Myths About Paris

Myth #1: Parisians are rude, snobby, and unfriendly.

Of course you’ll have rude or unfriendly encounters in Paris, as you would any other city! Parisians are generally very hospitable and kind, however they are not typically as casual as you are used to – but don’t mistake that for being snobby or rude! You get what you give, Paris included. Greet Parisians in a polite and friendly manner and you’ll see the favor returned.

Myth #2: Paris is overly expensive.

Paris is a city that has many delights to offer, both expensive and inexpensive. You can get by very cheaply in Paris, but also have a great time, by eating from street vendors, staying in smaller hotels or hostels, and limiting your shopping. The rumors of the city being expensive as a whole come from the bountiful exquisite things Paris has to offer, like high fashion, gourmet restaurants, expensive excursions. But, that’s only part of what the city has to offer!

Myth #3: Parisians are always dressed to the nines in high fashion.

Yes, you are going to encounter some high fashion in Paris, as you would in New York, Los Angeles, and most other big cities. However, as a whole Paris is a very casually dressed city: jeans, sweaters, t-shirts, etc. The only thing you probably won’t notice is Parisians wearing exercise apparel around town, like the yoga pants worn every where here.

 

Myth #4: Paris is not a safe city. 

Honestly, the biggest problem one may encounter in Paris is pick pocketing. However, guns, gangs, robberies, etc. are not as common in Europe as they are in the US and other countries – it is very, very rare to encounter any acts of violence.

Myth #5: Parisian food is weird.

Of course a good bit of it will be completely different than what you’ve experienced or are used to at home, but in what country is that not true? Paris can be the culinary experience of a lifetime if you give it a chance. In fact, many professional chefs that cook at 5 star restaurants in the US went first to Paris to gain formal training and dine on Parisian cuisine.

Duck a l'Orange Recipe

Paris in Springtime

Ahhh Springtime in Paris has finally arrived! The birds a singing, skies are blue, the flowers are blooming, and everyone has relaxed from the dreariness of winter. Paris is one of those cities that is beautiful, but even more remarkable while in full bloom during springtime. The pictures prove it.

Off the Beaten Path: Sète

Sète is a commune located in southern France, on the Mediterranean coast. It’s also called the Venice of Languedoc and the singular island. With its very unique and strong culture, traditions, delicious cuisine, and strong dialect, you’ll think you’ve stepped out of France and into an entirely different country.

Numerous actors, poets, artists, and musicians have been born here, such as Jean Vilar and Gregory Del Piero, but that’s not the only unique thing about this gorgeous seaside city. It’s also home to the sport of water jousting, where you’ll find a major tournament held each year. The sport is quite popular with residents and tourists alike. Take a look at this picture:

There’s 108 restaurants strewn throughout the city, many of them featuring unique food to the city in particular. Much of the food is based on fresh catches straight from the sea, especially mussels. Be sure to catch some sausage and garlic stuffed mussels while in town.

If you happen to be in the town in August, you’ll get to experience a unique yearly festival that is held on August 25th. The festival celebrates the consecration of the Saint-Louis church by Louis IX, who was a patron saint of the port. During the festival you’ll see water jousting, hear music, and see fireworks. It’s a great way to celebrate this unique city.

When it’s time to hit the hay, you can choose from one of 16 highly rated hotels that don’t typically rise over $100 per night. Most of the hotels are relatively close, if not right on, the beach and near the city’s shops and restaurants. You can see some hotel reviews here.

Enjoying the Outdoors in Paris

It’s almost springtime in Paris – the birds are singing, love is (of course) in the air, the outdoor markets are bustling, and the sidewalk bistros are home to day-long people watchers/newspaper readers/coffee sippers. If you’re lucky enough to be visiting this enchanted city during the spring time, there’s plenty of things to do in the fresh French air. Here’s some of our favorites:

Le Vergers de Champlain

Of course you can always stop by one of the local markets to pick up some fresh produce, but why do that when you can pick your own? The Vergers de Champlain is only 23 km south of Paris, and is always rotating about 40 different fruits and vegetables between seasons. Come here and pick your own fresh apples, tomatoes, lettuce, potatoes, cucumbers and much more!

