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In This Chapter
* Unveiling Paris's best sights
* Discovering Paris's best accommodations for every price range
* Endulging in glorious food, the best bars, a shopping nirvana, and the best culture, parks and gardens
Congratulations on choosing to visit one of the most beautiful and magical cities on the planet! With so much to do and see, you're probably wondering what you should do first, and frankly, what's a waste of time. You may be concerned that you don't speak French, and that a language barrier may prevent you from doing some of the things you'd like. If this is your first visit to Paris, you know you want to taste the delicious food for which the country is renowned. But facing the choice of so many different types of French cuisine - Provencal, Lyonnaise, Corsican, Alsatian, Basque, classic, and more - might be enough to make you want to stick to tried-and-true McDo (pronounced mac doh; French for McDonald's) and just have a cup of wine with your fries.
Take it easy. Know up front that, much as you'd like, you simply won't be able to do, see, and taste it all. Avoid the Griswold syndrome (think of the family in the movie European Vacation who rush to see all of Paris and suffer the consequences!), and take in what could be Paris's greatest attraction of all: a way of life in which relaxing in a cafeand watching the world go by are natural parts of the day. Bring a phrase book, but keep in mind that Parisians are much more eager to speak English with visitors than they were even a few years ago, especially with those visitors who make an effort to try speaking French first. After you realize that you don't have to tour to exhaustion, you can appreciate Paris the way it was intended to be enjoyed - in parks, on bridges, and along streets meant for strolling and exploring.
You'll discover that the Louvre Museum is as incredible as its reputation and that the views from the Eiffel Tower are stunning - but did you know that the views from the terrace of department store Samaritaine also are pretty spectacular? You'll find that taking a boat tour of the Seine is one of the best ways to see Paris, but rowing a boat in the Bois de Boulogne's Grand Lac can be much more personal. Whatever you do, you'll quickly discover that Paris (see the "Paris at a Glance" map) is more of an experience than merely a city, and each visitor experiences it in an entirely individual way.
BEST OF THE BEST
This chapter is designed as an at-a-glance reference to the absolute best - the Best of the Best - that Paris has to offer. Each of these experiences and places are discussed in detail later in the book; you can find them in their indicated chapter, marked with a Best of the Best icon.
The Best Accommodations
With more than 2,200 places to rest your head in Paris - chain hotels, deluxe, palace-like accommodations, hotels that cater to business travelers, budget hotels, and mom-and-pop establishments - it's difficult to narrow things down to just a few. But the hotels here are the hotels to which, in my opinion, you'll want to return on your next visit (because no one can see Paris just once!). See Chapter 9 for more information on the accommodations I list here.
The Best Food
Mmmmmmm - Paris has some of the world's best restaurants and some of the tastiest regional dishes on the planet. It's no question that one of the greatest things about visiting Paris is finding out for yourself what a high-quality meal a la francaise can be. The following list contains some of my favorite restaurants (the information in parentheses indicates the arrondissement in which each establishment is located). See Chapter 10 for more information on the restaurants listed here.
The Best Sights
For most people, the real reason for visiting Paris is to see the quintessentially French attractions for which the city is known. Are the sights really as great as returning travelers say? Yes, yes, and yes. Here are just a few of the best. See Chapter 11 for more information on the sights listed here.
The Best Parks and Gardens
From flowers, plants, and city views to puppet shows, pony rides, and museums, Paris has parks for every taste and interest. Here are some of its best. Chapter 11 has more information
Excerpted from Paris For Dummies by Cheryl A. Plentka Excerpted by permission.
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Posted July 24, 2001
I try to read most travel guides for Paris that come out because there is so much of interest to see there and I always hope to find something new I have missed on previous trips. This is appropriately titled 'Paris for Dummies' since it contains little information of interest to anyone who has been there before. For a first time visitor, it contains the basic information necessary to get around to most of the major sights. The best travel bargain in Paris, the Museum and Monument Pass, is barely mentioned, while other books elaborate on the benefits of the card and the many places it can be used to save quite a bit of money on your visit. I was really disappointed with this guide. It not only lacked great detail in its information, it also lacked any zip in its writing that would encourage one to visit, certainly nothing like the lively style of Rick Steves and other travel writers.
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Posted December 30, 2008
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Posted April 9, 2009
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