According to the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) in 2012 France garnered the number one position in terms of international visitors.  It is always in the top 10 of most visited cities in the world.  It is my personal opinion that most of these visitors are in Paris and at Versailles.

My two favorite European cities are London and Paris.  I have been to London over 40 times and have now stopped counting my visits.  My trips to Paris total 15.  Both of these cities can be visited again and again.  They reveal themselves to you slowly.  In the future I will be posting about London, her many secrets and my many secrets, but now I will concentrate on Paris.

I am all about public transportation, culture, museums and meeting and interacting with the locals.  When people ask me what is the one thing I always bring with me when I travel, my answer, which may seem trite, is a Smile.  I have found that learning the few words necessary to be polite in a language (hello, please, thank you) and saying these words with a smile, bridges all cultural and language gaps.
I have heard many people complain about the French and yet I have never had anything less than wonderful interactions.  I always find it amusing when I ask a question in French and invariably the reply I get is in English, and with a smile.  People appreciate the effort.Paris is usually named as one of the most romantic cities in the world.  But you don’t have to have a significant other with you to enjoy it.  It is a city for singles, couples, friends and family.  It is very easy city to navigate once you get the hang of the system,  The system I refer to is the  Paris Metropolitan (Metro) and the RER. Both criss cross the arrondissements of Paris and make for easy access to and from Charles de Gaulle Airport (CDG).The RER train “B” connect CDG with Paris.  It is easy to get to from the arrivals/baggage claim areas of arriving airlines.  Most U.S arrivals coms into Terminal 2.  The train station is between Terminal 2 D/F and 2 C/E so its very convenient.  Once you pick up your luggage simply follow the signs for “Trains, Paris and SNCF” and you will arrive in a central area where you will need to go down one level to the ticket kiosks.  If you do not have Euros you will need to visit the ticket counter where a person can assist you.  The ticket kiosks do NOT except American credit cards, even those with an embedded chip.  The ticket to central Paris is 9.50€ and takes only about 35 minutes to Gare Nord.  Connections to the Metro are quick and easy at Gare Nord, Chatelet-les Halles, and on the Left Bank, Denfert-Rochereau.  In fact the fare that you pay includes one free transfer from the RER B to another RER line or a Metro line.  Considering  the traffic and the amount of time it takes to get from CDG to Paris this public transportation option is both a time saver and a money saver.

1.  Fancy meeting some locals, ex-pats and tourists from around the world at a typical Parisian home?  Throw in a dinner and wine and you have the makings of a Sunday soirée at former Louisiana resident, Jim Haynes’ home.  It’s a tradition that has been going on for years, every Sunday evening for years.  It’s fun, unusual and authentic.  You do pay a fee which goes to your dinner but you do get an experience that is unique,  I did it a few years ago and loved it. for more information and to reserve your space.

2.  Walking tours.  The trend of late in Europe has been all about FREE walking tours.
Always conducted by local residents not only do they give you great insight into the history of the areas you will be walking through they are always great sources to get the low down on the best places to eat, drink and shop.  Tip what you like at the end of the tour.  I have done walks with the following companies and really enjoyed them.
My personal favorites include the Montemarte and Latin Quarter areas.
I will add more information about places to see and things to do in a later post. In the meantime here is a picture of the famous Moulin Rouge (Red Windmill)