My wife and I returned from our first trip to Paris a few weeks ago. I have had quite a bit of time to ponder our experience as well as what we would do again and what we wouldn't do. 1st, let me comment from an American point of view of the French; the French/Parisians that we we encountered were nothing less than polite and accommodating. Not once did we encounter a "rude" Parisian. We were all over Paris and had wonderful experiences with the people. I did, however, witnessed rude Americans. The first was at the concierge desk at the Hilton Suffren. As the cute little girl at the concierge politely addressed the man at the counter with a "bonjour", the man rudely DEMANDED the train schedule which seemingly frightened the girl, and then proceeded to raise his voice and DEMANDED again "do you understand, I want the train schedule!" Wow... please, if you are a fellow American, please do not slide into the stereo type! It is not hard to say bonjour, bonsoir, auvoir and parlez vous anglais? These four phrases are enough if you are intimidated with French. Politeness should be a practice where ever we are at!
2nd, we bought the hop on hop off bus 2 day bus pass. Let me say this, it is cheaper than hiring a tour with the bus so do it if you want to get a "guided" tour without shelling out the bucks. I don't think we would do it if we had to do over. Traffic is pretty heavy so it takes forever to do all the lines that are available. A travel dvd on Paris before you go would rather be recommended. So plan your days as well as you can and use the public transportation.
3rd, we purchased the Palace of Versaille and Paris City Tour through iSango. It was okay, but the $340 USD that we spent was not worth it at all! The lunch that was included was worse than horrible! You are better off getting your own tickets for the Seine cruise and Eiffel Tower.
4th, the two day Paris Museum Pass is great if you use it to the fullest, otherwise, it is not worth it.
5th, we did not know that ALL the retail shops closed on Sundays! So, make sure you plan wisely or just hang out. We made the BIG mistake of booking a shopping "tour" of La Vallee Village. I did post a topic on this outlet and was told not to go. Of course, dumb me, I just had to see for myself. Bottom line, it's a waste of time!
7th, The cityrama website has a airport shuttle service which was really good. I would recommend it bases upon my experience.
8th, If you are close to the Eiffel Tower, there is a wonder restaurant "La Tour" on Deplaix. EXCELLENT FOOD!!! If you are familiar with the Flemings Restaurants here in the States, IT IS BETTER!!! So try it out if you are in the area south of the Eiffel Tower on Avenue Suffren.
9th, We spent our time from Feb. 13-18. It was colder than heck (we are from Southern California) However, the best part of traveling during this time is that hotel prices were great and there were less tourists to deal with. The down side, it was coooold!
10th, As the USD is getting beat up by the Euro, Louis Vuitton was actually cheaper there than here in the States. Make sure that you check with your credit card company if they charge a 3% transaction fee while overseas. Visa generally charges this fee, however, American Express does not (bonus!)
11th, Finally, do your homework on Paris before you go. Language, food, shopping, transportation. Don't be afraid of using hotwire.com, we wanted 4 star hotel by the Eiffel Tower and got the Hilton Suffren for $120 a night. It was a great location!!!