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Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Travel Tuesday - How to Do Paris (or any city) in a Short Visit

See Paris not just its sites.

There is no way that you can see all of Paris or any city in one trip, let alone a short one.  But if you follow the below you will have a relaxing trip with lots of memories of Paris and not just the sites of Paris.

Pick a neighborhood.
Do some research and pick a neighborhood that fits you.  If you pick a neighborhood to spend most of your time in you will get a real feel for a part of Paris and won’t spend most of your time trying to get from one place to another.

Pick a neighborhood like St. Germain de Pres, Ile Saint Louis, Le Marais or perhaps one of the lesser known ones like Canal Saint-Martin or Butte aux Cailles.

Match the neighborhood to the attractions you want to see most.
You don’t want to spend all of your time trying to get to the places that you want to see, but then again you don’t want to spend your time in a neighborhood that holds no attraction for you.  The neighborhood where the Eiffel Tower is isn’t the most interesting of neighborhoods but Montparnasse is close to many places to see.  If you've already visited Paris, choose a neighborhood you've never seen or rarely visited.

Get an overview on your first day.
Try a bus or boat tour.   A boat or bus tour is a great way to get an overview of the city and maybe see things that you wouldn’t normally see.

Wander aimlessly!
Get a map and wander.  Paris is quite flat and very walkable unlike a lot of places in the US. After you see something on your list try walking to your next destination or hotel and see what you find. If you get tired you can always jump on the Metro, a bus or grab a taxi.  

You might want to double check with someone at the hotel to see what areas you should avoid so you don’t inadvertently end up an a not so safe neighborhood.

Limit your plans.
If you want to experience the city and not just check off the famous sites that you have seen then limit your plans to two items a day.  This way you can relax and experience your trip instead of hurrying to the next attraction.  Remember no matter how fast you go, or how many things you see there will always be things that you missed.

Visit the less-popular attractions.
The Louvre is popular and very big.  If you really want to see the Louvre go on a slower weekday and arrive early and plan to spend the time with a lot of other tourists.  To have a slower paced trip check out some of the less popular or well-known attractions. 

You will always leave a city having missed something, no one can see everything.  But you will have a sense of really experiencing the city and tasting a bit of everyday life, perhaps even have some unforgettable meals in places that are never mentioned by the guidebooks.

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