We only had four days, two of which we spent watching clay-court tennis, so to be fair, our experience in Paris was a brief one.
We liked our hotel, it was a tiny, but clean, room on a quiet street and even though we got turned around almost every time we tried to navigate home, I’m glad we stayed at the Alesia Montparnasse.
The view from our room…
Getting from the Orly airport was frustrating, but I think it was compounded by the fact that we were tired after the 8+ hour flight and we arrived on a Sunday afternoon, so only one money exchange place was open (for the entire airport, so just imagine the line). It wasn’t in our terminal, of course, so we had to take a shuttle to the other terminal only to discover that all the ticket places were closed for the various forms of transportation to downtown Paris, and no one took credit cards, so we had no choice but to change money in order to leave the airport. After waiting for over 20 minutes in line, we just decided to use the ATM machine, damn the foreign fees, and be on our way.
In general, I found Paris’ streets to be terribly difficult to navigate, even with a map, and after four days I still never felt entirely confident getting anywhere. We were also stranded in Saint Germain after dinner one evening because we didn’t realize the bus line we needed stopped running after 9pm on Sundays. After that little incident, I insisted on the subway for the rest of the trip and we had no trouble on that front. We were able to buy ten tickets at a time for a discounted price and split them up among the four of us.
The food was very good, in general, but my favorite dinner was at Le Petite Zinc in Saint Germain. I had the steak tartar laced with cognac. Yum.
Breakfast was always a set price, usually 7 Euro for a croissant, cafe latte, and orange juice. Most places stopped serving breakfast by 10am and didn’t open again until lunchtime. The only real trouble we had was on the last night we wanted to just get some dessert and a bottle of wine (since we ate dinner already at the French Open), but without ordering a full fixed price menu, our options near the hotel were greatly diminished.
Here we are at our favorite breakfast place on our last morning in France… (photo taken just before drinking a pitcher of wine with our lunch!)
Overall, I thought Paris was very expensive, but that could have been due in part to where we were located and the places we chose to eat. Although, I wouldn’t think the 14th Arr. would be a particularly pricey area. The natives weren’t as rude as advertised as long as you started with a pleasant “bonjour!”, and many people just spoke English back to us anyway.
While I’m in no rush to go back, I suppose the Musee d’Orsay and the Lourve will be too big a draw to pass on forever. :)