(Closed) London, Paris and Madeira! have you been there? Euro Train experience?

posted 6 years ago in Travel
Post # 3
Member
5118 posts
Bee Keeper
  • Wedding: November 1999

OOooh I’m so jealous! I’ve been to London and Paris, and I had a BLAST! I was a 17yr old who spoke only English and Spanish, and I managed just fine. The London public transport on the tube is easy as pie, and you’ll love the entire city! So many fun places to go to and see, but some of my favorite parts were just hanging out at the parks and checking out small shops. Definitely hit the London Eye if you can, great views!

Paris was nice as well, and I didn’t get any of that ‘anti-american’ feel (2005). For Paris, be sure to have a few of meds with you in case you become ill. I had three AWESOME days there b/c the pills we got at the pharm were double the strength of what I’d usually take, and I was taking 2 pills at a time! LOL. Their transport was not quite as awesomely easy as the tube, but still easy enough. Be sure to hit the Eiffel tower at dusk/night to see it light up (if they still do that). Magical. We took a river cruise at dusk and saw it, and it’s seriously my favorite memory of Paris. 

I hope that you have a blast!! And I hope other bees who are in the UK/France can help you out with better info and more specific details. Seriously, those are some wonderful cities, you should have a wonderful time πŸ™‚

Post # 4
Member
1830 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: July 2011

I lived in London for three years and absolutely LOVED it!   As NDBee said, the tube is incredibly easy to use, as are the buses, so you should have no problem using public transport there.  Whatever you do, do NOT rent a car for London – it will be a much bigger hassle than it’s worth.   There is so much to do in London, 3 days will really be cramming it in.  The Tower of London is well worth a visit, as is a bit of shopping on Oxford Street.  Take a walk through the parks (St James is my favourite) and stop by the Natural History Museum in South Kensington (unless you’re a massive history buff, I’d say you can skip the British Museum, Nat Hist is much more interesting).   Spend a morning wandering around Chelsea.  Check out Buckingham Palace at some stage and wander around Covent Garden for a little while.  These are all pretty touristy things to do but if you are only in London for three days, you have to see them!

For Paris, just learn a few key words and you won’t have any trouble.  Most people speak some English but if you don’t attempt to speak some French at the start, you will not receive a very warm welcome.  Just key phrases is enough (hello, please, thank you, numbers, I would like…., table for two, bathrooms etc)   As to what to see, definitely wander around the Left Bank for a while and just take in the sites.  The Louvre is pretty awesome (and I don’t like art), Sacre Coeur and the surrounding area is quite nice, and Notre Dame Cathedral is a must do.  If you can, try to book in dinner at the Eiffel Tower – it’s pretty awesome and well worth the money.  Also, climb the stairs to the top of the Arc de Triomphe as you’ll get amazing views over all of Paris.  Take a day trip to Versailles as well – it is AMAZING!   And most of all, just stroll the streets, pop into little patisseries and practice this sentence: “Je voudrais un pain au chocolat s’il vous plait” – you won’t regret it when you have a yummy chocolate croissant in your hand!  πŸ™‚

The Metro in Paris is equally easy to use so you should have absolutely no trouble using public transport there either.  Just grab a handy little Metro map (you’ll want to do the same thing with the Tube) and you won’t have any trouble, but just be prepared for a lot of stairs on both systems.  They do have escalators at some stations (elevators are pretty much unheard of except for a few, newer, wheelchair accessible stations) but for most stations, it will be lots of stairs to/from the trains and when switching lines.  Not a big deal at all….. unless you have all of your luggage with you! 

Are you going to be spending any time in Lisbon before flying out to Madeira?  If so, Lisbon is another AMAZING city (DH and I got engaged in Portugal, although in a coastal town north of Lisbon).   

That’s going to be such an awesome trip – enjoy!!!

Post # 5
Member
3963 posts
Honey bee
  • Wedding: September 2018

I live in London.  And been to Madeira – which is really very beautiful.  I’m possibly the only brit who’s never been to Paris (was going to go with an ex but we broke up 4 days beforehand).  My SO did a day job in Paris recently, there and back on the Eurostar: it’s quick and easy (and cheap).