Parc des Buttes-Chaumont

Sometimes parks are just parks, but this isn’t one of those times. The Parc des Buttes-Chaumont is often missed, but this 19th arrondissement park shouldn’t be missed. It’s on the site of a former gypsum and limestone quarry, full of winding paths, waterfalls, temples, and cliffs, and is a little piece of heaven right in the middle of the busy city. Perfect place for a midday stroll.

Cimetiere du Pere-Lachaise

Talk a walk with the dead in the Cimetiere du Pere-Lachaise celebrity cemetery. You can even view the famous (and unfortunately graffitid) grave of the late Jim Morrison. Despite the grave subject, it’s truly a beautiful cemetery.

Place des Vosges

La place des Vosges, dans le IVe arrondissement de Paris.

Here lies the city’s first planned square, built in 1612 by Louis XII, it’s symmetrically laid out, including carriageways. Its style is also a bit different than what you are used to seeing in Paris, red brick and stone and steeply pitched slate roofs.

La Coulee verte

A long time ago, steam engines used to blow through here, but no more as of 1969. Now the area is full of glass shops, translucent apartments, tree lined cycling paths, and beautiful gardens. You can even catch some fantastic artwork decorating the outside of the police station, cirque 1930’s. Pack a picnic to eat in the Jardin de Reuilly and take a stroll through this unique part of Paris.

Some Things to Keep in Mind When Planning Your Parisian Vacation

Planning a vacation takes research and a little bit of knowledge of the area you’ll be staying in in order to fully enjoy your vacation. Here’s some things to keep in mind on Paris while planning your vacation.

metro pic

Seasons

Spring: March thru May in Paris is the prettiest and most yearned for temperature wise. However, travel prices go sky high, and you’ll find that you’ll pay an arm and a leg for a hotel.

Summer: June thru August is when locals often leave the city. You’ll see a lot of festivals and outdoor events during this time, but you’ll also see an overall hike in pricing.

Fall: During the September thru November months prices are lower than usual for travel and everything in the city. The only drawback is the lessening of activities and the dark and cold evenings.

Winter: December thru February in Paris is a magical time, with lights and ice skating. However, it’s very rainy and very cold.

Hotel Budget

*Consider who you’ll be traveling with on your Paris vacation. Hostels, for instance, are probably not the best idea for small children or seniors.*

*Consider what landmarks and events you’ll be attending when you make your hotel selection, so that you choose a location with easy access to your points of interest.*

Hostels: This is the cheapest option by far, much cheaper than hotels or apartments. However, you will be sharing your living space with other travelers. It’s not a very private option, but on the up side you meet new fellow travelers while staying there.

Hotels: More expensive than hostels, but you have your own private room and enjoy the luxuries and amenities a hotel has to offer.

Apartments: Apartments are priced by the week or month, while they are pricier, in the long run they make sense if you are planning an extended stay.

Sights

Paris has many, many, many things to see and do – too much to conquer in one trip. It’s important that you plan out what landmarks and museums you plan to see in order to make the most of your trip, and plan financially for these treks. Some things to consider:

  • What landmarks and attractions do you want to see? 
  • What is your budget for attractions and landmarks?
  • Do you want to attend these attractions or landmarks more than once during your stay? If so, are passes available?

Eating

For some travelers, eating well in Paris is a must. Fortunately, you don’t always have to spend a lot to eat well here. Here’s some things to keep in mind on your food budget:

  • If you’re on a smaller dining budget, stick to street vendors and patisseries. For gourmet dining, lunch menus are always cheaper, as well as sticking to ordering off the preset menu instead of a la carte.
  • Read reviews on restaurants before you travel. It’s good to know where good places are to dine, and have an idea of what you’re interested in.

