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Need to know - basics of Paris!!

Melbourne, Australia
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Need to know - basics of Paris!!

I know Paris has ALOT to offer but all I know is - I want to see the Eiffel Tower, go to the Lourve, look at the magnificant Parisian buildings and finally, eat a croissant!!!

After all the day dreaming and imaging my little adventure in Paris (along with the French music playing like a soundtrack in my mind), I am left with a bunch of questions!

If anyone can, please tell me what is the most basic information a person needs on their first trip to Paris?

* Where is a very good location to stay?

* Is it safe?

* What is the "latin quarter"?

* Are sightseeing areas & monuments close together or will I have to travel alot?

* How many days do you think I will need in Paris?

* How can I cut costs without missing out?

I really look forward to hearing from you & any other helpful information you may have. Thanks heaps in advance!!


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Sydney, Australia
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1. Re: Need to know - basics of Paris!!

The most basic information that you need before you go to Paris is to get yourself one of the inexpensive little guide books such as the DK "Top Ten Paris". If you read this, you will find that it answers almost all your questions and tells you much more too.

As for how long to spend in Paris, I have spend a total of 4 weeks there so far and still have not seen everything that is worth seeing.

los angeles
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2. Re: Need to know - basics of Paris!!

* Where is a very good location to stay?

Depends somewhat on your budget and what type of environment you like--very active and lively/fairly quiet and staid/upscale or more casual and affordable/etc. Depends a bit on your priorities and personality. Still, first time visitors often like to stay "central," so look at a map of the city. Notre Dame, the Louvre--these "landmarks" are fairly central.

* Is it safe? Yes. Remarkably safe for a city its size. You must, of course, use common sense and keep yourself safe. Or, more precisely, keep your belongings safe--watch your purse, wallet, etc. Paris is not a haven for thieves by any means, but there are pickpocket warnings on the Metro, etc. Very common sense.

* What is the "latin quarter"? The area near the Sorbonne and the universities--they used to speak Latin in the universities, therefore the name. Look at a map of Paris (online is fine) divided into Arrondissements (postal codes). The Latin Quarter is basically the 5th arrondissement. It's a popular place to stay, by the way.

* Are sightseeing areas & monuments close together or will I have to travel alot? Some are close together, but you will have to travel at some point if you intend to see most of them. Busses and the Metro are great. Some people like to spend their time walking, so if you have the time, that works too. Again, you need to look at a map. You'll readily see, for example, that Sacre Coeur in Montmartre is not near the Eiffel Tower.

* How many days do you think I will need in Paris? As many as you can get. many posters here are repeat visitors and we still haven't seen all that we want to see. Try for a minimum of 5 nights if you can.

* How can I cut costs without missing out? Don't splurge on food. You can eat fairly inexpensively--sandwiches, etc. Same for drinking.

You really need to read a good basic guidebook. It will help orient you a lot. Rick Steves, Fodors--any of these are fine. Know what's there, see a few sample itineraries, look at the maps, check out the recommended lodging at least to get a base line on area and price.

Edited: 14 June 2011, 17:18
Melbourne, Australia
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3. Re: Need to know - basics of Paris!!

WOW thanks to the both of you for your replies! I guess I need to buy that travel guide!!

Thank you for taking the time out of your day to write a very detailed response. Greatly appreciated!

I can only imagine how many people will have the same questions just waiting to be answered.. It's as simple as referring them back to this post.

Thanks again,


Oldsmar, Florida
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4. Re: Need to know - basics of Paris!!

I just got back from my first trip to Paris. It is very easy to get around Paris on the Metro and bus system. One thing that helped me a lot was the RAPT website. It even has a route planner. If you type in your start and end points, it will tell you the best way to get there. Here's the link: ratp.fr/itineraires/en/ratp/recherche-avancee

Most everything is within a 10-15 minute Metro or bus ride. But plan on doing lots and lots of walking. Take a couple of pairs of comfortable shoes.

To save money, have a crepe for lunch. There are crepe stands everywhere. Delicious and affordable!

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5. Re: Need to know - basics of Paris!!

Don't forget about the free booklets you can download from the Tourist Office website:


Toronto, Canada
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6. Re: Need to know - basics of Paris!!


We stayed at Grand Hotel des Balcons near the Pantheon ( I posted a review) and we had sandwiches a couple of times for lunch, a very cheap eat. A short trip to Paris means you want to savour, not necessarily spend time and cash in a restaurant mid-day. It's a great city, and being able to have your wine in a public place just means you add a baguette, fruit and cheese. Enjoy! By the way ... hope you don't get ashed in!

Kaua'i, HI
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7. Re: Need to know - basics of Paris!!

Aloha from Kaua'i!

Definitely invest in a decent book/guide about Paris so that you can read about the different arrondissements (districts) that comprise Paris (there are 20 of them) - each one is different and unique and has advantages to staying there (or disadvantages depending on your viewpoint).

I visited Paris for the very first time last year and probably devoured about 5 guidebooks along with history books galore on Paris and when I got there - it exceeded my VERY high expectations by about 100% - Paris is indeed beyond magical and wonderful. I'm going back this September for another 2 weeks - so you question "how long should I stay?" ---- definitely as long as possible would be my answer! We were there for 2 full weeks and only spent one day outside Paris (at Chateau de Versailles) and we never even got to some of the most famous sights (Arc de Triomphe, Sacre Coeur, Montmartre, Musee d'Orsay, etc, etc.) ----

Learn a little bit about the Metro system - it is easy to use and a wonderful way to get around very quickly if you don't have a lot of time to walk someplace - very user friendly. As mentioned before, Paris is very safe indeed, but you need to be careful with your personal belongings - particularly in areas like packed Metro cars - just be aware of your surroundings. I've never felt as safe in any big city as I did in Paris and felt no problem at all walking in the evening by myself or just before dawn around the streets by our flat.

We aren't "foodies" and my husband is vegetarian (I don't eat meat either, but do eat fish) - we never had dinner once at a fancy restaurant but ate inexpensive and great meals at cafes and brasseries during the middle part of the day while we were exploring - the most expensive meal we had was a lunch at Chateau de Versailles - around 70 euro for the two of us. And that was much, much more than we spent on any of our other meals. You can definitely eat well and inexpensively in Paris!

You'll have a wonderful time - plan for as much time as you can possibly squeeze for a vacation - and Paris will endlessly entertain you - and make you long to come back as soon as possible!!!

Malama Pono,


Newcastle, Australia
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8. Re: Need to know - basics of Paris!!

Hi there. I love staying in the 4th Arr - The Marais - and renting an apartment. How much time do you want to spend there and what do you want to see apart from the ususal "suspects" in Paris?

Kind Regards


New York City, New...
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9. Re: Need to know - basics of Paris!!


All of this is great advise.

One thing that I would suggest doing is going to Vespers at Sacre-Coeur. Even if you're not particularly religious, there is something other-worldly when the nuns begin to sing.

Vespers begins at 1800, so make it up to Montmartre, stroll around, have a crepe, marvel at the skyline, admire the basilica, and enjoy the hymns.

Oh, be sure to wear modest clothes if you want a shot at getting inside.

Have a wonderful time in Paris - what an amazing city!

10. Re: Need to know - basics of Paris!!

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