[France] A few tips when in Paris

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[France] A few tips when in Paris

Post by Inunobaka on Wed 7 Sep - 20:52

hello!
I noticed before when helping foreign people get around Paris we actually were pretty mean and loved to rip off tourists (just like anyone else I'd imagine.)
Which is why I'm posting this today; a few tips for those who'd like to come to France and not be ripped off.

1)getting around Paris

When travelling around Paris to go to different places, the cheapest option would, of course, be to walk. However I strongly recommand not to do that; you would die from exhaustion, Paris is a big city and if you want to see some museums, you will need to rest a bit.
The second option would be to drive or take a taxi; however once again this isn't such a great idea for taxis are quite expensive (not like in England at all; those were pretty cheap in my opinion) And Paris being the capital, it's full of traffic. You wouldn't want to go there and be stuck in a car the whole time, so it's something to avoid too.

there is something that tourists should like, if they're here for only a small while; the "batobus". It's a boat on the Seine taking you to different places. If you pay for a ticket you can hop on and off for as long as it last; the prices might be a bit higher than other alternatives, but if you're only here for one day you can have a nice little cruise on the Seine while going places; the main stops are the main places people visit. for more informations on those, here is the website => http://www.batobus.com/english/index.htm

Then there is what I myself consider the best option; We have a lot of buses, metros and trains that will take you pretty much everywhere. However as you may notice, it'll cost a lot when it comes to tickets. Don't try to go without paying, the fines are quite high and the controllers aren't the nicest to frauders. There is an alternative to tickets though; we have cards made for people to go around. they work for buses, trains and metro all at once. However once again there are disadvantages; the transport companies try to sell tourists a card that cost more since they don't know about the cheaper one; There were stories on them telling tourists they couldn't get the cheaper one because they don't live in Ile-De-France, but that's not true so ask for the cheaper one.

That card is called "Passe navigo" and will let you use it as much as you want in a defined time. The card itself cost 5€, and you'll have to charge it to travel. If you take one lasting one week, know it'll be from Monday to Sunday, and nothing else; which is why it's in your interest to buy it on Monday. The monthly one is from the first to the 31th/30th.

The prices to charge it will depend on where you want to go. Paris is divided in five areas, and depending on which area you'd like to go to the tickets/card will cost something else. ( http://parisfringe.files.wordpress.com/2009/04/rer_paris-map.gif Here is the map so you can see the areas; the lines are the train's line.)
The prices are as follow:
Weekly:1 to 2=18,85 € 1; to 3=24,50 €;1 to 4=29,80 €;1 to 5=33,40 €
Monthly 1 to 2=62 €;& to3=80,30 €;1 to 4=98,10 €1 to 5=109,90 €
It looks expensive when you see it like that BUT it is far more convenient and actually cheaper.

The only problem with those is how they love to strike; that much stereotype is true. Usually though alternatives are offered in case of problems so it shouldn't be too much of a problem.


2) Souvenirs

When you go to Paris, you're most likely to buy souvenirs; However there are different ways to get some, all with their advantages and inconvenients.

First of all, let's talk about the cheapest; some people sell eiffel tower keychains mainly, or some odd umbrella-hats or fake birds. Those people actually sell on the black market; they aren't allowed to sell those. Therefore I highly recommand not to buy from them, especially since their goods don't respect the safety norms and can be dangerous. They're most often seen around the Palace of Versailles, the Louvre, Montmartre, the Eiffel tower and the trocadero as I remember it.

Then you have my personal favorite; there are a lot of nice souvenir shops, the cheapest I've found in Paris, in the St Michel area. When you go to the Notre Dame Cathédrale, facing it, turn around and walk a little until you can see a big place with a fountain. in this direction you should find a few little streets filled with restaurant (cheap one, and pretty good too) and small souvenirs shops. You'll have quite a lot of choice and may even find the "théatre de la huchette" there, which is slightly important if you're a fan of Ionesco.

And then you have the most expensive, going directly in the monument's official shop. You'll be sure to have the highest quality and the money goes to taking care of the museums all over France; in fact the national museum's shop share their earning to renovate the buidlings/museums that need it the most. I quite like this option too since some goods can't be find out of here (as an example, the only place you can find Versailles souvenirs is in the castle itself.).

