a VirtualTourist member
Seeing how helpful many of you are here, I cannot help myself and also ask you for your advice about an upcoming trip:) As a birthday gift, I'm giving my girlfriend a holiday in Paris. She loves the city but has never been there (me neither). She doen't know yet and this will be a big surprise (hopefully:P). Now, I'd like to make this quite romantic. We love culture, theater, opera, cabaret, art, poetry, literature. Even though we are both still quite young (her being a very young adult and me still quite a young one:P), we share the thought of dressing up nicely and walking along the boulevards, stopping to have a coffee while listening to the harmonica, going to romantic dinners, etc. We don't care at all for the clubs/nightlife and just a little for the shopping (mainly local or fashion stuff)...
My thought is to find a nice cozy old-fashioned hotel not far from the city centre, visit of course the main attractions (The ET, Louvre, Versailles) but I'd also like to dedicate a great part of this trip to going somewhere unusual.. some cultural/cuisine pearls that aren't spoken about that much, or some places that are interesting, not that crowded, maybe a hidden jazzclub, a small museum, a nice play or musical/opera, or some nice parts of the countryside... do you get my drift?:)
I'll be very grateful if you could chip in with some advices, there is still quite some time left (the trip will take place in July) and so I can plan out rather freely.
Many thanks to all of you in advance!
Welcome to Virtual Tourist. As Paris is a popular spot I'm sure you will get all types of recommendations from members. To start you off let me direct you to my homepage for Paris. You can take a look at a number of tips and pictures from our 2 trips. We were there is early October, 2008 and late April, 2012.
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A couple of ideas to get you started. Take one of the many bike trips offered when you get to the city to get a feeling for certain areas in Paris. Be certain to go to several parks. We enjoyed Parc Monceau which is a bit away from the city center, but a fairly easy walk from the Arc de Triomphe. Stop at one of the many outdoor cafes and watch the people walk by. We've gone to the larger museums and our favorite is still the musee d'orsay.
That's a start.
Here's a restaurant tip... check out www.chowhound.com (France section) for great ideas about where to eat. The folks there are also a very friendly lot and will guide you to the romantic meals you desire. It's also fun to check out the beautiful food halls at the Bon Marché and Galeries Lafayette department stores. There are always outdoor markets to explore, not to mention all the many museums. One very interesting place that most tourists miss is the Museum Andre Jacques Mart. It has a beautiful restaurant and very interesting exhibits.
Here's a tip for young and high-end cuisine without breaking the bank:
Restaurant name: Frenchie
Frenchie is known for its affordable menu and casually correct food.
Chef Grégory Marchand spent most of his career working at Jamie Oliver's 15 in London, where his nickname Frenchie was born, and at Gramercy Tavern in New York.
Address: 5 Rue du Nil, 75002 Paris, France
(check out some more from Anthony Bourdain on Paris, it will give you ideas).
Hi and welcome to Virtual Tourist. :O)
IMHO, one of the very best things to do in Paris is just to walk: there is something beautiful or interesting around every corner! As you'll be there during the summer, you'll want to stroll the parks and gardens; even the busy ones like the Tuileries and Luxembourg. Parc Buttes-Chaumont came very highly recommended on our last visit and I was sad that we simply ran out of time to get there. That one is some distance from the main tourist areas so promises not to be overrun with tourists - as the city will largely be during high season.
There is so much to see and do that you may find it a challenge to do much out of town aside from Versailles but Monet's gardens at Giverny is another popular day trip.
And do take some time to poke around some of the cemeteries: Père Lachaise, Passy, Montemartre and Montparnasse are all good choices.
Do not miss Musée de Cluny /Musée National du Moyen Âge: a marvelous but far less visited gem of a museum.
Early mornings are wonderful times for exploring Paris: the two islands of Île de la Cité and Île St Louis will be especially lovely in the early hours before the tourists descend upon them.
On word of caution? Walking in Paris (and you will be walking a lot) can very hard on the feet so I don't recommend you and your lady wearing shoes that are too uncomfortably dressy or which have high-ish heels: you will be miserable!
You'll get lots of other great ideas from some of our members who do -or have - lived there!
One more note? As you do plan to visit many of the main attractions, I would take a look at purchasing the Paris Museum Pass. I'm not usually a big fan of city passes but this is an exception: we had NO trouble making it pay off, and it was very nice indeed to be able to pop into the Louvre several times: it's much too large to do at one time!
The pass allows you the flexibility to visit as many of the sites it covers as many times as you wish: a nice bonus for sites that you may want to visit once during the day and again in some evening - such as the Arc de Triomphe or the Louvre on a night that it's open late. It also allows you to skip long ticket lines (but not security check queues) for speedier access at most attractions.
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Unfortunately the opera season ends in June, but in the first half of July there are ballets almost every evening at both the Garnier and Bastille opera houses. If you go to the Garnier, make sure you get seats with a full view of the stage.
