We have all had that dream of experiencing Paris like a local. Here are a few of my tips on how to get the most out of your time in the City of Lights. Watch above and read below for more details.
Cobblestone Paris Apartment Rentals
The best type of Paris travel experience is to stay in an apartment instead of a hotel. Cobblestone Paris Apartment Rentals is run by an American couple, Ryan and Jennifer Miller, who started the short-term vacation rental company after staying in a rental apartment in 2004. Cobblestone has 26 different rental properties in central Paris, close to many different must-see sites, and you can look for even more choices from sites like rentalcloud.com. Living in an apartment allows you to experience Parisian life to its fullest. Choose from apartments in Marais, the Latin Quarter, the Bastille, Saint Germain, Isle Saint Louis, the Champs Elysee and more.
Every Cobblestone Paris Apartment has a kitchen and free Wi-Fi. Because the owners are frequent travelers themselves, they have equipped each property with amenities that guest want. These include free long-distance calls, hundreds of television channels, Paris guidebooks and DVDs and French cookbooks. Kitchens are also equipped with pantry essentials such as cooking oil, sugar, spices, coffee, tea, paper towels and more, allowing you to try your hand at cooking authentic French dishes while in Paris.
Other services are available upon request. Cobblestone will set you up with guided tours to a variety of different locations around Paris and its environs. You can also opt for cleaning service halfway through your stay so you don’t have to spend your time tidying the premises, leaving more time for seeing the sites of Paris.
The Paris Métro
With more than 300 stations, you’re never more than a 10-minute walk from Europe’s best underground public transportation system. To make sense of the multiple lines, get a Métro map, available at any station. All lines are color-coded and named, making easy for you to figure out which line you are on. Two smartphone apps are can also help you navigate the system: The RATP mobile app is free and available in English, while the Kemtro app costs $2 but is more user-friendly. Many stations, which are adorned by mosaic works of art, also have maps of the local neighborhood to help you navigated your destination when you get above ground.
Because the Métro is the best way to get to most Paris attractions, it makes sense to buy a Zone 1-2 carnet, or book, of 10 single-use tickets that you can use on buses, trams, the Montmartre funicular and RER trains within Zone 1 in addition to the Métro. Most stations have ticket windows, while all have automatic machines that take coins and credit cards with chips. You can also buy tickets at some tabacs and newsstands. Unlimited travel passes for one, two, three and five days are also available. Make sure you keep your ticket until the end of your trip as sometimes agents check for them at exits and you could be fined if you don’t have one.
When using the Métro, note that many stations have lots of stairs and long hallways. You’ll often have to walk a long way when transferring from one line to another, so you may want to try another form of transportation if you have lots of luggage or small children. Try to take the route with the least amount of transfers.
A word to the wise when using the Métro. Pickpockets abound, so keep bags zipped and secure under your arm. Take care when using your smartphone in the Métro as you can be easily distracted and thus a prime target.
Alain Ducasse Chocolate Factory
What comes to mind when you think of Paris? In addition to the wonderful sites and prominent art, food is at the forefront. Wonderful sweets are part of French cuisine, which is why renowned has opened a chocolate factory in the heart of Paris that showcases how the delectable treat is manufactured, beginning with the selection of premium cocoa beans all the way through the manufacture and packaging of chocolate bars.
At the Ducasse factory, chocolate is manufactured traditionally, with each production stage controlled and mastered to produce the finest possible product. Visiting the Ducasse, factory, which has two locations in central Paris, provides a visual and sensory treat while watching the manufacturing process. It’s a treat that chocolate lovers should not be missed as it provides a glimpse into how a premium food product is manufactured. You won’t find artisan chocolate that is any better or any fresher.
Continue your exploration in the decadence of the human palate when visiting the famed palace of Louis XIV, Versailles, and its recently opened restaurant, Ore. Once again Alin Ducasse is responsible for the culinary creations inside the restaurant, which has opening hours that mirror those of the palace and its grounds. Located in the renovated Pavilion Dufour, Ore-Ducasse au Château de Versailles is a contemporary cafe by day and an elegant restaurant at night that may be rented for private parties.
Ore, which is the Latin word for mouth, caters to its pleasures. The cafe revolves around breakfast, lunch and teatime experiences by providing classic French cuisine, light meals and a quick snack along with a children’s menu. In the evening, Ore becomes a stage for large-scale dinners and exclusive events.
The main reason for visiting the Palace of Versailles, however, is to see the opulence of the structure and get a taste of the decadence that the Sun King and his court experienced. The best way to do so is through a private tour that you can customize to fit your interest. A number of different operators offer small group private tours that will whisk you past long queues and into the palace and the grounds for an unforgettable experience.
Having your own personal guide to take you and your group through the palace and the grounds will give you a glimpse of history that you won’t be able to with a regular general admission ticket. You’ll be able to see a lot more in a lot less time, which is what booking a private tour is all about.