@moriond - We'll arrive in Paris via TGV (connecting from Rome) at Gare de Lyon. The apt. is walking distance from there. About Les Cars - our plan was to take that to CDG for our early flight home. Perhaps RER-B is better early in the morning? I'll check on that.
@ Badger. That's why you bring a son --to carry a day bag, right? ;-) I'll think of you as I journal in Place des Vosges.
@TavaPeak Sounds as though you've planned well. If you're traveling with luggage, it may be more comfortable to take Les Cars to CDG. I've done both, but I typically try not to carry much when I travel. In your location you may find taking the bus more comfortable. I haven't found problems with morning delays. Wow, TGV from Rome!
Originally Posted by TavaPeak
Have a great trip!
I found the 11th had a real buzz to it when I was there last year. Lots of interesting restaurants and bars that break away from the traditional French forms. Le Chateaubriand, which was very hot (on the San Pellegrino top 50 list, whatever that means) takes walk-ins in the late evening. If you want to try it, be prepared to queue (I noticed the queue forming from about 9.15pm).
At the other end of the spectrum, I think no "first" visit to Paris is complete without a visit to Saint Germain and St Sulpice on the Left Bank. Lots of interesting little streets, street markets, galleries, booksellers etc, and of course such beautiful, ancient churches. And very classic places like the Brasserie Lipp are worth considering. Some may see them as cliched but I still think they are a part of the fabric of the city (but maybe I just have a soft spot - fond memories of early romantic experiences!) Just don't show up for dinner at 5.30.
I totally second the value of taking some time to understand French social customs. Even smilingly clumsy attempts at French will make a huge difference.
For anyone planning to take the TGV anywhere, not even the Western Flyer will fit on the tiny overhead racks. I checked.
To all those travelling, have a wonderful time!
This. Absolutely this. Even if you do not speak french well, or at all, take this advice to heart. If you do not speak french, it will be outside of your comfort zone to engage with strangers in this way, but you really will get off on the wrong foot with employees, servers, shopkeepers, if you do not greet them when entering their business. And when leaving, make sure you say goodbye or thank them. I just did a quick google, but this seemed to capture some of the cultural difference in more detail: French Etiquette: (How not to Act Like Such a Tourist).
Originally Posted by bransom
Also, spend some time on David Lebovitz's blog David Lebovitz
There is some great advice in this thread already.
I can only repeat what has been said above multiple times: walk.
But if you get tired of walking, take a bus. While they can be crowded at peak times, with luck you will be able to find a seat, and unlike the Métro, you can look out the windows and see Paris go by. Note that buses can eat up tickets faster than the metro--so if you are going to be wandering around for a while, you can get a metro/bus/etc ticket which is good for an entire day or several days. (see: ParisVisite ---if the site is in French, click at the top on the British flag and it will switch to English.) Note that I am speaking about the "passe illimité", not the "Paris visite", which also gives you reduced entry to a couple of tourist attractions--I have never had one, and don't think it is worth the extra money, but others might differ.
In all the public transport, you have to validate your ticket each time you use it and at each transfer. And young people and older men will very often give up their seats for older people, pregnant women, women with children, etc.
One more tip: sales tax is lower if you get food "to go" (á emporter), and in cafes, the price of a cup of coffee/beverage is lowest standing in the back at the counter, higher sitting inside, and highest sitting outside.