After writing the article on learning a foreign language, I decided it would be a good idea to explore a foreign country. I’ve chosen to expose you to one of the most popular places I’ve been to in the past – Paris. I visited Paris a a little over a year ago in July and stayed for two weeks. I really enjoyed my trip. I think the city is beautiful, it has a rich history with plenty of amazing things to see. Rather than describe Paris in one post, I’ve decided to use three. I feel this will let me give you a holistic view of the city and its inhabitants.
This first post will detail the many transportation systems available in Paris – this is especially important if you are going as a tourist. I could write a long drawn out post describing every detail or I could show you some pictures and comment on them. I’ve chosen the latter. Enjoy!
Let’s start by going over how you’ll typically get from place to place. Look at the picture below and try to guess. I’ll give you a hint: check out the sidewalk.
Notice that the width of the sidewalk is about 3/4 ths the width of the street. Just from looking at it you can see that you can do a lot of walking in Paris. This could mean walking to a fashion store, a nearby restaurant, or a popular attraction.
You would think that walking to the store or a restaurant would be a problem, but if you look off further into the distance you’ll notice that a lot of shops, restaurants, and supermarkets are conveniently located next to hotels and residential buildings.
If walking around is not your thing, then you can get around on a bike. Paris has plenty of bike lanes and people who utilize them. In the picture above, you can see some kids riding their bikes home from summer school, as well as a lady coming back home from work.
Don’t have a bike? No worries – you can rent one! These two bikes are part of the public transportation system and are kept in top condition by the city. All you have to do is buy a pass (it’s quite affordable), slide it over the read area, and ride out. And when you’re done, you can just park the bike at one of the many bike stations located all over Paris. Simple, fast, and fun!
For those of you that can’t be bothered with pedaling, there are other alternatives – one being mopeds. Although motorcycles are the most popular motorized bikes in the United States, it seems the Parisians have fallen in love with mopeds. It is not uncommon to see these motorized mini-bikes at least a few times throughout the day. And yes, you can rent these too, but it’s a little hard to find the rental shops.
If biking in the sun is not your style, you can get around underground. The subway system in Paris is superb. Clean and reliable, the subway trains consistently arrive on time. In my whole two weeks of riding them only one train arrived more than 1 minute behind schedule. The subway is a bit crowded between 8-9am and 4-6pm, but other than those high traffic times it’s pretty empty, making it the tourist’s ideal way to travel. It was certainly my favorite means of transportation.
Want to remain above ground? You can take a bus tour of Paris. The pass is good for 48 hours and the bus takes you to almost all of the main attractions in Paris. The bus tour gives you a macro view of Paris, letting you see the main sites before you dive into each individual one. Another great thing about the bus tour is that you can get off when you see a site you like and get on another bus after you’ve finished exploring.
If you want to see the city sites by boat, you can buy a pass and travel on the Seine – the slow moving river that passes through central Paris. The ride is around 2 hours and lets you see the nooks and crannies of Paris that you couldn’t normally see from land. I recommend going near sun set, the view is especially beautiful then.
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Well, I hope you enjoyed my explanation of how to get around the city. In my next post, I’ll go over the “must see” attractions in Paris.