As they say, hindsight is always 20/20, and so at the end of 3 eventful days in Paris, I would like to share what I wished I knew about Paris before setting out on the journey.
I thought I had done enough research on my itinerary before leaving for Paris, but due to mother nature (rain) and the rigid nature of my plans, we had a tough time coming up with a good back up plan. I had initially made sure that the places we went were right next to each other, a systematic way of visiting Paris. But for Day 3 in Paris, when we were caught in heavy rain, the itinerary had us walking through large swathes of open air, not good when it is raining.
On second thought, we should have had the itinerary differentiated between indoor and outdoor activities, thereby making sure we were dry when it was raining.
Another thing was that my itinerary was pretty much packed for all 3 days, trying to do much more than is humanely possible within the time limits given. But then again, 3 days in Paris is considered too short to do anything meaningful. My suggestion? See here.
2) Museums or Walks (Tourist/Traveller)
I tried to find a better word to describe this issue but could not. What I meant was that you would have to decide which category your Parisian tour falls in. It is either visiting all the museums or walking around the arrondissements that you like. Or if you are capable enough, to strike a balance between the two.
I opted for the touristy Paris and ended up with a major dose of artwork, in which I found myself at lost. I knew beforehand which paintings are famous and which museum to visit to find them but once there, it was like touch and go. “Here is the famous so-and-so painting”, I said while snapping a few photos. Wham-bam-thank-you-ma’am. All it took was like maybe a minute or two in front of the painting. Unfortunately I was not the art connoisseur that I thought I was.
I would have been more at home if I were to actually spent my time walking along the various streets, including the Marais, the Latin Quarter or along the Left Bank. It is still a hard habit to break, the need to show off the places that you have been. People back home are more interested in seeing the Mona Lisa rather than the curio shop (what?) you found along Rue Cler (where?).
3) Paris Museum Pass
They have the 2, 4 and 6-day version of the pass, depending on the number of days that you will spend in Paris. I feel that the 2 or 4-day version is a much better choice but for an accurate estimation of the cost saved, you need to pull out the old calculator.
Here is what I saved:
- Arc de Triomphe – €9.50
- Centre Pompidou – €13
- Conciergerie – €8.50 (or €12.50 if combined with Sainte-Chapelle)
- Musée du Louvre – €10
- Musée de Cluny – €8.50
- Musée de l’Orangerie – €7.50 (or €14 with Musée d’Orsay)
- Musée d’Orsay – €9
- Panthéon – €8.50
- Musée Rodin – €7
- Sainte-Chapelle – €8.50
- Versailles – €18
Total cost? €101. Price of the 4-day pass? €54. Not to mention the unlimited entries you get by purchasing the pass. Yes, unlimited.
4) Food Review Sites
Most of us would have used TripAdvisor for restaurant and hotel research. Some would have used the guidebooks’ suggestions. I actually found a good website prior to travelling, Spotted By Locals, but I underestimated its usefulness. There were also a few suggestions given by other food review blogs or articles from online sites.
Having enjoyed our meal at Le Tambour, I finally realized that suggestions from locals are the way to go. Major point to consider, the good food on offer. Second advantage, the prices usually won’t burn a hole in your pocket. Last but not least, you will enjoy the local ambience at the place, if only I paid heed to point number 5 below earlier.
5) Learn The Language
It would have been useful if I had at least some understanding of spoken French before travelling. I could have signed up for the basic class. By only knowing bonjour can only get you so far, especially when you intend to follow the locals and eat at non-touristy areas. The lack of an English menu or English-speaking waiters is a challenge to overcome at a foreign place. So a word of advice, learn the language before travelling. Even if you can’t pronounce it properly, you could still eavesdrop on the locals’ conversations.
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