Navigation

HTNHome

clipboardFirst Things First

HotelWhere to Stay in Paris

HangingOutHanging Out

ratpTransportation within Paris

TouristStuffTourist Stuff to do (and not)

MuseumMuseums

EatingEating

NeatPlacesNeat Places Just to Walk Around

SIWalksStrange and Interesting Walks

BuyingStuffBuying Stuff

Daily Life and Little Necessities

FAQFrequently Asked Questions

FetesFestivals

quirkyQuirky Parisian Things

BooksAPBooks About Paris

SuggestMake a Suggestion to the Guide

PrintMeDownload a Printable Version of Tom's Guide

Contact Tom

HTNHome

 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

People ask Tom a lot of questions. Generally, he's happy to respond if he knows the answer, and he only occasionally just makes stuff up. People who are rude to Tom and/or are overly demanding don't have their questions answered. Those people, he speculates, will not have a good time in Paris, since if you're not nice to Tom, you're probably not a nice person. What goes around, alas, comes around.

Following are some typical and atypical questions from some of Tom's (nice) readers.

Contents
Altruistic Tom
Unsolicited Praise for Tom’s Guide
More Unsolicited Praise for Tom’s Guide
(Even more) Unsolicited Praise
Printable Tom’s Guide
Paris Beauvais airport
Getting to CDG (without stress)
CDG, stairs, directions
Speaking French
Young and English-Speaking in Paris
Intimidated in Paris
Paris safety
Being a woman in Paris
Northeast Paris Walks
What to Wear in Paris?
How much money to bring
Passes—Transportation, Museum, etc.
Metro passes
Metro maps
Metro deals
Paris and children
Paris and children, again (and weather)
Weather, again…
Fête de la musique
Paris in December
More Paris at Christmas
Dining late
Dining alone
Simple pleasures
Vegetarian Restaurants
Music, clubs, dancing
Air conditioning in Paris hotels
Pukey parts of town
Parking in Paris
Paris parking, again
Paris in August
Buying groceries
Monument to Princess Diana
Traveling to the Normandy Beaches


Altruistic Tom
Dear Tom,
Is there a way to make a donation to you?
I have found your guide to shine and to be very helpful as I prepare for a trip to Paris.

Thank you,
Deborah

Dear Deborah,
What a kind thought! That alone is worth more than any donation!

Thanks for the offer, but Tom's Guide will remain free for the foreseeable future. (I am considering setting up a link where, for a small charge, you will be able to download a printable version of the guide, but that will take some time to set up).

In the meantime, thanks so much for your kind words, and have a great trip!

Best,
Tom

Unsolicited Praise for Tom's Guide
Dear Tom,
I visited Paris for the first time this last July. I had studied your "guide to Paris" thoroughly before I went and took along printed copies of many of the links. Your website was such a great help. I was traveling alone and your suggestions and directions made my trip easy and fun. Probably my two favorite ideas I got from your site were (1) the "strange and interesting walk #2" and (2) Chez L'Ami Jean at 27 Rue Malar.

BeaubourgParvisI have spoken with many friends who have visited Paris and none of them had ever heard of the Arene de Lutece. I wonder how many people visit Paris and miss a lot of the places you describe on your site. 

I had lunch at Chez L'Ami Jean on Bastille Day without a reservation. I did not have to wait at all. The lady who greeted me at the door quickly found a waiter who spoke English. Everyone was very gracious. The food was fantastic and much more than I could ever eat at one setting. On my way out, the waiter escorted me to the sidewalk where the chef was chatting with a friend. He introduced me to the chef and the chef greeted me with a kiss on each cheek. What a great Parisian experience!

I can't wait to return to Paris to see all the sites I didn't have time for in the six days I was there. 

Thanks so much for the wonderful service your website provides. I will visit it again before my next trip to Paris. 
Brenda

Dear Brenda,
I'm really glad that Tom's Guide proved so useful for you! I'm trying to make a downloadable printed version of the Guide available, and also one for e-readers, but there's always that lack of time getting in the way...

Thanks for the kind words.

Best,
Tom

More Unsolicited Praise for Tom's Guide
Dear Tom,
We will be taking ALL of Tom's "Strange & Interesting Walks"—strange and interesting are exactly what I hope for in a vacation. I have been trying to read as much as I can get my hands on about Paris, trying to pick out the absolute jewels to savor during our week there. I have poured over hundreds of pages of guidebooks, travel blogs & forums, and yours is the only site that I have read top to bottom & I plan on taking every one of your recommendations—exactly the kind of advice I've been searching for, when a cookie-cutter experience is not an option. You'll never know how much your guidance has helped those of us who are anxious, first-time-abroad travelers!
Wendy

(Even More) Unsolicited Praise
Dear Tom,
Just to let you know that we were in Paris this summer (July 1 to 4) and had a blast. Notwithstanding that it pissed down rain most days, we had your guide and did several of the things on it in the short time we were in the city. My daughter found it while trolling the net looking for Paris guides and, without fail, the things ParisIslandrecommended were worthwhile and enhanced our visit.

We went to Chartier and, on top of the delightfully Victorian atmosphere in the place, had a local (a jazz singer who also ran an Italian restaurant further south in the city) sit at our table (which we initially thought was odd as the place was 95% empty at the time) and eventually strike up a conversation that so totally charmed my wife and I that it gave us a lift for the rest of our stay. The food was quite reasonable, if nothing fancy, and the prices were great.

We went up to Sacré Cœur via Place des Abesses taking the funicular up the hill (my teenagers are faaaar too lazy) and walked down through the garden in front of the church. We ate at the base of the hill near the metro station and it was excellent and inexpensive.

We walked around the back of Notre Dame and on through the Ile St-Louis, and had the stunningly good ice cream at Berthillon.

We wandered over to the Luxembourg Garden and did find some of the chairs with arms and they really were more comfortable. The backs and seats are at slightly different angles than the ones without arms and I think that makes the difference.

On top of the pain au chocolat we also discovered another treat, Viennoiserie avec chocolat. These (as I dare say you know) are much more bready than croissant pastry but are equally good. My daughter and I had them every morning on the way out sightseeing. You might want to recommend them on your site.

On top of all this we managed to fit in the Eiffel Tower. As you suggested, we didn't go up and the world didn't end. There was a number of beggars in the Tower square all with the same MO; they come up to you, ask if you speak English and then show you a slip of paper with their horrible life's story written on it looking for money. It wouldn't be so obvious if 6-8 different yet similarly dressed people didn't come up to you with the same bloody note over the course of an hour.