How exciting it will be for you & your girlfriend to visit Paris for the first time! Let me suggest a rather reasonable and charming hotel in the Latin Quarter, Hotel de l'Odeon (hotelparisodeonsaintgermain....). You will be in the middle of everything, not missing a minute of Paris, yet the price is easy on the budget.
Please try to visit Musee Jacquemart-Andre (musee-jacquemart-andre.com/e.... This gem of a house museum, not unlike New York's Frick Collection, is a less-visited attraction. Musee de Cluny (musee-moyenage.fr/ang/index.... is another off-the-beaten-track sight that could give you the feel of finding a private spot.
If you want to splurge on a romantic dinner, get your hotel to make reservations (three months in advance!, really) at Le Jules Verne (www.lejulesverne-paris.com), atop the Eiffel Tower. The food is great, as is the service; and the views are out of this world! We watched a rain cloud sweep into Paris and move out just as quickly. It was a memorable evening.
To help save money, look into buying the Paris Pass (www.parispass.com). This handy card admits the holder to museums and attractions that are on most visitors' to-do list. One of them is Les Invalides, where Napoleon is entombed. This re-purposed, 17th-century church, built by Louis XIV, is stunning. Think about visiting the Musee Rodin (www.musee-rodin.fr/en) and its delightful park. These two sights are close to each other, easily combined for an afternoon's enjoyment.
Bon voyage! Enjoy the City of Light.
Ok there will be loads of advice in here and our travel guides would be a great way to look at the various things to see and do.
One thing I would add though..... if you can work it .... get to the Trocadero Centre (there is a metro stop) and walk through the concourse to the balcony for your first unforgettable view of the Eiffel tower. Absolutely magnificent day or night.
Just to note: the Paris Museum Pass and Paris Pass are two different things so don't let the similar names confuse you. Everyone travels differently but we decided not to go with the more expensive Paris Pass as we're good walkers: it was much less expensive to purchase the museum pass (which does not include transport) and buy carnets of metro/bus tickets (10 to a book - €12,70 ) to share. We barely went through one carnet in our entire week in Paris.
Nice cozy old-fashioned hotel!! You could do worse than the Henri IV hotel at 25 place Dauphine, on the Ile de la Cité 5 mins from Notre Dame and in a peaceful quiet area. The Caveau de la Huchette is perhaps the most famous of the jazz clubs operating today, along with the Chapel des Lombards, but I much prefer the cosiness of the "Autour de midi" at 11 rue Lepic, just 20 metres from the café that features in "Amelie". A nice Art-deco restaurant with great food without spending fortunes is "Restaurant Julien" on faubourg St Denis, quite romantic. For cabaret another post this morning suggested the Lapin Agile on the hill in Montmartre opposite the vineyard, very good if your French is up to scratch, but a good atmosphere anyway. For a Saturday brunch there are some good artists that get to play at "The Reservoir" near the Bastille on rue de la Forge Royale.
You could be out in the countryside and still be in Paris by taking line 1 out to the Chateau de Vincennes and its woodland. You could take in Europes biggest medieval building at the same time, recently renovated, and just across the place there is the Parc Floralis for your horticultural instincts. Nice flowers and plants.For a different type of museum, how about the perfume museum, Fragonard near the Opera. Here are some links but you'll have to look at the programming yourself for your own interests :
Alternatively you could run through the tips made by VT members that have answered you here, who have literally 1000,s of tips, photos and knowledge to help you.
I'll echo the recommendation for the Paris Museum Pass, you can get it for 2, 4 or 6 consecutive days and it includes almost all of Paris' major museums and also Versailles which I think is a must see.
One place on the pass that is not one of the major attractions is the Musee Nissim de Camando, a mansion that gives you an idea of how the wealthy lived
I'm planning a trip for later this year for me and my niece, an art student, and one of the things I'm thinking about is a train ride out to Giverny to see Monet's gardens and then if we still have adequate time, continue on to Rouen which is where Monet painted his cathedrals. I've been told that it is possible to day all in one day.
I find European cemeteries to be romantic, they are usually more parklike than cemetery like. At Pere Lachaise you can find the grave of tragic lovers Abelard and Heloise as well as the lipstick covered grave of Oscar Wilde and a beautiful monument to Chopin.
When a bunch of us got together a couple of years ago in Paris, we had a lovely picnic beneath the Eiffel Tower. You can't sit on the grass at some of Paris parks but you can at this one, grab a baguette, some meat and cheese and have a lovely picnic lunch.
Oh and I forgot one of my favorite things to do in Paris, climb the towers at Notre Dame and go visit the gargoyles (actually chimera but more commonly referred to as gargoyles). You can get some lovely photos of them with a stunning view of Paris in the background. That is also included on the Museum Pass, you can't cut the line here with the pass so if it's on your list, go early and take turns standing in line while the other visits the interior of the cathedral.
