Planning your trip.
Sometimes family and friends can be your best guides to Paris. If you know people who’ve traveled to Paris, be sure to ask them to put together a list of their favorite hotels and restaurants. People who know you and know your preferences are most likely to suggest the parts of Paris that would interest you the most.
If you’re the trailblazer, you don’t want to go to Paris without a good map. Be sure to have your copy of Paris Classique or your Plan de Paris available at all times to help you decipher Metro stops, arrondissements, and bus routes. If you don’t buy any other guidebook, borrow or buy this one: Paris Classique
Flying to Paris isn’t cheap, however it’s usually very accessible by train from most major European cities. Therefore, if you find a really good round trip airfare on, for example, Icelandic to any of the capital cities in neighboring European countries, you can always hop on a train from those cities to Paris.
You’ll find that Paris airfares are usually less expensive for short stays i.e. one week to ten days. Try to fly in early spring or late fall rather than the summer months, especially August.
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Organized tours vs. Independent travel
Although Paris is often included in European tours, you will never truly appreciate this city if you don’t allow yourself enough time to explore Paris on your own. No matter how long you intend to stay in Paris, whether you are traveling alone or as part of a tour, make sure that you have ample time to visit the city on foot (or by bicycle). If you plan on visiting other cities in Europe, make Paris your first or last stop on the trip and add an extra day or two to recover from jet lag or to prepare for your return flight.
Choosing a hotel.
Give careful consideration to the location of your hotel. Study the various neighborhoods (you can read Parislogue descriptions of some of the more well-known neighborhoods like Montparnasse, Montmartre and the Marais).
If you are taking an organized tour where your hotel is chosen by the tour organizer, be sure to have the hotel address and a Paris map available long before you depart. Familiarize yourself with its location in relation to some of the places you may want to visit on your own. Find the closest Metro stop. Try to situate a hotel in rapport to the major sites on your wish list i.e. if the Eiffel Tower is the primary focus of your trip, you’ll want to book a hotel as close as possible to the Eiffel Tower. If you plan on spending a good part of your time at the Louvre and the Musee d’Orsay, you’ll want a hotel within walking distance.
Once you’ve decided on the Paris neighborhood where you’d like to hang your hat, take a look at the Hotel Guide to compare prices. Be sure to ask about parking availability if you’re driving into Paris (which I don’t recommend).
Picking your travel dates:
Make sure that your days in Paris correspond with the opening days of any museums you may want to visit. Museums in Paris tend to be closed on either Mondays or Tuesdays.
Many restaurants close for at least two weeks during the month of August.
Choosing a season to visit Paris:
All seasons have their merit. Early spring can sometimes be cold and rainy interspersed with gloriously sunny days.
Summertime is sultry. Great for outdoor dining.
Fall is crisp and exhilarating.
Winter, you’ll look for the most cozy cafes to sip on a mulled wine.
Chris Card Fuller