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Great Touristy Things to do Helpful Information Holidays Trips and Tours

Find the best guided tour of Paris for you

How do you choose the best guided tour of Paris for you? There are hundreds of ways of finding out all about Paris, some free and some not so free.  You can take a tour whilst walking, running, riding a bike, motorbike or a segway, taking a bus, a tuk tuk, a boat or whilst sitting down in a comfy seat watching a theatre performance to name but a few.

But if you only have an hour or three, here are my Top Choices for having fun and finding your best guided tour of Paris :

I love walking so for me this is the best : A great, and (technically) FREE choice is  www.discoverwalks.com  Take one of 5 trips round the Marais, Montmartre, ‘Parisian Landmarks’ The Left Bank (the South side) or the Islands with a young, bilingual Frenchman or woman, vividly – dressed in pink waistcoats or shirts so you can’t lose them.  These are not history lessons, they are full of facts, very funny anecdotes and stories about current events.  Great fun. Your guides exist on tips.

If you are a lot more energetic you could sign up as for the FREE running tours on Wednesday mornings at 10am.  Your guide is Luke, an Australian, and you can meet him at the pointy end of Ile de La Cité opposite the Statue of Henri IV (right by one of my favourite restaurants, the Taverne Henri IV).   Just turn up or sign up to his Facebook page.   Please don’t think for one moment that I have done this, I have just got some mad friends!

Gorgeous guests Jeff and Laura suggested I tell all of you about the Left Bank Scooters who will take you on a 3 hour journey around Paris; one of you on the back of a motorcycle and the other in a sidecar, helmets etc provided. Both of them are tall but neither of them said they felt crushed and they came back raving, they loved it.  These tours are only offered in the Winter months, from November to the end of March and for the braver, they offer Vespa scooter hire too.

Finally, so many of you have watched and adored the Theatre show “How to become a Parisian in one hour”. It is not a guided tour but it does guide you through how to understand the Parisians, their foibles and how we need to behave to get along in Paris.  It was created and is performed by a Frenchman, Olivier Giraud, in English and has been a smash hit for years.  A laugh a minute tho a little on the blue side perhaps.  The theatre show is every Friday – Monday night and tickets cost from €24 – ask if you want me to book for you.  And it is not far, go to Galeries Lafayette at the bottom of the hill and turn right!

I hope this will give you food for thought as to how to find the best guided tour of Paris for you and your family, whether it is your first trip or not and I look forward to your comments.

If you found this interesting, please take a look at my Handy Guide to Living Like a Local or perhaps you want to know some of my great restaurant choices?

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2016 Events Great Exhibitions Great Touristy Things to do

Gene Kelly at the Paris Opera

Did you know Gene Kelly created a ballet for the Paris Opéra ?  Did you know he spoke excellent French ?

Nope, neither did I until I booked to go on one of the several morning or afternoon English-speaking guided tour groups around the Palais Garnier for my Mother and I (highly recommended).  Apart from the 2 hour long tour of the building including the real explanation of where the Phantom of the Opera story came from (and yes there is a lake but no you cannot go there) we walked through the free, Special exhibition of “American Choreographers at the Paris Opera”.

In that exhibition more than 70 years of American involvement at the Paris ballet is chronologically arranged – starting in 1947 with George Balanchine who created the New York City Ballet.

Gene Kelly at the OperaUntil 1970 the only other person to create a ballet was Gene Kelly in 1960 and in the exhibition is a video of him giving an interview in excellent French describing his ballet “Pas de Dieux”, a play on words meaning No Gods to the ballet term “Pas de Deux” meaning 2 people dancing together.

This is the drawing of the costumes drawn by Gene Kelly and below is my bad photo of one of the actual, and very beautiful, costumes.Gene Kelly at the Opera

There are loads of other amazing costumes, photos and videos from some of the most famous ballets including Agon, by Ballanchine assisted by the West Side Story choreographer, Jerome Robbins.

From 1983 – 89, when Rudolf Nureyev was Director he focused particularly on modern American dance, increased the number of invitations and systemised the alternation of classical and contemporary ballets.

Nureyev used his reputation to invite major names little known to the Opera such as Alvin Ailey (Au bord du précipice – 1983), Twyla Tharp (Première Orage – 1984) and William Forsythe who has choreographed at the Palais Garnier for the last 30 years including this year with “Of Any If And”.  There are so many videos, newsreel items, photos and gorgeously, gorgeously gorgeous costumes of their ballets.

Recently some of the most amazing costumes (and sets) have been created by Christian Lacroix and to stand close to those costumes, unfortunately behind glass, and see the workmanship of the luxurious, bejewelled materials and their construction was truly a marvel.

