Paris Tips for Your Vacation
We want to help you enjoy your stay in Paris and France as much as possible. Print out these tips and bring them with you. You’ll be happy you did…
Why did the waiter smirk, laugh and click his heels when you left a tip?
It’s because the waiter was already planning his evening with your money. Most foreigners don’t realize that French restaurants automatically include a 15% service compris in the price of their food. Leaving 1 Euro extra is appropriate for good service. (Our guides kindly remind you that our tours are not service compris.)
How in the world do the telephones work?
Almost all French telephones work with a télécarte, not coins. Some look exactly like credit cards and have a small memory chip on one end that slides into the payphone. They come in the amounts of 50 and 120 units. Others have a scratch-off number that can be used from all telephones. They can be purchased almost anywhere, including our Tourist Office.
Is there really a secret entrance to the Louvre museum?
Although it’s not actually a “secret”, the best way to enter the Louvre is not through the Pyramid. If you’re coming by Métro, get off at the Palais Royal-Musée du Louvre stop (line 1), and use the entrance directly from the platform. If you’re coming on foot, put the Pyramid to your back and look across the plaza towards the Tuileries Gardens. On both the left and right are stairwells (next to angels on pedestals) that lead to the underground entrance. Take the stairs here and bypass the lines above.
Where can you find out about other cool things in Paris beside our tours?
If you’re on our tour, you will be sure to visit our Tourist Office. We’ll have all the info you need to make your Paris stay exciting and complete. The city of Paris also has a tourist office, but it is unfortunately being relocated so the best place is with us.
Is Jim Morrison getting kicked out “The Door”?
No, evidently he’s staying put-and you can visit him over in the Père-Lachaise cemetery (Métro line 2-Philippe-Auguste). The lease on his gravesite was up in 2001 and many wanted him removed because some visitors deface surrounding headstones. But rumor has it that the French government designated it a cultural heritage site and so he’s staying put in Paris.
Where can you access the web and send emails?
Unfortunately internet cafes are not too popular in France. However, we’re American so we love the web and we have four high-speed connections for you in our Tourist Office. The best part is that the keyboards are American too (you won’t appreciate that until you use a French one!)
Post cards - sending greetings to the loved ones.
Stamps can be bought at any post office (obviously) and Tabac stores (look for the word “Tabac” on the outside). For international mail, use the slot to the right on the post box. There’s a post office about 1 minute from our office.
Any Monet lovers in the group?
We have a fantastic tour that takes you to Claude Monet’s gardens and the small villages of Giverny and Vernon. Read all about it here!
The greatest invasion in the history of warfare!
The D-Day beaches are a must see for any history enthusiast. Walk along the landing beaches, visit German bunkers and simply try to imagine the enormous task faced by the Allies on June 6, 1944. Take the train from Gare St. Lazare to the city of Bayeux in Normandy. Inquire at the Tourist Office in the city center for the best way to visit all the historical sites from that great and terrible day.
The Métro can be expensive.
Tickets can be purchased individually for €1.70, but a carnet (book of 10) is only €11.70. Split one with your friends. Do not buy a day pass (Paris Visite) - it is way to expensive. Hold onto your validated ticket until you actually leave the station - don’t get caught without one and be forced to pay a fine on the spot. Here’s a Metro map (PDF) too.
What is the difference between the Métro and the RER?
Be sure not to confuse the Métro and the RER. The Métro is the Paris subway system. It stays within the city and always stops at every station on the line. The RER is the suburban train system used mostly by commuters and does not necessarily stop at all stations.
There are 14 Métro lines in Paris. To determine which way on the Métro you should travel, you should look at the end station of the line in the direction you wish to travel. The name of the end station is the direction (in French) that you should travel on that particular Métro line. An individual ticket for the Métro allows you to travel for as long and as far as you like until you actually exit a station through the security doors. Here’s a Paris Metro map (PDF).
