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Additional question about my Paris visit

Pasadena, California
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Additional question about my Paris visit

First my sincere Thanks to everyone helping my Paris trip also TA is an excellent reference. with all the details I am able to plan and book my flight tickets, hotel and eurostar to London.

We are 2 adults and 2 kids staying close to RER @ Nanterre, La Defense for 6n/7d my questions are...

1) What is the best public transport option to visit central Paris. Also what kind of tickets (carnet/Paris pass/Navigo etc. should I buy)

2) is the Nanterre RER station safe at night, we might return late night after watching Eiffel tower light show (~11 PM)

3) mostly we will visit within central Paris or surrounding area and 1 day to Versailles.

4) my return international flight from CDG is at 7.40 AM, I should leave hotel at least by 5 AM, what public transport options available? if not I will take taxi/shuttle. in such case what will be the fare?

5) I am traveling from US and like to bring USD for exchange will that be the option for currency exchange? I prefer to use creditcard/debit card only in worst case scenario, also we will exchange couple of 100 euro and pounds before departing.

Our trip is to explore Museum/palace/gardens and other places to understand Paris. We also planned to do 4d/5n London trip. Definitely I like to explore local culture and try to be like Parisian during our stay. only concern is my spouse is vegan.

Luxembourg Palace
Castles, Historic Sites, Points of Interest & Landmarks, Architectural Buildings, Gardens
Le Bugue, France
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1. Re: Additional question about my Paris visit

I'll leave the transportation questions to others, but:

4) I would call a G7 or Taxi Bleu the night before. The fare at that time of morning will probably be 45-50 euros.

5) The last thing you should do is bring USD with you or exchange dollars to euros before traveling. Just bring your ATM card with you (preferably one from a bank or credit union that doesn't charge you for withdrawals) and use the ubiquitous ATM machines all over Paris. They don't charge a fee. If you "exchange," you'll pay whopping unnecessary fees. Use your credit card for major purchases like hotels and nice meals.

6) I'm not sure see a question here. Guidebooks of every description will steer you to museums and palaces and gardens. Being vegan may be a bit tricky, but at least in Paris every restaurant/café/bistrot, etc. must post a menu outside, so you can see what to expect. You can also google Paris vegan restaurants ahead of time.

Calgary, Canada
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2. Re: Additional question about my Paris visit

Which days of a week are you going to be in Paris? How old are your kids? Which Nanterre station is closest to your hotel?

Do not bring any $. The best rate you get- is to simply withdraw cash (Euro) from your bank account using your bank card. Just place travel advisory on your bank account and credit card by informing cc / bank of your travel dates / places.

You may need a hundred or two of Euro / Pound at the beginning to get you started.

Edited: 15 February 2014, 17:42
Pasadena, California
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3. Re: Additional question about my Paris visit

Thanks Everyone. I will be in Paris between Wednesday morning till Tuesday. My kids will be 6 & 9 years I start showing youtube videos about Paris so they have some idea about their trip. I will take 4 days museum pass. Our bank has 3% surcharge plus additional cost for foreign transaction.

Nanterre - Préfecture is close to our place.

My wife has no interest on heights so we are not going to take the elevator ride.

Our must do are...

Eiffel tower (without elevator ride)

Arc De Triomphe

Champs Elysee

Luxembourg gardens

Rue Moffetard

Musee d'orsay

Opéra de Paris Garnier

sacre coeur (this covers our Paris view)

Notre dame cathedral

Louvre

Also walk around local Paris area at Latin Gardens

We have some additional optional things to do.

Calgary, Canada
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4. Re: Additional question about my Paris visit

There is Navigo Decouverte Pass that might be worthwhile even though you wouldn't be able to fully benefit from it as it's valid Monday - Sunday. I costs E 5 + loading to zones 1-3 is E 26.40.

Your hotel is in zone 3, so you would need to load it for zones 1-3 for unlimited travel on Bus, Metro or RER within those zones.

Then you would need single tickets for remaining 2 days.

Normally your kids would qualify for discount, but I'm not sure it applies to ND.

Are you arriving / leaving via CDG? Train?

