Paris France: Arc De Triomphe: More than just an Arch

If you are planning a trip to Paris France, there are a lot of things to do and a lot of sights to see.  If you are limited on time and have to skip an attraction, the Arc De Triomphe is one that you do NOT want to skip.  It looks like a big giant arch, but it’s a lot more than that.  You can actually go inside where there’s a museum, roof access, and the never-ending winding staircase from hell (no joke).  From the roof, the views of the city are spectacular, not as good as the Eiffel Tower’s top level, but also not near as expensive or near as crowded.

The Arc De Triomphe costs less than $15 per person for a basic skip-the-line pass, which will allow you access up to the roof (terrace) and entrance into the museum where you can learn about the history associated with the Arc and what it means to France.

As far as I know, there is no elevator (lift) to the museum and to the top, so be sure to bring some water to drink, because that stairwell is long and steep, and during the summer months it’s sweltering hot inside the stairwell.  Once you make it up the stairwell, the museum and terrace make it all worth it.  Be sure to also bring a camera as their are many photo-worthy parts of this attraction.

A visit to the Arc De Triomphe is only a couple of hours, maybe less depending on the line and depending on the crowds, so it’s easy to squeeze it in between attractions if you must, but just make sure you don’t miss it.

Never-ending staircase from hell

Museum


Paris France: The Eiffel Tower – Is it overrated?

Often times, world famous sights are overrated.  The sights can be dirty, crime-ridden, ghetto, insanely crowded with tourists speaking a million different languages, expensive….you get the drift.  A couple of sights that fall into this overrated category are “The Hollywood Walk of Fame”and New York’s “Times Square.”

Does the Eiffel Tower fall into this category?

Well, my family and I visited the Eiffel Tower on our 4-day tour in Paris and overall we really enjoyed our tour, but is some planning necessary if you want to get a complete experience.

There are 4 ways to experience the Eiffel Tower:

  1. You can simply go to the tower and take pictures on the outside without having to pay to get in
  2. You can buy fairly cheap tickets and visit the 1st floor, where the Eiffel Tower museum is located.  This cannot be accessed by elevator/lift
  3. You can spend a little bit more and visit the 2nd floor observation deck, accessible by elevator
  4. You can spend a lot more and visit the 2nd floor observation deck and the TOP floor observation deck, both accessible by elevator

Tickets to get to the 2nd floor and top floor observations decks sell out sometimes weeks in advance during peak season (summer), so best to go with a tour agency and buy the tickets ahead of time.  You can buy them on Expedia, Viator (Trip Advisor), and many more.

The view it self from the 2nd floor observation deck itself is amazing, and if you’re afraid of heights, I recommend buying this ticket.  You are high enough get a great panoramic view of Paris, but you are low enough that you likely won’t get an anxiety attack.

If you are not afraid of heights and you want to see much larger and further panoramic views of Paris, you need to buy tickets to the top level observation deck.  It’s near the very top of the tower itself, the views from up here are priceless.  If you are afraid of heights, do not go up here!  If you enjoy heights and can afford the more expensive ticket, it’s worth every dollar (or Euro)!  These tickets need to be bought in advance or they may sell out.  Do not expect to be able to buy tickets to the top at the entrance, unless it’s off-peak season.

Whatever option you choose, be prepared for large crowds.  Keep your wallet in your front pocket to avoid pick-pocketers.  Be ready to hear multiple languages, even American English from other tourists from the US.

Bring bottles of water with you in order to keep hydrated.  Bring a camera to take unforgettable pictures.

So, does the Eiffel Tower fall into the category of “Overrated”?  Yes, it’s crowded.  Yes, it can be expensive.  Is it ghetto?  No.  Is it dirty?  The park in front of it is, but the immediate area around the tower is pretty clean.  is it crime-ridden?  There is some petty theft and pick-pocketing, but no major crimes.

So, my answer is NO, it is NOT overrated!  It’s totally worth it, and it’s repeat-worthy.  I would love to go up the Eiffel Tower again and if you visit Paris in the future, you should tour it as well.

Photos from the 2nd Floor Observation Deck:

 

Photos from the TOP Observation Deck:

 


Paris France: Step 1: Add to your bucket list

Paris France Instructions:

Step 1: Add to your bucket list of destinations to visit

Step 2: Ignore the myths about French people

Step 3: Have a great time and don’t eat too many pastries

We visited Paris France for the first time in June 2017 as part of a 3 nation tour through Europe.  First we visited London UK, then we hopped on the Eurostar bullet train from London to Paris.  France was a first for all of us, so we were a little unsure of ourselves when we first arrived.  None of us spoke a word of French, we were not very familiar with the food, maybe except the pastries, and we worried about how we would be treated as Americans visiting Paris.

