Published On: Wed, Jan 31st, 2018

The Paris Dream Trip (Part 1)

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Let’s say you’ve never been to Paris. Or, more likely, you spent 18 hours there during a family holiday when you hit nine countries in ten days—or one day during Mrs. Sivert’s eleventh-grade choir trip, or two days when you were nine years old, sequestered in a hotel while your sister recovered from stomach flu. All of this to say that you’ve never done the trip to Paris, and you’re now aching to take a crack at it.

If you’re one of those folks, then this article is for you.

The goal here is to help you plan your time in the City of Lights, leaving plenty of room for spontaneity and serendipity, while suggesting how you can enhance the conditions for surprise.

Our basic assumptions:

  • You’re headed for your first real trip to the capital (although our information will still be useful for repeat offenders).
  • You’re not so broke that you need to stay in student hostels, but you’re also not looking to shack up at Le Bristol (where rooms typically run up to 1300 EUR per night). No, you fit in that vast middle range; you’re willing to splurge to a point, but you know that those American Express chickens will one day come home to roost.
  • You’re looking to stay, roughly, five to ten days. (Don’t worry; if your stay is longer or shorter, this will still be helpful.)
  • You are over 18 and under 70, with no major health issues.
  • You don’t want a group tour; you do want the opportunity to get a little off the beaten trail (at least occasionally).

How easy was that?!

We’ve broken the topics into eight inter-connected topics:

  1. Introduction
  2. When to Travel What are the best times of year to travel to Paris? What days should you avoid? What holidays get in the way?
  3. Where to Stay What are the best/safest/most interesting neighborhoods? How can you identify a good hotel? What are the apartment rental options?
  4. How to Get About Just a quick primer on the public transportation (buses, métro, RER light rail, trams, Vélib bicycles, etc.)—how to use it and how to avoid problems.
  5. What to Do This is a big one! How do you handle the “must-sees” while also personalizing your experience? The task seems Herculean, but don’t worry; we have the secret key to happiness.
  6. Where to Eat  Everyone knows how to look up ratings on Trip Advisor, but be honest: would you really trust your brother-in-law’s recommendation for where to eat? We thought not. So why blindly follow the tips of the corn-fed public? We guide you from restaurant selections to specialty diets (gluten-free, vegetarian, and more!) 
  7. How to Handle Daily Needs There are all those pesky realities: getting hold of cash, finding a doctor, reporting a crime, getting a haircut, recycling your wine bottle… This is the bin o’ answers.
  8. Secrets of Paris has hundreds of articles in its archive, and as we walk you through these main topics, be ready to hop on a link to one of our specialty articles.

This is a big enterprise, so it will come out over several weeks. Paris aficionados should read along and post comments to add ideas, challenge our suggestions or (gasp!) correct our errors.

First item coming up: When to Travel!

Stay tuned.

Scott Dominic Carpenter is Contributing Editor at Secrets of ParisThe Author of Theory of Remainders and This Jealous Earth, Scott writes often about life in Paris.


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