Paris Information & Etc.
The Louvre


Ordinarily chances are you may have to wait in a long line not just to get through security but then to buy tickets either via person or machine and sometimes the machines break down while you are waiting. However you can decrease this wait substantially by purchasing tickets in advance. I found a hidden ticket dispenser area where there was maybe a 5 minute or no wait at all! The best way to get into the Louvre if you are on the Metro is to get out at Palais Royale Musee du Louvre stop. Then follow signs to enter the Louvre via the underground mall called the "Lourvre Carrousel" or "Carrousel du Louvre". Once in the mall you will see a Nature store. Next to or near the Nature store is a set of stairs that go up (not to the food court). This may be the Rivoli entrance (if it is then from the street 99 (?), rue de Rivoli I believe you can enter at the top as well) and go up the short flight of steps to the first landing. On the left are 2 or 3 Louvre ticket dispensers which only take credit cards. You still have to go through security but this will save you a long time on line to buy tickets! 

By the way, avoid the food court in the mall like the plague! It is overpriced, overcrowded and the food is not very good. 

Another note about the Louvre is that there is one night that it is open until 10pm which few people know about. However at that time there is only limited access to the collections. The Louvre website with more info is here

Tipping



The custom of tipping for service is often different in other countries than it is in the United States where I come from. You talk to a few people and read the guide books and you'll get a number of different answers. Some say yes, tip taxi drivers in Paris 10% and others say they don't expect to be tipped at all! I found a really good site which is ostensibly about food but there are a few lively postings about tipping in restaurants and in general in Paris. A number of these topics have links to related topics on the site as well! Here they are: 
Where service fee goes
Tipping in France
Concierge Q&A
Restaurant TIpping
   
Following the advice somewhat from what I read, since 15% service is included in all cafe, restuarant bills, if I was happy with the service I left 1 Euro per person. Some people just round up the bill and/or just leave some extra change. If you were unhappy with the service then you should leave nothing. Generally regardless if the bill was €20 or €60 I left €2 on the table. Fortunately we didn't encounter bad service (and Kathy speaks french!). For the van ride to and from the airport which was €29 for two people, I gave the driver €3. And for the two taxi rides we took I rounded up to save time so if it came out to €12.50 I gave the guy €15 which was probably overtipping but what the hell! 

Getting the Best Exchange Rates



I had heard and read from a number of different sources that you get the best rates using your credit card and ATM card. This turned out to be correct! I did change some money at too high a rate at my bank before we left just to make sure I had it. But at the airport there was an ATM machine which I used and when I got back and read my statement, the rate was much lower. Also I called my bank to verify what the charge was for using a foreign ATM. The answer was the same rate regardless if it was in the US or abroad. I got some travelers checks just in case but I didn't use them. It's probably a good idea to call your bank or credit card company and tell them you'll be using it in a different country so they don't think it's stolen and deactivate it. Or take their number with you just in case. And speaking of that, if you don't have a worldphone with international plan, then get a calling card in the event you need to call back to your own country. 

Buying Chatckis and Souvineers



At Porte de Clinancourt (and other souvineer shops around Paris) it was fun to make our way through the maze of stalls selling tourist junk and David bought a really funny alien lighter with red flashing eyes!  The market had every type of chatchki you can imagine such as snow globes and Eiffel Tower key chains and replicas etc. However if you are a true collector of such objects, you must go through many stalls (and stores) and check the prices and inspect them closely because not all Eiffel Tower key chains and replicas are created equal! Your basic snowglobe should average about €4 and Eiffel Tower keychains cost between €.75 and €1 or 3 for €2 or 6 for €5 depending on the place. Donít pay more!!! David bought one Paris snowglobe but became so enamored by the different types and colors of Eiffel Tower keychains that he bought about 20 for friends and family (aside from a few for himself)! If you canít go to Paris but want the knick-knacks and chatchkis, you can get some here.  Directions to the Porte de Clinancourt market are here

Pere Lachaise



You can buy maps of the cemetery outside the entrance or in shops for €2. They are well worth it as the only maps in the cemetery are on the outer edges. That won't do you much good once you enter the vast maze that is Pere Lachaise. Once you get to a large rotary near Jim Morrison's grave, there is a sign on a tree pointing the way. It's still a little confusing but eventually you will see cops and people hanging out in the area where Jim is located. That is of course assuming Jim really died and was buried there in the first place!!! 

Shuttle from the Airport



No need to take a taxi when you can pay much less with a shuttle.  There are now numerous shuttles (and their websites to make reservations) which will take you door to door from the airport to Paris and back. See below. 

Various Paris Sites



Anglo Sites for Before You Go
Paris Anglo
Parler Paris
Think Paris
Paris Notes
Web Museum Paris
Paris Digest
Paris Dot Org
PariServe
 

Travel Etc.

Jack Travel
Smarter Living
Savvy Traveler
Big World
Paris Airport Service
Paris Airport Connection
Paris Airport Shuttle
   

Shows and Food

 Lapin Agile Cabaret
 Moulin Rouge
The Lido
About French Bread
Cafe aux Deux Magots
St. Germain Cafes
eGullet.com
 Kata Bar
 

Places Etc.

Sacre Coeur
Place des Vosges
Ile de la Cité
Cité Holocaust Memorial
Antique Flea Market
St. Chapelle
Tuileries
La Tour Eiffel
The Louvre
Pont du Neuf Cruise
Bateaux Mouche
Bateaux Parisienne
Sacre Coeur Monument
La Defense
Grande Arche
Le Chat Noir Hotel
   
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