After our debute of OutNextWeek showcasing photos from our Paris trip, I got many emails from our readers regarding being inspired by the photos and wanting to know the details of our Paris trip planning. I thought I should share my experience in the blog entry instead of replying individual emails, since many of you girls are interested.
Trip Planning Tips
1. Kick Ass Tour Book
Image source: http://www.books.com.tw
Last Christmas was my first trip to Europe, so I was quite nervous and read through couple tourist books regarding France. I found tour books written by Japanese are most detail and useful. The particular book I used is France by JTB (Japan’s largest traveling agency). It gave me detail information on airport layout, transportation from airport to city, how to buy tickets at metro station, detail city/metro map, key tourist attraction, travel tips including culture, where to eat/stay, how to avoid guided tour tourist groups ..etc. Unfortunately, this book is probably only in Japanese and Chinese. You can buy the Chinese version here: http://www.books.com.tw/exep/prod/booksfile.php?item=0010248345, the bookstore does ship to US. JTB also had a book just on Paris. Another book I have is “France (Eyewitness Travel Guides)“. I like the Eyewitness Travel Guide series because the series usually have nice photos, not just boring words. However, I found this book doesn’t help me as much as my Japanese tour book.
2. Check out tour itinerary from the Touring company
Hy and I decided to spend our Christmas vacation at Paris during Thanksgiving weekend, it didn’t leave me much time to learn about France. I looked up on guided tours, they were quite expensive. However, it did gave me lots of tips about famous tourist attraction. For example, check out Globus Europe Vacations package.
3. Read lots of blog entries
Since I am a foodie, I usually read a lot of food blogs. Paris is foodie’s heaven, so research on food is definitely necessary. I read a lot of food blogs on Paris. They really helped satisfying our taste buds in cold winter. How do you find the blog? Use Google Blog search. Just type in Paris related keyword. I personally read a lot of Chinese blogs, so I use blog search feature provided by Yahoo! Taiwan.
Transportation & Lodging
image source: http://www.starwoodhotels.com/lemeridien/property/photos/popup.html?propertyID=1919
We spent 6 days 5 nights at Paris between Christmas and New Year. We stayed at Le Meridien Etoile. It was located at Porte Maillot, a very convenient location, right next to M1 line of Paris Metro. We took Air France from JFK to CDG (Charles de Gaulle Airport). Then we took line 2 Air France Bus directly from CDG airport to Porte Maillot. We got off at the Porte Maillot, our hotel is right across street from bus stop (how convenient!) Commuting using the airport bus is really economical as well! The rest of the trip, we mostly travel via Paris Metro. For out of Paris trip, we travel via RER. I was planning to go down to middle of France via France train: TGV or SNCF, but decided to stay in Paris because of the cold weather.
Thinking back, there were lots of great memories during this 6 days. It was quite adventurous to both Hy and I. Even though we’ve been to places outside of US, but those are the countries that I am familiar w/ (Taiwan, Hong Kong), where I can either speak or read/write the language. When I visited India, since I visited only major cities, most people speak fluent English. Though accent can be different and a bit hard to understand at times, communication isn’t an issue. W/ France, Hy and I don’t know the language. However, we found that most people in Paris are friendly and welling to speak to English w/ us. In fact, many of them speak pretty fluent English. Many restaurant we go to doesn’t have English menu, so I wrote a small cheat sheet of major food related vocabs. Also, since we do eat at French restaurants and bistros in the state, we end up have meals not too far away from our expectations. I believe as long as we choose a good restaurant, it’s like visit friend’s house when we were young, as long as your friend’s mom’s a good cook, anything she offers out of the kitchen would be tasty (when you were a kid, you don’t get to choose anyways). We face the new food we tried w/ such attitude, and end up discovering many pleasant surprises.
I will be showing you more places and tips from our Paris trip. It will be a series of blog posts! Stay tune.