London:

  • All the museums and art galleries are free/donation (well, pretty much all of them).  I recommend the V&A if you only have a few days there because there’s a bit of everything although it is an Art and Design Museum; I believe it started from the personal collections of Queen Victoia and Prince Albert, they had a passion for art.  I personally like the architectural casts – they’re just so impressive.  You can find their website here: Victoria and Albert Museum
  • Because of limited time I would say to give Covent Garden a miss generally, but that said there is an amazing restaurant there called Sophie’s Steakhouse (I’m always banging on about this one).  The prices have gone up a bit recently due to costs but it’s still good value for money.  You can’t book in advance but it’s unlikely you’ll have to wait for a seat because they have a huge number of tables.  If you’re interested in the menu though you can find it here: Sophie’s Steakhouse.  They also do a theatre menu at cut price and is around the corner from theatre land so is great for…
  • Going to a show.  London’s West End is unique; the best in the world.  Recommendations (in no particular order) would include Blood Brothers, Les Miserables, Billy Elliot, Matilda (not seen it but it’s got rave reviews and everyone *actually everyone* says it’s incredible – will let you know when I get round to seeing it).  I’m looking forward to Singing in the Rain too!  Some of these shows do matinees and Sundays as well, for extra convenience.  You can try to get cheaper tickets on the day by going to the TKTS booth on the corner of Leicester Square (it’s the only discount booth to trust) or book in advance here: See Tickets (they do all the tickets in the West End)
  • For three days I wouldn’t bother getting an Oyster card: it’s a £10 deposit (supposedly this is refundable but I don’t know anyone who’s bothered).  It also has two peak travel times and can work out more expensive, especially if your hotel is outside Zone 1.  If travelling after 9.30am you can get an All Day Travelcard which is currently set at £7 for Zones 1-2 and £8.50 for Zones 1-6.  This works on Tube, DLR, Overground, London Buses, and Trains.  You can find the zone map here: TFL Zone map (the only thing not included are bus routes).

I could go on and on…  I could probably plan your entire 3 days lol. if you have any specific questions PM me πŸ™‚

I’m sure your family know a lot about Madiera (and this post is probably enough to digest anyway) but my one must-do is the Monte taboggan in Funchal.  That’s an experience but not nearly as scary as it looks.  Here’s a few details I googled: Monte Taboggan

I hope you enjoy your trip!

 

Post # 6
Member
1684 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: October 2011

I just wanted to add – when going on the escalators on the tube in London, its left side stand and right side walk. DO NOT stand on the right side. πŸ™‚ 

London is AWESOME. I loved it so much. Paris was pretty cool too, but I was much younger (16) so my memories have faded a bit. 

Post # 7
Member
3963 posts
Honey bee
  • Wedding: September 2018

@bebefly:  It’s stand on the right walk on the left…  But the will be angry Londoners if you stand on the wrong side – too true lol!

Post # 8
Member
988 posts
Busy bee

I live in Paris and have for 12 years.  Here’s my “basic info packet”…Watch out this is going to be long!

Learning French: Not necessary other than a few basic words.  You must know:

Bonjour – Hello

Bonsoir – Good Evening

Au Revoir – Good bye

S’il vous plaît – Please

Merci – Thank you

Ca – That (can be used when pointing at something you want in conjunction with s’il vous plaît)

Pardon – Excuse me (as in get out of my way please, not to be confused with “excusez-moi” which demands a persons attention if you are going to speak with them)…Pardon can also be used to say “sorry” if you run into someone for example.

L’addition s’il vous plaît – Check please

It is important to ALWAYS say “Bonjour” when entering a restaurant or store and “Au Revoir” when leaving.  If you do not, it is considered very rude and you should be ready to be snubbed by the store owner.   When in stores, usually sales people will not come up to you, it is considered polite here to just let you shop.  So if you need some help, don’t hesitate to say “s’il vous plaît”, or “excusez-moi”.

Post # 9
Member
988 posts
Busy bee

Other little French etiquette tidbits

-Do not call a waiter “garçon”.  You can call him “Monsieur” if you want his attention (this goes for anyone, although you should Madame for a woman, it is very polite in French to call people Sir or M’am and people do it alot).

-At restaurants it is perfectly normal for the waiter to bring you your menu and then just leave you alone for hours, it is up to you to let him know when you are ready.  This is just their way of doing it, as a customer you aren’t pressured here to order fast or eat fast or pay fast and go, they are happy to let you sit and enjoy your meal and won’t bother you unless you ask for them to (normally).  This also goes for the check, unless you ask for it, they won’t bring it.

-It is not necessary to leave a tip, 15% gratuity is included in your bill at restaurants and bars.  It is nice if you leave a euro or two, but you definitely don’t need to leave any more.

-Please don’t stand on the left side of elevators in the metro (this is a pet peeve of mine…I’m in a hurry usually and I hate when people stand on the left so you can’t get past)

 

 

Pickpockets…Beware of them in the metro!  Generally they are Eastern European gypsies.  They travel in packs, are short, have olive skin and dark hair and are about 10-15 years old.  They have started to wisen up and dress in designer clothes so they blend in a little better, but don’t be fooled!  Hold on to your purse at all times in the metro and don’t let your Darling Husband carry his wallet in his back pocket.  Sorry if this seems to be common sense, but I have seen so many tourists fall prey to these little shits and it makes me really mad!  A common tactic they have is to shuffle on the metro behind a big group of people while going through their pockets/purses, then when the buzzer goes off they jump off the train just before the door close.  By the time their victims realize anything they are several stations away.  They also often carry a sweater or a metro map over their arm (that’s folded in front of their body) so they can stash their booty under it.

