Tips for Getting Along with Locals in France
France is a country which offers different experiences depending on where you travel. For instance, Parisians can often seem to be in a rush, whereas the French from areas in the south such as Marseille and Toulouse are thought to be more welcoming. Regardless, it would be advised to bring a pocket phrase book wherever you go, as communicating with the locals will be much easier. Summer throughout France takes place from June to August, with the southern regions experiencing more pleasant weather. During the Summer, temperatures in the north average around 20°C in the afternoons, whereas the south experience temperatures of around 28°C. Planning your holiday ahead of time by visiting the Hotels.com website and checking out what is going on around your hotel via the Google maps applet will ensure that you are able to get the most out of your time, wherever you choose to visit in France.
What to do in Paris
The undisputed romantic capital of the world, Paris is a city to make your soul soar. No matter how many times you see it, read about it, or even visit, the moment you set eyes on the Eiffel Tower, or stroll down the glorious Champs-Elysees, that Paris feeling will strike. It’s no wonder Paris inspires so much creativity – from the bohemian painters of Montmartre, to the earnest writers of the Rive Gauche, no other city has inspired such outpourings of love.
Things to see
You’ll catch glimpses of it, hazy and distant, from the steps of the Sacre Coeur, or from the Tuleries Gardens by the Louvre. For a while, the Eiffel Tower seems like a mirage. But finally, and suddenly, you’ll find yourself standing right underneath its wrought-iron arches. In mere moments, you can be whisked up to the observation deck, the whole of Paris spread out below you. When you’ve come back down to earth, why not visit the greatest avenue on earth? Presided over by the glorious Arc de Triomphe, the Champs-Elysees boasts flagship designer stores and exquisite patisseries, all housed in belle-époque buildings. Down on the Left Bank, you’ll find booksellers setting out their wares on little green stands all along the river, as a queue forms outside Shakespeare and Company. Browsing French literature under the shadow of the gothic and majestic Notre Dame is about as Parisian as it gets.
Hotels in Paris
Paris hotels have a reputation for being fiendishly expensive, but it is possible to strike a bargain, depending on the time of year you visit. Of course, if money’s no object, you can have the full Marie-Antoinette experience, staying in a sumptuous, rococo-style suite. Other luxury hotels in Paris offer a contemporary style, and they will all pamper you, with spa services, chauffeured limos, and often, a choice of restaurants serving the very best of modern French cuisine. The cheap hotels in Paris still have unique touches of Parisian style, and the vast majority provide free WiFi and a buffet breakfast.
Where to stay
The Louvre – Place Vendome district has some of the most beautiful and grand hotels, and you’ll be surrounded by glamour, with the Champs-Elysees, the Paris Opera, and the Louvre Museum all in close proximity. If your Paris dreams include walks along the Seine and afternoons spent exploring museums, then Saint-Germain-des-Pres is the district created for you. There’s a wide choice of hotels, from budget guesthouses to luxury boutiques. Just across the river, Marais is one of the most eclectic districts, stretching from the medieval Notre Dame to the postmodern Centre Pompidou, with a diverse selection of hotels to match.
How to get to Paris
Paris has two main airports, Charles de Gaulle and Orly, which are both served by flights from across the globe. From Charles de Gaulle, the quickest way to get into the center is to take a high-speed RER train from terminal 2 or 3. It’s a 30-minute journey to the Gare du Nord, which links with the Paris metro system. From Orly airport, there are dedicated bus services which go to major points all over the city, including Gare Montparnasse. There’s also a shuttle to Disneyland from here. The south terminal has a tram which links directly to the metro.
Here are 5 fun facts on Paris from Hotels.com
1. ‘Paris’ is not the city’s original name.
Many centuries ago when the first settlers in Paris were scrubbing their clothes on the muddy banks of the Seine, the city that would be founded on that spot was not referred to as Paris. Paris’s original name was Lutetia Parisiorum (called Lutèce in French), and the settlers there were Celts known as the “Parisii.” It is commonly believed that “Lutetia” comes from the Latin word “lutum,” meaning “. So the elegant, glittering city that we all know and love, most likely was first known as “mud town of the Parisii.”
2. Île de la Cité is the birthplace of Paris.
When you’re wandering around the Île de la Cité, admiring St. Chapelle, Notre-Dame Cathedral or crossing Pont Neuf, take a look around and try to imagine what it must have been like in 53 BC when the Julius Caesar and his Roman troops first joined the Celtic settlers living on the tiny island. Instead of the beautiful stone Pont Neuf or Pont St. Michel connecting the island to the Right and Left Banks, there were two wooden bridges.
3. Roman ruins still exist in Paris.
For its first few centuries (roughly 53 BC-212, A.D.), Paris was a Roman city, complete with an aqueduct, public baths, stone fountains, and a 10,000 seat arena where Gallo-Romans could gather to watch Christians being slaughtered. A few remnants of this period still exist. For example, the Arènes de Lutèce, a crumbling stone amphitheater in the 5th arrondissement, dates back to the 1st century. You can also see parts of the public baths in the Musée de Cluny, and fragments of the old Roman city in the Archeological Crypt under the esplanade at the Cathedral of Notre Dame on the Île de la Cité.
4. Pont Neuf doesn’t mean “Bridge Nine”.
Speaking of the Île de la Cité, the lovely stone bridge that you cross to get there - the Pont Neuf – isn’t the ninth bridge in Paris. Despite its name, it has nothing to do with the number nine. Pont Neuf means “New Bridge,” so named by King Henry IV, who ordered its construction in 1578. He named it “New Bridge” because it had very modern features for its time. It was the first bridge without houses built on it, the widest bridge in Paris (for awhile), and the first to have pavement, which made it an ideal place to socialize. Today, it is the oldest existing bridge in Paris.
5. The Storming of Bastille was a symbolic act.
One of the biggest holidays in France is Bastille Day on July 14th. Colorful fireworks illuminate the Eiffel Tower, armored tanks trundle down the Champs-Elysees in a military parade, low-flying jet planes rip through the sky, spouting blue, white and red smoke in their wake – all to celebrate the storming of the prison Bastille in 1789 and the release of its prisoners. Bastille was known for holding political prisoners, especially those openly critical of the monarchy. But on the day Bastille was actually stormed, there were no political prisoners of significance in the jail. In fact, there were only 7 prisoners – and four of them had been jailed for check-forging.