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Sep 16, 2005 - Paris
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Luxembourg Gardens Arc de Triomphe From the base of the Eiffel Tower 
Paris

Paris, the most visited city in the world, has no shortage of things to see and do and no shortage of people out seeing and doing them. The capital city of France can provide travellers with endless days of exploring and sightseeing. Incredible monuments, historic building, museums, churches, perfectly manicured parks, shopping, fashion, restaurants and fine dining, nightlife - whatever you desire. The size of the city can be overwhelming for some and of course if you don't speak French this may present you with some exciting challenges as you venture around the city. However public and tourist transportation is readily available and most of the major tourist areas have someone that will speak some English to help you out.

For myself, this is my first visit to Paris and I could not be luckier. Eric has been to Paris about ten times previously so I am travelling with a personal tour guide for this city. As an added bonus, my tour guide is from Montreal and is bilingual making it very easy for getting around the city! The next stroke of luck for us is that our friends Bob and Carmen are on a one year work placement in Paris and have been kind enough to put us up for the 4 nights that we are in town. This is a great chance for us to see them again, stay somewhere that quickly felt like home (and has laundry facilities!! Thanks a million Carmen!!!), get their opinion on sites to see and do and of course save on our budget as Paris is certainly not a cheap place to stay or visit. Carmen and Bob - thanks so much for your hospitality - it was so great to see you again!!

In the 4 and half days we were in Paris we walked until we were weak in the knees and our feet throbbed taking in most the major sites, parks, museums and exploring various neighbourhoods and regions around the city. Could we have spent more time...absolutely. This gave us a great overview of the highlights of Paris however you could easily spend a full week or more especially if you enjoy museums, culture and would like to explore some of the sites just outside the city.

For us Paris was a great social destination too. Not only did we get to spend some time with our friends Bob Carmen but we quickly bonded with their good friend Sana from Toronto as well who also works in travel industry and was there on holidays for a visit. Additionally, by coincidence, Lisa Geddes a TPI Associate from Halifax was in Paris on a week long trip and we had the pleasure of hooking up with her and her friend one afternoon for a drink at a Paris Café. Always nice to see friends from home even if we are just on the beginning of our journey.

Our last day in Paris we had rain all morning giving us a perfect excuse to be lazy and socialize with our friends. We did the typical morning routine of popping into the Boulangerie (bakery) across the street to pick up some fresh baked goods for breakfast while later in the afternoon the overcast skies gave us a perfect day to take in the Louvre before packing up our belongings and heading to the train station for our overnight journey to Venice.

Au Revoir Paris et Bonjour Venice

Carl's Travel Tips for Paris

1. Take time out to enjoy a crepe on the city streets or in one of the many parks of Paris.

2. To experience the city like the locals try taking the Metro (subway) to get around the city. It is a very well planned system, easy to use and an economical way to get around.

3. Consider taking the hop on, hop off bus for a day or two. Riding this will give you a great overview of the city and major attractions as well as a simple way to get from one attraction to the next.

4. Take a walk down the Champs d'Elysees with its tree lined streets and shops to lure in just about anyone if you are interested in anything from new shoes to a new car - shop the Champs d'Elysees..

5. Have a drink on a sidewalk café that is such a large part of Paris culture while taking in the sights and sounds of the city around you.

6. Head to the top of the Eiffel Tour. You can pay to go to either the first, second or third level of the tower and I would recommend paying the extra to go right to the top. The views are incredible. The Arc d'Triomphe is also worth a visit and if you are energetic enough you can take the stairs to the top (for a charge of course) and another great view of the city.

7. Plan for at least a half day of relaxing in the gardens...either the Luxembourg Gardens or the Tuilerie Gardens outside the Louvre. They are peaceful and perfectly manicured.

8. Museums, museums and more museums. You can spend days - even weeks, going through all the museums in Paris. An absolute must see is the Louvre with of course the famed Mona Lisa and Venus de Milo. If you are not interested in the art at the Louvre you must go simply to walk the halls and see the interior of this incredible historic building.

9. Ask for recommendations for good restaurants or follow advice of a good guide book like Frommers. Paris has some of the best restaurants and chefs in the world but they also have an overabundance of poor restaurants too with only mediocre food at inflated prices.

10. Wander around the more intimate and quaint areas such as St Germain des Pres, Le Marais, and Ile de la Cite as well as the Grands Boulevards as well as taking a walk along the Seine.


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