We arrived at the Paris Nord train station, we booked a taxi to our hotel room, we checked in, and needed to find a place to eat dinner.  From our friendly taxi driver, and the very helpful Hotel Clerk, to the friendly server at our restaurant, we were already feeling at home.  Our taxi driver asked us a lot of questions about America, our Hotel clerk helped us find a great place to eat dinner, and our server at the restaurant helped us interpret their menu and gave us 5 star service.

WAIT!

I thought the French hated Americans!  Were we just lucky our first night?  NO, it was pretty much like this our entire 4 days in Paris.  We were treated very well almost everywhere we went.  So, if you were to throw out any of the myths about the French, throw out this one.  The French are NOT anti-American, at least not in Paris.  Maybe it’s different outside the city-limits?

When you are in Paris, be sure to visit all the famous sights at least once, take a journey off the beaten path as well as that is where you tend to find the real French culture.  Do try out some pastries, but don’t eat too many of them, although they do have the best tasting pastries I have ever eaten.  Starbucks and some other places here in the USA try to sell so-called French Pastries, but they do not stack up against what you can get in France.

Take in the French culture, watch people (but don’t stare).  This country is one of the best people watching places in the world.  Eat their food, especially some of the more strange dishes such as escargot, or snail caviar if you are really brave.

The more you experience any country’s culture, the more rich and unforgettable of an experience you will have.  That’s especially true in France.


35 Worst Countries to Visit?

I noticed this headline on My Yahoo home page and couldn’t help but click on it and read.  I tend to take this type of “don’t travel here, don’t go there” advice with a grain of salt.  It seems our media here in the USA is always trying to scare us when it comes to the world outside of the USA, so much to the point there are some who think once they step off the plane in a foreign country that everybody there will pick-pocket them, kidnap them, rape them, shoot them, behead them, and cook them up and eat them for dinner.

It’s simply not the case 99.9 percent of the time.  Most countries outside the USA are actually safer than most US cities.

On this list, there are 4 countries that are on my list to visit, and there are 2 countries that I have already visited.  Click on the picture below to visit this list courtesy of the True Activist:

35 Worst Countries To Visit – Avoid Traveling Here No Matter What


Why Everyone Should Keep a Current Passport, Even if You Never Plan on Leaving the Country….

According to the US Census, in the year 2016 about 36% of Americans keep a current passport.  Believe it or not, that number is higher than in past years. This means that 64% of Americans did NOT keep a current passport in 2016.  This means that 64% of Americans could not fly to Canada or Mexico and were virtually stuck within the 50 states and the US territories.

While I can argue the benefits of traveling outside the USA, such as:

  • expanding your mind by experiencing other cultures and languages
  • experiencing international cuisine
  • appreciating the many diverse people that share our world

The fact is, there are many people who have absolutely no interest whatsoever in stepping foot outside the USA.  I am trying to help change that mentality by sharing my travel experiences in this blog, but there will always be a significant percentage of Americans who will never see Mexico,or the Caribbean, or Europe, or Thailand and they are okay with it.

If you are not interested in traveling outside the US, should you apply for a passport?

My answer?  Yes, you should still apply for a passport.  For a number of reasons:

  • Some day, you may be suddenly interested in traveling outside the USA.  Especially if you see a deal where you can book a round trip ticket to Paris for less than $300, but you have to book specific dates and you have a limited time to book the tickets, and you have no passport?  That can be trouble.
  • If you’re single you might happen to meet your special someone who is from another country.  He or She may be temporarily visiting the USA or you may meet him or her online.  It would be ideal to have a passport if you want to pay him or her a visit
  • Applying for a passport is easy.  Not any harder than applying for a Driver’s License, and no road test.  You just fill out an application, submit a passport photo, and a check to your local post office.  It can take a few weeks for a few months for your passport to arrive.  The passport is good for 10 years (5 years for children)
  • Back-up!  As in back-up ID.  I recall losing my Drivers License the day I was to drive down to Las Vegas and check into my Hotel room.  I was devastated because without ID, there was no checking in to the hotel room, but then I remembered that I had my passport.  I took that down with me instead and was able to check into my room.  I had to drive carefully and not speed so I wouldn’t be caught driving without a license, but at least I could check into my room.

Of course there are many more reasons why you should keep a current passport, but the above reasons are convincing enough, especially the last bullet point.