Paris Trip 2013 – and some tips

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So, this is the city which I have been to three times already. Something grand about it which took my awe since I was in school. Some people thought about a certain USA city or other European lands, while mine is Paris. During high school, my school provided foreign language classes for students starting from junior year, and I chose french for my junior and sophomore class. God knows, by then, how and when shall I go to visit France or even Paris. Years later, I had graduated from college and started earning money of my own, I took again another french course in Centre Culturel Français (CCF) in Jakarta which had been renamed into IFI. Still, my future travel to France is only exist within my dreams. But that is the thing with dreams and hopes, once you settled and want it so badly enough and you tried all you can to achieve it, and then one day bam! It comes true. Seeing where I came from, one might think that I dreamt too high for myself, but no, I would never dream and hope any lesser things for myself.

Enough opening, this time is my third visit to Paris. The first is a 2-day eye opener and the second I was there for work for only 5 days and left with so little time to roam the streets and visit places I would love to visit. This time was still short but I know better. Here are some tips to go around the famously artful city even Hitler decided not to destroy it to the ground.

Public Transportation

There is a well known travel card called Paris Visite which valid for 1-day and 3-days. The last time I bought the 1-day card however, it was not 24 hours per se but instead the end of the day or 24:00 PM of the same day I activated the card. Handy for hassle free travelers but for budget travelers it might be a little too costly since they cost € 10,55 for 1-day and valid only for 3 zones.

Paris by means of public transportation, is divided into 5 travel zone. First zone is the center of the city which circled around the Eiffel Tower and other famous touristic places. The second zone is the outer ring of the first zone and so forth. The third zone covers city center and business district of La Defense. If you want to go to Chateau Versailles or the Charles de Gaulle airport or Parcs Disneyland, you will need another ticket since they all within coverage of the RER or train line.

There is another way to travel around Paris without the card. Just go to one of the metro or train station and look for Vente or ticket vending machines. It is not a touch screen machine, and to use it simply turn the handle below the monitor/screen and in your right there is an “Accept” button and your left “Cancel” button. Turn to the first choice on top of the screen and click “Accept” then in next screen you can select languages. Choose “metro, bus…” choice on top of the next screen. You can buy as many as you like. It is cheaper to buy 10 at once as it cost € 13,30 compare to € 1,70 if you buy each individually. This tiny ticket will allow you one journey in the metro, wherever you want as long as the metro line reaches. Or bus or tram or RER (train) within Paris. The ticket has no expiration date and it is way cheaper to buy from the machine than buy from bus driver because it will cost you a solid € 2. So if you buy the 10-tickets at once you will save € 7.

vente

RER line reaches places beyond common public transport such as Versailles or Disney. You cannot do anything about this unless you travel by car. We should buy RER ticket which cost € 6,70 per trip full fare all destinations. So if you stay on a hotel within zone 2, and you want to go to Disneyland then you will spend: (2 x € 1,30) + (2 x € 6,70) = € 16 return trip by vending machine. Compare to the visite card: € 10,55 + (2 x € 6,70) = € 23,95 return trip. But of course, if the hotel is within walking distance of the RER train stations then it will only cost: 2 x € 6,70 = € 13,40 return trip.

Food

There are lots of restaurant and to-go shops around Paris and they open early in the morning around 7.30 or 8 AM. So if you are staying at an aparthotel or hostel, then it is convenient to go and search for breakfast or even cook one. I stayed at Adagio Charenton and I am satistied as it is what it seemed on booking.com. And by staying at an aparthotel I we have the freedom to cook and prepare our own meals since the hotel already equipped with kitchen and all its utensils.

Baby Travel

Parisian roads and steps are built from stone and have been like that for centuries. So the terrain is bumpy and rough. The metro station also rarely equipped with elevators or escalator stairs, and since all metro and train station are built underground, to reach one and another we need the use the static stairs. Up and down we go. And the gates to check in the tickets are small and narrow. Either way baby strollers are not getting a warm welcome in this city. Unless you travel solely by bus or car. But small strollers or buggies are the least troublesome especially the foldable ones. Because we can easily fold it into small piece and carry it along while going through the check in-out gates. The disadvantage is that simple buggy can get stuck between stone paths and is not easy to stroll around. But still, it is way better to carry it than the big ones.

Buy Tickets Online

If you plan to visit Parcs Disneyland the cheapest way possible is to buy your ticket not from Disneyland website or ticket counter within the park. You might visit the park in an unfortunate moments such as spring break, which I did, or summer holidays, then you can see lines of people queueing to buy ticket and more queues in the ticket check in gates. You can go and visit FNAC to see their offer on Disneyland tickets. I bought mine for 2 parks for € 41 compare to € 59 up to € 89 if you buy from the official website, or € 71 if you buy directly in ticket counter in the park.

The same also goes for other tourist attraction such as Chateau Versailles although they will resulted only in small amount of difference. But definitely cut off some waiting time. Then again, it is all depends on when you are planning to  visit.

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