Courtesy of Paris Eiffel Tower News and Monument Paris
Welcome to Paris! This page was designed especially for you who may visit Paris for the first time. The idea is to give you advices to acquaint you with the City of Light, and help you prepare for this exciting trip. Read on!
Hotel Murat Paris, prepare well for a stroll...
Once you have settled down in your comfortable hotel room and are getting ready to take your first stroll, take some time to dress appropriately.
First, put on a really good pair of walking shoes to feel comfortable in the Parisian streets. Walking in Paris means stopping often to look at amazing details and buildings. This constant stop-and-go will wear you down if you aren't comfy in your shoes.
Visiting the Eiffel Tower means waiting often over 30 minutes to gain access to the ticket booth, then waiting some more for the elevator on the way up, and waiting some more for the elevator on the way down. So to your feet, a pair of good shoes will make a big difference!
Parisian weather is fickle in springtime and during fall: what starts out as a great clear day can turn rainy and chilly in the afternoon. Pack a sweater and a rain breaker if you are visiting during these seasons. Summer is usually fine (70-85°F), August is generally hotter (80-95°F). Winter is rainy and cold, almost as cold as in NYC.
In any case, take your umbrella along, it may become your best friend -- especially if you intend to take pictures of everything. Rain and camera lenses don't like each other.
Now that you're dressed and all ready to venture outside, here are a couple of useful tips:
Avoid taking a taxi during the day, and notably in the morning until 11:00, and in the late afternoon from 4:00 to 8:00. Streets are jam-packed during those periods, and seeing the meter run while you're a sitting in bumper-to-bumper traffic is a disheartening experience.
Taxi fares: taxi meters show your fare and one of three letters: A, B, or C. If you are within Paris and on the ring outside Paris (the peripheral boulevard), the A rate applies from 6:00 PM and 8:00 PM, and the B rate turns on from 8:00 PM till 6:00 AM. When you leave Paris intra-muros, the driver will turn on the B rate during the day and the C rate from 8:00 PM. If you are far from Paris, the C rate always applies. You will pay extra for every luggage you load in the trunk and if you take the cab from an airport. Don't try to hail a cab in the street too close to a train station: taxi drivers can't load passengers within a 100-meter radius from the train stations. Go to the station taxi head instead, or further away from the station.
French people do lunch between 12:00 and 1:30 PM, and dinner between 7:30 and 10:00 PM. If you wish to avoid the crowd, lunch at 12:00 tops and dine out from 6:00 to 7:00 PM. Restaurants rarely serve between 2:00 and 6:00 PM.
Having a drink at the terasse of a sidewalk cafe is a necessary experience in Paris (skip it between November and March though,except if weather permits). However, terasse drinks are often charged premium prices.
Although they are saddled with a reputation, cafe waiters are not necessarily rude: they're just in a hurry. So don't take offense if they are impatient with you. Smile and show them what you want on the menu. They won't return the smile, but you will get your order quickly.
In Parisian restaurants, it is not customary for your waiter to come back to you once you are served to see if everything is allright: they assume this is the case. So don't feel you are ignored: just call the waiter when you wish to have your bread basket replenished. If you dine out at an expensive restaurant, waiters will tend your table diligently. Otherwise, it won't be the case.
Gratuity: your restaurant/cafe check already includes a 15% gratuity. If you feel like giving an extra tip to your cafe waiter, leave EUR 1 ($.97) on the table. In a restaurant, you may leave EUR 3-5 ($2.7-4.5, more if you are in an expensive place) but again, that's not expected in either case. Your credit card receipt won't show any gratuity line.
Armed with these few basic advices, you are ready to conquer the asphalt. On to places to visit!
Paris monuments and hallmarks
The Eiffel Tower - Tour Eiffel
This world-famous landmark was built for the Universal Fair of 1889, held to commemorate the centenary of the French Revolution. It stands 1050 ft high. Admission (elevator to the top) is EUR 9.90 for adults, EUR 5.30 for children under 12. Opening hours: Jan 1-Jun 13: 9:30am-11pm daily (stairs: 9:30am-6pm); Jan 14-Aug 31: 9am-midnight daily.
