Paris Hotels Articles

July 30, 2010

Travel experiences: Paris, France

If you expect Paris to feel different from any other place you’ve been to right from the start, you are setting yourself up for disappointment. Charles de Gaul airport is big, ugly and noisy and a bitch to get out of. As our cabbie told us, the airport garage is something like a block of Swiss cheese with numerous holes to go in and out of.

The first hotel you see on your way out of Charles de Gaul is Courtyard Marriott. Graffiti abounds on the sound-protection walls along the highway, but the fact that the walls themselves are there is heartwarming – there isn’t nearly as much noise insulation in the States. Another sight that made my sentimental heart go pitt-a-pat was the profusion of small cars: Renaults, Smart cars, the European version of the Mini Cooper (we called it the “mini Mini Cooper”), as well as motorcycles and scooters of every shape and color.

There aren’t any parking lots or parking garages in Paris outside the airport. …Not that I could tell anyway. There is street side parking, parking lanes that are sort of carved in the middle of a sidewalk, and occasional no-rhyme-or-reason-wherever parking (short term only ). All of the above have very limited width, so having a large car is not only out of place – it’s a damned nuisance. You either screw up your suspension by parking the passenger side wheels on the curb or you occasionally lose the driver side mirror to the passing cars (vehicles with painful-looking dings on the driver side door are pretty common too.)

Most folks deal with the whole car/parking issue in the wisest possible manner – they ride a bike or walk. If they need to go far, they take the Metro. (By the way, the rumor about the Metro being the fastest mode of transportation is, in my opinion, a sham: you spend more time navigating the endless underground corridors and trying to figure out where and how to switch lines, than actually riding a train.)

Walking in Paris is a pleasant sort of exercise: the shop windows are varied and beautifully arranged, and there is some sort of food sold every fifty paces or so.

If someone tells you that you can’t eat cheap AND good in Paris, they don’t know what they are talking about. Follow students or young people in general – they will invariably lead you to some good inexpensive eats. Our dinner on our first night in Paris at a panini vendor cost 12-13 euros. That included two foot-long paninis (one with four cheeses, one with salmon, cheese and tomatoes) and two Nutella

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