I first encountered Paris in the summer of 1972. It was a stop on my first tour of Europe as a young person and the overall experience was decidedly unpleasant. I spoke very little French, which annoyed the locals, found it very difficult to get help in finding a hostel or the train station, and could barely make myself understood even when buying food.
I was travelling with the very optimistically titled book, “Europe on $5 a Day.” Even in 1972, five dollars would barely feed a person.
Fast forward to 2016. Scrimping for a cheap trip is not something I need to do anymore. I care more about enjoying the ambiance than about seeing the tourist sites. My French is better and the French themselves seem somehow more polite. Maybe it’s the gray in my hair.
Here is how to enjoy Paris as she wants to be enjoyed.
Use the ground transportation in Europe; don’t fly to Paris. The Eurostar is so easy and comfortable compared to flying. There are no lines, no waiting, no hassle with security over what liquids you have in your luggage. And no extra charge for a couple of suitcases. You can dine leisurely while you watch the French countryside pass by from a vantage point you would never get from an airplane. But if you must fly, excellent Paris airport transfer services are available to get you to your hotel.
My recommendation for a hotel is the Citadines Tour Eiffel Tower which, as the name suggests, is right by the Eiffel Tower. It’s sister, the Citadines Suite Louvre Paris near the Louvre, is almost too gorgeous. Once inside your suite, you won’t want to leave. You can’t beat locationslike this! Like so many great European hotels, the Citadines apart’ hotel don’t look like much from the outside but inside they are the perfect treasure. The smell of freshly brewing coffee is what first greets you and the courteous staff welcomes you in English.
The rooms are spotless, modern, and equipped with a convenient kitchenette. Try to get one as high up as possible for the view.
While in Paris, spend time wandering among some of the main attractions, stopping for coffee and macaroons, perusing in the boutique stores, and generally enjoying every nook of this beautiful city. If you really must go up the Eiffel Tower, you will be waiting in line for a long time, which might be better spent meandering about.
Paris has long been famous for its fashions, so a visit to the MuseeGalliera., also known as the Musee de la Mode, or the fashion museum. The Eighteenth Century Renaissance Palace it occupies is so beautiful with mosaicked floors and domed ceilings towering above the clothes. Vintage fashion aficionados will be in heaven wandering among the lovely dresses with the clinched in waistlines and 1950s style swirling skirts. The rooms of the museum are filled with dresses from some of France’s most famous designers like Christian Dior, Pierre Cardin, Jacques Heim, Louis Feraud and Jacques Fath. The museum is also regularly visited by some of Paris’ best dressed women so it’s worth going just for the people watching.
From here you can easily wander about the royal palace and the gardens. The gardens are surrounded by boutique shops and plenty of chairs to sit and enjoy the view. Walk through Jardin des Tuileries, a beautiful public garden and promenade enjoyed by people relaxing in the sunshine, eating ice creams and sipping cold drinks.
The Musee D’Orsay is an art museum built inside the old train station which was digitally reconstructed by Scorsese in Hugo. You should watch the film before you visit Paris to get a sense of the atmosphere of the museum.
The Louvre is another one of those typical places tourists go, but for better reasons than riding up the Eiffel Tower. You can spend three days in the Louvre and still not see everything. Keeping with the philosophy that Paris should be enjoyed at a leisurely pace, the Louvre is on the menu of must-see museums. Don’t beat yourself up if you don’t see everything. Just tell yourself you’ll be back.
And keep that promise.