Travel Guide: Paris
My favorite city on the planet. Paris. Even the word evokes memories of narrow streets, café chatter of which I could understand about half the words, and the taste of chocolate croissants and café au lait, s'il vous plait.
Stay at Hôtel Cluny Square for a unique boutique hotel experience. It's been remodeled since I was there and I loved it before, so I can only imagine how chic it is now! The neighborhood has plenty to do but is not too touristy. If you want something a little more predictable, Sofitel is a luxury hotel near L'Arc Du Triomphe and the Champ-Eslysee (tourist central). The hotel is lovely and the service there is fantastic. Cabs cost a fortune. Take the metro or walk. Walk, walk, walk! This is the city of magical walks. Don't miss it!
Eat everything. Late night crêpes from the crêpes stand. Morning pastries. Croque monsieur in cafés. You're going to walk it all off anyway!
The most incredible shopping experience was at the flea market here. If I had a ship I could load up with furniture and bring home, believe me I would have. My big find was a vintage fur vest that my daughters will inherit. Don't shop the Champs Elysée. That would be like going to Disneyland and only riding the tea cups. There's so much more - and so much better. This is Paris! Pop into shops you've never heard of. My other great find was a strapless gray dress from a name I don't know that I've worn to many a party since.
Montmartre is a must. Climb the stairs, gaze at the city, see the Sacré-Coeur, then wander down winding streets and take in the street artists and other scenes of real life in Paris. The best thing we did was Versailles. It's a pretty quick train ride outside of the city. The palace itself is full of marvels, but do not miss Marie Antoinette's Estate on the grounds. It's absolutely enchanting! The catacombs were closed for the season when I was there but I've heard great things about that - it's at the top of my list for next time.
Speak the language. All the talk about French people being rude is the same talk about New Yorkers being rude. You're coming into their city and getting in the middle of their day. Be polite, at least try to speak a bit of the language, and you'll generally get friendliness, albeit brief, in return. They're still French, after all. Want to learn a few phrases? I've been known to write a french lesson on a napkin...