When you have more time in Paris

This item appears on page 14 of the September 2010 issue.
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I always use Rick Steves’ wonderful guidebooks for the basic, nitty-gritty information about traveling in Europe. However, he assumes that you will have only a week in Paris and tailors his recommendations accordingly. For those of you privileged to spend more time there, I have some ideas of things to see and do.

I exchanged houses with a young couple in Paris for two weeks in May ’10. The chance to live in a flat instead of a hotel was a treat, not to mention that it saved me a lot of money. This was my sixth trip to Paris, though I had never been for this long.

• I bought the Paris Museum Pass (in French, it’s called Carte de Musées), which is worth the cost, even if just for the convenience and time-saving; you bypass all of the lines into the most popular museums. For adults, the cost is €32 (near $41) for two days, €48 for four days and €64, six days (consecutive days beginning on the first day used). (Many of the museums are free for children.)

Providing entry to 54 museums and sights in and around Paris — including the Louvre, Musée d’Orsay, the Rodin Museum and Versailles — the pass makes it possible to spend a short time in any of these and not feel that you wasted your money.

The pass can be bought at any of the participating museums or Tourist Information Centers or online. (Note: there is a charge of €13.50 for ordering online, and allow 10 days for delivery.)

Here are my suggestions for a longer stay.

• In a flat on the Left Bank, Patricia Laplante-Collins (phone 33 [0] 6 43 79 35 18 or, locally, 06 43 79 35 15) hosts soirées every Sunday night for expats, visitors and a number of English-speaking residents.

I attended one, for which she requested a donation of €20 ($26). There were 25 folks there from around the world (Ireland, South Africa, the US and even France), making for a delightful evening and a chance to know Paris in a different way.

She typically starts with happy hour with wine and snacks at 7:00, then there is a short talk. The night I was there, the speaker was a Frenchwoman who works as a consultant for French companies internationally, advising them on how they can overcome the perception that the French think they are superior to everyone else! The resulting conversation was very interesting. Patricia then served a full dinner.

Patricia is from Atlanta, has lived in Paris for 20 years and is a wonderful hostess. Make a reservation for one of her Soirée Dinners on Sunday or Networking Cocktails on Wednesday. This is a great way to spend a Paris evening.

• The Basilica Saint-Denis: this church, in a northern Paris suburb, houses the necropolis of French kings, queens and other royalty. The scores of sarcophagi and statues give an interesting insight into the history of France and are well worth a few hours’ time.

Although entry to the church, itself, is free, entry to the necropolis costs €7 (covered by the Museum Pass). In addition, the neighborhood is very interesting, appearing to consist of many immigrant families.

• The Musée Jacquemart-André (158 bd Haussmann, 75008 Paris; phone +33 1 45 62 11 59) is housed in a beautiful home near the Champs-Élysées. While the art is lovely, the real pleasure is seeing a beautiful mansion in the heart of Paris. €10 (not covered by the Museum Card).

• I can’t believe that I waited until my sixth visit to go to the Musée National du Moyen Age, more often known as the Cluny Museum (6 place Paul Painlevé, 75005, Paris; phone 33 [0] 1 53 73 78 00), which showcases art of the Middle Ages. I even went back a second time!

Housed in an ancient building in the Sorbonne area, the art is exquisite. The tapestries, especially of the Lady and the Unicorn, were as fine as any I have ever seen and remarkably preserved. This museum is on the Museum Card.

• Don’t miss Monet’s house and gardens at Giverny. I was there on a gorgeous weekday and couldn’t stop taking pictures. Because of the range of the plantings, I believe the color would be amazing anytime of year. It’s an easy trip from Paris by train and bus, with an informative brochure available at the Gare St. Lazare train station.

• If you love music, take advantage of the event listings in the magazine Pariscope, which comes out every Wednesday and is available at any newsstand. I attended an incredible concert at Notre-Dame Cathedral and one at the Sorbonne with the university orchestra and chorus participating. These are the experiences you miss in a short stay.

Paris gets lovelier every year, and the Parisians are very friendly and more than willing to help out even poor French-speakers.