Notre Dame Cathedral - Notre Dame de Paris
Work on the Hunchback's gothic home began in 1163 AD and was completed circa 1345 AD. The house of God can accommodate over 6,000 worshippers. Admission in the Cathedral is free, going to the towers costs about EUR 6. No elevator, people with a heart condition should abstain. Opening hours: 8:00AM-6:45PM daily. Towers: 9:30AM-6:45PM daily. Masses: 8AM, 9AM, 12AM, 6:45PM.
Champs Elysees and the Arch of Triumph - Champs Elysées et l'Arc de Triomphe
The Champs Elysees avenue probably only deserves its nickname of "most beautiful avenue in the world" for its lower section, starting Place de la Concorde and ending at Grand Palais. The rest of the avenue mainly features overpriced shops and restaurants - with a few exceptions in the side streets. Walk to the Arch of Triumph, at the top of the avenue, and visit the 50-meter high structure built to commemorate Napoleon's victories. Admission is about EUR 6, and free for children under 12. Opening hours: 9:30AM-11:00PM daily from April to October, and 10:00AM-11:00PM daily from Nov-March.
Montmartre and the Church of the Sacred Heart - Montmartre et le Sacré Cœur
The Romano-Byzantine basilica crowns the Montmartre hill. Its construction began in 1875 and was completed in 1914. Admission is free, except for the crypt and dome (about EUR 5). For a fun ride, go to the Anvers metro station, walk to "Rue Tardieu" and take the "funiculaire" (a one-car train which brings you almost to the top of the hill). Montmartre itself used to be a village outside Paris. The hill is famous for its architectural landmarks, its artistic life, and more recently, for 'Amelie'. It counts no less than 7 museums!
Its building started in 1671 under the reign of King Louis the XIVth, and about 30 years later. From its inception, the place was designed to serve as a home to impoverished soldiers and wounded veterans of the French army. It comprises the veteran hospital itself, a church, several museums, and the tomb of Napoleon I. Admission is EUR 6 for adults, and free for children under 12. Opening hours: October to March 31: 10AM-4:45PM, April-September 30: 10AM-5:45PM
Saint Germain des Pres / Quartier Latin - Latin Quarter
Even today this quarter is associated with the existentialism of the 1950's, with Jean Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir writing at the Cafe Flore, and with Boris Vian and Raymond Queneau. The "invasion" (over the past 30 years) of luxury boutiques is replacing the book stores and cinemas from this aera, although a historical preservation association has now been created to preserve that which still remains.
Place des Vosges
Its construction started in the early XVIIth century under Henri IV. It was completed in 1612. Initially named 'Royal Square', it was renamed 'Place des Vosges' by Napoleon I as an homage to the inhabitants of the Vosges region who had been particularly quick to pay their taxes. The square is remarkable both by its style (it is lined with 36 buildings, all dating from Henri IV) and by its shops and its little park where Parisians like to loaf on sunny Sundays.
Find more comments on Paris landmarks and monuments at http://www.paris-eiffel-tower-news.com/ discover-paris.html and http://www.monument-paris.com/monument-selection.htm
Walking in Paris
Paris offers a number of interesting itineraries for strollers. You can follow the waterways (river Seine, St Martin Canal, river Bièvre) or the 17-km long railway transformed into a most surprising walkway hung some 50 feet above the hustle-bustle of the city. You can also spend some quality time in any of the large public parks which the city counts (Luxembourg, Buttes-Chaumont, Montsouris, Georges Brassens), discover the gardens of the 14th district, or else decide to learn live history and architecture in areas like St-Sulpice and St Germain-des-Prés.
A lively and interesting city
This is but a glimpse of the many places you will want to visit during your stay in Paris. Guests of the hotel are offered a Complimentary Pass to the Members Only section of the Paris Eiffel Tower News website, which features a lot more information on Paris.
The Complimentary Pass can be retrieved from the Thank You page which displays after your reservation request has been received by the hotel.
The hotel personnel wishes to be of service to you during your stay in Paris.