We got to Versailles, the Arc de Triomphe, Notre Dame, the Louvre, and the Wax Museum. Not bad for only 3 days on the ground. We stayed at a nice little 2-star in the 14th that was a 5 minute walk from the metro and only 20 minutes by metro from everything else. Even with the rain, it was a perfect visit.

We can't thank you enough.

Paul & Rhonda

PS Is it just us or do the French seem to have a "thing" for shoes. Neither my wife nor I could believe the number of bloody shoe stores nor the rather exorbitant prices they attempt to charge. Even during the sale month, most were too expensive to bother with.  :)

MontmartreAlleyDear Paul & Rhonda,
Wow. This is one of the best endorsements of Tom's Guide I've ever received. I'm glad you had a good time, and gladder that the guide was useful.

Shoes? Absolutely. And you're right: even on sale, shoes at most places are crazy expensive. I remember one summer when it was unbearably hot and I needed a pair of sandals and I had to lay out 39 euros for glorified flip-flops in a discount shoe store. But on the other hand, if you want something really stylish, you'll find what you need. I bought a pair of Agnès B shoes a couple years ago, and I won't tell you the absurd price I paid, but I've gotten a lot of good mileage—in all senses of that word—out of them.

All best,
Tom

Printable Tom's Guide
Dear Tom,
Was just wondering if you planned on updating the downloadable guide (PDF)? It is not as up to date as the website. Great info though! I like the guide; I love it so much I purchased a PDF reader for my iPhone just to read it on my phone.

Peter

Dear Peter,
I've deactivated the download link on the site right now because I'm in the process of reconciling the up-to-date info on the web pages with the increasingly out of date printed version. It's more work than it might seem, so it will take me some time to get the printable version up to speed. Stay tuned, and glad you like Tom's Guide.

Best,
Tom

Paris Beauvais airport
Hi, Tom!
I’m a New Yorker going to Europe in Sept/Oct. I came across your site and it’s just so amazing! It’s very complete and has actual info that people need when traveling to a foreign city (unlike some travel sites that tell you nothing of use!). I have one question however. I am flying in from Madrid into Paris CDG; however, I’m flying out of Paris Beauvais to Milan. What do you recommend as the best arrondissement to stay in to be at a decent distance to both airports, but is also budget conscious? Also, you don’t have anything on your site regarding Beauvais airport...is that really out of the way?

Thanks so much for any advice you can provide and thanks for your site! It’s been a great help!

Regards,
Leema

Hi Leema,
The Beauvais airport is a bit out there, but it’s not insanely far or anything. Unless you’re only going to be in Paris for a day or so, I don’t think you need to make your hotel plans based on the airports, but in any event both CDG and Beauvais are somewhat to the north of Paris, so if you really feel like basing yourself according to the airports, stay on the right bank. There are busses to Beauvais that take something like an hour and 20 minutes to get there (depart from Porte Maillot). They tell you to show up at the boulevard Pershing bus terminal (metro Porte Maillot) 3 hours and 15 minutes before your flight time, and you can buy the 13-euro ticket on the bus itself.

Basically, my advice would be to stay where you want, have a good time, and just leave yourself time to get to the airport.
Glad you like Tom’s Guide.

Best,
Tom

Getting to CDG (without stress)LookDownEiffel
Dear Tom,
My wife and I, along with our twin 15-year-old granddaughters, will be ending a Rick Steves tour in Paris. Bottom line—our flight leaves CDG at 7:45 AM. Our flight will be leaving on a Tuesday morning. I know we must take a cab or shuttle from our hotel (St. Germain) to the airport, which is OK. However since we will be returning to the US, we must allow time for security and immigration processing. I have read 2-3 hour allowance, plus travel time from our hotel to the airport.

Do you have any suggestions to lessen our stress to arrive at the airport in a timely manner?

Any suggestion will be greatly appreciated!
Wendell and Celia

Hi folks,
I know of no way—ever—to reduce airport stress: that’s just the way I’m wired. As of this writing, the first train leaving the Gare du Nord to the airport leaves at 4:56 am (weekdays) and arrives at the airport at 5:30 am. (Schedules here: ratp.fr/). That should do it, but if you really want to be sure, there’s always a cab. Four of you will cost about 40 euros on the train anyway, so it wouldn’t be all that much more. Stress free travel? Let me know if you discover how...

Best,
Tom

CDG, stairs, directions
Tom,
Traveling to Paris this Thursday, question for you on the trains, how difficult is taking the train from CDG into Paris with luggage, are there many stairs?

Also are the phone cards in English?

Thanks,
Kevin and Ann

Hi Kevin and Ann,
It’s pretty easy to take the RER from CDG into the city. There are some stairs, but it’s not a big deal, unless stairs bother you in general. The question about stairs would be more pertinent at the other end—that is, where you’re getting out, and that can be either negligible or nightmarish (if you were getting off, say, at Abesses).

Phone cards vary in instructions, and many if not most have instructions in multiple languages. Even if the card’s printed instructions are in French, when you dial the number you use to access the service (and it’s pretty plain what that is, even if you don’t know a word of French), you’re often given a menu of languages to listen to the instructions.

Best,
Tom

Speaking French
Dear Tom,
Hi, I was looking at your site, which is very helpful, as I’m thinking of going to Paris, France (for the first time) for about a week during the holidays in December. One thing I didn’t see was anything about the language. I’d like to know exactly how hard it is to get around with the basics (ordering food, asking for basic directions, etc) without being fluent in French? I would learn basic greetings before I left but I had no big plans on immersing myself in French beforehand.

The trick is attitude: don't expect people to speak English. Smile a lot. Politeness and respect go a long, long way.

Give some tips!

Thank you!
Sherrell

Dear Sherrell,
What a good idea. I’ll add something on the language when I get a chance. In the meantime, try going to the French language lessons on the terrific Slow Travel site.

Obviously if you speak French you’ll have an easier time with things, but you should know that millions of people visit France without knowing a word. The trick is attitude: don’t expect people to speak English; be somewhat apologetic in your need to fall back on that language. People will be OK with it. Point at menus, smile a lot. Politeness and respect go a long, long way. (And see the page on daily life in Paris, including politeness, here.)

Bon voyage,
Tom

Cafe de la paixYoung and English-Speaking in Paris

Dear Tom,
Wow your website is great! As others have said it really gives you the practical information rather than the stuff you see in ever other tour guide! I’m au pairing in France this summer and was wondering whether there is an English cinema around? Also if you have any pointers about the 15th arrondissement and meeting people/practising French with people that’d be great, oh and what are the libraries like in Paris? Do they have a large selection of English books?
P.S. I’m seventeen if you need to take that into account in your suggestions.

