Hi, I will be traveling to Paris for a week in July and taking a Rick Steves tour. My hotel and much of my itinerary is set by the tour, but I will havefree time which is great because keeping me 24/7 in a group is like wrangling a cat. Some of my interests are not covered on the tour so I will (thankfully) be doing them on my own. Below I have some misc. questions:
Thank you so much for your help and advice.
1. Is there a gallery district or design district? or area with many working studios in concentration? Perhaps somewhere at or near an atelier? An art school with exhibitions? Maybe a listing of gallery openings? I'm talking serious art and design here - not just the touristy stuff.
1a. What stores have great window displays?
2. I understand Marais has some trendy boutiques; any recommendations of shops? Anywhere else in the city? (forget the Rodeo Drive type stuff, I'm talking about on-trend, edgy stuff.)
3. Unfortunately, I may not be able to go to a flea market. :( My train from London arrives Sunday at about noon (tour starting 3pm 7th arrondissement) and my airplane leaves early morning the next Saturday. So far, the only hope I see is taking a taxi from Gare du Nord to the hotel and rushing to Vanves to catch the tail end of the market. :( Monday looks like a busy itinerary also, so I'm not sure I can get to Les Puces de Saint-Ouen. ...... Is there anything that can be seen during the week? Even window shopping? Maybe there is another flea market that is open say Thursday or another day of the week. If there is not ...well I guess that's an excuse for another trip.:D, but wondering if anyone has any ideas?
4. How long would it take to travel from 7th arr. to Les Puces de Saint-Ouen by Metro?
5. Regarding the Metro - how can I know for certain which way the train is headed? Are signs posted by direction, destination? Whenever I travel I usually ask someone nearby to ensure I'm headed the correct way. Not speaking French, I'm a bit more unsure. Is there usually someone at the "ticket booth" who can help?
5a. Does the Metro ever change into an "express" and skip stations to get to a particular destination? If so, at what times/lines? Is there any way/marking to determine if the train is an express? (I had this happen in NYC (for a reason I can't recall, the operator changed the train from local to express) causing several people to get off at a different stop and then backtrack.)
6. I hear that restaurants close up after one sitting of lunch. Are reservations required for lunch and dinner? Are most restaurants sit down or can I just get a good sandwich at a cafe? I'm a bit confused by this. If I wanted to eat at say 3 or 4:00, are places open??
7. Thursday will be my birthday (50! I can hardly believe it. I look more like I'm 35.) The tentative schedule has us visiting Versailles in the morning with the option of returning to Paris by train in the afternoon. If I decide to return early, any ideas of something special to do? Visit the Eiffel tower (not part of the tour) or eat at a good mid-ranged restaurant? Maybe I should stay at Versailles? Is there a winery or restaurant?
8. Any unique high quality fabric shops you can recommend?
8a. Any unusual curiosity type shop? One with an incredible interior or architecture? Any usual or beautiful shop, bookstore, restaurant, taxidermy shop, whatever...the more unique the better.
9. Any guide to architecture books or pamphlets you can recommend? or maybe there is an overlooked work of architecture (or art) that I might be interested in...
10. The arc de triomphe is not part of my tour and I would need to see it on my own. Is it worth going inside?