at the Pyramid entrance. A bonus in shifting to this entrance is we entered one room away from the Mona Lisa display. From this entrance, the Musee was not crowded, so for at least half of our tour, we didn’t have to fight with large groups of people at each exhibit. We finished our tour where others started, at the Pyramid entrance. All of the services that are important such as the audio tour guides are available at these alternative entrances. What you miss initially are the gift shop items, which are available at the Pyramid Entrance, but you can visit this as you exit, plus you won’t have to carry your purchases with you through the Musee.

Visiting the Musee d’Orsay is a definite must from our perspective. There is only one entrance for individuals, which is along the River Seine, Quai Anatole France, where the L’ Open Tour bus has a regular stop. When we visited (in May), the line to enter was long, but moved rapidly. The collections include extensive paintings by Bazille, Degas, Manet, Monet, Moreau, Renoir, Rendon, Whistler and many others. Our favorite artist is Claude Monet and his work on display did not disappoint us. We are also quite appreciative of the work of Jean-Francois Millet, especially “The Angelus” and “The Gleaners.” Unfortunately for us on this trip, some of his work was on loan to another Musee so we will have to return at another time to see our favorites. One of the most impressive displays was a replica of the Paris Opera House. The intricacies of the set and stage changing mechanisms were nothing short of incredible for the times. Prior to our visit to the d’Orsay, we had attended a presentation of “Othello” at the Opera House, which gave added meaning to this display. I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that one of the best meals we had in Paris was lunch at the main dining room in the Musee d’Orsay.

A visit to Paris for most would not be complete without seeing the Eiffel Tower. In a sense, the Eiffel Tower is symbolic of Paris and that is one of the reasons that we choose it as part of the design elements for one of the World Travelers Visa cards. Our visit to the Eiffel Tower this year was special, because we were able to obtain much sought after and almost impossible to get reservations for dinner at the “Jules Verne” restaurant, which is located high up on the tower. Our dinner was superb and was only eclipsed by the beautiful view of Paris by night. We dined then danced in a most romantic atmosphere, overlooking the city from the River Seine to Montmartre, with frequent views of the almost equally fun and romantic dinner cruise boats that ply the River Seine each evening.

Dining in Paris is a special delight and we can only sing the praises of the many chefs, cooks and wait staff that make eating out such a delight. Dinner is served late with reservations generally being made after eight. If you wish to eat earlier, it is usually not too difficult to find a restaurant that is open and staffed before eight although the earlier hours are more chancy than later.

One of our favorite dining experiences and places to visit is Montmartre. This is the area that was made famous by the Moulin Rouge and is also the home of the Sacre Coeur. It is the highest point in Paris and the location where many aspiring artists are found. The streets are filled with artists at work painting and/or displaying their wares. There are numerous excellent restaurants with sidewalk or garden like dining areas. We have eaten at Chez Eugene’s on a number of occasions and consider it our favorite on Montmartre. We had a most wonderful lunch of smoked salmon on a baguette, followed by a stroll through all of the nooks and crannies that are so much of the charm of Montmartre. Returning to the city from Montmartre starts with a ride down the Tram and then a city bus or the underground or L’ Open Tour bus, and for the less adventurous, a taxi is always an option.

Some other places that we dined while in Paris were “Baan Boran”, 43 rue Montpensier (across from the Palais Royal Theater) and Chez Clement, 17 blvd des Capucines (close to the Paris Opera House). We also recommend Bateaux Parisiens lunch and dinner cruises on the Seine. They are located just across Quai Branly from the Eiffel Tower. Another excellent restaurant just off New York Avenue, near the Eiffel Tower is “Port Alma”.

Places to stay in Paris are varied and many in number. We prefer the smaller more intimate and close in hotels. They are usually not as expensive and naturally do not provide all of the services that a larger hotel may offer. All that we considered included the typical continental breakfast, which included croissants, brioches, bread, cheese, cold meats and cereal. For an additional charge, other items such as eggs are available.

Our choice for this trip was the Hotel Regence Opera, 57 rue Therese, just off the Ave. De L’ Opera, about mid-way between the Opera House and the Musee Louvre. We highly recommend Fodor’s as a resource for valuable and accurate information on hotels, restaurants and things to do in Paris.

Getting there for us was via Air France non-stop from Boston to Charles De Gaulle, leaving early in the evening and arriving early the next morning. The service including the meals on Air France was superior and started our trip off on a very positive note. Most major cities have either direct flights to Paris or connections through one of the East Coast hub airports. Your travel agent may be the best source for this information; ours was most helpful in all aspects of our journey.

Details

Where to Stay

Hotel Regence Opera
57 rue Therese
Arrondissement 1 Louvre, 7500 Paris
Telephone: 1 42 96 10 01
Fax-1 42 96 15 22

Metro Stops - Palais Royal and Musee du Louvre
Room Rate - 600-900FF or $90.00-$135.00
Reference Fodor’s Travel Guide Book to Paris for other recommendations

Where to Eat

Chez Clement
17 Blvd. des Capucines,
75002 Paris
Telephone:  1 53 43 82 00
Fax:  1 53 43 82 09

Metro Stop:  Opera
Web Site: www.chezclement.com

Baan Boran
43 rue Montpensier,
75001 Paris
Telephone/Fax:  1 40 15 90 45
Metro Stop: Palais Royal and Musee du Louvre

Bateaux Parisiens/Seino Vision
(Lunch and Dinner Cruises on the Seine)
Port de la Bourdonnais
75007 Paris (Adjacent to the Eiffel Tower)
Telephone:  1 44 11 33 33
Fax:  1 45 56 07 88

Metro Stop: Bir Hakeim and Alma Marceau

Port-Alma
10 Avenue de New York
75116 Paris
Telephone:  1 47 23 75 11
Metro Stop:  Alma Marceau

Jules Verne, Tour Eiffel 2e estage
Champ de Mars
75007 Paris
Telephone:  1 45 55 61 44
Fax:  1 47 05 29 41

Metro stop: Bir Hakeim

When to Go and Weather

Peak season in Paris is during the summer months. If you want to be sure to see the Jardines or gardens of Paris such as Monet’s and others, then the spring months are the best time. Fall is also a good time of year to visit Paris. Expect Paris weather to be similar to the east coast of the United States, e.g. 60s with some rain in the Spring, warm to hot in the summer, and 70s and 80s in the early Fall with cool nights.

Getting Around Paris

By far the best means of getting around in Paris is by using the Metro, http://www.ratp.info/informer/anglais/index.php. No one should be reluctant to give it a try because it is very straightforward and easy to use. Tickets can be purchased at all Metro Stops and the best buy is to purchase packets of ten. The system has 124 miles of track and 15 lines. There are 368 stations within easy walking distance of practically every destination.

Walking is the single best way to see Paris and if you are fit you will find this to be the most enjoyable way to see the city.

Attractions

Notice: This information is current as of May 2001. It is recommended that you contact the numbers, and/or visit the websites above to determine any changes to the information.