Thanks again,
Sinéad

Dear Sinéad,
Au pairing will be fantastic, I think (know many who have done it). I'm not aware of any cinema completely dedicated to films in English, but if you pick up any of the city's weekly guides (and I'm partial to Pariscope), you'll find all the films of the week listed. There will be many English-language films, and you'll know they're subtitled for French speakers, and not dubbed, when they have the letters VO after them (which stands for version originale, i.e., not dubbed).

Meeting people can sometimes be tricky if you don't have connections, but there are places to meet young folks, both French and anglo. Since you mention libraries (see below), you should also know about the world-famous Shakespeare and Company, where you can easily meet young folks from all around the world, many/most of whom will speak English. You can read on site there, too. It's smack in the middle of the city, has a long and rich history, and, well, trust me, you'll like it.

The American Church on the Quai d'Orsay has all sorts of events, and they have a bulletin board where you can meet others for such things as exchanging conversation lessons. There's also the Council for the English Speaking Community, which I know little about, but have heard it's useful.

Libraries: bring your student ID with you and you can usually gain access to many libraries
(but you realize books don't circulate, right?). 

You'll have a great time. Let me know what new things you discover.
Best,
Tom

Intimidated in ParisContrescarpe
Dear Tom,
My friends and I are planning a trip to Paris next year when we all turn 60 years old. OHMYGOD! We are US midwesterners and typically none of us have been to Europe and taking on Paris seems very intimidating.

So I started internet searching looking for information on Paris and I stumbled across your website.  After spending one evening reading most of it, I knew I had to tell you how much I am enjoying your writing style. You make the city sound so easy and I feel way less intimidated.

I think you have just about covered all the basics and I thank you.

Norma, St. Louis MO

Hi Norma,
Do not be at all intimidated by taking on Paris—in fact, the words you’ve chosen here—taking on Paris—already indicate you’ll have a marvelous time. There’s no reason to be intimidated by Paris. As a midwesterner by birth (Ohio), I can comfortably say that unless you choose to go to places merely in order to be intimidated—the Senate, for example, or a doctoral exam in an area you know nothing about—you’ll be fine.

My advice: if in the unlikely event someone is rude to you, shrug your shoulders, walk away, and be as upset—that is, not at all—as if someone were rude to you in your own hometown. Be nice and people will be nice to you. Really. Go places you’ve never heard of; eat in a restaurant that is small and dark; sit at a café on a non-trendy street. Do all these things; do all the tourist things; and then do everything else. The thing I've learned about Paris is: nothing is as daunting or anxiety-producing as you tend to think it will be (unless you try to order milk with your steak, of course). Do what you want, ask people when you need to, and have a good time.

Have a great trip (and happy birthday...).

Best,
Tom

Paris safetyBridgeOverSeine
Dear Tom,
First of all, I really liked your website - very informative and educational.

FYI - I found your site by searching for “things to avoid in Paris.”

I do have a concern: we are going to Paris in May and I am going to rent an apartment for my family and friends. It is on Rue Albert Thomas, which is near the Boulevard De Magenta and close to République. Sometimes when you book something you are not quite sure if its a good part of town, especially since we have children with us. My question is: is that a safe part of town?  On your website you did plainly state to avoid Saint-Denis streets, and, well this apartment is not that far from there. Any suggestions?

Dayna

Hi Dayna,
Glad you like Tom’s Guide...

Actually, you’re not that close to the rue St Denis, and the part you’re not that close to isn’t the part you need to worry about anyway. And, to top it all off, the rue St Denis is much less creepy than it used to be. (The creepiness is contained to a very small segment of the street...)

So: no need to worry.

There’s even good news: you’re very near to the Canal St Martin, which in recent years has become THE place to be. AND, you’re right by République, where more metro lines cross than any other place in the city, which means getting around will be a snap. AND you’re right by the street where I lived the first time I moved to Paris (but that probably doesn’t interest you, does it?).

In short: you’re not only fine, you’ll be golden (and if you’re at all worried about the rue St Denis, just stay clear of it as it approaches the rue du Caire—but really, don’t worry about it).

Have a good trip,
Tom

Being a woman in Paris
Dear Tom,
Hi, I hope that this is a newish website and you’re still checking emails. I’m going to Paris in September this year. I’m 18 years old and I’m traveling alone. I wanted to go to Paris for 2-3 weeks and stay in hostels. However I’ve heard horror stories of girls staying along in Paris, how I could easily get raped or robbed. I was just wondering if you could tell me if it is a realistic idea to travel in Paris alone and what are some of the safer (yet still nice) areas i could stay in.
Thank you
Madeline

Dear Madeline,

Never having been a woman alone in Paris, I obviously can’t give you first-hand knowledge of what that’s like.

Never having been a woman alone in Paris, I obviously can’t give you first-hand knowledge of what that’s like. I will say that I know a number of women who have traveled alone in Paris without difficulty.

You’d want to do what you’d do in any big city, obviously, and be on guard for all the things you’d be on guard against in the U.S. One thing I’d add to that, though, is that certain men will be considerably more persistent in seeking out your company than they might be in the US if they perceive any response on your part. That is, if you’re sitting at a café, say, and a guy starts to chat you up, any response on your part could be perceived as encouragement. That’s not to say that he has violence or evil on his mind, but the cultural signals can be different in different circumstances.

But it’s a big city, and it’s pretty easy to stay in very public places all the time, especially if you’re staying in the city’s center. I don’t have the facts at my fingertips, but I read not too long ago that the crime rates in the metro are very low when compared to US standards. I walk around the city late at night all the time, and I've never, ever had a problem—in fact, I'm always pleased at the number of people I see walking around, too.

In short: I don’t know your comfort level, but I suspect Paris is a comparatively safe city. You might try a message board such as Slow Travel and ask your question to other women who have traveled to Paris and lived to tell the tale.

Best,
Tom

Northeast Paris Walks
Dear Tom,
Thanks so much for the guide, which I am enjoying every word of. I have been to Paris three times, but have not yet seen many of the things you mention, including the Arena and the Oberkampf area. I am very much looking forward to including those sites and restaurants/bars in my next visit, coming up in November. I was hoping to be a bit more adventurous this time around—getting more off the beaten path. The trouble is that when I read about some of the interesting neighborhoods in the 18th and 19th arrondissements, I get very mixed info—some people mapping out ethnic walks near Goutte D'Or and Marx Dormoy, and others suggesting that these areas should definitely be avoided (and even avoiding the Château Rouge metro stop altogether). I notice that your guide mentions avoiding rue St. Denis (which I've only seen during daylight, as I visited St. Eustache and Rue Montorgruiel street market), and I have also read that Les Halles at night is to be avoided. But what about the 18th/19th arrondissements? Is the Boulevard Barbès a dividing line of some sort? (And what about Belleville?) Your site is so down-to-earth that I was hoping I could get "the real truth" from you. Any insight would be appreciated. Thanks so much!