3) Avoid small scams
There are a few imaginative ways to get money out of you, and I know a few of those you can find in Paris. First of all let's start with montmartre since a lot of them seem to be here;
There will be guys waiting down the stairs, near the funiculaire. They'll ask for your hand. Say no, and be firm; they'll tie a bracelet to your finder and tie it so you can't take it off when you try to take your hand back; they'll then ask you to pay, and cuss you out if you don't.

Then the second one you can see there is up the stairs, in the place du tertre mainly; Now for more informations on Montmarte, the places there are extremely wanted since only those who own a stall can sell their art. You can't sell it back and pretty much own it until you die. Therefore a lot of artists who aren't allowed to draw you hang around and offer to do so. Some of them actually don't ask, act all friendly, and while chatting with you draw you and ask you to pay for it too. It's a good guilt tripping thing in both those cases; be firm and say no. You didn't ask for the goods forced on you, you don't have to pay.

That other scam most often happens under the eiffel tower or in the St Michel train station. I think they also do it around the Louvre but I didn't see them myself there (I fell for it at first too.). A young woman who will most often look like a gypsy, or a bit dishevelled, will come toward you and ask you if you speak English. If that happens, once again be firm, say no and walk away. If you say yes, she'll make you read a paper that says pretty much "I'm poor and need money to eat give me some". If you read it, she'll follow you around insistantly; she did to me and probably to others.

There is also a woman who will talk to you, give you a ring and claim she found it and you can have it. She'll tell you a lot of things on luck etc, and how she needs money. Once again she'll insist until you give her some. In the same kind of things, you have one near Orsay who looks old and like her back isn't good, but she actually is perfectly fine and you can see her walk just fine when the evening comes.

I know that once in chinatown's KFC a woman came in and stood at the end of my table saying she was hungry and needed us to give her our food too; it was a single time though and while it might not happen it's better to mention it.

Then that's a generic safety tip but Paris is a big, touristic city; watch your bags, pickpockets are everywhere. A few places to avoid if you don't want too much trouble would be the Paris Nord train station or "Les Halles" since both are known for having some sort of gangs. You should be fine but still be careful around there.

4) Museums

There are a few things people don't know on museums; I think it's always interesting to tell you about it. First of all, there are two types of Museums; Privates one, and National ones. The National ones have a policy seen everywhere. If you're under 18, you can get in for free. Just make sure it says "Musées Nationaux" and it'll be fine. Same, for the residents of the European Union, given you can show an ID Card proving you are one indeed, you can get in for free if you're under 26.
it's also useful since you may get in some smaller queues since you don't always need a ticket (you do in the Louvre.I remember it. You don't in Versailles. It depends on the place really. Also the Eiffel tower is a private monument so you have to pay.).

Some of the places I recommend seeing and aren't always on the priority lists are the Musée D'Orsay, which is about the transition from classicism to impressionism (so pantings mainly) and isn't far from the Louvre. if you're into History there's the museum of Middle Age of Cluny, with a set of tapestry representing the six senses; it's in old Gallo-Roman bathes partly, which are also well preserved. There is also the Invalides which is nice if you're interested in Napoléon since his coffin is exposed there; the place is gorgeous and there is a museum on wars and the army retracing a lot of France's history through battles (which includes bits on America, England, Prussia,or anyone France was at war with at some point so pretty much the world.). If you want to learn more on the history of Paris, you can see the gallo-roman fundations just under the cathedral; on the parvis you will find some stairs going there. It's not free but it retrace the history of the town pretty well and have the advantage of being cool,it's nice during summer.
Finally, if you're more into fairy tales, there is a castle not in Paris but in Ile-de-France that's really gorgeous. It's called "Chateau de Breteuil" and the owner himself showed up to welcome us when we went; overall visiting the castle itself teaches us a lot about French history since the family was heavily implied in some events (including the creation of that "entente cordiale" thing); the gardens are nice and filled with scenes taken out of Perrault's stories, such as blue beard, little red riding hood, cinderella or puss in boot. I highly recommend it myself.
Here is a list I found of national museums, sometimes with addresses; http://www.culture.gouv.fr/culture/regions/regions_grat.htm.


I may add to this small list of tips later on, though for now it looks pretty complete to me. I hope it's somewhat helpful!
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Inunobaka
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Date d'inscription : 2011-09-07
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