Getting Around

Paris is a friendly city when it comes to transportation. Decide what forms of transport you plan on using, and to where, and how often. You can often purchase metro, bus, and train passes to lessen the expenses a bit in this area. Taxis are also widely available.

Loire Valley Bike & Barge

loire valley bike and barge

If you’re looking to get out of Paris and see some of the sights surrounding it – Loire Valley Bike and Barge is the perfect solution! You get to cycle through the Loire countryside during the day, exploring small towns and villages along the way, seeing the canal landscape, and enjoying various wines of the region. And at night, you’ll slumber peacefully on the barge the company provides. Prices start around $1,390 per person, but it’s packed full of fun and amenities along the way – all included in that price:

  • 7 continental breakfasts included, 6 lunches, and 7 3 course dinners
  • 7 nights accommodation on the barge
  • Bicycle with gears and pannier
  • visit to castle and winery
  • Transfer into and out of Paris
  • Experienced guide leading the way

The itinerary is planned to the tea to ensure you have a great experience:

Day 1

Depart from Paris and arrive early evening in Cours-les-Narres. Get settled into barge, have dinner, socialize with other travelers.

Day 2

Leave Cours-les-Barres and sail on the Barge across the Allier River. Then, commence trip on bicyckes onwards to the historic village of Apremont. You’ll see a 12th century castle and beautiful gardens. Then continue on to the 14th century village of Nevers. Then return to the barge in Cours-les-Barres.

Day 3

Begin the day by sailing to the village of Beffes and then cycling through the countryside. You’ll head to the Roman town of La Charite-sur-loire and see its Notre Dame church. Then continue cycling through the Loire valley and see where it produces its white wines – and sample some. Return to the barge in the evening.

Day 4

Cycle to the Sancerre vineyards, renowned for its white wines. Then depart and cycle across the Sancerre vineyards and through some wine villages. Stay the night in Beaulieu-sur-Loire.

Day 5

Cycle past the historic locks of Chatillon-sur-Loire and the aqueduct across the river Loire, then visit St.Brisson that is home to one of the region’s best castles. One the way back to the barge you’ll travel through the Foret de St.Brisson. Spend the evening on the barge travelling to your next destination – Briare.

Day 6

Explore Briare, where the canal was constructed and where local pottery is made. You’ll also visit the chateau, town hall, church, and museum. Then head to the castle Pont Chevron that sits on a beautiful lake, and bike through the nearby lake-filled region. Spend the night in the Rogny-les-Sept-Ecluses village.

Day 7

Ride out in the morning to the Chatillon=Coligny and see its 12th century chateau and explore the local market. Continue to the La Bussiere abbey that dates back to 1103 and visit the 17th century castle La Bussiere and see its fish art aquariums. Spend your final night on the barge before heading home.

If you want more information, or to schedule your bike tour, visit: http://www.biketoursdirect.com/France/loire-valley-bike-boat

Where to go in Paris for Great Wine Tasting

wine glass

French wine is world renowned, and Paris has no shortage of excellent places to taste local wines or take a wine tasting class to further your wine knowledge. We’ve accumulated a short list of some of the best places to enjoy French wine while in Paris, and where one can work on their wine knowledge.

Wine Bars

l’Ecluse Grands Augustins: 

Location: 15 Quai des Grands Augustins; tel. 01/46-33-58-74

Web Address: www.leclusebaravin.com

This wine bar features a wide selection, 57 in fact, of different wines. Including château d’Yquem and château Lafite Rothschild. There’s a wine for any taste preference at this bar, and definitely plenty to satisfy the exploratory pallet.

Le Baron Rouge

Location: 1 rue Théophile Roussel; tel. 01/43-43-14-32

Great wine, great atmosphere, world class staff, and a little something to set them apart from the rest – if you run out of wine in your own wine bottle, they’ll happily refill it for you from one of their wooden barrel casks.