Barbara

Dear Barbara,
OK, the real truth (according to Tom, anyway, with the caveat that your experience could be different and so I accept no responsibility for any misfortunes that befall you and yours.)

The only metro stop I make a complete point of avoiding is La Chapelle. Anything else, especially during very busy daylight hours, is more or less OK, provided you're vigilant. Many of the areas you mention are rife with pickpockets, and if you're a woman alone—you didn't indicate how you're traveling—I'd be just that much more vigilant. I also wouldn't be in any of these areas alone at night. If you go to these places, use your head Well, maybe not any of them, but you'll have to use your head and be careful. Parts of Belleville are very active at night, for example, and as the recently revised Tom's Guide explains, even the rue St Denis has evolved rather dramatically, to the point that there are only 2 blocks that are questionable. Barbès is very busy during the day, and somewhat interesting, but there's little reason to be there at night (and when I say Barbès I'm really think Barbès–Rochechouart). The Boulevard Barbès, especially from Anvers and to the west, is very busy at night with nightlife (some of which is of the PG13 red-light variety, but much of it is legitimately music-oriented, mainly for the 20-something set).

Les Halles at night is neither here nor there, but all the areas surrounding the green space are quite busy and even interesting—no reason to avoid them.The central green space is kind of like any American city park at night (with the pros and the cons). If you go to these places, use your head. I've been—in some cases many, many times—to all of the places you list here, and nothing happened to me. The only times I was ever really concerned was once at La Chapelle, and a couple times at Barbès late at night. I'm a guy, obviously, so maybe that explains something.

Here's a plan: take public transportation, in broad daylight, to places you want to see but are concerned about. Stay with crowds of people, always with one hand on your money/valuables (actually, don't travel around with lots of money/valuables anyway). If you find yourself heading into an area and your gut says something's wrong, turn back. Be adventurous, but don't be foolish. Don't know if this is the real truth, but this is my experience anyways. Be aware that yours could be different.

Have a good (and safe) trip.
Best,
Tom

What to Wear in Paris?

Dear Tom,
My husband and I are planning a trip to Paris in September 2007 and your website has been a terrific source of information. I do have one question about what to wear when in Paris—or France in general. I know that SillyClothesthe Parisians tend to dress up more than we do here in the States, but I was wondering what is acceptable for taking in the sites during the day. Can one get away with jeans, if you dress them up? I’d hate to stick out like a sore thumb and yet be far too overdressed walking around the city taking in the sites.

Thank you.
Charla

Dear Charla,
Paris and the Parisians are much more forgiving on dress than they used to be. You can really pretty much wear whatever you want that’s comfortable, but if you don’t want to “stick out,” I’d avoid things like track suits or windbreakers with team names on them. During the summer people are very casual—especially if it gets really hot—but in the fall (depends on what time of September you’re going, I guess) people will be a little more careful of how they dress, mainly because as things cool down comfort is less of an issue. General rule: dress the way you would in any American big city for the events you’ll be attending, and then don’t worry about it. Besides, if you find you don’t have what you want/need, it turns out Paris is a good place to buy clothes...

Best,
Tom

How much money to bring
Dear Tom,
Thank you for all the help you have gave me already but one more thing: for a four-day stay around how much would I need for spending money (estimate)? thank you.

Scott

BridgeDear Scott,
Wow. That’s pretty hard, since I don’t know your spending habits...
But OK, so let’s assume that if you’re there for 4 days you’ll be doing all your eating in restaurants.
I’d budget 5-10 euros for breakfast, 12-30 euros for lunch, and 20-whoknowshowmuch for diner. That’s per day, of course. Transportation should add a few euros a day. The odd coffee or drink at a cafe would add 5-20 euros a day, depending on you... Sightseeing, such as museums, etc. would add, depending on how ambitious you are, anywhere from 10 to 50 euros a day, but probably in the 15-25 euros category.

That’s the basics. If you decide to buy a rare oil painting, of course, your actual spending may be higher...

Tom

Passes—Transportation, Museum, etc.

Dear Tom,
I have spent weeks looking for the kind of information that you have provided. Thanks very much. However, there is a lot to take in with everything you cover and I feel a bit lost.ParisVisite

My husband and I will be in Paris for only a short period of time—arriving Sept. 19th and departing Sept. 22nd (2008).  (The last time were in Paris was 1984 and we were backpacking).

After reading your write-up on getting around Paris I am not sure which is the least expensive way for us to travel via public transit. Should we just buy a package of tickets or is there a better way considering the length of time we will be there? Our plan is that we will take public transit from Charles de Gaulle Airport and back again when we leave. I noticed something in your write-up called the ‘Paris à La Carte’ (& A La Carte Plus). Is this something that would be good for us to consider? Can any of these tickets/passes be purchased outside of Paris (eg. a local travel agent, on-line)?

For me, carnets are the way to go if you're in Paris for a short period.

The other major roadblock we are having is where to stay. I enjoyed reading your descriptions about the different areas in Paris. However, I still feel unsure. My husband and I do not go out at night to party, but we do enjoy being out. We love to explore, and we do a lot of photography. I guess I am looking for something quaint but not overly expensive. I am sure that is what most people are looking for. If you have any suggestions I would really appreciate your feedback.

Finally, my daughter was in Paris last year (briefly) and said that she purchased a pass that allowed her to get into many attractions. It also allowed her to jump the line. She can’t remember the name of the pass she got. She doesn’t think it was that expensive. I have tried to look this up and I came up with the ‘Paris Museum Pass’ at 30 euros for a two-day pass. Do you know anything about these passes? And would this be the way to go considering we will only have two days (Sept. 20 – 21)?

I would appreciate any suggestions that you might have to help us with our planning. We actually begin our travels Sept. 6th but do not arrive in Paris until Sept. 19th.

Thank you.