 

Post # 10
Member
988 posts
Busy bee

What to visit

-Musée d’Orsay

-The Louvre

-Centre Pompidou (worth a visit to see the exterior architecture but if you’ve had enough of museums you don’t need to visit the collections)

-Eiffel Tower (it is cheaper and the line is shorter if you take the stairs to the 2nd floor.  It depends on if you’re up for a lot of stairs though…I’ve done it several times and it isn’t so bad.  Also I prefer the view from the 2nd floor to the 3rd.)

-Notre Dame

-The Catacombs (if you have time, try to bring a flashlight)

-Sacré Coeur and Montmartre neighborhood

-Take a walk along the Seine river

-Take a walk from Concorde all the way up the Champs Elysées to the Arc de Triomphe

-Versailles is definitely worth a visit, a half day is more than enough.  I think the easiest way is to get the suburban train at Gare St Lazare.  They leave from the platforms on the far left of the station, the cities the trains stop in will be listed on a board at the entrance to the platform.  I believe there is a little bus that’ll shuttle you from the Versailles train station to the castle, otherwise it is a bit of a walk but doable.

-Giverny: unfortunately it is not open at this time of year

-Hôtel de Ville: this is one of my favorite buildings in Paris, it is near Centre Pompidou and worth visiting. It’s an administrative building, so no reason to go inside so just enjoy the exterior and keep on walking (it’s near the Marais neighborhood, too)

 

Also, if you are there on the first Sunday of the month, most museums will be free to visit.

 

Post # 11
Member
988 posts
Busy bee

Hotels

I’ve never had to stay in a hotel here so I can’t recommend any, but if you like food and are day people, I would suggest staying near one of the pedestrian market streets:

-Rue Cler, 7th arrondissement (M° LaTour Maubourg or Ecole Militaire)

-Rue Lévis, 17t arrondissement (M° Villiers)

-Rue Poncelet, 17th arrondissement (M° Ternes)

-Rue des Martyrs, 9th arrondissement (M°Notre dame de Lorette, this one actually isn’t pedestrian)

-Rue Montorgeuil, 2nd arrondissement (M° Sentier or Etienne Marcel)

-Rue Lepic or Rue Abesses, 18 arrondissement (M° Blanche, M°Pigalle or M° ABesses, also not pedestrian)

 


Post # 12
Member
988 posts
Busy bee

Bars

I am terrible at remembering the names of good bars.  I have of course been to many cool places over the years and could take you there, but can never remember exact names/addresses…You’re better off checking out the blogs for tips on where to get a drink!

Check out:

http://www.mylittleparis.com

http://www.52martinis.blogspot.com

http://www.girlsguidetoparis.fr

 

Things to do

Weather permitting, walk around as much as possible!  Paris is a walking city and so much can be discovered by foot!

Some neighborhoods we enjoy exploring are:

-Batignolles, the 17th, basically go down our street to rue des Dames, turn left, cross the train tracks and you are in the Batignolles.  Many cute restaurants, shops, bars….

-Montmartre (not the tourist trap at the top of the hill) but the area around rue LePic, rue des Martyrs, rue des Trois Frères…

-The 9th arrondissement around rue des Martyrs, rue Saint Georges, rue Monnier…

If it’s nice enough, I would recommend a little river boat tour.  It only takes an hour and is a gives a different perspective of the city.

Post # 13
Member
988 posts
Busy bee

I do have a restaurant list, but I’m wary about sharing that over the internet since they are restaurants I frequent often and I’m worried they’ll be overrun with tourists if I put it out there for the world to see!  PM me if you want the list.

Post # 14
Member
988 posts
Busy bee

Also, I’ve been to London many, many times…The Eurostar is the way to go.  You arrive centrally in both cities and it’s much more convenient.

Post # 15
Member
1684 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: October 2011

@ladyartichoke:  thanks! I knew it was one or the other, I just said a side and hoped I was right. πŸ˜‰

Post # 16
Member
923 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: January 2013

As for the Euro Rail trains:  I took the train from Paris to Amsterdam and back the day after Christmas.  Going over was great.  Really pretty scenery.  Going back was okay.  About the time we got to Antwerp a fight broke.  Apparently someone was trying to steal a camera.  This same guy had spent the trip to Amsterdam pacing up and down the train for the whole trip.  It was kinda weird.  I’d say just make sure you watch your bags on the train.  Hopefully you’ve already booked your tickets, we booked at the last minute and they were about 190 Euro each way.

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