2009.01.23 plan pour paris:

A friend just emailed me, asking for advice on places to visit in Paris. Since I love Paris so much, i might have gone overboard. I've probably mentioned most of these things in my journals from those trips, but nevertheless, I thought I might post it here, y'know since it's already written and everything…

As for Paris, the key is walking. If she's into the touristy stuff, the Arc de Triomphe is excellent to see, walking down the Champs Elysees is a must, and viewing the Eiffel Tower from La Trocadero is highly recommended. If she doesn't mind crowds and long waits in line, going up IN the Eiffel Tower is enjoyable, but I'm still not sure I'd call it worth it on a really busy day.

The Louvre is fantastic and huge if she's an art buff, but unless she's just a huge Picasso fan, I'd skip the Picasso museum (which is separate and in a different part of town). Connected to the Louvre is my favorite of the Paris gardens, the Jardin de Touillerie, which, if you stand at the far end of the courtyard of the Louvre, looking down the path out into the garden, and through the small arc in the courtyard, you can see *all the way* out the garden to the Obelisque, and up the Champs Elysees to the Arc de Triomphe. That is one of my favorite views of Paris. My favorite view is at the other end of the garden, in the grassy space up above the gates, looking out into the courtyard with the Obelisque and the fountain(s?). From here, you get a great view of the Eiffel Tower to the left across the Seine, and of the Obelisque and Arc de Triomphe up the Champs Elysees to the right. My favorite spot in all of Paris is that spot, if you go up the ramp (the left ramp if you're walking towards the gates at the end of the garden) you get that great view I mentioned.

My second favorite view of Paris is from Sacre Coure in Montmartre. It feels like you can see the whole city from there. (Sort of like Eiffel, but without the long wait or crushing crowds.) Also in Montmartre, a few blocks from Sacre Coure, is a square where hundreds of artists have booths setup and are working and selling things. around the square are several restaurants, so that's a great place to go after visiting Sacre Coure.

As I mentioned, just walking around is great, especially if you have a companion or two, head down some side-streets and see what you find. My last and most important bit of advice is this: learn enough french to ask simple questions. The most important thing is to be polite and respectful. You walk into a shop, you say "bonjour!" (or something more appropriate, depending on the time of day), when you leave the shop, you say "merci!" If you have to speak to a shopkeeper and don't have enough french for it, the most important phrase in your arsenal is "I cannot speak French, do you speak English?" (in French obviously). *Usually,* making that much effort is enough that they'll be polite to you as well. If they don't, they'll tell you, and you can say "merci" and either gesture enough to get your point across, or politely leave the shop.

Guide to paris streets and public transport.Finally, and especially if doing a lot of walking, the picture I attached is of the book my sister relied on during her five+ years there. Any Plan de Paris should work, I imagine, and there seem to be a few pocket-sized versions around, but this one worked very well for me.

That's not an exhaustive list, for sure, but some of the things I particularly enjoyed. Also, i recommend sitting at the outside tables at a crowded cafe, sipping an espresso, and just people-watching. But that may be just me. 😉

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