Judy

Dear Judy,
I'm not sure about Paris à la carte (and I don't think I'm the one who writes about it, since I've never used it). I looked it up on the web, though, and they don't say whether the price includes a return trip to CDG (or if they do, I missed it). So that would mean 51 euros, minus 9(ish) for CDG-Paris, which leaves 42 euros for the rest of the time. A carnet of 10 metro/bus tickets is 11.40 euros, or almost 4 carnets. That's 40 tickets. CarnetThere's no way you'll use all of those in the three days you'll be there. So, really the question is whether you like the boat and bus thing that the tour offers. It goes to many different neighborhoods, and if the weather's nice, it'll be pleasant, but I don't really think you'll use it for transportation most of the time (i.e., it wouldn't be practical to take it to the specific places you wanted to go unless you had a lot of time, given the different routes it takes). So I'd think of it less as transportation, and more as leisurely meandering. You might check out ratp.fr for all the different transportation options offered by the RER/Metro services (but be forewarned: there are a lot of choices and it's a little bewildering). For me, carnets are the way to go if you're in Paris for a short period.

For the museum pass: there are all kinds of these. 30 euros for two days would be, obviously, 15 euros a day, which would be roughly 2 entries (most places are in the 6–8 euro range). That means it's a good deal if you're going to go to more than 2 museums / day. How much of a good deal it is depends on how many more than 2 entries a day you do. If you're museum crazy, this could easily add up to significant savings.

Areas to stay: taking a wild stab, based on what you say here, I'd put you in the 6th, near Odeon or Mabillon. Check out the Hotel Delavigne as one suggestion...

Hope this helps...
Best,
Tom

Metro passes?

Hi Tom,
I came up with metro questions I can't seem to get an answer for on the ratp site. In the bay area we pay a BART ticket for the distance we are going. As far as I can tell, in Paris on the metro you can ride anywhere for one ticket? If you bought a book of carnets then every time you enter the system you would use a ticket?DrivingMetro

I don't see you recommending the Paris Visite card. Is 47 Euros a lot for a 5-day all-city all modes transport? I don't see fares anywhere either. I was on some interactive site trying to find more information on carnets and it was asking for my route so I thought maybe it was distance sensitive.  I am confused!

Dear Jean,
Metro tickets are good for one trip of any distance within the city (they work on the bus, too). The Paris Visite pass at 47 euros is for all zones of Paris—which would mean even the most distant suburbs. Unless you have specific reasons for going way outside the city, my bet is that you'd never go beyond zone 2, in which case the Paris visite is 27.50. That's just a little more than the price of two carnets, which would be twenty tickets. If you're going to use the metro or bus more than 20 times in 5 days, then the Paris visite card is for you. Let's put it this way: if you end up walking or taking the metro/bus more than you think you would, you only stand to lose a few euros either way. In your place, I'd decide whether I'm more of a walker (in which case I'd go with carnets) or a rider (in which case I'd go with Paris visite).

Best,
Tom

Paris metro maps?BastilleMetro

Dear Tom,
Where can I find a detailed map of the Paris metro and trains that I can print up? I tried your site, but my printer only prints part of the metro system?

Anonymous

Dear anonymous,
Try going to ratp.fr and then clicking on the “plans de lignes” magnifying glass icon at the left.
There are 2 metro maps you can print up here, one big (le grand classique) and the other small ("au format portefeuille").
Tom

Metro deals
Dear Tom,
A very humorous, interesting, informative web site! If we are arriving in Paris at Gare du Nord on a Thursday afternoon and will be leaving on a Monday night train, then buying an orange carnet of tickets won’t work for us. Right?

We are staying by the Varennes metro stop and have 5 in our group: my husband, his 75-year-old mom and me and two daughters 14 & 10. Should we get the metro visite pass or just pay for individual tickets as we need them since the girls and the grandma are not used to hoofing it? Do you think the L’Open tour bus or the Batobus passes are worth while and an appropriate choice for my family? I look forward to your reply.

Thanks ! 
Lee

Hi Lee,
In your place, I’d buy carnets (and note that this isn’t the same thing as the carte orange). A carnet is just aEiffelFramework bundle of 10 metro/bus tickets, and it’s much more economical than buying a single ticket.

Here’s my thinking: a Paris visite pass for 5 days costs 27 euros. That’s just a little under 3 carnets, which would cost just over 30 euros. You’d have to take the metro or bus 6 times a day (each) for the break-even point. I suspect you wouldn’t do that (but that’s just my guess), so in your place, I think I’d be buying carnets all the time—it gives you greater flexibility, and in the event that you do end up taking the metro or bus a little more than you’d planned, the difference in price, spread out over the 5 days, wouldn’t be much.

From my perspective, the Open Tour thing isn’t worth it, because it only goes to a restricted number of places. On the other hand, if you like the upper deck of a bus and being driven around, that has its own appeal.

The boats are fun, but not all that practical. I suspect your family would enjoy them, but my guess also is that you’d like to do it once, and then you’d want to go places they can’t take you. Me? I’d take a ride on one of the boats once for the relaxing experience.

So, there’s my 2 cents. Hope it’s useful...

Best,
Tom

Paris and children

Hello Tom,
I think your website is incredible. I only wish it was around about 6 years ago when I went to Paris for the first time. Now that my daughter is 13 years old she wants to go to London and Paris this summer. I was planning about 4 days for each city. My plan is to show her most of the major attractions for each city plus some special off-the beaten path gems. I have never been to London. So I was wondering if you have more or less basic suggestion for on how best is to organize our trip that it’s fun and interesting.
Thank you very much for your help.

My suggestion for anyone with a limited amount of time is not to try to do too much.

Irina

Hi Irina,
My suggestion for anyone with a limited amount of time is not to try to do too much—otherwise it all ends up collapsing together. So I suggest one big event and one medium event for each day, and then down time with smaller things that help you re-group. So, for example, the Eiffel Tower in the morning of the 1st day, then lunch at some out-of-the-way place, followed by a walk in a busy and interesting neighborhood. Day 2 might be the Louvre in the morning and shopping in the afternoon. I don’t have kids so I’m not really sure what 13-year-olds like, so you’re obviously a much better judge of that than I would be.

Have a great trip!
Best,
Tom

Paris and children, again (and weather)
Dear Tom,
We are researching coming to Paris with our 8-year-old daughter next year. We are planning on coming at the last week of May and staying for two weeks. We are looking for the best place to stay with a child. Also, what is the weather like at this time of year? Can you give us any suggestions on where to stay and the major things we should see. Thank you for any help you can give us.

TracyRdeBarres

Hi Tracy,
I’m not sure there’s a part of town that is especially good—or bad—to stay in with children. Euro-Disney seems to be a favorite with kids, but that’s outside of Paris and easily accessible by train. Near the Luxembourg gardens might be good (5th, Latin Quarter). Kids sail these really neat sail boats in the fountains in the gardens.

Weather in May is slightly unpredictable, with the beginning maybe slightly rainy, but it should be light-clothing warm in the day, jacket-cool at night. May in Paris is glorious. For things to see, check out the “tourist” page of Toms Guide, as well as the “Strange and Interesting Walks” page and “neat places just to walk around” page.
Tom

Weather, again…
Dear Tom,
Hey—great website: I’m having fun and I’m not even in Paris yet! Which brings up my question: is it crazy to visit Paris in early March? I can get one free airline ticket and one reduced fare and my teenager is on break at that time.

Thanks
Susan

Dear Susan,
It’s never crazy to visit Paris, no matter what time of year. In March things will be less crowded, and the weather, while not great, won’t kill you. It’ll be rainy, with an occasional snowflake in the air. Figure temperatures to be around 40 degrees in the daytime, cooler, of course, at night (but if it’s the end of March it’ll be somewhat warmer). My birthday is in March, so I’ve always found great things to do then...

Best,
Tom

Fête de la musiqueFetedelamusique
Hi Tom,
Love your irreverent and funny commentary on Paris! I’m going to France for my first time this summer, have a week to sightsee before starting a summer job there, and just happen to be in Paris for about June 18-22. This year, what night is the big (solstice) music festival? Looks like the 21st from your website, but I think the solstice is the 20th this year?
Thanks,
Naomi

Hi Naomi,
I’m pretty sure it’s the 21st again this year, but I did find one announcement saying it’s the 20th. In any event, this is not something you could miss (it’d be like missing an ocean), so if you’re in Paris from the 18th to the 22nd, you’re going to see it and be in it even if you don’t want to be. (See the people in this picture? They're all looking for the Fête de la musique...)

Best,
Tom

Paris in DecemberPlace du Tertre, winter time
Dear Tom,
I really enjoyed your website. It is very helpful and I like how you are brutallyhonest! Would you recommend visiting Paris in December? It is the only time work wise when I can go and I am interested in seeing all of the outdoor Christmas markets, but I am worried it will be too cold to walk around and see Paris on foot, which is how I usually like to explore a new city. Any bits of advice about visiting in winter? Thanks!

Hannah in Seattle, WA

Dear Hannah,
You're from Seattle, so you're used to inclement weather. Paris in December is Paris: beautiful. Cafés are especially cozy in the winter. Restaurants serve scrumptious food

Yes, it will be chilly, but not crazy cold. Typically it will be in the low to mid 40s during the day and the low to mid 30s at night. There will, of course, be exceptions. If it snows, you'll be lucky (but it probably won't) because Paris in the snow is gorgeous.

Cafés are especially cozy in the winter. Restaurants serve scrumptious food. Paris at Christmas time is especially pretty, and you'll find vendors selling chestnuts on the street, interesting displays in the shop windows, and specialty foods, including the famous bûche de noël—the yule log—abound. Walking around for very long periods of time might be challenging, but who says you can't stop for a coffee or a hot chocolate? In short, you'll adapt your behavior to the winter the same way you adapt your behavior at home. Go. And bring a collapsible umbrella.

Best, Tom

More Paris at Christmas
Dear Tom,

I have spent probably an hour now reading through your site, it is magnificent. My husband and I are planning on visiting Paris for about four days over Christmas (22-26) as we are currently living in the Stuttgart area and don't have enough time off work to go back to the States. 

Notre Dame NoelJust wanted to ask you if you had any specific advice for this time of the year? (That was both a statement and a question rolled into one. I never know how to punctate that)...Anyway, anything you would/wouldn't recommend due to this time of year, or anything you think we should know we be greatly appreciated. Especially appreciated would be if you have suggestions on where would be a good place- memorable, good food but not insanely expensive- to eat Christmas dinner?

Hi, Jessica,

Only an hour? I'm not sure you will have been able fully to appreciate the site's astounding magnificence in an hour...

The one thing I recommend doing during the Christmas holidays that I would never recommend at any other time (and if you are thoroughly familiar with the guide this will make sense to you) is taking a walk along the Champs-Elysées. Normally I am very unfond of the C-E, but at Christmastime, especially at night, it's utterly charming. It's nicely decorated and very festive.Also: go to the ritzy shopping areas: Place Vendome, Avenue Montaigne, etc. Also check out the grands magasins in the 9th. And do go to Notre Dame to see their Christmas tree. The boulangeries will have some special pastries--eat them all. Get a buche de Noel, and see if you and your husband can eat the whole thing.

Dinner: a bit of a challenge. You'll find that most—really, most—restaurants are closed Christmas Eve and Christmas day. I'd hunt around on the web. Alternatively, go to a restaurant from an ethnicity that is not generally Christian (such as Indian). Have a great trip!

Tom

NightFoodDining late
Hi Tom,
First, I absolutely must commend you on your guide. Fabulous!! My question is on the restaurant section you mention eating late. You said around 10:00 or so. Is that 10:00 am our time or 10:00 pm or is it the European time of 10 am? I’ve been told that the Europeans eat late but 10 pm sounds really late!

Thank you so much.

Elizabeth

Hi Elizabeth,
In the summer, people will be eating any time it’s getting dark and even after that. If 10 is late for you, there’s no problem with eating earlier, although I wouldn’t try 6:00 or anything like that. I don’t know of anyone who eats as late as 10:00 am (if by that you mean after having been up all night), but it wouldn’t surprise me to find people who do...

Best,
Tom

Dining alone
Dear Tom,
Reading through your e-guide and enjoying it. This question might sound a bit strange, but all of the restaurants listed in your e-guide: do they have a problem with a solo diner?

Theresa

Dear Theresa,
Glad you like Tom’s Guide, and your question is not at all strange.
It is probably far, far less unusual to dine solo in Paris than in most American cities. Just say “une personne” when you arrive, and in most places I’ve ever seen you’ll be treated as graciously as if you arrived in a horde. People won’t look at you strangely and, basically, unless you do something strange, no one will pay you much mind.

