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Thread: travel to France

  1. #1

    Default travel to France

    Hi

    I am planning for a trip to France was wondering if there is any tips? i.e. place that is must go, things to be aware off and mode of travel. Is it better to drive or should I sign on a tour package in Paris to go outside paris?

    I heard the the French are very un-helpful when you don't speak their language. Any must visit places outside paris?

    Thanks

  2. #2

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Minority
    Hi

    I am planning for a trip to France was wondering if there is any tips? i.e. place that is must go, things to be aware off and mode of travel. Is it better to drive or should I sign on a tour package in Paris to go outside paris?

    I heard the the French are very un-helpful when you don't speak their language. Any must visit places outside paris?

    Thanks
    Ah yes, I can give you some tips. Just came back from France couple of weeks ago.

    If you are somewhat adventurous, free-and-easy is better than package tour.

    Don't drive if you are in Paris : traffic there is a nightmare. Take the metro (train) which is excellent in coverage ( puts our "world-class" MRT to shame ). They system is fairly complex. If you have a Palm or Pocket PC, download the excellent freeware "Metro" which will tell you how to get from one station/attraction to another.

    Beware of pickpockets, which are plentiful in the major metro stations. They are very adept at picking your pocket while you are boarding the train and are concentrating on getting onboard and finding a seat. They pick your pocket, and quickly leave before the train door closes. By the time you realize it, the train door has closed and they are safely back on the platform.

    In Paris, the places to see are :
    o Musee (Museum) de Louvre. See the Mona Lisa, Venus De Milo, etc.
    o Musee de d'Orsay
    o Arc De Triomph. Climb to the top for a good view of the chaotic traffic !
    o Champs Elysees
    o Eiffel Tower
    o Du Lachaise Cemetary to visit the graves of Oscar Wilde, Jim Morrison, Rossini, Chopin, and other luminaries
    o Pantheon
    o Hotel de Invalides, including Napoleon's Tomb.
    o Catacombs. This is truely unique, and will give you quite a few chills. Unforgettable.
    o Notre Dame
    o Sainte Chapelle.
    o Cathedral of the Sacred Heart


    You'll need at least 4 days just to cover these places.


    For places outside Paris, traffic is fine, and so driving is a good idea. Renting a small car from Hertz is around 60+ Euros per day, which is cheaper than taking a train if there are more than 2 of you. But be careful : the French drive on the right side of the road, American style, opposite from Singapore!

    A 1 hour train ride out of Paris is approx 25-30Euros for one way, and double for 2 way.

    You can go north to Normandy ( see the D-Day beaches : Omaha beach, Juno Beach, etc. No trains to the beaches, so you need a car, or take a day tour from nearby town of Bayeux ), Mont St Michel ( this you should not miss ), Rouen ( where Joan of Arc was burnt at the stake ).

    You can go south to the Loire Valley and visit the castles of the area. Some of these places are not reachable by train, so driving will give you more options. Also, if you are driving, you can pick and choose a bed-and-breakfast to spend the night. If you take train, you are limited to places near the train station. Before going out of town, always call the tourist office of your destination to check opening hours of attractions and timings of buses that you may need to take. For example, in winter, buses may only run twice a day ! If you need to take a bus to reach a castle or attraction, make sure you get the timing right !

    You can also take a 1.5 hour TGV ( bullet train ) from Paris to Brussels ! That can be a nice way to spend 2-3 days. The ticket is around 65 Euros one way. In my opinion, Brussels is worthy of a side trip if you have the extra time.

    Singaporeans don't need a visa for Belgium or France.

    As for the French, well, most of the younger people ( say, under 30 years old ) can speak some English, and will help you if you ask nicely. Always have a small notebook or paper pad and pen with you. It helps to write or draw down what you want. Oh, the French use a 24hour timing notation ( ie, they write 17h00 instead of 5:00pm ). Keep this in mind when stating the time when buying train tickets. I usually write my starting location and an arrow pointing to my destination on a piece of paper ( eg, Paris --> Brussels ) and the time when buying train tickets to ensure there is no miscommunication.

    Let me know if you need more info. I've been to France 3 times already, so I am a little familiar with it.

  3. #3

    Default Thanks!

    Wow that's good info. Yeah I plan to spend abt 4-5 days in Paris itself and then rent a car and drive out. I have drove in US before so I am pretty on with right hand drive. But are the road signs clear?

