Paris First Timer

  • TufLuck

    Posts: 30

    Jun 17, 2012 1:10 PM GMT
    So my birthday is 12/20 and because of it being so close to Christmas I hardly ever do anything of note to celebrate. Figured out a long time ago I'll never trump Jesus or friends family/holiday obligations. So I've decided from now on to take a solo vacation every year for my birthday, and this year will be Paris France for my 31st.

    I've never been, have traveled internationally before so know the basics, and I'm looking for any advice from locals or guys who have been before on areas to stay in (I've been told the city is very easy to navigate walking and public transportation) either hotel or a HomeAway/vacation rental, good places to grab a bite to eat (major foodie here so have no issues spending good money on amazing food, but also know amazing food doesn't always have to cost a lost of money ^_^) and any gay stuff to do.

    open to meeting up with local guys (I don't speak or understand French so I'll have that to deal with) for drinks, dancing and what not or maybe some fun (I hear Paris has some hot men and sex clubs) so as you can see I'm a lil across the board at the moment but I'll be there for almost ten days so I'll have plenty of time to check a lot off my bucket list.

    any who, any advice is welcome, either on here or through direct messages. thanks in advance!

    tuffie
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    Jun 17, 2012 1:24 PM GMT
    My first and foremost piece of advice would be to check out couchsurfing.org. If you're not already a member, I'd check it out and find a local who's free for a couple of those days if you don't find anyone on here to play tour guide or hang out with.

    As far as things to do there,it's a beautiful city (as you may already have heard). There's boatloads to do, and yes, it's very walkable. One thing I'd definitely recommend is getting a museum pass (assuming you're planning on doing a couple of museums while you're there). It'll let you skip the lines for tickets, which can get to be quite crazy, and it pays for itself after just a couple of visits.

    http://en.parismuseumpass.com/
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    Jun 17, 2012 4:35 PM GMT
    TufLuck saidSo my birthday is 12/20 and because of it being so close to Christmas I hardly ever do anything of note to celebrate. Figured out a long time ago I'll never trump Jesus or friends family/holiday obligations. So I've decided from now on to take a solo vacation every year for my birthday, and this year will be Paris France for my 31st.

    I've never been, have traveled internationally before so know the basics, and I'm looking for any advice from locals or guys who have been before on areas to stay in (I've been told the city is very easy to navigate walking and public transportation) either hotel or a HomeAway/vacation rental, good places to grab a bite to eat (major foodie here so have no issues spending good money on amazing food, but also know amazing food doesn't always have to cost a lost of money ^_^) and any gay stuff to do.

    open to meeting up with local guys (I don't speak or understand French so I'll have that to deal with) for drinks, dancing and what not or maybe some fun (I hear Paris has some hot men and sex clubs) so as you can see I'm a lil across the board at the moment but I'll be there for almost ten days so I'll have plenty of time to check a lot off my bucket list.

    any who, any advice is welcome, either on here or through direct messages. thanks in advance!

    tuffie
    You MUST, even if its just once, do as the Parisians do at the turnstiles for the Métro! Gawd is that fun! Some of the cops are fun to watch/checkout! woof!
  • Suetonius

    Posts: 1842

    Jun 17, 2012 5:27 PM GMT
    Simple advice:
    1. If you arrive at airport Charles deGaulle (CDG), there is a shuttle train (TGVVAL) between terminals. There is subway (RER) train station underneath Terminal 3/Roissypole with trains that take you directly to Paris.
    Directions (with photos):
    http://parisbytrain.com/airport-to-paris-terminal-1/
    2. You are going to be there for more than 1 week - so get a weekly metro pass. Navigo Semaine (used to be "Carte Orange," - "semaine" = weekly) - valid on all buses, metro, and trains within the zones you buy it for. Saves a lot over individual metro tickets. Now (the french always make things more complicated over time) you have to buy a Passe Navigo Découverte for 5 euros (kind of like the London Oyster card), and then buy a Navigo Semaine with that card. The Navigo Semaine is valid only from a Monday through Sunday, but can be bought as early as the Friday before. Most tourists do fine with a Zone1-2 card (includes all of the city of Paris). AN individual ticket cost 1.70 euros, a Pairs Visite (5-day tourist ticket) costs 31.15 euros, and the weekly Navigo Semaine costs only 19.15 euros (as of now, on the official french website). Go figure.
    3. Get/download a language tape and learn just a little french before you go. Helps to be able to order a beer in french, even in a gay bar.
    4. If you want to be able to call anyone while there, get a cheap cellphone at the airport or in town.
    5. Tourist site: Visit the Sainte Chapelle (in the palace of justice) on a sunny afternoon (if there are any in December) to view the stained glass windows. Most of the windows survived the revolution. Because of its location, be prepared for a security check when you go in the building.
  • TufLuck

    Posts: 30

    Jun 18, 2012 10:48 AM GMT
    themanoftheland8 saidMy first and foremost piece of advice would be to check out couchsurfing.org. If you're not already a member, I'd check it out and find a local who's free for a couple of those days if you don't find anyone on here to play tour guide or hang out with.

    As far as things to do there,it's a beautiful city (as you may already have heard). There's boatloads to do, and yes, it's very walkable. One thing I'd definitely recommend is getting a museum pass (assuming you're planning on doing a couple of museums while you're there). It'll let you skip the lines for tickets, which can get to be quite crazy, and it pays for itself after just a couple of visits.

    http://en.parismuseumpass.com/


    Thanks but I think I'd prefer to have my own space to return back to or to hang out in while there. I've found some nice listing on HomeAway so now just need to narrow down the neighborhoods of where I should stay.

    Thanks for the tip on the museum pass, I'll definitely check that out as I do plan to hit a few while there.

    Tuffie
  • TufLuck

    Posts: 30

    Jun 18, 2012 10:49 AM GMT
    tuffieYou MUST, even if its just once, do as the Parisians do at the turnstiles for the Métro! Gawd is that fun! Some of the cops are fun to watch/checkout! woof![/quote]

    Mark,

    Thanks for the heads up! I'll definitely look into this!

    Cam
  • TufLuck

    Posts: 30

    Jun 18, 2012 10:53 AM GMT
    Suetonius saidSimple advice:
    1. If you arrive at airport Charles deGaulle (CDG), there is a shuttle train (TGVVAL) between terminals. There is subway (RER) train station underneath Terminal 3/Roissypole with trains that take you directly to Paris.
    Directions (with photos):
    http://parisbytrain.com/airport-to-paris-terminal-1/
    2. You are going to be there for more than 1 week - so get a weekly metro pass. Navigo Semaine (used to be "Carte Orange," - "semaine" = weekly) - valid on all buses, metro, and trains within the zones you buy it for. Saves a lot over individual metro tickets. Now (the french always make things more complicated over time) you have to buy a Passe Navigo Découverte for 5 euros (kind of like the London Oyster card), and then buy a Navigo Semaine with that card. The Navigo Semaine is valid only from a Monday through Sunday, but can be bought as early as the Friday before. Most tourists do fine with a Zone1-2 card (includes all of the city of Paris). AN individual ticket cost 1.70 euros, a Pairs Visite (5-day tourist ticket) costs 31.15 euros, and the weekly Navigo Semaine costs only 19.15 euros (as of now, on the official french website). Go figure.
    3. Get/download a language tape and learn just a little french before you go. Helps to be able to order a beer in french, even in a gay bar.
    4. If you want to be able to call anyone while there, get a cheap cellphone at the airport or in town.
    5. Tourist site: Visit the Sainte Chapelle (in the palace of justice) on a sunny afternoon (if there are any in December) to view the stained glass windows. Most of the windows survived the revolution. Because of its location, be prepared for a security check when you go in the building.


    Awesome advice mate! Thanks so much! I'm in agreement and have been reading up on the metro rail week pass, I did this when in Tokyo a few years back, and it saved my ex and I a lot of time and money. I've already bought the Rosetta Stone French I set to brush up on basic French, I always try to speak as much of the language in the country I'm visiting without sounding like a total idiot. I know they'll still be some language issues but this will at the least lessen it a bit.

    Tuffie
  • bad_wolf

    Posts: 1002

    Jun 18, 2012 11:08 AM GMT
    If you feel like being a tourist;

    Latin quarter is a must, you don't need a purpose if you have an hour to kill, just amble aimlessly, definately the place to - can shop for random crap or get something to eat.

    You cannot do the Louvre in one day, near impossible unless you count running without actually looking.

    Conciergerie - grim but really good.

  • drypin

    Posts: 1798

    Jun 18, 2012 11:08 AM GMT
    One of our more memorable stays was in the area next to the Jardin du Luxembourg, but we often stay near the Port Maillot subway stop (close to the Arc de Triomphe). We've been to Paris about 10 times on weekend visits. The Marais is the combination gay/Jewish quarter for going out at night, but there are clubs outside of this neighborhood.

    Pop into any gay bar and pick up a free local magazine with a map of Gay Paris. You can also check out www.sensitif.fr and www.tetu.com online (Têtu is national, but I'm sure Paris takes up most of it).
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    Jun 18, 2012 11:47 AM GMT
    I saw every painting on display in the louvre in one day. It took 10 hours and my feet were almost bleeding by the end, but it was worth it.

    Be sure to check out the street markets through out paris, every neighborhood has one, you can find some incredible food, books, clothes, and souvenirs, and it's worth it just to people watch. Parisians just have these incredibly expressive faces.