The RER is completely different. There are 4 RER lines labeled A, B, C & D. They crisscross Paris in different directions and extend far out into the Paris suburbs. The RER will always stop at all stations on their lines that are within the city limits, but once it leaves Paris, they may or may not stop at your desired station. To determine if the RER will stop at your station, look for the large, lighted signs hanging above all RER platforms. On these signs are the names of all possible stops in your direction. An illuminated light next to a station name means the next RER train that passes will stop at all lighted stations. This is very important when taking the RER B line to the airports. Make sure the airport stations are lighted - otherwise you might miss your plane! Ticket prices for the RER differ depending on the distance you’re traveling. We suggest you ask at the ticket office. And be sure to hold onto your ticket because the RER system requires you to re-insert them to exit.
I’m going to miss my plane!
Make it easy on yourself. Take the Air France bus to and from the airport. For Charles de Gaulle airport, get yourself to Avenue Carnot just next to the Arc de Triomphe. Buses leave every 20 minutes. For Orly airport, go to either Gare Montparnasse or the Air France building near Les Invalides. You can buy your bus ticket at our Tourist Office for €12.
“No bread? Let them eat cake” at Versailles.
Although you shouldn’t miss our Versailles Tour, you can take the RER line to Versailles on your own. Beware though, since you’re not on a bike it will be difficult for you to cover the gardens area to visit sites such as Marie Antoinette’s village, the Grand Canal and the Trianons. Don’t miss out - come ride with us!
Where is the most romantic place in Paris?
There are many choices, but our favorite is the Pont des Arts. The wooden planked, wrought iron, pedestrian bridge spans the Seine between the Louvre and the Academie Française. Go there at sunset with a bottle of wine and puckered lips. Relax as Paris lights up around you and enjoy watching people stroll by for hours.
Why are bike tours better than bus tours?
Do you seriously want to wear headphones, listen to boring commentary in 10 languages and be at the mercy of a hurried driver? Enough said.
What’s up with all the dog poop?
Paris is sometimes infamous for the overwhelming number of “land mines” left on the city’s sidewalks. On March 1, 2002 a new law went into effect stating that if you’re caught not picking up after your dog you can be slapped with a €357 fine. Local legend states that it is good luck (although we don’t believe it and certainly don’t recommend it) to step in it with your left foot. You be the judge!
The lines are longer than the Eiffel Tower is tall.
Avoid those lines by climbing the Tower. Usually two Tower legs are for elevator riders and two are for those that want to burn off the breakfast pastries. You can climb to either the first or second level, but to get to the very top, you must catch the elevator from the second level.
Paris is the capital of fashion!
If you want to shop in Paris, a visit to the Printemps is a must. They have trend setting styles and designer names for women, men and children. The latest in home decoration. Exceptional perfume, cosmetics and body care departments and loads of gifts, accessories and souvenirs. They also have a free fashion show every Tuesday at 10am located in their auditorium on the 7th floor of Printemps de la Mode.
Is our bike tour part of the Tour de France?
No, but we strive to be in the shape of 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004 and 2005 winner (and fellow Texan), Lance Armstrong.
Where is the best view of the Paris rooftops?
You absolutely must go to the 56th floor of the Montparnasse Tower. From here you will have so many breathtaking views, you won’t know which direction to look. This building is cheaper and much more centrally located than the Eiffel Tower. And of course you get a fabulous view of the Tower itself-difficult to do if you’re standing on it. And the lines are non-existent too!
Man’s Best Friend can be found in Paris.
That’s right. If you were not a human, you should want to be a Parisian dog. They have practically as many rights as we do. And don’t be surprised to see them in restaurants, grocery stores and on the Métro. In fact, some upper-scale restaurants have actual “dog menus” from which you can order special bones, biscuits, treats and the like for your pooch.
01-56-58-10-54 (calling from within France)
33-1-56-58-10-54 (calling from outside France)
1-866-614-6218 (toll-free from North America to our Paris office)
Day Bike Tour
Learned More On Your Tours Than Any Other
On Saturday, August 23, we did the Versailles tour, and last night, August 25, we did the night tour of Paris. While the Paris tour was my fourth, it was the first for my wife, and the Versailles tour was a first for both of us. We had the best time, and learned more on your tours than any other. Adam is a special person, a true “teacher” and outstanding guide. I have worked in Paris for four years, and have not found anything that even compares to your product. Please pass along our compliments and gratitude to your guides and staff.More Testimonials