It took at least an hour more to look around the exhibition without watching much of the dancing because we had to go opposite to the Grand Café and compare the cakes there to those at the George V and the Ritz.

I would thoroughly encourage everyone to spend the €15.50 per ticket for the guided tour at 11am and 2.30pm even without the wonderful Special Exhibition which closes on September 25th.

Looking forwards to your comments,

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Holidays News Special Offers

5th of 6000 so here is an August thank you offer

Yeh, I made it to number 5 this week!!    Being ranked 5th on Trip Advisor means being 5th of all +/- 6000 listings in the Vacation Rental section of Trip Advisor Paris.   Just type ‘Paris’ and then list by Traveller Reviews. No other filters needed :-).

I’m so happy I wanted to thank the people who made that happen, my gorgeous guests and all those who have at one time wanted to stay with me.

When I started I had no clue how important Trip Advisor was and even less clue how their algorithms worked.  My first review was a 5 out of 5 so I jumped into the Top 500 ish.    I remember I posted on Facebook just how happy I was to be ranked in the Top 100.

I was over the moon when I got into the Top 50 because that was technically page 1 of Trip Advisor !   That seems ages ago but as I only started in 2012 it can’t be !

Now the B&B has 126 reviews (of which only 9 are 4* peppered with ‘wonderful’ and ‘we will return’ statements).   The apartment is lagging behind in 9th position with only 107 reviews!

So how to celebrate or offer a thank you ?  Here comes the August Special Offer.  Well actually there are 2; an August Special Offer and an August ‘Special’, Special Offer !

AUGUST SPECIAL OFFER : For anyone who wants to come to Paris between now and the 5th September I am offering a 20% discount for a 4+ night stay in either the B&B or the Apartment.  Please share (those funny coloured buttons at the end) if you think your friends may be interested.

Temperatures on the balcony will be 80F/60F   or   26C/15C.   PERFECT.

August is my favourite month in Paris, the French are on holiday so the museums are open and quiet (except for the 15th August public holiday when a lot are closed but for those that are open PLEASE buy a museums pass), the shops are empty, most of the restaurants are open (just the mom and pop ones close) and the roads are EMPTY !

Come and see for yourselves.

The AUGUST ‘SPECIAL’ SPECIAL OFFER is only for my Gorgeous Guests who have already stayed at 52Clichy :

I want to go away for a short trip before September so if anyone wants to stay in the B&B or take both for up to 6 people, you can have the same Special Offer as above PLUS, although you won’t be getting my breakfasts, you will have the place to yourselves.

Just click the link to the B&B  or the Apartment on Trip Advisor and pop in your dates or click on the 52 Clichy website, choose where you want to stay and click on the big purple  “Check Availability”  button.

3rd August 2014 at the Place de Clichy
3rd August 2014 at the Place de Clichy
15th August 2015 at the Place de Clichy
15th August 2015 at the Place de Clichy
15th August 2015. These poor people didn't buy a Museum Pass so are queuing at Versailles !
15th August 2015. These poor people didn’t buy a Museum Pass so are queuing for an entrance ticket at Versailles !

Looking forward to seeing you or hearing from you soon,

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Want to hear what previous guests have said, CLICK HERE…

Categories
Great Exhibitions Great Touristy Things to do Helpful Information Holidays Trips and Tours

Teens will love Will.i.am at the Louvre

I’m a fan of the Black Eyed Peas so when I heard last month that Will.i.am (founding member of the Black Eyed Peas for those over 30) was re-interpreting his “Mona Lisa Smile” video in association with the Louvre, my interest was piqued.

I love the new video which was entirely set in the Louvre.  Throughout the song Will.i.am super-imposes himself on numerous of the Louvre’s most famous paintings, half of which I should know but don’t. Nicole Scherzinger plays La Joconde / Mona Lisa – but as I am over 30 I haven’t heard of her ;-(

Will.i.am at the Louvre

I think it would be a great wheeze to wander round the Louvre trying to spot the paintings used in the song !  One way to interest the teens, I think.

I might have to find them in the correct order sequence though just because I am waaayy too complicated for my own good…

Click on the photo to see the video.

How many can you name off the top of your head ?   If you need help this link shows the original painting, the video version and a bio !