  • Jun 18, 2012 12:41 PM GMT
    Hello


    Maybe I can stop being a mean evil French for one second and give you few tricks to enjoy Paris better than many foreigners.
    So, one thing, you do not need to speak french. We just love to see you trying... if approached nicely every young french person will help you, English being mandatory in class, do not expect much, but basic help will be provided. Also, do not approach people with a silly fast pace in your talking and the strongest american accent... So many times it happened to me : I would have loved to help, but my god... slow down and speak BBC english...

    ACCOMODATION :
    Really depends on your budget, but most of the cheap option will bring you out of " Paris Intra Muros "... you would be out of the ring road and it may be annoying to commute " in" as all the monuments and museums are " Intra Muros. Get your bookings early...

    Check your budget and I can eventually make you some recommendations.




    CHRISTMAS
    Many places wont be nice because it's Christmas so :
    - Do the Champs Elysee in a Cab or a bicycle on rent ( Velib ). up. down. done. The crowd and the shops are not worth it.
    - Do the same in the Boulevard Haussmann, take your bike on the Opera and go done. Drop it there, once you've reach the end of the boulevard.
    If it's too crowded it's not worth it... plus... pick pockets

    http://en.velib.paris.fr/


    EIFFEL TOWER
    We are on Realjock... so... I think I would recommend you to .. TAKE THE STAIRS. There is a secret counter where near one pillar with the Stairs. It is the one... with NO TOURISTS. Only french people usually go there. Get your ticket in usually less than 20 minutes ( 2 to 3 hours for the Elevator ) and go up to the 2nd Floor with the stairs. To reach the 3rd floor you would need to take the last elevatore and to buy your ticket on the 2nd floor. ... but still, you'll wait less that the lazy guys down there. During winter the Tower often closes for few hours if there is snow or wind.


    LOUVRE
    Yes, you cannot do the Louvre in 1 day.
    So... do it at night ...
    Wednesday and Friday it closes at 9:45.
    I would recommend you to take a walk around and when the sun start going down enter the museum. You'll see the outside from the inside, it will be beautiful . . .

    And ho yes, buy your ticket online : http://www.louvre.fr/billetterie
    Or give them a call before your trip to check the " Night Days " for this period of the year...

    When I did it with my friends, we were alone in the Mona Lisa Room, and alone in the Dutch paintings gallery... then only you can trully enjoy the art.

    Also, do not do " everything " check the collections, chose what you want to see. I'm not sure your interest for Dutch Painters is as high as for the Mona Lisa or the Egyptian Section...


    TGV TRIP TO STRASBOURG
    Why not spending 2 days out of paris and going to Europe's Capital of Christmas and also house of the European Parliament AND my native town ? Strasbourg.
    2H30 high speed train... many trains in the day. You could go early in the morning and come back in the evening or the next day... cheaper than Paris for shopping, fooding, accomodation, and you would see something else ? Cuter, nicer, slow, often snowy. . . .

    FOOD // GAYNESS
    As you can guess Paris will have plenty of Food Options and a nice " village " inside the city dedicated to the Gays.
    I do not really go out in the Gay District because it's a bit boring.
    During Christmas time Paris has many electro parties, the issue newsletter but they are all in French... maybe you could subscribe and translate them into English with google or something ?

    I could eventually recommend you some Bars / Restaurants but again, it heavily depends on both budget and taste.


    If you require any additional information to coordinate your trip do ask me.
    I may myself spend New Year Eve there.

    Ciao

    AV.
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    Jun 18, 2012 1:09 PM GMT
    themanoftheland8 saidMy first and foremost piece of advice would be to check out http://www.couchsurfing.org/. If you're not already a member, I'd check it out and find a local who's free for a couple of those days if you don't find anyone on here to play tour guide or hang out with.


    This! icon_biggrin.gif
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    Jul 09, 2012 10:21 PM GMT
    I agree the Louvre at night is amazing ... less crowded, more for you to see without being elbowed all the time. I too was alone in the Mona Lisa room, pretty cool
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    Jul 10, 2012 7:28 AM GMT
    Plan to fly a few days before your birthday. You do not want to be stuck in a airport on your birthday that close to christmas. Trust me (mine is 12/19).

    A trip to Versailles is a fun day trip (though I'd only been in the summer when the gardens are in full bloom and there are occasional concerts in the evenings).
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    Jul 10, 2012 7:31 AM GMT
    make sure you say "bonjour" when you talk to a Parisian.. its considered rude to start off immediately in english and people may ignore you if you dont start at least saying it in french... then they will usually switch to english to accommodate you if they speak it
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    Jul 10, 2012 10:47 AM GMT
    I found Raidd Bar in Paris to be the best of the gay bars. Awesome vibe, music and they have a naked showering guy! I was lucky I met a local Frenchman who was able to show me places so whos knows could happen to you!

    It's a beautiful city, you'll love it!