Back in 2011 I went to Paris and London with one of my good friends. It was her first time abroad, so I sent her some advice based on what I had learned. It is kind of funny to look back at now, but there are still some good ideas. Check out this brief overview of our trip. More information is to come later!
Before the Trip
- Call your credit card company to notify them that you will be traveling
- Bring at least one warmer top in case it is chilly at night.
- Bring at least one nice outfit.
- Bring at least two different pairs of shoes. If you get blisters then a change of shoes will not rub in the same spot.
- I have a European straightener that I can share. (If you plan on going abroad often, this is really nice to have).
- Paris was pretty warm during the day, dress as you would here (Chicago) in the summer.
- Be sure to meet all of the TSA Regulations
- 3 oz bottles are the largest for liquids (no aerosols)
- 1 quart bag (everything should be placed in this clear bag)
- 1 1 quart bag per passenger in a carry on
- Try to fit as much as you can in your carry on in case your luggage does not make it on time.
- Make a packing list early on and then refer to it while packing.
- If you tend to struggle sleeping on a plane, bring some Dramamine.
- A wrap around pillow is very useful for sleeping, especially if you don’t want to lie on your neighbor’s shoulder.
During the Trip
Preventing Jet Lag
- Drink plenty of fluids on the plane (preferably no alcohol or caffeine, but I don’t follow that rule).
- Try to sleep on the plane as much as you can.
- When we arrive stay awake until night time.
- Go outside as much as possible and walk around.
- Places to Visit
- Notre Dame
- Jardin du Luxembourg
- Rodin Musee
- Jardin des Tuileries
- Sacre Coeur
- Au Lapin Agile
- Fabric Stores
- Place du Tertre (Where many artists like Picasso used to hang out)
- The Two Windmills (Where Amelie worked)
- Pigalle (sex district, also where Moulin Rouge is located)
- Venus de Milo
- Mona Lisa
- Winged Victory
- Cupid Awakening Psyche
- Eiffel Tower
- Arc de Triomphe
- Pere Lachaise Cemetary
- Shakespeare and Company
- Batobus down the Seine
- Musee D’Orsay
- Latin Quarter
- Saint Germain Des Pres
- The Marais
- Booksellers on Quai des Grands Augustins
- Marche au Puce (Huge market)
- Pickpocketing is big in Paris, watch your surroundings and don’t let anyone bump into you.
- The metro is the easiest way to get around. We usually purchase a carnet (10 tickets) and purchase more whenever we need to. This is how we get around the city.
- When you walk into a store, say bon jour. In Paris, walking into a store is like walking into someone’s home. It is polite to say hello and goodbye.
- Foods to Eat- Escargot and Steak Tartare (and pretty much everything).
- Big Ben
- London Eye
- Buckingham Palace
- Westminster Abbey
- Platform 9 ¾ (not worth it after visiting)
- National Gallery
- Globe Theatre
- Trafalgar Square
- Piccadilly Circus
- Hyde Park
- Stone Henge
- Portobello Market
- Borough Market
- London Walk (Pub Walk?)
After the Trip
- Try to keep a journal during the trip, but if you were not able to keep up, write down thoughts now to prevent loss.
- Keep an eye on your credit card just to be sure everything is going smoothly
6 thoughts on “Paris and London Advice”
I am printing this off to use for my next trip. Tips are a useful reminder. Thanks!
> Museum wise, we liked The Orangerie and the D’Orsay even more than the Lovre.
> Find out where and when the food markets pop up one or 2 days a week in different neighborhoods (vs the permanent street markets like on rue Cler) and take the metro out to it, and take a few hours to wander around that neighborhood and get some stuff to bring back to the apt for dinner that night.
> Street crepes! Actually more often the side kitchen door of a restaurant or stand out front of a cafe. Also you can score great snacks/random lunch food like sandwiches or cheese on the best baguettes ever just by ducking into a bakery and carry it out to a bench and eat with a million dollar view of the Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame, etc. – add a bottle of wine for an impromptu “picnic” on the banks of the Seine or in the shadow of the Tower.
> Consider ordering just the house white wine in restaurants – cheap (2.50e or so in the cafes), and we never had never a bad glass anywhere.
> And you have to go here for ice cream: http://www.yelp.com/biz/berthillon-glacier-paris
> On the very same block, a shop nearby sells the best biscuits ever
> Also, learn the bus routes near your apt. or hotel = much nicer to travel above ground vs the Metro.
> Rent a bike! article about bike rental: http://ohhappyday.com/2011/09/velib/
> Good looking restaurant list: http://www.haveninparis.com/restaurants.php
> You will find so many nice places to take in Paris scenery but one (kinda) less known place is the department store Printemps. You will find it by the Opera on Hausmann Blvd. On the roof terrace is a cafe that is open until about 5pm. The view from up there is quite good. The view is free but the food prices are commensurate with the location so don’t visit when you are hungry if on a budget. The department store itself and the nearby Opera house are also worthwhile to visit.
> If you are a “map person” who likes getting around on their own, the Frommers Day by Day is the pocket guide for you (Amazon.com, bn.com etc.) It has 20+ self guided tours and 39 (!) maps, some of very useable scale and use in the various arrondissements. Best of all, it has a sturdy foldout front cover that is only about 11×7 with a city map on one side and a very good Paris Metro map (that was easier to understand than the official subway map) on the other side that were invaluable for getting around efficiently to where you wanted to go. I wouldn’t use it as a primary source for hotels and restaurants – I would use other sources specializing in those areas, however its useful as a cross reference or you find yourself somewhere that mentions some of their choices.
> Also, I have a small D ring that has a small compass built into it that I have hooked onto the strap of my camera bag. This is VERY useful to figure out how to orientate the Frommers neighborhood area map when you come up out of the Metro into a part of the city where the Eiffel Tower was not in the line of sight.
Wow, John! Thank you for sharing all of your advice? I’ve learned a lot more about Paris since the trip described in this itinerary. I will be spending 5.5 weeks there this summer, and I cannot wait! I really like the idea about carrying a compass. I am directionally challenged, so this could be a great item to add to my list.
Just out of curiosity, how do you know so much about Paris? Have you spent an extended amount of time there?
Ha I wish. Only there for less than a week couple of years ago, but my daughter spent 3 weeks there last May so was involved in that before, during , and after.
I have always planned my own travel ever since a travel agent tried to talk us out of going on our honeymoon to Cancun in 1981 because she didnt know enough about it. There were only 400 hotel rooms there then – now there are 40,000. So I have gotten good at research and do a lot of it, plus participate in a few travel forums where over time you get to “know” a few folks and trust their opinions. Rick Steves is pretty helpful re Europe also.
PS I was drawn to your blog because of common Euro travel places and interest in photography. You do nice work with the camera.
Some of my Italy photos here (notice the Frommers Day by Day guide in one shot LOL) https://plus.google.com/photos/108584247817175335497/albums/5610010511323008465
Paris here: https://plus.google.com/photos/108584247817175335497/albums/5493497051940667713
London here: https://plus.google.com/photos/108584247817175335497/albums/5493501731503257313
Switzerland here: https://plus.google.com/photos/108584247817175335497/albums/5077759375615144017
Thank you for sharing your photos! They are beautiful! I really want to go to Lake Como. I don’t know if you saw or not, but my online scrapbook won a Rick Steves’ tour (www.experiencingthebestofeurope.com). I really want to take the best of Italy tour, but I know it is time to experience something new. I plan on going to Eastern Europe in 2014. I hope you’ll stick around to track my adventure in Paris this summer. I can’t wait to try my best at being Parisian.
Very good London info here: