Trip Coach: August 16, 2005

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Benjamin Sutherland answered your questions about Paris.

Benjamin Sutherland: Hello everybody, thanks for tuning in. I'm Benjamin Sutherland and I'm looking forward to answering your questions, so bring them on!

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St. Louis, MO: By mid to late March, how is the weather in Paris and Lyon? Would winter clothing still be needed or is it still unpredictable like St. Louis?

Benjamin Sutherland: Unfortunately winter lingers, you really have to wait until mid- to late- April to get the sweaters off. You won't need a winter hat, but it will still be cool, especially evenings. In Paris, the coldest part of the city is along the Seine, so if you'll be walking along the river dress warmer. Lyon is better, but for warm weather at that time you need to get down to the coast...

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Toronto, Ontario: What are your suggestions for casual dining restaurants in Paris? I am travelling with my husband and another couple in late October. We are staying near rue Moufftard. Thank you

Benjamin Sutherland: Rue Moufftard is a student-y neighborhood, and the food there is oriented to students, so it might not be the cuisine you're looking for. I would try the Fumoir, it is casual dining (certainly no evening dress required) but there is an understated classy feel. The food is really good to, and the decor is nice with dark wood, leather chairs, with a colonial feel. Prices are mid-range. Call ahead to book, it gets packed. Also nice is La Fourmie Ailée, near Saint Michel. More on both of these cool restaurants in the Snap Guide.

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Binghamton, New York: Where are the best places to hear Parisian or French music in Paris?

Benjamin Sutherland: Hello, for solid deejay fare, I really like Sanz Sans, near the Bastille. Another very on-the-map hipster gig is the Batofar, a cool club in a barge on the Seine. Deejays here too, but also live acts, and even "siestes musicales" on Sundays, ie afternoon lower-key concerts. You can enjoy sun on the deck while you groove.

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Miami Beach, FL: I am going to Paris Oct. 5-9th 2005 with my boyfriend. It is my birthday weekend and I would like to know if you could suggest any reasonably priced romantic French restaurants.

Benjamin Sutherland: Au Bec Fin is a cosy charmer with the quintessential French dishes (yes, snails), but also small game. After (or before) dinner you can step upstairs for a small (50 seat) play, and some are in English. You just have to call ahead.

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Indianapolis,in: I have a five hour layover in Paris. since I have never been to Paris I would like to at least ride through the city. What is the best way to do this..is it advisable? I arrive around noon and depart at 5

Benjamin Sutherland: That's tight, but there's a way to do it, it's just expensive. You'll never make it on public transport, that takes a moment to figure out, so that slows you down, and you can't risk your onward flight. So you should, meethinks, just bit the bullet and do the cush taxi tour. The taxi driver will be happy to take you into Paris, take you on a nice sightseeing loop, and will know when to make it back to the airport. That's really your only hope if you don't want to sip drinks in an airport lounge...

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Annville, PA: Our family and friends (8 of us all over the age of 14) will be in Paris for 4 days between Christmas and New Year's. Are there any special things to see or do during this time? Will all the major attractions be open?

Benjamin Sutherland: Yep, everything is open, no worries there, and the street lighting is excellent. The "Grands Boulevards" area, where some of the biggest department stores are (called "les grands magazins") is great to visit. The department stores set up amazing window displays, all themed and really works of art. People come from all over to see them, so you may have to wait in line to get a good gander. The set up stools for the kids so they can get a look over everybody else's shoulders. You can also ice skate on the Eiffel Tower (that's right, platform 1, rent your skates there) or at Hotel de Ville.

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Dallas, TX: I'll be in Paris September 12-16 and would like to see any photography exhibitions. Any suggestions?

Benjamin Sutherland: You're spoilt for choice, no matter when you visit. 2 of the most prestigious spots, all with rotation exhibitions, are>
La Maison Europeenne de la Photographie
L'Hotel Sully
If you buy Pariscope (available at any newsstand) they have a whole section just for photography exhibitions. The list goes on for pages: the French love photography, and the government (ministry of culture) provides grants to promising shutterbugs.
Oh, and I forgot to mention something important for everybody. To get address of places not mentioned in the Snap Guide, visit pagesjaunes.fr
This is one of easiest online phone directories available to use (with English version, too) and you can click on a button next to each address to see a photo of the facade. High-tech cool, plus helps you find the place visually.

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San Juan PR: We will be travelling to Europe (4 adults) to spend this Christmas Week in London and New Years Week in Paris and wish to know what suggestions you can offer in terms of what to do/eat/visit/how to spend those occasions (not looking for raucous/wild parties) Also, where to stay - active, yet safe areas. In London, Marriott Grosvenor Square vs. Renaissance Chancery Court? In Paris, Rivoli-Concorde area (Clarion St. James,Renaissance Vendome) or Champs Elysees area? Please offer any advice and will be greatly appreciated!

Benjamin Sutherland: Paris is safe; the moderately sketchy areas are rare, and you have to go out of your way to end up in one. And even so, it's not nearly as dangerous as American cities.
I don't know much about London, but in Paris you mention the Rivoli-Concorde area. That's an excellent zone, just stay more toward Concorde and the Louvre than in the other direction. The eastern part of la rue du Rivoli is not dangerous, it's just more commercial and less elegant. I would shun the Champs-Elysee area, just because it really shuts down at night, and doesn't seem very "French." It's more of an international tourist zone with inflated prices. Definately should be visited, but I w ould base camp between the Louvre and the Concorde.

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Lakewood, CO: I've been to Paris a few times, and I'm always disappointed in the shopping. The Champs Elysee is very cool, but expensive and mostly haute couture. Are there any shopping districts like Oxford Street in London? Or cool designer department stores, like Selfridges or Havey Nichols, in Paris? I've recently heard about the Galleries Lafayette. Is this the holy grail of shopping that I've been searching for?

Benjamin Sutherland: Yep, the Galleries Lafayette is cool, as is the Samaritaine. But for design stuff, visit Lafayette Maison; this is the Big New Thing (inaugurated less than a year ago). It's just opposite the Galleries Lafayette. La Samaritaine is shopping mecca in a cool art nouveau building, with a free obversatory on top. But for the street-stroll shopping, head to Saint Germain. Trendy pret-a-porter, not haute couture, cool bars and cafes for people watching breaks.

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Los Angeles, CA: Hello, I am a teacher who will be traveling to Paris and Great Britian in August. I have been told to get a teacher discount card. However, when I contact museums and places to visit, they say they do not discount teachers, just students. Should I get the card anyway?

Benjamin Sutherland: The teacher discount card won't do you any good in France. If it exists, and it may not, it is unknown, and shopkeepers and ticket people will not have heard of it. Discounts in France are for students, and, to a less degree, senior citizens.

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Cincinnati, OH: Where in Paris can one hire a horse and tack to go riding English style without having to join a club?

Benjamin Sutherland: I think the Engish-style riding might be hard to find, but French horseriding outfits abound at Fontainebleau, a short train ride for Paris (details in the Paris Snap Guide). And you don't have to join a club. If you are going to be in Paris for a while and want to get out to Fontainebleau, say, on weekends, some of the outfits will give you a deal if you pay in advance for a few outings. This is not official, just being friendly with them will generally do the trick.

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houston tx: I will have only a few hours in the evening of Oct 3, before taking my plane home, staying at a CDG airport hotel and want to know if there is a place nearby where I can purchase my favorite Polaine bread to bring back with me to the states.

Benjamin Sutherland: The hotels around CDG are self-contained pods, with no street life or little businesses, like bakeries, around them. So your best shot are the bakeries in the airport itself. The qualitiy is okay, not stunning. The trick is tell them them to not slice it (ne le tranchez pas, s'il vous plait). that will ruin it (air dries it out fast). In France, sliced bread is only if it is going to be eaten fast.

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San Diego, California: My husband and me have been traveling to Europe for quite a while now, but we have'nt had the chance to go to Paris yet. Our main concern is we always have traveled with a group, we are not used to doing our trip on our own. Can you give us some tips on how to go about traveling on our own. We need more specifics if we would need a car, (we have never driven in Europe, but I think we manage it)where do we stay that is accesible to mostly evrything we need and at the same time affordable. One specific place we want to visit is "Lourdes". This is our main purpose why we want to go to Paris. Thanks in advance for any help you could extend to us in planning our tip, we really appreciate it.

Benjamin Sutherland: I'm running over my time limit, so I'll try to be fast for the remaining questions... no worries that you are used to group tours. Paris is really well-designed for couples. The key is just to talk to people, at your hotel, restaurant. In spite of the rude rap something slapped on Parisians, people are helpful and are so proud of their city they will give you directions in the street or recommendations. The only problem you might have is in train stations when they are crowded. Line to buy tickets can be long, so there are inevitiably people behind you when you get to the window (gichet) that are about to miss their train that might ask you to speed it up,which isn't always easy when trying to sort out travel arrangements. But there is a solution. Most hotels will buy your tickets for you over the train company's website. You just belly-up to the reception desk with a map and your credit card, and talk through the trip options with the employee. Just don't do this during the morning, when everybody is checking in and out.

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Rochester, NY: Do you have any special recommendations for a woman traveling alone in Paris?

Benjamin Sutherland: Don't confuse Paris with southern Italy, where (harmless) catcalling still lives on. (Albeit much less today than even 20 years ago.) You're safer in Paris than in NYC, and it's very unlikely you will be bothered. But for extra fun, when you are in the metro you can don a stern face, just to blend in with the local women who enjoy acting / playing "je suis une femme sauvage faites attention."

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Tulsa, OK: : I am staying near the Luxembourg Gardens (and LUX RER) in Paris in September and will need to do laundry while I am there. Do you have any suggestions for how and where to do laundry in Paris?

Benjamin Sutherland: Laundramats are common. Here are a few near Luxembourg>
Laverie Self-Service Monge
113 rue Monge
La Pince à Linge
3, place Monge
Jessi Blanc
14 rue Mayet
and
Blan Presse
4 rue Arras

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Alexandria, VA : Hello! To celebrate my grad school graduation, my husband and I are going to spend a week in Paris right after Thanksgiving. We would like to go to one really special Parisian dinner that won't break the bank. Any suggestions? Also, since it will be a little chilly while we are there, what are the best indoor activities in and around Paris?

Benjamin Sutherland: A fave restaurant in Chez Paul (address in the Snap Guide) near The Bastille. I love the rabbit there, and it's really not expensive at all, nor staid. Au contraire, the place is lively. The big indoor activities for visitors are centered around art, art, art and more art...

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Montrose, Colorado: How do I find bus or train church pilgrimage tours from Paris to Lourdes with French speaking senior citizens? I could leave at almost anytime. Thank you.

Benjamin Sutherland: I don't know of any specific ones, but there are 2 ways to go with groups to lourdes. One is thru a classic tour operator (voyagiste); the other, and probably more appropriate if you are going as a pilgrim and not a tourist, is to contact the American Church in Paris (get number at www.pagesjaunes.fr) and they will direct you to a French-speaking church that does trips to Lourdes. The people at the American Church are very helpful!

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Tarzana, CA: We are going to Paris for 10 days in late September. What one restaurant would you suggest we splurge on and what more affordable restaurant would you back to again and again?

Benjamin Sutherland: Great, a splurge cuisine experience. Go for the Tour d'Argent. Make reservations, and dress up to the nines!

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Eugene, OR: Would you give some beautiful Paris neighborhood walking tours in out of the beaten path places-- perhaps in the suburbs? I want to find some hidden gems, hopefully in a quiet, atmospheric area. thanks.

Benjamin Sutherland: The most romantic suburbs are west of the city, these are the old ones, leafy. (The working class quarters and projects are east of the city, since wind usually blows east, and the richer Parisians didn't want the factory smoke blowing over their houses.) I haven't taken any organized walking tours there, so I can't, unfortunately, give you the name of a good group. Versailles of course is nice (no need to stick to the old royal stomping grounds, wander into the beautiful city, too). Closer to Paris would be Saint Cloud and Malmaison.

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Idaho Springs, Co: We are traveling to France next April with a long layover in Paris (CDG airport) - 5 hours 5 minutes.

Do we have enough time for a brief visit to Notre Dame? If yes, what is the easiest/most economical way for us to get there? And, what do we do with our carry on bags?

Thank you

Benjamin Sutherland: Five hours is not very long to get into the city. See my earlier reply to a person also with five hours. Your only chance is to hire a taxi to take you in and then back out to CDG.

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Benjamin Sutherland: Okay everybody, thanks so much for tuning in, I've gone well over my time limit, so I regret not being able to answer all of the (numerous!) questions. Paris is a city designed for visitors and is not a hard to "break into." I also hope that the Paris Snap Guide will help you navigate the world's most beautiful city. Thanks so much for visiting our site, and don't forget to keep checking back-new stuff is added all the time! Bon voyage! Benjamin Sutherland

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