Paris is definitely on top of the list of ‘popular’ tourist destinations in the world. Perhaps this is the reason getting there and finding a place to stay is never a problem. Many international airlines have made it a hub or stopover for their flights because that seems to be where the traffic really is.
Paris is really a great place to start a tour or just break your travel for a rest and some great sight-seeing, not to mention unforgettable culinary delicacies for everyone knows the French are the best chefs in the world!
You can hope to get a great bargain on hotel bookings and travel fare from the airlines and don’t get put off if the guy begins speaking in French when you ask for a discount. Its prudent to stick to speaking in English and not trying out your schoolroom French, which could further sink your deal. If he does not give you a good deal, someone else will and he knows it!
Finding your way around Paris
Do not feel lost if you cannot find your way to a location in Paris. The whole of Paris is divided into neighbourhoods called ‘arrondissements’ – wait a minute, that sounded English, didn’t it? Well, it is, but the name stands. These arrondissements begin at the centre of the city and spiral outward, round and round …get the general idea? So, if you are lost, you can just cut across a side lane and you know you are bound to get to the outskirts of Paris. Until, of course, you come to the river Seine.
This is another dividing factor for the city. The Seine divides Paris into two parts: the Left Bank and the Right Bank. Pretty silly, I thought, because if I turned and faced the other way the Left bank became the Right bank to me and vice versa. But they named it that, so that is what I call it – the right and left banks!
Never fear when it comes to the transportation in Paris. They have one of the best transportation systems in the world. They have their metro system and buses. The taxi drivers are pretty friendly too, however, every now and then, they seem to break out in French when they can’t answer a question – friendly French all the same. In Paris, you also have a choice of renting a car if you have a valid international driving license. Their transport system is so good that they even offer you a 2 and a half hour train ride to London! Yes the underwater tunnel across the channel (perhaps that is why they called it the “Chunnel”) may have cost a whopping 60 billion dollars but it does allow us to have a stopover in London on our trip to Paris.
Where to Stay When in Paris
Lodging in Paris is never a problem. What with the surge of tourists every single day, almost everyone’s thought of going into the hotel business, or so it seems by the number of hotels in the city.
You need to go through your sightseeing map of places you’d like to cover while in Paris and likewise decide which visits can be clubbed together depending on their proximity to each other before figuring out which arrondissement affords you easy access from the hotel suiting your budget and services requirement. Finding a reasonably priced hotel in the arrondissement is quickly and conveniently possible over the net, or even in a cyber café in Paris if you haven’t had a chance earlier and this was an impulse trip!
And remember, if the hotel concierge constantly chooses to break out in French you have a good chance of clinching a bargain because you’ll find a great many hotel booking clerks blushing when they tell a tourist the price of a room! Get the point?
Sightseeing – Paris
Once you are in Paris you will definitely want to see the top 6 attractions of the city (and perhaps even of the world) and also the local beauties. But beware of their French boyfriends who seem to follow them all over the place. One would wonder what they do for a living!
The first on your must-visit list of tourist interest places in Paris is anyone’s guess: yes, it’s the place where Tom Cruise is believed to have popped the question to Katie Holmes, the most romantic emblem of France – the Eiffel Tower! It attracts over 23 and a half million visitors annually – that’s 23,500,000 not half a million and 23 visitors, making it the world’s biggest crowd-puller of all times even as it has this bemusing rule of the higher you go, the more you pay (for accessing the 3 levels the Eiffel Tower is divided into!)
Yet another Parisian sight to cover is Louvre Museum – and perhaps get even ponder over the mystique of the most bewitching smile (is it, isn’t it?) in the world because you get to glimpse the Mona Lisa? Remember, it’s stashed away here?
So, make it a point to have a look at the lady with the mystic smile before you hop across to the Center Pompidou, another Gay Paree attraction that draws over 5 million visitors every year to watch the plays, concerts, and huge collection of modern art on display there.
Beyond the scope of these highlights in Paris, for the curious mind, there is the call of The Cite des Sciences at de l’Industrie (one more museum), Musee d’Orsay (another museum), and the Arc de Triomphe from where you can get a bird’s eye view of Paris.
The Church dedicated to Our Lady or ‘Notre Dame,’ boasts most of the other high points of sightseeing in Paris, like the Latin Quarter, and Montmartre – the city’s highest point.
No doubt that Paris is one of the most visited cities of the world but it is also an ideal place for a romantic getaway, especially a honeymoon, or an anniversary celebration. You think of a reason to visit Paris the first time, they say – thereafter, you only look for excuses not to leave!
That’s in part because of the lure of the antiquated street shopping opportunities vying with luxe designer boutiques aplenty on the more fashionable avenues in Paris, the charm of corner cafes where you can’t resist the crème Brule, wine, French bread or cheese invites nor the artsy and inventive cajoling by street painters offering caricatures besides the many dance clubs, wine bars and lots more to steal your heart!