Paris On Our Mind – Tried and True Paris Tips

Paris cafe for breakfastHere are some Paris travel tips that will make  your journey safe, comfortable and fabulous. I’m always spouting, “When you see a super great deal – make yourself drop everything and go!”  That’s exactly what happened to us last month when Linda and I had the opportunity to fly off to Paris at a fabulous promotional rate.  We had a little over 2 weeks to pull our trip together, so we focused in right away.   Here’s what we did:

#1  A Quick Brush Up On Our High School French
Linda found a terrific language learning program –  Despite the crawly name, the concept is amazing.  They believe that you learn better, faster and with more recall when you learn with music.  So their language lessons come with music playing in the background.  We loved it and listened on our iPods all the way to Paris.

30 Words French TranslationAnd for extra reassurance, we picked up a quick translation guide – 30 Words ($9.95).  These are terrific passport sized accordion folded translations of tourist phrases that are waterproof and tear-proof – perfect for toting around.

#2 – Find a Pickpocket proof way to carry our money.
This year I found Baggallini’s – awesome, durable, lightweight bags just made just for traveling.  They have lots of zippers and interior pockets and straps that let you switch from shoulder, to hand, to waist – etc.   We also picked up some super small collapsible nylon travel bags at Eddie Bauer and LL Bean – great designs!

#3 – How To Phone Home.
Verizon has an incredible International Phone program! If Verizon is your cell phone carrier, give them a call and they’ll mail you an international cell phone to use for a $15 fee – wow.  They will swap your phone number over to the new one and help you load up your important phone numbers.  Just pay for the calls you make – and yes, there are discounted plans for that.  When you get home, give them a call and they’ll switch your phone number back, mail back the phone and you’re done.

For those without Verizon service, you can purchase an inexpensive international phone from either Telestial or Mobal (under $50).  There is no calling plan or contract, just pay for the calls you make in over 150 countries at reasonable rates (incoming calls in much of Europe are free).

#4  – Taking The Stress Out of Touring and Sightseeing
Paris PassWe purchased the Paris Pass so we could take all the public transportation, enter museums without waiting in lines, take a Seine cruise, do a wine tasting – all while eliminating confusion and stress, AND it saved us money in the long run -perfect! We actually used the hop on/hop off bus (that was included in the Pass) to bounce around the city.  It was more entertaining than taking the Metro since we could sight-see while getting to our next destination.  You can order the Paris Pass online and it will be sent to you, or if you are on a last minute schedule like we were, order it online and pick it up at the Fat Tire Tour Company near the Eiffel Tower.

# 5 – Be a traveler not a tourist.
Linda and I wanted to experience Paris on a more personal level than just moving from place to place looking at art and architecture.  Three sources brought the city alive for us as we met and chatted with people and learned fascinating information about the city of Paris.

  • First and foremost was Paris Greeters a free volunteer organization that connects you with an English speaking Parisian guide. – FABULOUS!  Here’s our article all about it – “Meeting The Friendly French”.
  • Secondly we participated in Paris Walks run by Peter and Oriel Caine.  With Peter in the Marais, our group literally BECAME ancient Paris and enacted the city’s development through the centuries – amazing!  Their tours are congenial, entertaining and packed with fascinating information.  Just check the schedule of tours online and show up at the designated Metro stop at the appointed time – tours are a very affordable 12€ per person.
  • Finally we clicked through the offerings on Viator.  Viator is a terrific site that aggregates local touring options.  Beyond the standard bus tours, there were lots of listings to meet with local Parisians.  You can take a cooking class, join a Parisian household for dinner, take an art class, be introduced to the intricacies and history of the perfume industry in France, and lots more.    If you haven’t visited Viator for awhile, we think you’ll be impressed with the depth of their touring choices.

#6 –  Making Our Euros Last
Paris Free and Dirt CheapFrommer’s has just published a new series of travel guides for finding “Free & Dirt Cheap” city attractions!  I picked up the Paris Free & Dirt Cheap book and thumbed through the 387  listings of inexpensive activities in Paris.  I learned about free summer dance lessons along the banks of the Seine, free classical music performances, cheap chic eats, and lots more.  This little book is WELL worth the price!

Do you have a great insider’s Paris tip?  Share it in our comments section to share it with everyone!!

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