Paris, France
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5. Re: Additional question about my Paris visit

As others have said, exchanging US dollars overseas is not wise - in addition to the exchange rate, you will pay a commission fee that far exceeds the 3% your bank will charge for foreign transactions. If you do this more than once, it really adds up.

If you want to avoid using ATMs, another option would be to purchase all your euros and GBP directly from your hometown bank, in advance of your trip. You will pay a service fee for this, but it's less than what you would pay to change USD overseas. Of course, if something happens to all this cash, you will be up that proverbial creek...

Although many people have reservations about using credit or debit cards while travelling, it is the most economical idea. If you have time to shop around, there are banks offering cards with no foreign transaction fees. You might consider opening an account just for this trip.

Otherwise, you can limit the number of transaction fees by always withdrawing the maximum allowed amount of cash - check with your bank to verify the amount allowed in a 24-hour period, and ask them to raise it, if needed.

You could also speak to your bank about limiting the available balance on the cards you will use during your trip - that way, if something should happen, you would be protected - at least up to that set amount.

Leiden, The...
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6. Re: Additional question about my Paris visit

Not sure what you mean about the Eiffel Tower Light Display at 11pm? Do you know of some special light show that they are doing at that time?

As far as I'm aware, the ET lights up for a few minutes every hour. I'm sure other TA people will know more about this.

Plus, I think you need more time for your return flight. You should arrive at least 3 hours ahead for International flights. If you leave at 5am, you'd be at CDG at about 6am, which doesn't leave much time to check-in, etc.......

Chicago, Illinois
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7. Re: Additional question about my Paris visit

Because your trip laps over a weekend the ND is probably not the best bet. A mobilis 3 zone day pass might be. Your kids are the right ages for half price transport tickets if you buy carnet of tickets from your local RER stop into Paris. For Paris itself you could get a carnet of tickets t 13.70 for the two of you and another carnet of half price tickets for the kids. There is no child's ND as it is primarily a pass for non local students and workers and not a tourist product. Adult tourists can buy it if it works for their dates.

The Eiffel Tower sparkles for 5 minutes on the hour after dark until about 1 am or so.

If your bank charge 3% you have a bad bank and I would (and did) change banks. There is a 1% international exchange fee that can't be avoided but the additional 2% as well as any ATM withdrawals fees are all just because they can. We also have a credit card that doesn't charge this and provides travel points as well.

Even with your bad bank's extra charges you are way ahead using an ATM; the most expensive way to get money would be exchanging dollars in Europe or using a credit card to withdraw funds of course. Having your bank get you Euros before you travel is likely to be more expensive and it is certainly more risky than just using ATMs as you go -- but it is still much cheaper than exchanging dollars on the ground which will make 3% look cheap.

I assume you are staying in La Defense because of free hotel on points or something; if not consider staying in Paris where it is both more charming and cuts commuting time and costs. It is a shame to burn up everyone's energy by commuting every day -- and most people feel a need to return to the hotel, especially with kids, by early evening and then you are stuck in this uncharming area. If central, you can take an evening stroll in the city or one of you can go out while the other babysits.

Edited: 15 February 2014, 19:23
Chicago, Illinois
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8. Re: Additional question about my Paris visit

For a flight to the US you need to be AT the airport and in line 3 hours before your flight -- not leaving the hotel very far from the airport at 5 for a 7:40 flight. That would be cutting it close even for a domestic flight.

Le Bugue, France
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9. Re: Additional question about my Paris visit

I agree about the 3-hour rule, but IME, virtually NOTHING is open at CDG at 5 in the morning - no counter personnel, no check-in lines, nothing. Maybe it's just me, but 2-3 times I've ended up standing in an almost empty hall until just before 6 am.

Pasadena, California
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10. Re: Additional question about my Paris visit

Thanks everyone. I am reaching CDG through flight, after 7 hours I have eurostar to London. we will be at London for 5 nights and return to Paris for 6 nights and then take return international flight from CDG.

Also is there a more benefited prepaid ATM card (will less/no transaction fee and better exchange rates in Paris and London) that I can purchase in US for using in Europe?

Regarding Eiffel tower, seems the light up is only for 5 minutes. I can see the first light up and return to hotel.