 

Wine Stores

La Dernière Goutte

Address: 6 rue de Bourbon Le Chateau; tel. 01/43-29-11-62

This particular wine store offers a varied selection of estate only wine at very reasonable prices. The wine sold here is not typically available for purchase in the US.

Caves Augé

Address: 116 Blvd Haussmann; tel. 01/45-22-16-97

Web Address: www.cavesauge.com

One of the oldest wine stores in Paris, and features a wonderful selection of artisan wines.

 

Wine Classes

BKWine

Web Address:  www.bkwine.com

Phone #: tel. 06/80-45-35-70

This company offers very personalized wine classes, with you able to schedule private wine tastings and wine tours, and learn how to select the proper wine for any meal.

Ô Château

Web Address: www.o-chateau.com

Phone #: tel. 01/44-73-97-80

This company offers novice and more advanced wine classes, presented in English by trained sommeliers. You learn about the history of wine, as well as how to select the right bottle.

15 Things You May Not Have Known About Paris

The stunning city of Paris is known for many things – love, fashion, gourmet food, cheese, wine, beautiful architecture, Le Moulin Rouge, just to name a few. It’s also full of surprises and hidden secrets around every corner. Always a fun city to explore and/or live in! Whether your a Paris novice or an expert in the ways of the city, it’s always good to take the time to brush up on your knowledge of the city of lights. Here are some things you may or may not know:

1. Paris is the largest city in Western Europe

2. The Eiffel Tower was originally built for the International Exhibition of Paris of 1889. It took two whole years to complete and held the status of the World’s tallest building until the year 1930.

3. The Seine River separates the city into two banks: the right bank known as Rive Droite and the left bank known as the Rive Gauch.

4. Paris has over two million residents and covers over 41 square miles.

5. The highest altitude reached in Paris is 120 feet above sea level.

6. The Eiffel Tower has over 2.5 million rivets, 15,000 pieces of iron, and 40 tons of paint used in it’s construction.

7. A record twenty percent of French people live in Paris.

8. Paris is not only the City of Lights, it is also known the world over as the Capital of Romance.

9. The annual Tour de France is held each summer in Paris and includes over 100 professional cyclists and covers 2,000 miles. It lasts for three weeks.

10. Every year 13 million tourists visit Disneyland Paris, 5 million visit the Louvre, and 3.25 million visit the Versailles Palace.

11. There are 1,652 steps to the top of the Eiffel Tower.

12. Paris hosts over 70 museums within it’s city limits.

13. Paris was settled originally in 4200 BCE by the Parisii Celtic tribe. It was renamed Lueca in 52 BCE by the Romans, and then became known as Paris after the fall of the Roman Empire.

14. The average temperature in January in Paris is 39 degrees F., and 69 degrees F. in summer.

15. Paris’ time is six hours ahead of Eastern time.

Celebrating New Years in Paris

If you’re lucky enough to ring in the new year, or St.Sylvestre as the Parisians call it, while in Paris – you’ll find there is no shortage of things to do or events to attend. New Years celebration is taken to a whole new level in France, with St.Sylvestre celebrations beginning January 1st and lasting all the way through February 1st. During which time fireworks are set off, parties are held, greeting cards are mailed, and presents are gifted. There’s literally so much going on at this time of year, it can be a bit overwhelming. Here’s some key things to consider checking out on New Years Eve if you’re looking to make your celebration a memorable one:

Champs-Elysees – Champs-Elysees is basically party central in Paris on New Years Eve. Around 9pm people begin gathering here to celebrate until (and after) the countdown to midnight. The neat thing about this spot is you can also get a great view of the Eiffel Tower, which will burst into a colorful fireworks display at the stroke of midnight.

The Sacre Coeur Cathedral plaza in Monmartre

The hill top views offered at this beautiful spot are perfect for New Years Eve because it offers a spectacular view of the Parisian skyline. You’re sure to catch any fireworks going on anywhere in Paris at this spot!

