Time to ring in the New Year and why not kick off 2019 in Europe! Here you will learn a little about my first trip of 2019, as well as some tips for traveling.
Let’s start by saying Europe is amazing….the food, the wine, the architecture, the history! Europe is always worth the trip. We arrived at Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris on December 28th and took the train from the airport to Gare du Nord in the center of Paris for about 9.50 euros each. Using the same train ticket, we transferred to the Metro for free and headed to the hotel. We stayed just about 2 blocks off of Champs-Elysees and very close to Arc de Triomphe. Access to shopping and restaurants is abundant in the immediate area with a tremendous amount of tourist attractions within walking distance. Almost all of these stores and restaurants accept Visa and Mastercard (some take American Express). Note that Europeans typically do not sign on credit cards they use a PIN with all purchases. Additionally, most places the card must have a chip or it may not function. Your Visa or Mastercard should work fine as long as it has a chip. You can exchange some cash for Euros at the airport or there are exchange locations on Champs-Elysees. Having some cash (or local currency) is always important when traveling, but I tend to like to use a credit card as much as possible. One to receive the points and also that my credit card company doesn’t charge a currency exchange fee. Two you don’t have to worry about figuring out the difference of some foreign currencies and ensuring you are getting proper change back (although the Euro is easy). The third reason is, the pickpockets. As with almost all large cities in the world, the pickpockets like to pray on tourist and you don’t want to lose the cash.
Getting around Paris is very easy by Metro. For some reason people tend to be intimidated by taking a metro, especially in a city they have never been in. Being originally from New York, I understand the quickest and most efficient way to travel a big city is by metro. For those of you that have a fear of navigating the metro I’m about to give you something you will love! The Paris Metro App linked here available for both IOS and Android click here to download Paris Metro for IOS click here to download Paris Metro for Android. This app works just like navigation in a car. You put in your starting point or current location and your destination. This app will tell you which train to take as well as what stop to get off at and if you have any connections to make. You no longer have to get confusing directions that you won’t remember from a passer by on the street. The app also contains a map of the Metro System. You do need to have internet access or active wifi for the app to work. Taking the metro is inexpensive. As of January 2019 you can purchase individual ride tickets for 1.90 euro each or you can purchase a carnet which is a book of 10 tickets for 14.90 euro. You can purchase the tickets right at the vending machines in the Metro Stations.
Paris is divided up in 20 different neighborhoods or Arrondissements as they are called. If you were to look at a map, the arrondissements spiral out from the center in numerical order. There are so many things to do and see in Paris, that you really need to know in advance what your interests are, so you can plan each day in advance. Touring the Louvre for example can take a full day (I could spend a month in there). The Eiffel Tower, Château De Versailles, Place Vendome and so many more places to see, but I highly recommend taking the Metro to Montmartre. You will find yourself in this great artsy neighborhood to explore, and from here you can head up the hill to Sacre-coeur. Not only is this an amazing Basilica to view (and entry is free) but the views of Paris from up here are Amazing as well. Let’s make it even better, for about 6 euro you can go up to the dome of the Basilica. Now that’s a VIEW! Be aware, 300 stairs and no elevator to the top. It’s a spiral staircase, and very narrow but it’s worth it!
The next best view of Paris I have found is from the observation deck of the Montparnasse Tower. There is an outdoor observation deck with unobstructed views of Paris. Go down one level to the 360 Cafe where you can grab a bite to eat or a glass wine, sit relax and enjoy the view. Suggestion, buy your tickets to Montparnasse Tower online here in advance and skip the lines. The Metro runs directly to the building. Views at night are gorgeous as well.
Speaking of night views, you need to know the perfect time to go the Eiffel Tower. Every hour on the hour the Eiffel tower twinkles for five minutes. Looking for that perfect instagram pic or snapchat story, get this as your backdrop!
If your heading to Paris on New Years, know that they no longer set the fireworks off at the Eiffel Tower. They are now set off at the Arc De Triomphe, so be ready and get on Champs-Elysees early as the streets fill up with people. The Metro was free to use on New Years Eve, but it was packed! Several stations also shut down by 1am so you need to be aware of this as it can affect your travel back to your hotel.
There are a ton of diner cruises on the River Seine as well as clubs, bars and restaurants without having to search to complete your NYE Party. I mean it is Paris!
Stay tuned for the next blog post and tips from my travels to North West France: Saint-Malo, Dinan, Mont Saint Michel, Pointe du Grouin and London.
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