    Oh car rental is pretty cheap if I rent the cars abt 2mths a head.. its abt 5 euro on week days and 60 euro on sat and sundays. And its a Baby Merc

    One questions where is a good place to say in Paris? and what are the pricing I am expecting? I checked the web and find that the pricing are pretty high around 100+ euros given that its now SGD2 to 1euro. I am planning a 2 week trip there so I might take a train to Brussels if time permit.

    Yes I also have heard that the pick pocket problem in the subway is pretty bad. How abt other security i.e. streets safe at night?

    Any recommendation on places to stay?

    thanks!

  4. #4

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Minority
    Wow that's good info. Yeah I plan to spend abt 4-5 days in Paris itself and then rent a car and drive out. I have drove in US before so I am pretty on with right hand drive. But are the road signs clear?

    Oh car rental is pretty cheap if I rent the cars abt 2mths a head.. its abt 5 euro on week days and 60 euro on sat and sundays. And its a Baby Merc

    One questions where is a good place to say in Paris? and what are the pricing I am expecting? I checked the web and find that the pricing are pretty high around 100+ euros given that its now SGD2 to 1euro. I am planning a 2 week trip there so I might take a train to Brussels if time permit.

    Yes I also have heard that the pick pocket problem in the subway is pretty bad. How abt other security i.e. streets safe at night?

    Any recommendation on places to stay?

    thanks!
    Places to stay : you can either book via the Internet, or just simple call them up based on your tour guidebook recommendations. Price depends on the type of hotels you are looking for. For cheap accomodation, you can try hostels. If there are more than 1 of you, you can book a private 2/3/4 bed room in many hostels. I normally stay in 1 star or 2 star places that are clean and cheap and located in safe neighbourhoods. Prices range from 35 Euros for basic room with no shower/toilet ( these are located in the hallway and are shared. Kinda like in your own house. Sometimes you have to pay to use the shower ! ), to 70-80 Euros for a bigger room with amenities. Those 100 Euros and above are usually full service hotels ( aka Holiday Inn types ). You can try www.hostelworld.com, www.kasbah.com, and numerous other hotel websites for info. Or just search using Google. That's how I usually start looking. My friend stayed in a Holiday Inn for only 60+ Euros. Try www.priorityclub.com

    I didn't drive when I was in France, but I've heard from my colleagues who did that it's quite easy.

    As for safety, Paris is no more dangerous than any other big cities. Good thing is that violent crime is fairly rare in Europe, but lots of petty crime. Stay away from lonely streets. Your guidebooks can normally tell you which areas to avoid. I believe the areas around some of the train stations aren't very safe at night ( eg, around Gare Du Nord and Gare D' Lyon stations ). Do not show off your money or your expensive camera. As a clubsnapper, I know it's hard to keep your camera in your bag because you want to be ready to take a shot, but use your common sense.

    Never put your wallet in your back pocket. Keep your wallet in your front pocket, or better still, don't carry a wallet. Just put a few dollars and maybe 1 credit card in your front pocket. Or you can try one of those wrist wallets or leg wallets. My friend got his wallet stolen in the train even though he put it in his front pocket ! These guys are very skillfull !

    Put your passport/planetickets/money in a money belt that you wear under your pants. When sightseeing, don't carry a backpack (daypack) on your back. Instead, carry it in the opposite way, in front of you. This way, no one can secretly unzip your bag behind you. Be careful with bumbags/waistpouches. Someone secretly unzipped mine while on a crowded bus in Italy and stole my handphone without me knowing it ! Damn ! If you carry a waistpouch, use a clip to secure the zippers together.

    Lemme see, when buying train tickets, try to get a reserved seat number. Seat reservations are optional on non-TGV trains, which means you have to go search for a seat. If the train is crowded, you might have to stand for the entire 3 hour journey ! So always get a seat reservation. You can buy train tickets online and search for schedule at www.sncf.com. This is VERY useful. Threre's a similar website for Brussels, but I forget it's URL.

  5. #5
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    My wife and I went to Europe for 21 days in Sept. Checked out our gallery http://www.pbase.com/johnyu/03europe . Check out the places we visited and our comments on accomodations.

    PM me if you have questions.

  6. #6
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    Well, if you are afraid of the french not speaking english. Speak REALLY bad french and they will be so pissed off that they speak back to you in english.
    But it's nevertheless good to speak a little bit of french to get you by.

    Bonjour/Bonsoir(Good day/Good evening) and Merci (Thanks).

    2 words to get you by. It did for me when I was there.

    akane
    Confidence is thinking you'll be Champions, arrogance is stating it.

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