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One couple's report that might be even helpful for someone

Paris Forum, Travel Discussion for Paris - TripAdvisor - www.tripadvisor.com
We all do a bit of research on the city we want to visit. Some more, some less, but I guess no one embarks on a journey without any previous knowledge on their destination. My gf and I (especially me :)) like to do our research thoroughly so we read all the guides, blogs and forums. Even though we are moderately experienced and street smart travellers, after all the studying we did have some worries about Paris.

We expected a lion but instead we got a tame poodle. A fuzzy and playful one. Maybe it is our habitual wariness, maybe the fact that I look quite menacing... Or perhaps we were just lucky. But we didn't feel threatened even once. Not even when we were in the metro hallways at night, not even during the Labour Day clashes and especially not by trinket sellers. They were the most unobtrusive "hustlers" we have encountered around Europe. Non merci or an occasional joke were enough to make them move on with a smile. The famous "clochards", which I expected in hoards, were really not that numerous - in a whole week we perhaps saw a dozen or two of them. And they are just unfortunate people who usually mind their own business. In my experience, only the very essentials of common sense are enough to have a peaceful and worry-free holiday in Paris.

The food is expensive, full stop. For a travellers like us, who simply cannot afford parisienne restaurants, the city of lights was somewhat of a challenge. But we made it. The quest of finding affordable food options without wasting too much time is part of an experience for me and even though I had my doubts, we were able to eat in Paris within our budget. Supermarkets have a wide variety of foods (Monoprix has some affordable yet heavenly tasting pastries, Carrefour and even infamous Lidl offer some nice, prepared meals and the selection of very reasonably priced French cheeses...). I respect the fact that many Paris visitors have budgets that allow them to have a bit fancier meals and that eating in restaurants is a part of Paris experience - but who can say that "poulet roti" on a blanket in Luxembourg gardens isn't? Also, I cannot recommend Creperie Genia enough. Their "formulas" are plentiful, super tasty and cheap. There are a couple more places in Latin quartier that offer affordable meals, too.

Metro system is efficient and very well organized, despite the vastness of its network. We used metros in Rome, Milano, Vienna, Prague, Budapest, Amsterdam and the Parisienne one is probably our top pick. It is fast, you will never have to wait for the train for too long and the tickets are pretty inexpensive. We used Navigo Decouverte and the clerk offered to put them together for us even though there was a line of people waiting. I imagine the trains can get crowdy, but in full five days we have never encountered any super crowded train. The worst one was far less full than an average metro train in Rome. It is also reasonably clean; not the most modern in the world but nevertheless neat and it has some cool stations.

Anyone who says that Parisiens are rude should perhaps think twice about their own attitude. We learned a couple of basic phrases, behaved politely as we do in our everyday lives and we were greeted by nothing but friendliness and hospitality. Just anyone - from metro clerks, hotel staff, waiters to policemen, security guys, shop clerks or just random people on the streets were truly kind. People of Paris are cultivated and courteous and it is just natural that rude behaviour of an average schmuck will be frowned upon. And no, you don't have to be submissive, you just need to show basic manners and all the doors in Paris will be opened to you.

As for the attractions, there is probably nothing to say that has not already been said. Every block, every street has its charm and the main sites are among the most visited in the world. If I can single out some of the slightly less obvious ones, I just have to recommend two things. First one is the Seine cruise. We used Vedettes du Pont Neuf and we truly had a blast. Alban, our cruise guide, was the archetypal French guy with an irresistible accent and a wonderful sense of humor. An hour of cruising around main sites of Paris spiced up with some quality jokes and history facts, and all of it for 14€ is just a bargain. Another recommendation is the Tour Montparnasse. Maybe I will hate myself for saying this one day when I go back to Paris and find ridiculously long lines of tourists around the tower, but I will say it - don't skip the Montparnasse. I know that climbing the Eiffel is a "must-do", but isn't it better to have a view of Paris WITH the Eiffel Tower in it? The rooftop even has comfy chairs & bar, and the panoramic cafe on the last floor offers coffee and pastries that are among the cheaper ones in the city.

Impressions are still settling down and I am sure that nostalgia will kick in soon. Paris is without doubt one of those places that you have to see more than once, a place where no stay is too long. Au revoir mon ami, until next time...


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