This thread is meant to share tips, info and experiences with France.
Paris - sights
Sights - well I think you know most of them...
if you want to enjoy Paris, do walk. it's small enough so that you can walk around the top spots
- Eiffel tower (Tour Eiffel in French)
- Montmartre, the Sacre “Coeur” church and the “Place du Tertre” where there is a lot of painter, cartoonists.
- Notre-Dame cathedral
- In the middle of Paris, “le quartier des Halles”
- Père Lachaise cemetery
- Take a boat near the Eiffel tower
And if you have time, “le jardin du Luxembourg”, “les Buttes Chaumont”, Orsay museum (a museum in an old train station), “Saint Martin canal” (you can take a boat and go from 1 lock to another one); the pub where they filmed the movie “Amelie”
The perfect Paris picnic comes cheap: a crusty baguette ($1), a thick slab of Camembert ($2.50), a modest Bordeaux ($5). Take it to the sprawling park at the foot of the Eiffel Tower, spread a blanket and dine with a view that is priceless.
Paris has more than its share of high-end luxury, but plenty of this city's famed culture and romance can come free -- or at minimal cost. There are all kinds of tricks to enjoying Paris without busting your budget.
The opera has cheap seats, museums offer reductions, churches hold free classical concerts, walking up the Eiffel Tower is cheaper than riding the elevator -- and a good way to work off all the croissants and mousses au chocolat. Plenty of fun can be had for under $20, even in the capital of haute couture and high-end cuisine.
Start perhaps with a stroll. Wander through the meticulously manicured Luxembourg Gardens or the elegant Place des Vosges, Paris' oldest square on the edge of the boutique-and-gallery-packed Marais district.
A pair of comfortable shoes is key in this utterly walkable city so full of parks and monuments, stunning architecture and charming cobblestone lanes that ducking underground to the Metro means skipping sights.
That said, public transport is excellent and cheap. A single subway or bus ride costs $1.75, while a book of 10 tickets -- a "carnet" -- is a saving at $13. There is a full-day pass -- the Carte Mobilis -- for $6.70; and a weekly pass -- Carte Hebdomadaire -- that costs $20.
Serious sightseers should consider the "Museum and Monument Card," sold at museums and major Metro stations. It allows unlimited access to 70 of the city's attractions and lets cardholders skip lines. A one-day card is $22.
Another cost saver is the Paris City Passport, newly minted this year by Paris' Tourism Office. The $6.20 booklet is filled with $370 in coupons for savings off admission to museums, Seine River boat cruises, city bus tours, cabarets and night clubs. It is sold at tourism offices, select train stations or online.
To view the City of Light from above, it's tough to beat the Eiffel Tower. Skip the top level -- the lines are long and it costs $13.30 to get there. The second platform is plenty high at 380 feet; it can be reached by elevator for $9.30 or on foot -- up 704 steps -- for $4.70.
Otherwise, for a spectacular and free Paris panorama, head to the steps of the great white Sacre Coeur basilica in Montmartre.
After walking up a good appetite, the question arises of where to eat. For a splurge, pick up a Michelin guide and follow the stars -- but do it during the day. Michelin-starred lunch menus often run half the price of dinner. Reservations are a must, often well in advance.
Otherwise, buy a baguette sandwich for lunch at any boulangerie or a crepe from a streetside stand. Supermarkets sell wine and cheese for one-stop picnic shopping.
For dinner, go ethnic. Some of Paris' tastiest and most affordable food comes from its former colonies: great couscous from North Africa, hearty noodle soups from Vietnam, specialties of Senegal. Best bets are the immigrant melting pots of Belleville in northeastern Paris or the city's main Chinatown in the southeastern 13th arrondissement around Metro station Porte d'Ivry.
For French fare, just pick a neighborhood -- the Latin Quarter, Montmartre, St. Germain des Pres, the Marais, Bastille -- and read the menus in windows. Brasseries are cheaper than bistros and offer French classics at reasonable prices with a variety of wines by the glass. Fine wines are best bought in shops -- not restaurants where markups can be enormous.
For an outdoor aperitif, do as the French do. Take a bottle with paper cups and head to the Pont des Arts, the wooden-and-iron footbridge connecting the riverbanks between the Latin Quarter and the Louvre. In the city of romance, it remains a favorite of canoodling couples and Parisians who never tire of gazing at sunset over the Seine.
For an elegant evening out, mingle with the tuxedo-and-gown crowd at the ballet or opera -- where these days any attire is fine. The Bastille Opera just opened a 62-person standing-room area for a mere $6.20 a head. Sales start 45 minutes before the curtain goes up, so arrive early and brace for lines. Otherwise, nosebleed seats with limited visibility start at $11. The glorious Garnier Opera, with its recently renovated grand Baroque foyer, is Paris' main ballet venue and offers velvet seats in upper booths for as low as $8.70.
For $1.25, visitors can enjoy the Rodin Museum's gardens.
Pick up a Pariscope magazine for 50 cents at any kiosk for weekly listings of concerts, films, plays and exhibits. Note the music section, which gives a daily rundown of classical concerts in churches and cathedrals, many for free, especially on weekends. It also gives museum addresses, hours and admission fees.
Museums offer a variety of discounts, with most major ones free for children under 18.
At the Louvre, which unveiled its new, roomier gallery for the Mona Lisa earlier this year, admission is $10.50. But ticket prices drop to $7.70 on Wednesday and Friday nights after 6 p.m. when the museum stays open late.
Entry to the Musee d'Orsay, home to Paris' great Impressionist collection, costs $9.30 but drops to $6.80 on Sundays and everyday after 4:15 p.m. (or 8 p.m. on Thursdays) -- two hours before closing time.
For art en pleine air head to the Rodin Museum, where the real bargain is the $1.25 entry fee to the gardens. Tucked amid the linden trees are some of Rodin's greatest works -- large bronze casts of The Thinker, The Gates of Hell, The Burghers of Calais. Bring a picnic lunch and stay awhile. The museum itself charges $6.20.
Eagerly awaited this fall is the return of a Paris architectural jewel, the Grand Palais. Its grand central hall reopens after a 12-year structural overhaul that restored the building's glass-and-steel cupola, a glittering landmark in the Paris skyline. The work cost $124 million but visitors get to view it for free until October 1. After that, the Grand Palais resumes its function as a cultural center for festivals, exhibits and fashion shows.
Paris - Food
Some restaurants I near the Champs Elysees:
there is 2 African restaurants named Gazelle, 9 rue Rennequin (www.la-gazelle.fr) and Impala lounge, 2 rue Berri
a good French restaurant names “Chez Clement”, 123, Avenue des Champs Elysées (www.chezclement.com).(I like it and not too expensive !)
For Foie Gras:
Fauchon is a nice traiteur. It's in Madeleine.
If you have time, you can go to Honfleur (2h drive from Paris in the north-west): nice village near the sea.
Paris - Shopping
Les Grands Magasins as well (Printemps, Galeries Lafayette. I think Printemps was the first mall on earth)
Place Vendome then Rue du Faubourg St-Honore.
Not so far from Cassis, Bormes-les-Mimosas,
St Tropez (many French actor like to come at this place for vacation. You will see a lot of big yacht).
Near St Tropez, Grimaud ( a small town build on the water)
Aix en Provence (bigger city ; more for shopping)
Arles and its amphitheater and Van Gogh foundation
Orange has also a nice amphitheater
If you have enough time, Monaco (small town in the middle of the France but it is not a part of the France; they have their own “Prince”)
Food to try: Ratatouille, Nougat, Tapenade
Wine to try: Muscat from Beaumes de Venise (sweet white wine)