We are just finishing our week in Paris and it was FANTASTIC! Many thanks to the posters on this forum for all your observations and suggestions. Thanks to you we were ready for the gold ring trick, happened to us on Day 1 right by the Pont Alexandre III bridge. Not sure what I would have done without the many warnings from the forum! Similarly, the petition girls tried their thing on a few occasions, but again, we knew to say "Non merci" and keep walking.
A few observations & highlights:
- as many people have said, buy the carnet of 10 metro tickets, great value and the subway is easy to use if you have the subway map in hand.
- we also bought a 5 day Batoboat Pass, and found this very useful, as many of the sights are quite near the Seine. We bought the 5 day pass, as it was hardly any more expensive than the 2 day pass, and we didn't have our daily schedules set in stone, so it was great to have both the Bato and the Metro as options.
- we loved the Orangerie Museum, we went at opening in the morning and it was look we had the place to ourselves. I took the advice given on the forum and bought a combo pack which included the Orsay, so we didn't need to stand in line there either. We are Impressionist lovers, so we only did the top floor at Orsay. It was very good, but crowded on the Thursday evening when we went. I am glad we went, but Orangerie is my favourite!
- we rented a flat near the FDR metro, it was a great central location, as we were very close to both the Metro and the Batoboat at the Pont Alex III.
- went to the top of both the Eiffel and the Arc, both are great experiences and not to be missed. But I think I actually preferred the views from the Arc.
- walked the Latin Quarter, the Marais, the Champs Elysee, the banks of the Seine, the Grand Boulevards, and the Place Madeleine area. We really enjoyed the Marais, including Place Vosges on the Sunday.
- also did Montmartre and Sacre Coeur on Sunday, crazy busy up there, but still fun.
- loved all the churches, Notre Dame, the Pantheon, Sacre Coeur, Madeleine, etc ...
- some of the best times were sitting on terraces, sipping wine or beer with a slow leisurely lunch. Found a really nice quiet patio at an Italian restaurant, near the church Etienne de Mont, close to the Pantheon.
- I am not much for shopping malls, but the Galerie Lafayette on Hausmann Blvd is something to see!
- ok, I recall the post awhile back about how Parisians had become so rude and unwelcoming of visitors. This was totally the opposite of our experience, we received very good service, a willingness to speak English after we opened in French, and generally friendly folks willing to help us when we looked totally lost. And nobody attacked us when we were a little slow with the "Bonjour". Grace was given when required!
- lastly, please relax and enjoy Paris. The first few days we were pretty up-tight, always on the look-out for pickpockets, that we were missing out on the fun. We quickly realized that we were in no more danger in Paris than in cities back in North America, in fact, in many ways, we felt safer. So just take the normal precautions that you would in any city, use common sense and you will be fine. Paris is a beautiful city and one needs to slow down and enjoy it.
- our dining highlights included Le Petit Centre du Monde in the 8th (best Vietnamese ever), Firmin de Barbier in the 7th (wonderful owner is a retired surgeon), Villa Spicy in the 8th (great value), Le Patio des Champs (very nice patio lunch) in the 8th, Le Sancerre in Montmartre, and also Relais de L'Entrecote. We only had one sub-par meal, at Findi, an Italian restaurant in the 8th.
We head home tomorrow, but we will be back!