When it’s time to plan for my maiden trip to Europe, Paris came straight to my mind. The City of Light and Love beckoned to me and…how could I resist? Oui, oui!! This is, after all, THE PLACE abounds with renowned and splendour monuments. It is definitely a must-see on my list. Bonjour Madame Mona Lisa, it’s about time we meet. Hence, I was utterly thrilled on my first trip to Paris in 2011. And typing this post brings back fond memories. More so when I’m now preparing for my next visit to Les Bleus in 2014.
Back then, I memorized few French words like Bonjour Monsieur, Bonjour Madame, Merci and Sil vous plait. Hoping these will probably be an ice-breaker while asking for assistance. I have read about French’s reluctance to converse in English even if they know the language. Maybe due to their immense pride in its lingo and rightly so, the words roll off like some soothing love songs. French is a beautiful language and I do like listening to it even though it’s Gong Simi to me.
My first impression of Paris
“Welcome to Paris“, the SIA stewardess announced the Airbus A380 landed at CDG Airport. Technically, it should be “Welcome to Roissy” since CDG Airport is located 25 km away from Paris but who cares? The capital city is easy to move from the airport to Hotel Palym, situated near Gare de Lyon station. Though I must say that the Metro train’s cabin space to be rather tight AND watch out for your belongings on the trains!
Once we hit the streets, it’s rather easy to see why Paris is touted as one of the most beautiful cities in the world. There are just so many architectural beauties scatter around. I kinda like the pleasure of strolling along sidewalks while watching the immaculately dressed Parisians going through their daily routine in style. And seeing how effortlessly the locals ooze elegance in whatever they do.
Whereas the same thing cannot be said about the numerous dog poops on the sidewalks.
And when it comes to food, France is known for its culinary prowess. Judging by the number of Michelin restaurants in Paris alone. Ok, we didn’t dine in any of those starred restaurants but the places where we settled our meals were serving decent and delicious food. Even though the portion is somewhat a problem for me…seems like that’s the French way to save tummy space for other indulgences? Since there are so many chocolates and pastries stores all over, it becomes a daunting task to keep my waistline in check LOL.
Now, if only the people we dealt with were less grumpy. But anyhow, for every disappointment I noticed, there is a dozen of highlights which counterbalance. Vive la France!
5 Tips for Paris First Timers
#1. Place to visit in Paris
With so much to see and do, it’s impossible to run out of things to do in Paris. But being the most visited city in the world, I quickly realized that the next thing we see a lot is the iPhone/ Hello Kitty kind of queue at all Paris attractions. Since the waiting time adds up substantially, it’s better to plan ahead of which attraction to visit.
I would suggest splitting the day visits into two halves. The first half of the day from early morning till lunchtime is best to be reserved for attractions like Louvre, Versailles or Notre Dame. From lunch onwards, visit places like Les Invalides, Pantheon or Sacré-Cœur. Then make full use of those attractions which opens beyond dinner like Arc de Triomphe, Eiffel Tower, Centre Pompidou or Montparnasse Tower. Take note of the Paris attractions which will be closed on either Monday or Tuesday and prepare to wait, wait and wait…
#2. Where to stay in Paris
This might be the first question for most people planning a visit to Paris. My recommendations are accommodations which are near to both Metro Line 1 and RER C Line. The reasons being that Metro Line 1 covers most of the popular Paris attractions like Arc de Triomphe, Champs-Élysées, Louvre, Notre-Dame. While RER C covers the route to Eiffel Tower and Versailles. Lessening the need to change of Metro Lines gave me more time to explore Paris.
#3. Paris Museum Pass
Get this Pass to save you some money, the typical 2 days Pass will set you back by 42 Euro. Yet still worth it since the entrance fees to visit say Arc de Triomphe (9), Louvre (12), Versailles (18) will add up to 39 Euro. Hence, by just adding a visit to either Notre Dame (8.5) or Centre Pompidou (13) will already make the deal worthwhile.
#4. Savings on transportation
If you’re gonna move around Paris using the Metro and Buses, it’ll be best to purchase a carnet of 10 tickets. A single ticket price is 1.70 Euro (in 2014) while a carnet is sold at a discount for 13.70 Euro, making it a no-brainer. In addition, you can also opt for a day ticket aka Ticket Mobilis to travel around.
#5. Be watchful of your belongings
Paris is a huge tourist magnet which also means the ‘opportunists’ with ill intentions will be looming around. These groups of people are always on a lookout for easy preys. So be mindful of your belongings all the time.
STAY: Hotel Palym Paris review
Our stay for the trip was Hotel Palym, situated close to Gare de Lyon station. Chosen as it’s near Metro Line 1 and RER C, plus the convenience of our onwards journey to Milan days later. We took the RER B from CDG Airport to Châtelet Les Halles before switching to RER A and Gare de Lyon is just one stop away.
Hotel Palym is easy to find and right across the road from station’s main entrance. Our double room was small but the decor and cosiness make up for it. The comfortable bed and quiet streets ensure a good night rest after a long day. Other plus points are the Free WiFi and helpful reception staffs who converse well in English (if only everyone else we met were the same). The only cons are probably the super small bathroom and lack of free breakfast unless we pay an additional 8 Euros per pax.