Visit Paris by Mouse
Paris, the capital of France, is in the Ile de France region in the north. We join many others in thinking of this city very fondly. It is pretty, clean, full of great things to do and see and easy to get around. Photos Page 1 and Page 2 (Slideshow)
We have visited Paris several times--at least twice the traditional way by plane, staying in hotels and eating in restaurants, and three times in our motorhome--twice in 2002 (letter from first, letter from second) and once in 2005 (letter). On the latter occasions we stayed in the campground in the Bois de Boulogne which is on the Seine near the Arc de Triomphe and the Port de Mailot exit on the "peripherique", the roadway that circles the city.
We are aware, however,  that there are many who have very negative feelings about Parisians. And we, too, have some reservations about them, at least those with whom tourists are likely to come into contact. These tend to treat visitors with a certain amount of reserve and formality which Americans, for example, are not used to.  And we also have noticed on rare occasions that some Parisians are not as forthcoming as we would expect, like when we are trying to find out exactly what is in a dish we see on a menu. We would not, however join those who think Parisians are rude.  We have never been confronted with rudeness.  And we have met many Parisians who are just as pleasant and have been as nice to us as anyone.
Our experience with Parisians is that they love their language and other things French with passion.  On occasion, not universally by any means, this passions leads to some of the things that strike visitors from the United States in particular as off-putting.  For example, perhaps Parisians are less forgiving than are other French people about errors in pronunciation or in grammar made by people who may have studied French in high school but who have never had the opportunity to practice speaking. Or, another example, an apparent inability to recognize that visitors who do not speak French may not understand signs that are only in French in museums which are frequented by foreigners.  Americans expect to be communicated with in their own language.  It makes no difference to the American tourist that New York City's great museums do not offer signs in French to visitors who may be from France.  As to the formality, it takes a visitor a while to realize that a clerk in a store or in a car rental agency gives full attention to one person at a time and will not recognize anyone else trying to get his or her attention just for a moment to ask a quick question.  We do expect that people in such jobs in the US to be always prepared to multi-task, but Parisians probably consider it rude to look away from the person who has first claim on their attention.
With these minor reservations out in the open, we get on with our task of trying to provide some guidance to anyone contemplating a visit. This task is made relatively easy because there seems to be at least as much information posted on the internet about Paris as about any other city. The Paris Visitor and Convention web site is excellent. In the pages that follow we will do our best to point you to what you need to know about how to get the most out of a visit. We will discuss language and communicating, transportation within the city, point you to some noteworthy neighborhoods, and museums. We also write something about flea markets and suggest a couple of day trips. As to guidance on restaurants, as explained elsewhere on this web site we are not the best source (we eat most of our dinners and breakfasts in the RV). There are guides you can pay for, like Adrian Leeds, and Zagat. But and At home with Patricia Wells will get you started for free. There are several others.
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(click for more photos)
Street Scenes
Cluny Museum
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Google Map
Intrepid Traveler
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