Not content with this collaboration, Will.i.am has also produced a 12 minute documentary – Will.i.am at the Louvre – with the senior creator of the Department of Decorative Arts at the Louvre and the Editor of Wired UK discussing his passion for art and technology and his fascination with the Louvre, “the greatest museum in the World”.  Some contents that particularly inspired him included one of my favourite subjects, Marie-Antoinette, his view of the parallels between creativity in the 18th century and today and the piece de résistance in his mind, Claude-Simeon Passemant’s 18th Century silver and gold “Pendulum of the Creation of the World”, which not only tells the time but shows precisely how the Earth tilts on its axis.

Click here to see the documentary.

The Louvre has a lot of Visitor Trails, maps with detailed directions and explanations of what you are seeing which you follow at your leisure and they have created a 90 minute Will.i.am at the Louvre Trail based on the documentary incorporating everything he talks about including the sumptuous Napoleon III apartments, the monumental white stone Lefuel double staircase and ‘that clock’ which I also think is amazing (I recently saw a smaller version in the Kings private state rooms in Versailles Palace but it is not on public display).

If you are up to it, and your teens aren’t yet dragging their feet and demanding to be fed, there is 90 minute themed tour about the Da Vinci Code called ‘from Fiction to Fact’ and just one guided tour in English – an introduction to the ‘Masterpieces’ at 11.30am and 2pm each day.

Happy Louvring !

Categories
Eating Experience Great Touristy Things to do Helpful Information Trips and Tours

The best boat trip on the Seine

I am always being asked about the plethora of different boat cruises on the Seine, starting with “Is a boat trip on the Seine a good thing to do if we only have a couple of days in Paris” ?  “Are they a tourist trap” ?  “Should we spend the money on dining or just take a guided tour” ?

My reflex answer is “yes, definitely, no matter how short your trip, make space for a boat trip”.  You have a completely different perspective of Paris from the river;  the buildings are stunning and even more beautiful when lit in the evenings. The round trip can be relatively quick and you get to rest your, often very, weary, feet.

So many of the most important buildings were either built on the river or have unhindered views from it ; the Eiffel Tower, Invalides, the Musée d’Orsay, the Louvre and everything on the 2 islands – Notre Dame, the Conciergerie and Saint Chapelle, never mind that every single other building seems to have its own individual style and story to tell so that you could travel the Seine for months and still see something else you hadn’t seen before.

Yes, it is also a tourist trap but that doesn’t mean to say you are ripped off – there is enough competition to keep prices down and service efficient. In fact, if you can, take the trip twice, once during the day in the sunshine and again in the evening at dusk.

As there are so many different types of boat trip here are my thoughts :

For starters, there is the BatoBus, the watery equivalent of the Hop-on Hop-off bus.  Batobus_ParisThere are 1 or 2 day tickets for these boats that come every 20 minutes to any of the 9 stops. This is a great option if you think you are going to sightsee along the river and want to take in as much as possible.  It’s also quite a great option for children who may get tired easily because there is so much to distract them.

Then there are the cruises :

Vedettes du Pont Neuf offer a basic cruise every 30 minutes from the Pont Neuf with commentary in French and English from a real guide.  Bring a picnic!

Vedettes de Paris has an hour long cruise with audioguide or for a little more money a snack is added. Don’t take the Foxity bus tour for double the price as there are only 4 places you can get off the bus.

The famous Bateaux Mouches and Bateaux Parisiens are much larger cruise boats.  You can take the guided (taped) tour or opt for food with the lunch, brunch or dinner menus.  Bateaux Parisien boats are smaller and prices lighter except if you pick a table outside. The Bateaux Mouches are larger, more expensive and smarter – there is a dress code.  Dinner is prepared  fresh that day and you are accompanied by a small band on both so you can dance between the tables if you like.

I have not taken the lunch or brunch trips but have only heard good reviews from guests. I have taken the dinner trips on several occasions and the food is very good however with pricing for dinner starting at €99 per person for the Bateaux Mouches you can also ask me to give you a couple of dinner options before taking a night cruise.

However, my total favourite is Le Calife, a wooden converted barge.  Calife barge restaurant

You have to be careful not to miss the view when chatting or eating the delicious food at lunch or dinner time (in fact le Calife is listed in the Top 20 restaurants in Paris on Trip Advisor though cheaper than the Bateaux Mouches and Bateaux Parisiens). There is no guided commentary and no live music, it’s just an excellent meal eaten whilst floating by a gorgeous view.

Do tell me which one you preferred.

Please find more recommendations by reading my suggestions of the best restaurants minutes from 52 Clichy, best local restaurants in Paris or dive in with my in-depth Guide to Living Like a Local. I am sure they will make your trip to Paris very special.

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If you haven’t already considered visiting Paris and staying at 52 Clichy, take a look at my website or read some of my 150+ 5 star reviews for the B&B or the +120 5* reviews for the Apartment.