Best,
Tom

Simple PleasuresRefDefBastille
Dear Tom,
Love your website, it's great! (I heard that you won't answer my questions unless I'm really nice! :-) )
Just kidding, it is a great site. Very real. (Your First Things First page... Fantastic idea!) Anyway, we're planning on visiting Paris in the near future, and we've never been to France, never been to Europe, never been anywhere (okay, we've been to the Caribbean... once) and we're a little skittish, so I was very glad to find your site with all the PRACTICAL stuff! But I'm still concerned (nervous?) about one thing in France, and that's eating, and I really need some answers from somebody, and you seem to be exactly the person who can answer them. So, if I may...
My wife and I have... issues... with food. We're not going to Paris for food, we're going for everything else. She has physical issues (like allergies) with some very common things, such as garlic. And I like simple dishes, not fancy stuff. (Steak and frites? Love it!) And we don't drink wine or booze. We're not snotty, we don't care if other people do, we just don't do it ourselves. So here are the actual questions:
1) Will restaurant staff have a cow if we ask what's in a dish? Or if it has garlic?
2) Will they keel over dead if we don't want wine? We usually just drink water. =-O
3) Will I have trouble finding simple food?

If you could help with these things, I would be forever in your debt (or at least until I've had time to forget you).

Seriously, great site! Thanks a lot.
John

Dear John,
Glad you like Tom's Guide—and you qualify as nice enough to get answers to your questions...

1) No
2) No
3) No

Those were the short answers. The longer answers aren't much more interesting, but you probably want to hear more.

Unless you're asking for the secret ingredients of a closely-guarded recipe, no one will balk if you ask about what's in a dish.

1) Unless you're asking for the secret ingredients of a closely-guarded recipe, no one will balk if you ask about what's in a dish, and they certainly won't be offended when you explain that you could die if there's garlic in the food. Even without the melodramatic part, they won't be at all disturbed. Really.
2) Drinking water is fine. Ask for "une carafe d'eau," (or whatever you want) and that'll be that. They won't push wine on you, although like any good waiters, they'll probably suggestive sell.
3) Simple food is easy to get. The restaurants you read about, in Tom's Guide or anywhere, are generally listed for their extraordinary food, but the truth is that every neighborhood has a serious handful of simple places to get very basic food. It might not be what Americans are generally used to, but it's no less simple. Roast chicken. Steak frites. Fish. That sort of thing. Since every restaurant has its menu posted out front, finding what you want will be, well, simple. Look for small corner places, although some larger places will be right up your alley, too (like Chartier, but there are plenty of places much simpler than that).

And your trip will be so fantastic that you won't have time to forget me.

Best,
Tom

Vegetarian Restaurants
Hi Tom,
I think you’re website is fab! I am just in the process of trying to sort  out a three day break in Paris for my husband and my first wedding anniversary. I have never been before—only driven through—scandalous!

My question is: we are vegetarians who do not drink (I know—why are we  even bothering?!) Does Paris cater to veggies? Do you know anywhere  restaurant-wise?

Any thoughts would be most gratefully received.

Kind regards
Jess

Hi Jess,
There are more and more places for veggies, and a few of them I have personally tried and would recommend are:

Le Grenier de Notre Dame, 18 r Bûcherie (5th)
Au Grain de la folie
, 24 rue de la Vieuville (18th)
Le Paradis du fruit, 29 quai des Grands Augustins (6th)
   (there’s another one of these right by the Bastille)
L’as du falafel, 34 rue des Rosiers (4th)

Not all of these are 100% veg (i.e., some of their menus might contain non-veg entries), but they’ll have a good repertoire of veg food. Also: pick up a Pariscope, and look in the restaurant section for other possibilities. It won’t be as hard to eat in Paris as you think.

Best,
Tom

Music, clubs, dancingFoliesPigalles
Dear Tom,
My wife and I spent part of our honeymoon in Paris two years ago and we made use of your guide then. It was very helpful! We are heading back to Paris  in a couple weeks and are interested in finding some good places to check  out for jazz. What are your thoughts?

Thank you,

Brent

Hi Brent,
The scene changes all the time, and if you want to know who’s in town, always, ALWAYS check out Pariscope (you can pick it up at a kiosk for less than a euro). Good places to drop in are Nomad’s (12 rue Marché St. Honoré in the 1st); Le Duc des Lombards (21, rue Sébastopol, also in the 1st); New Morning, 7, rue [not Passage] des Petites Ecuries, in the 10th. Also hang out on the rue Oberkampf and surrounding areas, especially as you go up the slope.

Let me know if you find anything else that’s especially good, OK?

Best,
Tom

Air conditioning in Paris hotels
Dear Tom,
I am wondering how important it is to have air conditioning in your hotel room when staying in Paris from July 14 -19?

Thank you,
Joanne

Hi Joanne,
Hard question, for two reasons:
1) I don’t know how important air conditioning is to you
2) Paris weather is pretty variable.

There have been some pretty intense heat waves in Paris in the past, and temperatures have gone up to the high 90s and even topping 100. That’s unusual, but it’s been happening of late. I’ve never had air conditioning in Paris, and despite living on the 5th floor, have found things manageable, if not sometimes a tad unpleasant (what bothered me most in the summer of 2003 in what was, I think, the worst heat wave, was that cold water flowing from the tap was always lukewarm).

So, imagine for yourself how important air conditioning would be for you in a big American city, and decide whether whatever it is you’re trading it off for (charm, price, location, etc.) is more important to you.

That’s the best I can do.

Best,
Tom

Pukey parts of town

It sounds like quite the scene there, naked drunk people dancing on tables, etc.

Hi Tom,
I am probably renting an apartment near Odéon but the rental person won’t answer my main question. Maybe you know the answer.

The apartment is on the rue des Quatre Vents, and the Moosehead Bar (which is mentioned in your site) is right nearby [It's now the Horses Tavern—td]. It sounds like quite the scene there, naked drunk people dancing on tables, etc. and I am a bit concerned that it will be smoky or pukey around the apartment.

Any feedback?
Sara

Dear Sara,
Hmmm. I see your concern. Or maybe I wish I did. I’ve been to the Moosehead Bar [Horses Tavern] many times, but I've never seen the naked people. Maybe I was there at the wrong time or something.

If it were me, I’d want to know which way the windows of the apartment faced. If they faced the street—especially the bedroom—I’d go for more info. If not, I’d be less inclined to worry about it (but caveat: I don’t have kids). I don’t imagine there will be a lot of puke out there during the time you’re apt to be walking by with a kid, because they keep the streets pretty clean. And trust me, there will be even fewer naked people. I used to live upstairs from a pretty raucous bar (this was in the 5th), but the bouncers were always good about keeping the noise and activity inside, and there was rarely a problem. But as a worrier, I’d have your same questions.

Have a good trip,
Tom

Motorcycles at NightParking in Paris
Dear Tom,
I found your website about staying in Paris and it’s very helpful. I have a question you might be able to help me with. I’ll be driving to Paris and I need somewhere to park. Have you any idea about parking charges etc, or any tips?