I also enjoy climbing up the Arc de Triomphe, you get a good view of the Champs Elysses and the layout of the city with all of it's avenue radiating out from it.
Paul, I'm going to have to remember the Restaurant Julien for my next trip to Paris with my husband, it looks simply divine. My niece is a vegetarian, I don't know that she would enjoy it (or many other restaurants in Paris for that matter!) Another friend of mine was a vegetarian when she got to Paris and left a non vegetarian!
You've gotten a lot of great advice here. I'm going to echo the sentiment that you should avoid the Paris Pass (expensive) and instead get the Paris Museum Pass with a carnet of 10 Metro tickets to share. The transportation carnet of 10 tickets has been 13.30 euros since January first this year and may go up again the first of July (although I certainly hope not). It is still a transportation bargain and you can share the carnet, use it whenever you like and even save extra tickets for future trips. The transportation passes must be used on consecutive days and are time limited so if you don't use all your days, you lose them . . . and you can't share; you each need your own pass.
The Paris Museum Pass is also limited to consecutive days and most museums are closed either Monday or Tuesday so check the closing days before you get your pass.
If you only have a week, the trip to Versailles may be all you will want to do. If you have a bit more time, Giverny and Monet's Gardens are lovely. You would train to Vernon and then either walk, bike or taxi to Giverny. In July I'd get tickets ahead of time because the lines at Monet's House can be very long. You might even consider booking a tour out of Paris for that, but the train is easy enough to do and would be cheaper.
Another favorite day trip of ours is to Chartres by train. It is a lovely town with the famous cathedral, lovely walks along the Eure River with half-timbered houses, a quaint Old Town area, a small but nice art museum and a great museum of stained glass. If you can go on Friday, the labyrinth in the Cathdral is uncovered and you can walk it or watch others do so. The Tourist Info is directly opposite the Cathedral and they have a free map with a walk of Chartres. There are lots of nice restaurants nearby.
You will not avoid tourists in Paris at any time and especially in July so don't even think about it. Just realize you're a tourist and enjoy the experience with all the others. It's a large city with many sights so everyone gets spread out. There will be lines at the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre and the d'Orsay. We've avoided lines at the Eiffel Tower by not going up. I'm terrified of heights so it's not appealing. I like looking at it from the ground. If you enter the Louvre from the Lion's Gate or the Carousel entrances, there won't be much, if any, line. The d'Orsay will have a line but it will move quickly. The Paris Museum Pass will get you past the lines at the two museums so if you get it, enjoy the advantage.
Our favorite restaurant is La Bastide d'Opio at 9 rue Guisarde in the 6th (St. Germain district). It's a little hard to find but worth the search. http://www.bistrot-opio.com/
Another place we enjoy is very old-fashioned romantic Paris and in the 2nd district or Right Bank. It's Le Grand Colbert at 2 rue Vivienne and it is what you think of when you think of old Paris. http://legrandcolbert.fr/
Don't miss Ste. Chapelle and go on a sunny day so the stained glass glows. Another place and it was mentioned above is the Rodin Museum. The museum is wonderful but the gardens are even better and there is a tea room for a cold drink if it's a hot day. It's right across from Invalides and Napoleon's Tomb and the War Museum although on a romantic trip I might skip the tomb unless you have a particular interest in Napoleon.
Type Paris into the VT Search Window above. This will take you to the VT Paris Travel Pages. There are lots of Tips about hotels, restaurants, things to see and do, all written by VT members. There are reviews, photos and web links to help you plan your trip. You might particularly enjoy the "Off the Beaten Track" tips to get off the tourist path.
Also, you can click on the name of anyone who answers you here and go to their Home Page on Virtual Tourist. Click on Travel Pages and choose Paris to see what they have written. You have some great Paris experts above who've answered you so enjoy their Travel Pages on Paris. There are wonderful Tips on hotels, sights, transportation, restaurants . . . and lots of photos and web links. It's a great resource here on VT and lots of fun.
Ditto! Climbing the towers is a must!!!!!!! And a beautiful veiw of Paris from up there!
It's only 750 steps up to 2nd level and you can take your time. The queue to climb is considerably faster than the one to the elevators.
ATLC, I think, is talking about the Eiffel Tower. There is no elevator at Notre Dame's towers and it's 387 steps to the top of the South Tower according to their website.
When you get to Paris, stop at a news stand, tabac or bookstore and get the map booklet "Paris Pratique par Arrondissement" which is a great little booklet map of Paris with all the streets indexed by district (arrondissement) and maps of the Metro and bus system along with any emergency phone numbers you might need. With this little map that fits in coat pocket or purse, you can't possibly get lost in Paris . . . and it's a great souvenir when you get home.