NORMA JENKINS

Ft. Lauderdale, FL

Please login or subscribe to ITN to read the entire post.

I always use Rick Steves’ wonderful guidebooks for the basic, nitty-gritty information about traveling in Europe. However, he assumes that you will have only a week in Paris and tailors his recommendations accordingly. For those of you privileged to spend more time there, I have some ideas of things to see and do.

I exchanged houses with a young couple in Paris for two weeks in May ’10. The chance to live in a flat instead of a hotel was a treat, not to mention that it saved me a lot of money. This was my sixth trip to Paris, though I had never been for this long.

• I bought the Paris Museum Pass (in French, it’s called Carte de Musées), which is worth the cost, even if just for the convenience and time-saving; you bypass all of the lines into the most popular museums. For adults, the cost is €32 (near $41) for two days, €48 for four days and €64, six days (consecutive days beginning on the first day used). (Many of the museums are free for children.)

Providing entry to 54 museums and sights in and around Paris — including the Louvre, Musée d’Orsay, the Rodin Museum and Versailles — the pass makes it possible to spend a short time in any of these and not feel that you wasted your money.

The pass can be bought at any of the participating museums or Tourist Information Centers or online. (Note: there is a charge of €13.50 for ordering online, and allow 10 days for delivery.)

Here are my suggestions for a longer stay.

• In a flat on the Left Bank, Patricia Laplante-Collins (phone 33 [0] 6 43 79 35 18 or, locally, 06 43 79 35 15) hosts soirées every Sunday night for expats, visitors and a number of English-speaking residents.

I attended one, for which she requested a donation of €20 ($26). There were 25 folks there from around the world (Ireland, South Africa, the US and even France), making for a delightful evening and a chance to know Paris in a different way.

She typically starts with happy hour with wine and snacks at 7:00, then there is a short talk. The night I was there, the speaker was a Frenchwoman who works as a consultant for French companies internationally, advising them on how they can overcome the perception that the French think they are superior to everyone else! The resulting conversation was very interesting. Patricia then served a full dinner.

Patricia is from Atlanta, has lived in Paris for 20 years and is a wonderful hostess. Make a reservation for one of her Soirée Dinners on Sunday or Networking Cocktails on Wednesday. This is a great way to spend a Paris evening.

• The Basilica Saint-Denis: this church, in a northern Paris suburb, houses the necropolis of French kings, queens and other royalty. The scores of sarcophagi and statues give an interesting insight into the history of France and are well worth a few hours’ time.

Although entry to the church, itself, is free, entry to the necropolis costs €7 (covered by the Museum Pass). In addition, the neighborhood is very interesting, appearing to consist of many immigrant families.

• The Musée Jacquemart-André (158 bd Haussmann, 75008 Paris; phone +33 1 45 62 11 59) is housed in a beautiful home near the Champs-Élysées. While the art is lovely, the real pleasure is seeing a beautiful mansion in the heart of Paris. €10 (not covered by the Museum Card).

• I can’t believe that I waited until my sixth visit to go to the Musée National du Moyen Age, more often known as the Cluny Museum (6 place Paul Painlevé, 75005, Paris; phone 33 [0] 1 53 73 78 00), which showcases art of the Middle Ages. I even went back a second time!

Housed in an ancient building in the Sorbonne area, the art is exquisite. The tapestries, especially of the Lady and the Unicorn, were as fine as any I have ever seen and remarkably preserved. This museum is on the Museum Card.

• Don’t miss Monet’s house and gardens at Giverny. I was there on a gorgeous weekday and couldn’t stop taking pictures. Because of the range of the plantings, I believe the color would be amazing anytime of year. It’s an easy trip from Paris by train and bus, with an informative brochure available at the Gare St. Lazare train station.

• If you love music, take advantage of the event listings in the magazine Pariscope, which comes out every Wednesday and is available at any newsstand. I attended an incredible concert at Notre-Dame Cathedral and one at the Sorbonne with the university orchestra and chorus participating. These are the experiences you miss in a short stay.

Paris gets lovelier every year, and the Parisians are very friendly and more than willing to help out even poor French-speakers.

NORMA JENKINS

Ft. Lauderdale, FL