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Paris - General Information:

Make sure you have some francs for transportation from the airport in Paris to get to your hotel.

There are many great places to stay in Paris depending on what you want to visit, how much you want to spend, if you want to stay in a traditional hotel or old hotel, etc. For places to stay, eat, and for information on shows, etc . . . - please check out my Links page. These sites are very comprehensive and do a much better job than I could ever hope to do.

Service is included at almost all restaurants. The menu should say "Servis et Compris" – Service Included. You are still supposed to leave 2 –3 francs unless you are not happy with the service. To get your bill, Ask for l'addition. Say "L'addition S'il Vous Plait". The waiter is not likely to bring the check without being asked.

Go to a bookstore or library and get a "FODORS"(www.fodors.com) or "FROMMERS" (www.frommers.com) Paris or France Book. This has a lot more detail than the information I have put together. If you decide to change hotels, the book is a must. It will also help you out if you decide to take some side trips, especially an overnight trip. Your hotel will probably let you check out and leave your suitcases if you are going to return. It will also have a small but very helpful French/English dictionary in the back!!!!

Remember to use the tourist information center (http://www.paris.org/OTP/otp1E.html) on the south side of the Champs Elysees just east of the Arch de Triomphe if you are having any trouble. If you decide to change hotels, pick a couple of potential places from your Fodors or Frommers and go into the Tourist Center and they will help you. They will also be able to help you with your train travel if you have trouble at the train stations finding someone who speaks English.

Get a Carte Musees pass. This will save you a small fortune. You can buy them at the larger RER train stations and the Tourist Information Center. When you have this pass you will not have to wait in the long lines to enter museums – at the larger places like the Louvre and the Palace at Versailles, there is a special entrance! It is good for 3 or 5 days straight depending on the one you buy. This is a huge money and time saver. I will never go to Paris again and not have one of these passes! You can see what is available on the Carte Musees link. The 3 day pass is 160 francs - $25 - $30.

Keep your wallet in your front pocket. There are signs all over telling you to watch for pickpockets.

Remember to always drop off your hotel room key at the front desk when you leave

If you take any items out of the in room refrigerator, record them on the sheet and turn it in when you check out.

Charge absolutely everything you can. You should not carry any more cash or travelers checks than you have to. You will always get the true exchange rate. The last time I was in Paris the exchange rate was anywhere from 5.61 to 6.01 Francs per dollar. On my charge card it was 6.12.

When you exchange money try not to do it on the Champs-Elysees. The rates are lower and sometimes there is an exchange fee. Watch out for the exchange fees if the rate seems high. Sometimes they will call the exchange fee the Commission. Without a doubt, the best place to exchange money is the area around the Opera. The Middle Eastern bankers will pay more for your dollars than any other bank!

Whenever you go in a church, check out the organ! They are usually located at the back of the church in the balcony.

Use your calling card if you have to make a call home.

Remember to tip the bellhop. 5 francs is plenty.

Whenever you take a train (not the subway) anywhere, make sure you buy a pair of round trip tickets. Round trip is always cheaper and buying two at a time is cheaper. Ask your hotel clerk where you can buy the tickets. Before getting on any train make SURE you get your ticket stamped. If you do not you could be in for trouble. If you do not understand this instruction, ask someone. This may not be necessary anymore.

Try to pack light so that you do not have to check your bag.

Breakfast is usually included in your hotel bill. Double check. I prefer to walk out on the street and try to find a place to grab a sandwich or a sidewalk stand selling Crepes. They are excellent and much cheaper than the hotel breakfasts.

I would guess that your flight will leave between 5:00 and 9:00 PM and you will arrive between 7:00 am and noon. Follow this procedure and you will avoid jet lag. Wake up very early – 4:30 – 5:30 am the morning of your flight. Avoid any caffeine all day. When the plane is heading for the runway take a sleeping pill. You will wake up about an hour before the flight lands. Make sure you have earplugs and a blindfold. You can get them in the travel shops. DO NOT take a long nap when you arrive – you will regret it. I guarantee it!

Make sure you take a travel alarm clock. Many hotels do not have clocks and the wakeup calls are not very reliable.

Be prepared to pay to go to the bathroom everywhere except in the restaurants! I avoided drinking a lot of pop during the day. We found that the best system was to buy a pop in a McDonalds and use their bathroom. The pops are reasonably priced there.

When you speak to someone always say Bonjour Monsieur for a man, Bonjour Madame for a woman, Bonjour Mademoiselle to a young woman.

I strongly recommend that you walk as much as you can. You will see much more of the city. Take the subway to an area and walk from there. When you are walking around, be flexible. If you see a street that looks interesting, walk down it for a while. You will be safe anywhere you go. After you have the hang of the subway, you can walk anywhere and take the subway back very quickly. I have never been uncomfortable walking anywhere in Paris at any time of day or night

Talk to people in the gardens, cafes, or restaurants if you hear them speaking English and ask them what they have seen and would recommend!

When you eat at a café try a Croque Madame. It is a grilled ham and cheese sandwich with a fried egg on top. They are great. Be sure to eat a Crepe one of the cafes along the street. Eating will be expensive wherever you go unless you eat at the street vendors, which are excellent. All over Paris are pizza chains. They are on the Champs Elysees and in the Latin Quarter. "Pizza Pino & Pizza Vesuvio" are both pretty reasonable and offer good pizza or dinners. If you have guts, try the Steak Tartare (Raw Meat). Do it on your last night so if you end up barfing, it does not end up ruining your vacation. At least if you were barfing on the plane you would not be bored.

Try to find a "Paris Midnight" book. Inside there will be descriptions of the shows. The most famous are the ones that include dinners and drinks. They are much tamer. The Lido is on the Champs Elysees, the Crazy Horse is on the Avenue George V. This is just north of the Place De L’Alma where Diana was killed. The Moulin Rouge is in the Red light district.

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