Yes, sorry. I was talking about the Eiffel tower. Since the Notre Dame towers are 69 metres, I expect the amount of steps for such a tower is about 440.
Good Lord, people! I just got back to find out this plethora of wonderful information which I even can't read in one go! Thank you all so much for being so helpful! Once I read and note all the vital info you've so selflessly provided, I'll be able to respond and thank you one by one as well:)
ROFLMAO!!! That's the best response I've seen in a long time!!
You're very welcome. Do come back and see us when you've plodded through it all, eh?
It's so romantic; we just all want you to have a wonderful time. ;^)
Hehe:) So, I went through all of your great answers and would like to wholeheartedly thank you for the info and of course for the time you dedicated to write them down for me:) I am now hooked even more on the planning and seeing how many interesting things there are to see this will not be an easy task at all! The thing I'm most concerned about is the budget of course, because a week in Paris for two with the hotel, the JV restaurant, food, travel, etc., according to my calculations will easily surpass 3k EUR, which is a little bit too much, but on the other hand, it is a experience of a lifetime, isn't it?:)
Thank you all again for the effort and for the nice words as well!:)
I'll keep you posted once I'll have planned everything, if you'd like:)
It is a wonderful experience and one that you truly won't forget. We always like it when posters keep us in the loop. I'm sure you may even have some additional questions as you continue to plan. My first venture into Virtual Tourist started over 5 years ago when my wife and I were planning our first trip to Europe and Paris. I haven't looked back since on travel or this group.
Hi [VT member 171cee],
If you like Van Gogh & the Impressionist atmosphere, you'd enjoy a Sunday in Auvers-sur-Oise (still in Ïle de France, the region in the Paris metro area.)
Used to be a special train from Paris to Auvers, for Sunday trips. From the link I found, it seems to still be in operation. Too bad this link is great in French, with all details provided, but useless when I click the "English" tab...
Anyway, this is truly romantic for Van Gogh lovers (& everyone else, really), quiet, away from the madding crowd. Here are the links, I'll translate the part on how to get there:
Situation et accès : Paris 30 km. En train au départ de la Gare du Nord et de St Lazare avec changement, mais aussi train spécial direct dimanches et fêtes de mai à septembre (Gare du Nord). Arrivée en centre ville, proche des sites touristiques.
Attention : certains sites (maison de Van Gogh, celle du docteur Gachet, le musée d’Aubigny) sont fermés en hiver.
TRANSLATION: Location & access: Paris 30 km. By train, departure fm Gare du Nord & Gare St-Lazare with change, but also special direct train Sundays & holidays fm May to September (Gare du Nord.) Arrival in centre-town, near touristic sites.
Warning: some sites (Van Gogh House, Dr Gachet's House, Aubigny Museum) are closed in winter.
Giverny (Monet Museum & Gardens) is marvelous in Spring, Summer & Autumn. Easily reached from Paris by train from Gare St-Lazare (worth taking early train, 08:20 I think) to Vernon. 30 meters from Vernon train station are coach buses to take people to Giverny. I never considered walking the 6 km or so to Giverny but many do.
On my last visit (2010), after hours enjoying Giverny, we missed the last coach 'round lunchtime to go back to Vernon (where we wanted to have lunch.) Lost an hour calling taxis that never came, finally had lunch IN Giverny, at a wonderful place, outside on a beautiful terrace. It's called Les Nymphéas, good cuisine and the terrace gave me the impression that I was still in Monet's gardens.
We barely made it back to the parking on time to catch a coach back to Vernon & get on the Vernon-Paris train! (Our problem was, we'd forgotten where the coach buses had dropped us off in Giverny to begin with. We got lost in the poppy fields!)
In Paris, enjoy walking in Le Marais, see Place des Vosges. Have an apéritif at Ma Bourgogne there.
I also love the area Canal St-Martin, rue de la Grange-aux-belles (in the Xth Arrondissement, by Quai de Jemmapes. Simple & authentic. Watch out not to daydream on the locks bridge (Écluse des Récollets) facing Hôtel du Nord. It's raised to let barges through. I didn't understand why everyone was waiving & calling for me to get off the bridge... it was being raised! Atmosphère! atmosphère! a cool spot.
Have a wonderful time in Paris, both of you!
Lou, have you seen my tip called Atmosphère Atmosphère? She wasn’t talking about the romantic atmosphere of Paris, in fact she was telling her ex-lover to bugger off.
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LOL will see your tip! Arletty's reply in Hôtel du Nord, to her lover who says he needs a change of atmosphere, is still fun to use today! He tells her "For me, here, *you're* the atmosphere..." and I think she protests in hope that he'll stick around. Haven't seen the movie in years, I should rent it. :)
oh! didn't realise that Nemorino's comment was directly on forum. Thought it was a comment on my profile page... still adapting to new forum & overall format. :)
Here's another one:
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