To tell the truth, I was a little disappointed in Paris. The city seemed to be covered in dirt and graffiti and it was so crowded, I had to miss a bunch of the attractions, like the Eiffel Tower. Of course there were some beautiful portions of the city, and sitting on the other side of the Seine eating cheese in a boat across from Notre Dame will be a memory I’ll always cherish.
But how does one get around, especially when little French is spoken?
My trip first started out by taking the Eurostar from London (where I was living at the time) to Paris. It’s a two and a half hour trip, and pretty affordable at around $120 round trip if booked in advanced. The trains are new and shiny and very comfortable and roomy – probably the best trains I’ve ever been on. You’re only underground (under the ocean) for a short time, and the rest of the trip is through the English and French countryside. I highly recommend this way of traveling if you’re coming from England. You’ll arrive in the big, beautiful Paris Gare du Nor station and are immediately in the middle of a bustling city.
The Metro was easy enough to figure out, even if you spoke no French at all. There were plenty of stations all of the city and there didn’t seem to be a long wait for any of our trains. The fares were also about the same as over comparable public transport. However, I was highly disappointed with the Metro itself. It seemed to be very dank and dark – our seats in our train were a worn out brownish plastic that were ripped up. And like everything else in the city, there was graffiti covering the trains. Also, very very loud buskers were common on rides, which I know can be an issue on the Tube in London as well, but Paris seems to be a lot more lax about allowing them on. Expect to be asked for money.
Tiny Cart Carriages
I’m not sure how to describe these cute little rides – they’re about the size of a golf cart (but differently shaped) and have a nice little top over the passenger area in the back. I caught one of these after walking from the The Louvre to the Arc de Triomphe and it was nice getting carried back past all of the expensive shops in between. These are a little pricey, but totally worth it.
Taxis are much the same here as in anywhere, but unlike London, there’s not really a uniform car style to look out for (nor are they all white as the photo above indicates). Expect to pay much the same rates as you would in any big city. Also, many taxi drivers might pretend not to know any English – but if they see you at least attempting to speak a bit of French, they’ll lighten up and help out.