I’d really appreciate your advice.
Niamh

Hi Niamh,
I don’t drive in Paris, but there are a lot of municipal parking lots all over the place. To find them, here’s a good trick. Go to pagesjaunes.fr, and in the window that opens up, in the middle field, type “Paris” and then in the field just below, type the address where you’ll be going. When the next window opens with your address, you’ll see the link marked “plan” right under the address you typed. Click it, and a window with a map will open up. All those blue “P’s” is where there is public parking.

Best,
Tom

Paris parking, again
Hello Tom,
Thank you for all your interesting information on your website, loved it. We’d like to stay in the Latin Quarter because it is centrally located and sounds lively for our 17-year-old son. However, we’ll be coming from the Rhine/Mosel region of Germany in a rental car. Do you think there will be any possible parking in the Latin Quarter or should we stay elsewhere (so we can park the car within walking distance of the hotel)?
Thanking you in advance,
Allison

Hi Allison,
There are public parking garages, generally underground, all over Paris. If you want to find some near your hotel, go to pagesjaunes.fr and punch in the address of your hotel in the first field, and then Paris 5 (assuming you’re in the fifth arrondissement) in the second field. Choose the link for “plan” on the resulting page, and you’ll see blue P’s that mark the parking garages around you. (You can move the map around, too, by using the option or command key and using your mouse.) Wait: didn't we already do this?

Have a great trip...

Best,
Tom

Paris in AugustBateauMouche
Dear Tom,
My name is Jenny and a friend and I are going to wedding in Ireland and then couldn’t resist Paris. I know it’s August and many places are shut down but if you could recommend any places to see or eat that would be open, I’d love it. She is escaping tough work in New York and I am escaping Katrina-ville (aka New Orleans) and though I am not sure exactly what advice I am seeking from you any would be welcome. The guide books are giving me anxiety—too many suggestions—but I don’t just want to wander aimlessly through Paris. She will be staying with me from August 1st through the sixth and I’ll be staying till the 16th if finances work out (fingers crossed). We don’t know where we are staying yet so any suggestions there are welcome. Thanks a million!!!

Jenny

Hi Jenny,
The guide books tend to exaggerate how many places are closed in August. It’s true that many are, but the city is far from a ghost town in August. I can’t tell you with any precision which places are closed and which open, but I would recommend that you stay in a central area of the city, since that’s where most people will be staying in August, and hence it makes most sense for most restaurants and such to be open, too. Thus, keep the 5th and 6th arrondissements in mind, as well as the 4th (and 1st, but it’s more expensive and a little less populated). In any event, you’ll have a great time—really.

All the best,
Tom

Buying groceries
Dear Tom,
First, I love your extremely helpful site. It is truly a service to all travelers to Paris.

Second, I wanted to ask about some basic budgetary concerns I have about the trip I am planning. As a graduate student, I’m on a very fixed income. I was thinking about renting an apartment in Montmartre in order to save money on going out to eat all the time (my apartment has a kitchen). How much do you think groceries would cost for about 5 days. I definitely want to try some of the amazing restaurants in Paris, but I also want to be mindful of my bank account. I’m thinking about buying food for breakfast every day and some snacks and maybe 2-3 dinners. I’d really appreciate any help you could offer me. I can’t wait to have a real job so that I may truly enjoy Paris.

All the best,
Danielle, Broke PhD student

Hi Danielle,
Groceries are pretty much on par with what they’d be in any big city. You can either go to one of the good-sized grocery stores (there aren’t any right up on the butte, but you’ll find some down the hill, on the boulevard de Clichy, for example), or to any of the excellent market streets in the neighborhood (and you have the green grocer made famous in the movie “Amélie Poulain” right on the rue des Trois Frères in Montmartre. Depending on where you are in Montmartre, there’s also a fabulous market street nearby, just down the hill in the 9th on the rue des Martyrs. In short, this is very feasible. And you’ll get good quality, too.

Best,
Tom

Monument to Princess Diana?

Hello Tom,
I just came across your website and it is fantastic. Thank you for sharing such wonderful information with us. I am leaving for Europe in about a week and will only have 2 days in Paris. We were there on our honeymoon six years ago. I have a desire to go see the Princess Diana memorial. I have heard that it is not technically a memorial for the Princess. Are you familiar with this area? If so, I would really appreciate any information you have on this. Thank you very much.
Kristen

Hi Kristen,
It's kind of a weird thing, because you can't go into the tunnel where the actual accident occurred (and really, you wouldn't want to), and there isn't really much to see. The official monument there is not to Diana, but to French-British relations. But, like the tomb of Jim Morrison in Père Lachaise, everyone knows what's really there. Sometimes there are people kind of wandering around there; other times you can't tell if you're at the right place because there's nothing there. Although I wouldn't advise you NOT to go (and it's not hard to get there, so really, just go), you might come away saying something like "Meh..."

Tom

Traveling to the Normandy Beaches
Dear Tom,
Your web site might be the best and most useful I have seen. Any suggestions for Bayeux/Caen/Normandy beaches? I am traveling on budget from San Diego with wife and two teenage sons.

Ralph

Dear Ralph,
The Normandy beaches are pretty remarkable. I’ve only done day trips, so I don’t know about places to stay, but it’s easy to take the train to Caen and rent a car to the beaches. Trains are cheap; you can check out the car rentals on line (same brands as US, mainly); just make sure to reserve before you take the train. In my view this trip is more than worth it. If you need the word in French for the Normandy beaches (I just realized I’m assuming you mean the D-Day landing beaches) it’s the “plages du débarquement.” The car rental people will even give you maps. Drive to Bayeux, and then follow the signs to the beaches (this is really easy, by the way).

It’s really strange to see the beaches and the cemetaries, partly because, although the cemetaries and the monuments around them are kept up impeccably, the beaches are pretty much just beaches. There are some old German gun turrets you can go in and through, but they’re not kept up, which is probably good. On your way back, consider doing little side trips: go off the main roads, and head for the nearest steeples, which will be visible from some ways off. You can generally assume that a church would have been the center of an old town, and hence you'll find some really interesting little (and I mean tiny) villages to explore. The trip from Caën to the beaches can’t be more than 30 minutes by car, so you’ll have plenty of time.

Best,
Tom


Have a question? Ask Tom. Maybe he knows the answer...


Untitled Document

Tom's Guide to Paris. Copyright 2017 by Thomas DiPiero. All rights reserved.