Paris Tips By Wendy VanHatten

 “Paris is always a good idea.”

            Audrey Hepburn

Paris is a good idea. It’s just that there is so much to see and do. Where do you start and where do you spend your time? Paris, the City of Light, is a world capital with world class art galleries, street cafes and gourmet food, chic fashion, and of course…romance. Everyone has suggestions, every guide book you pick up offers tips, the Internet has countless sites to look at, and you don’t want to miss any of it. Right? Depending upon the amount of time and money you have, it might be a good idea to start with a plan. You don’t need to be so structured that you don’t have time for that sidewalk café or the impromptu shopping venture, however. Some sites have tickets available online so you can purchase them ahead of time. Some even give you a guide to help you decide where you want to go. If your time is limited and you know the sites you absolutely must see, mark those on the map. Then you can work in other things around those. Eiffel Tower These are some things I suggest. Before purchasing your guide book or books, check them out on line. Amazon, for instance, has a gazillion books on Paris. You can read a couple of pages or take a look at the inside before you buy. Get one or two that make sense to the way you travel. If you backpack, buy one that caters to traveling this way. If not, then don’t buy that one. Keep in mind, there are many that tell you they have the ‘best of Paris’. You need to check out the ones that fit your style. Read about the history. You’ll have a better understanding of why certain monuments are where they are and what they stand for. You’ll have a better appreciation for Napoleon’s massive, ornate tomb, for instance. Get a decent map or two of Paris. Having two…a larger one where you can mark places you want to see and a smaller one that fits more easily in your purse or pocket is also a good idea. If you know where you are staying, mark that as well. It probably will help orient you to the city. Central Paris is circled by a ring type road and then split in half by the Seine River, which runs east and west. Hence, the right bank and the left bank. Twenty arrondissements or administrative districts spiral out from the center. Each of these quartiers or neighborhoods has their own major landmark and often appears a world apart from the next one, even though only a short Metro ride away. Will you see it all? Not unless you spend several months. If art is your specialty, you might want to plan your visit to include all the famous and not-so-famous galleries. You could see the Louvre, Europe’s oldest and greatest museum, the Orsay with its Impressionist collection, the Orangerie, home to Monet’s water lilies, the Army Museum, the Rodin Museum, Marmottan Museum, the Carnavalet Museum, or… The list goes on and on. In fact, you could spend days in just the Louvre and not see everything. This gets back to planning your trip. If, in fact, you do want to see several of these but not necessarily everything in all of them…that’s okay. Pick your favorite artists or your ‘must see’ works and enjoy your time viewing those. Rodin Museum This tip is a must. Purchase a museum pass. It allows you to enter museums and many of Paris’ sites via a special line. You bypass the long line waiting for tickets and waiting to enter. Plus, since there won’t be an extra cost, you can stop for just a brief visit in a museum you may have passed up. Maybe you really want to ride to the top of the Eiffel Tower. Plan ahead…this is important. Purchase your tickets online and print them at home. Then, carefully check the time of your visit and arrive at least 30 minutes prior. You will have a guaranteed spot…along with several dozen others. It’s important to be in line well before your appointed time. Utilize the Metro system. It’s inexpensive and gets you around easily. If you are unsure as to how it works, figure that out before you go. Most guide books include a map of the Metro. Don’t forget all the free things to do in Paris, as well. Walking around Paris is an excellent way to see the sites, smile at the people, and stop for a latte or a glass of wine. Wander past all the museums, bridges, palaces, and galleries.  Watch the boats on the Seine, morning, noon, and night. Don’t try to do too much. You won’t enjoy it and you’ll probably wish you would have had one more cup of coffee. Leave some things for your next visit. After all, Paris is a good idea.   If you go: fly into De Gaulle Airport from major cities in the US