Paris Travel Tips: An American in Paris

If you’ve wined and dined at Bistro Menil before, we probably don’t have to tell you what’s one of chef Greg Martin’s favorite cities in the world — do we?

Hints: There’s a big tower. It’s know for its lights. And Audrey Hepburn thought this destination is always a good idea.

Chef Greg has visited Paris, France, many times — including as recently as last month. Partly to gather more ideas for his travel-inspired menu and partly to enjoy what Parisians do best: Enjoy life to the fullest.

Planning a trip to the City of Lights? Think of chef Greg as your concierge as he shares his wisdom on how to paint the iconic town with flair. From using the metro to tips on how to get an outdoor seat at a local restaurant to avoiding long lines at museums, you’ll want to read this list before your next trip to Paris. Comprendre?

Enjoying the sites:

When visiting parks, gardens and markets around the city, make an effort to get there early in the morning to soak in the full experience without overcrowded grounds. The Luxembourg Garden is perfect on a quiet morning, and markets featuring incredible food and beautiful flowers are much more enjoyable to peruse when you aren’t being rushed.

The Paris Museum Pass is worth every penny. With options for one, two or three days, the Museum Pass includes express entry into popular destinations including the Louve, Arc de Triomphe, Musee d’Orsay, Panthéon, Musée Picasso, Musée de l’Orangerie, Notre-Dame and more. You’ll save money on museum admission and time by avoiding long lines. When planning to use your pass, be sure to check the operating hours for each museum on your wish list.

If traveling in late May or early June, make plans to attend Roland Garros, also known as the French Open. This Grand Slam tournament is the premier clay court event of the year and brings players from around the world to compete for the title. Premium seating is released in January, while general tickets go on sale in March. Tickets for prime seats in show court sell for as little as 30€ (about $34), and some packages include meet-and-greets with players. If you wish to be notified of when tickets go on sale, simply create an account with the French Tennis Federation. While you are allowed to bring in outside food and drink, the concessions are quite good and moderately priced compared to U.S. sporting events.

Getting around:

Getting around via the Paris Metro is safe and easy. Purchase a carnet (a book that includes 10 metro tickets) at kiosks located near the entrance of metro stations using a credit card or Euros. The Paris Metro App from mxData is helpful when planning your route. The app includes transfers and expected travel times as well as a list and graphic overview of routes so you know you’re traveling to the right location. Avoid peak times between 3:30 pm and 6 pm, and be sure to keep your ticket on you while riding the metro. Police will occasionally check at some checkpoints, and failure to show your pass will result in paying a fine on the spot.

If you want to travel by foot or wish to see the sights from different views, try walking from one arrondissement to another. It’s easy to navigate and well worth the extra steps. The French walking pace is brisk, so mind your step – especially going in and out of the metro.

Bon appetite:

When it comes to eating out, you’ll get a better meal at a better price if you avoid tourist areas. Do your homework to find restaurants preferred by locals. These typically fill up slower, giving you a better chance at nabbing an outdoor table prime for people watching. Remember that you’ll typically pay a little more if sitting outside as it’s prime real estate.

Lastly, learn a little French before traveling to Paris and try to pepper it into your conversations when dining or communicating with locals. Most Parisians speak English fluently, but appreciate the attempt and cultural respect that speaking their native language demonstrates.

Try this saying on for size: “Il n’y a que deux endroits au monde où l’on puisse vivre heureux: Chez soi et à Paris.”

Meaning? There are only two places in the world where we can live happy: At home and in Paris.


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