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Day trip to Paris - travel, eating & sightseeing questions!

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Melrose, United...
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Day trip to Paris - travel, eating & sightseeing questions!

Hi, I'm looking for some advice on managing a day trip to Paris on Saturday 16th August. I'm part of a group of six - we decided to take advantage of the cheap Eurostar rates offered when you book early. We arrive in Paris just before 10am local time and have to leave at 19:13, although we have to be at the train at least 30mins before. As a group, we speak a limited amount of French!

Although I'd appreciate any advice you'd consider relevant, here are my main questions I'm looking for some guidance on,

- Getting around in Paris. I did a search on the forums, and it appears the two main choices are either the open top bus or metro - which would you recommend and why? Right now, I'm edging towards the bus, even though it seems a lot more expensive, since it offers more of a chance to see Paris. On the other hand, the metro seems a lot quicker so it may be better when getting back to the station in the evening?

- How much cash to take? This is a particular hangup of mine. Last year when I visited Venice, I agonized over how much to take, torn between the risks of a). running out of cash or b). getting pickpocketed! Would appreciate some experienced advice on how best to minimize this risk when in Paris e.g. whether to take a small rucksack.

- Attractions. Again, when I went to Venice last year, I very quickly got disoriented and ended up getting lost and wasting loads of time at the start of the day. So I'd like to know what I could do in approximately eight hours in Paris. Obviously, I'd like to do the Eiffel Tower but I presume the queues will be massive? In which case just seeing it will suffice :) Other things that are in my head right now - arc de triomphe, tuileries gardens (seem to have great reviews on this site), champs elysees, maybe a boat trip on the river? These are just initial thoughts, so I'd appreciate your ideas on what is best to do with my time to avoid repeating my disastrous start in Venice!

- Eating during the day. Since we're going to be starting (very!) early, I think the first thing we'll probably be needing when arriving in Paris is to grab something light to eat - can anyone recommend any particular areas that would be good for this? And how to structure the rest of the day, food-wise? Given it's a Saturday, I know it's going to be crazily busy, but is there any useful tips for finding good places to have a light bite to eat without queuing among massive crowds (and then getting ripped off!)?

- Finally, any recommendations for a good guide/phrasebook for our visit?

Sorry, that's quite a lot of questions! But I'd be very grateful for any advice you can offer.

Le Bugue, France
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1. Re: Day trip to Paris - travel, eating & sightseeing questions!

There's no need to agonize over anything. Don't take cash. Take your ATM card and get euros once you get there in the amounts you need.

There's no need to plan which neighborhoods to go to to get something to eat. There's food every 10 feet in Paris. Pick something when hunger strikes. Every establishment has to post menus and prices outside. Read them and decide. If there are too many tourists for your liking or the menus are in English, or there are photos of the food, move on and go down a side street or two.

As for which sites to see, study a good map of the city and read a guidebook. Study the public transport system: www.ratp.fr. Map out a route and follow it, whether on foot or by bus or métro. Use the HOHO bus if you like, but be forewarned it can be slow and involve waiting up to 20 minutes or so at the stops. Paris is a VERY compact city, so walking is always an option - I can travel the city end to end easily in a day with plenty of time to see things along the way.

Melrose, United...
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2. Re: Day trip to Paris - travel, eating & sightseeing questions!

Thanks, I'm going to take a look at guide books then :) Any other advice from anyone?

Ottawa, Canada
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3. Re: Day trip to Paris - travel, eating & sightseeing questions!

I"m a fan of the HOHO buses - especially if its a nice day. Sitting on the open top, you get a great view of all the major monuments/sights. We've used L'Open Tour, which has a few routes - you can take all the routes if you want. Consider bringing a water bottle with you - if you are picking up a sandwich etc for a quick lunch on the go, it's handy not have to buy a beverage. Enjoy your day!

northampton
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4. Re: Day trip to Paris - travel, eating & sightseeing questions!

We put money in our sock but beware sweaty feet! I'd prefer to have it with me than waste time looking for an ATM as there is never one when you want one. The probability is you will get lost but don't sweat it as you will probably stumble on something wonderful! We were there at the weekend and though it was busy in restaurnts etc, service was always quite good but we welcomed the rest after walking so much! We never had a bad meal, except breakfast.

warrensburg,MO
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7,685 posts
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5. Re: Day trip to Paris - travel, eating & sightseeing questions!

"although we have to be at the train at least 30mins before"

At least.....and you still stand a good chance of missing your train home. Allow 45 minutes to an hour. You might think immigration will be a breeze but if the person in front of you gets asked 20 questions you can't jump lines, you just wait.

Boston...
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6. Re: Day trip to Paris - travel, eating & sightseeing questions!

..."waste time looking for an ATM, as there's never one when you want one"...

Jeez, I'd have said you can't swing a dead cat in Paris without hitting an ATM. They're everywhere.

northampton
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7. Re: Day trip to Paris - travel, eating & sightseeing questions!

I must have a very long cat.... Why stress yourself out though if you don't need to? Adding 'find ATM' to the list is just an extra hassle.

Fort Myers, Florida
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8. Re: Day trip to Paris - travel, eating & sightseeing questions!

Get to the Eiffel Tower and then figure out what else. You can pre-book tickets for the Eiffel Tower online to avoid the lines. My husband swears that you have to take a cruise on the Seine. I would do the Eiffel Tower, eat lunch, then take a cruise on the Seine. Hopefully after the cruise your group will have a better idea of what they want to go back and see closer up.

San Diego...
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9. Re: Day trip to Paris - travel, eating & sightseeing questions!

In all my trips to Paris (at least a dozen) I have NEVER had a problem finding an ATM. Especially for someone who is coming for the day and is going to be doing the tourist spots. The ATM's are everywhere. I look for ones attached to banks or the post office. It just has never been a problem.

If a person wants to pay a fee to buy money, so be it.

Reading, United...
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10. Re: Day trip to Paris - travel, eating & sightseeing questions!

I normally just withdraw money from an ATM as it saves travelling with cash or wasting precious time trying to find the most competitive exchange rates once in the city.

I'd recommend taking the metro to Arc De Triomphe and then making your way down the Champs Elysees all the way to Place de la Concorde. Stroll through the Jardins des Tuilleries until you reach the Louvre. When I did this trip I had a quick look inside the Louvre as there were no queues but didn't spend any time inside the actual rooms. From the Louvre, catch the metro to Trocadero and walk through the gardens up to the tower. The view is mesmerising, even during the daytime when it's not all lit up.

Taking into account your time constraint, it probably wouldn't be feasible for you to go up the tower but you could take a Seine cruise from the foot of the tower. There's no need to pre-book and most city maps will have a discount coupon for the cruises. I took one at night but I'm sure even in the day, they are wonderfully relaxing and you'll probably get to see more!