Paris - Part 1

Travel in Paris in 2008

The Paris blog is done in 3 parts which I post weekly.

Eiffel Tower
Some say Paris is The City of Love. Others call it The City of Light. Paris is a lot of things to a lot of people. It's also the biggest tourist destination in the world. Almost eighty million people arrived in France in 2011. Most of them in Paris. see more here We went in low season and there were more tourists in Paris than I have ever seen anywhere before. High season must be dreadful in Paris.

Arc de Triomphe
Paris skyline from Eiffel Tower
The French have a reputation for being rude so why would people flock there? Paris is steeped in romance and history which is evident in their architecture. The French make sure they enjoy the best food, clothing and life style. They resonate pure class. I don't actually think the French are rude at all. I think it's the visitors who are rude. Imagine a Russian arriving in China and insisting on speaking Russian? It wouldn't happen. Yet people from English speaking countries rock up in France and make no effort to speak French or even ask if it is OK to speak English. I'm with the French on this one.

Sacre Coer
We first did a - Michel Thomas - basic French speaking course and found that if we tried to speak French first, the French people almost always spoke perfect English back to us.The Michel Thomas course was our second attempt at learning French. We did a proper course at a language school and after weeks we still couldn't speak French. They focused too much on grammar and tenses and we never got to learn how to actually speak. Michel Thomas takes phrases and gets you to very basic French fast. Which is all you need.

The other thing we found helpful in understanding the French were Stephen Clarke's books. They are written from the perspective of a Brit, but with a brilliant sense of humour. read about him here

There is so much to see in Paris. We stayed a week and we still never got to see all we hoped. Our plan was to take a tourist map and divide the city into parts which we walked each day making sure we included the main attractions. 

It is possible to hire a bicycle and ride around Paris. What is handy as you can drop the bike off at bike stands they have all over the city. Read more about that - hereAll the key attractions - except Versailles - are in the city. Paris is not an inexpensive destination but it is possible to cut costs. We discovered that on certain days, some major attractions are free. 

Here are two links to freebies in Paris - Paris logue - and - 10 free things to do in Paris.

Only thing with main attractions - free or not - you queue for hours to get in. An early start is vital. We got into the Musee d'Orsay for free but sharing space with thousands of people is no fun at all. Seriously, it can take nearly all day to get to see the Mona Lisa at the Louvre, coz everybody is doing the exact same thing.

George Pompidou
You have to really badly want to see something and then you need to know that you are seeing it at the expense of having time to explore other aspects of the city.

Next week in - Part 2 - I deal with must-sees and getting to and from airport and in a fortnight in - Part 3 - I talk on eating and my recommendations for things to do in Paris.

Go to - My Holidays and Trips - at the top of this page to read about other places we have visited. Or just click on - this link.

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