Dinner Cruises

Taking a cruise down the Seine River on New Years – that’s living! The Bateaux Parisiens or the Yachts de Paris boat companies both offer New Years Eve dinner cruises that include gorgeous night views of sights like the Notre Dame, Tuileries Gardens, and Concorde, gourmet dinners, musical entertainment, and champagne.

Lido

What better way to bring in the New Year while in Paris than at a cabaret? Lido offers classic Parisian cabaret and a special dinner and show on New Years Eve. Beware, it’s very expensive – $867 a head. But, the champagne, the show, the lobster, and the after party make it a worthwhile expense for some.

Clubs

Plenty of dancing in Paris on New Years! Check out some of these hotspots: Batofar, Nouveau Casino, La Fleche d’Or, The WAGG, REX Club, and Divan du Monde

~Be safe, and Happy New Years!~

 

 

 

Explore the Île de France


The Île de France is a group of cities surrounding France’s capital city, Paris. While stretches of urban city make up a good part of this region, there is no shortage of beautiful countryside, fresh air, green parks, tall forests, and sparkling rivers. While Paris certainly has plenty to see, do, and explore, we recommend venturing out into its neighboring cities and taking a bigger bite of France. Read on to see why you don’t want to miss these metro-Parisian cities on your next trip to France.

Châteaufort

This is a beautiful commune located about 17 miles outside of Paris, and is named after three fortified castles there in the middle ages. Inhabitants here are referred to as Castelfortain.  This is a charming place that features some great restaurants, local campsites, some charming bed and breakfasts, and some relaxation and peace right outside of Paris.

Éragny

Éragny is another gorgeous and peaceful commune about 16.3 miles outside of Paris. It was the home of famous author Bernardin de Saint-Pierre and impressionist painter Camille Pissarro.

Fountainebleau

If  you’re looking for a great French historical town to visit, you need only travel 34.5 miles outside of Paris. Fountainbleau is a favorite getaway spot for Parisians, and is full of great things to do. Among others, Château de Fontainebleau, one of the most beautiful castles in France, is located here. Other activities include seeing sporting events (including a famous horse track), visiting the Sunday morning food market, exploring the forest and climbing its many boulders, shopping at the French fashion boutiques, or eating at one of many fantastic restaurants.

Rueil-Malmaison

This beautiful town is about 7.8 miles outside of Paris and was originally a resort for Merovingian kings. Located here is the house of Malmaison (House of Misfortune) that was at one time purchased by the wife of Napoleon and is now a museum. The church of Rueil is also located here and contains a tomb that houses the empress Josephine (Napoleon’s wife) and her daughter, Queen Hortense.

Marne-la-Vallée

The kids will love this town because it is home to Disneyland Paris.

Nogent-sur-Marne

About 6.6 miles outside of Paris is Nogent-sur-Marne, a gorgeous town on the river Marne. Nogent-sur-Marne is very well known for its restaurants along the river, called guinguettes, which sometimes feature dancing that became popular in the 1960’s. Being as Nogent is mainly a very wealthy residential town, wondering along the river is always worth it to catch a glimpse of some gorgeous houses. You can also visit the Pavillon Baltard, which was originally a market in Paris that was going to be destroyed, but was instead dismantled and rebuilt in Nogent-sur-Marne.

Versailles

Versailles is 10 miles outside of Paris and is a rather amazing city to visit. One of the most beautiful castles in the world is here, the Chateau de Versailles, which was built by King Louis XIV. Not only is the castle an architectural marvel, it was also host to many important events in history such as the signing of the Peace Treaty between Germany and the allies in 1919 in the Hall of Mirrors and the signing of the Treaty of Versailles. There are many other historical buildings here to tour, and if you visit during the months of August and September you may even catch a government show put on some nights that features fireworks, music, and people dressed in period clothing.