April in Paris. What a great tune. I think my favorite is Count Basie’s 1956 version. And late April in Paris is exactly the time I suggest you plan to go. There are dozens of reasons to visit Paris, and the Eiffel Tower is certainly a headliner. Simply breathtaking. I cannot wait to see it again. Debbie and I make certain we get an Eiffel Tower view room at the Left Bank’s Hotel Lutetia. Last trip we hit an ET snag when we were shown to an otherwise beautiful room, but with no ET view. Thanks to the timely efforts of head concierge Xavier Berenger, the problem went away and we were back in business with a room with a view. I emphasize often in my Paris series the value of a warm relationship with your hotel concierge.
In France things are different than here in the States. Protocol, pleasant formality, and relationships are headliners. And this is one of the many reasons we have come to love France, and especially Paris. We have found that if we conduct ourselves as Parisians do, good things can happen and a pleasant glow extends over all we take part of in The City Of Light. Over and over we have observed Americans acting as some Americans can act and the results are, shall we say, unsettling. Parisians shut down fast when it becomes clear that a visiting guest has no intention of making an effort to appreciate their culture. You are in for such a magnificent time in France that it would be a shame to have cold water thrown on your stay simply because no one ever told you that things are different in France, and especially in Paris, and that you needed to fine tune your guest approach.
OK then, off you go in grand style. And if on my strong advice you are off to Hotel Lutetia and would like a room with an ET view, be sure to have your travel facilitator make and confirm your request well in advance. Note the emphasis on the word confirm. Paris if nothing else is all about positive confirmation. Should you have a snag, have no written confirm, and act unpleasant about a snag, your goose will be cooked. So now you are ready with all your housekeeping chores handled well in advance of what I hope can be a lengthy stay for you. I say lengthy because every time Debbie and I go to France we wish, as we will do next time, we had planned to stay longer.
On our first visit to Paris, Debbie and I spent a full day with an experienced guide who greased the skids and lead us through Paris’ marvelous historical sites, neighborhoods, and museums. We hooked up with Joslyn, a well-informed and fun local guide. I cannot imagine bucking the Asian hordes (yes, hordes) at Versailles without the help of an expert who gets tickets in advance and shows you through the secret handshake entrance.
Paris is a joy to walk and there is nothing more relaxing than a visit to Jardin du Luxembourg. One of our favorite things to do is simply walking Bvd. St. Germain (a main drag in the 6th). You will be in the St.Germain/Rue du Bac/Montparnasse area where one could spend days (we do) poking about many of the side streets and discovering, for example, our favorite oyster spot, Regis Huitrerie, 3, rue de Montfaucon. On Sunday, you can hit the organic farmers market just down the street from Hotel Lutetia on Bvd. Raspail. Nearby Cherche Midi and Rue du Bac deserve your strolling and poking attention. The area is loaded with historical bistros, cafes and brasseries. If you consider yourself a rather informal individual and no special fan of extravagant shopping, I am pretty sure you will want to hotel it on the Rive Gauche. If instead the five star palace hotels have your attention, as well as the finest retail shopping in the world, you will be right at home on the Rive Droite. Le Bristol Hotel would be a fine choice. And if you want to do a fine job of drawing down your estate, reserve for dinner at Taillevent and Pierre Gagnaire, as well as Le Bristol’s three star main dining room. You’re in for a fabulous time no matter which bank you choose.
Download and take along my complete series of What I Learned in Paris posts. To hit the ground running and feel like a real Parisian insider from the moment you land at Paris Charles De Gaulle, here are a few useful apps you’ll also want to download: Google Translate, Andrew Harper’s Paris, Rick Steve’s ParisWalk, David Lebovitz’s Paris Pastry App Lite, Hidden Paris, Paris Metro, RailEurope, Best of Paris, Currency Converter, Musee du Louvre. Oh, and have a car service meet you at Charles De Gaulle. Your travel expediter should be able to put you with a first class group.