New Paris Guide

February 28, 2010 on 9:20 pm | In France, France Travel, Paris Travel,, things travelers need to know, travel | Comments Off

We have been busy at work updating and expending our Guide to the Best Places to Visit in Paris. You can find the New ThereArePlaces Guide here.

Paris is lovely at any time of the year, but the best seasons are rapidly approaching and if you have not yet been to Paris, make this year the one. Our new Paris guide has updated information for all attractions, an expanded list of best places to visit, more photographs and additional “color” commentary on neighborhoods. If you have never been to Paris, see our Paris Travel Tips section for hints of how to make Paris your pearl.

Click for the ThereArePlaces Website

French Air Traffic Controllers Strike

February 23, 2010 on 8:47 am | In Paris Travel,, air travel, strikes and travel, things travelers need to know, travel news | 1 Comment

Air traffic controllers in Paris started a five-day strike protesting an air traffic modernization deal between several European countries. See this article from the BBC for more information.

We suspect that 2010 will be a year of strikes in Europe, due to the economy and will do our best to advise you of of strikes or potential strikes as soon as we are have definitive information about them.

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Paris and The Parisians

February 6, 2010 on 11:46 am | In France, France Travel, Paris Travel,, personal travel, things travelers need to know | Comments Off

Paris is many things to many people. Tourists consider it one of the most popular cities on earth. Notre Dame Cathedral, the Eiffel Tower, Champs Elysees, the Louvre, the Latin Quarter and other sights make visiting Paris a chance to see some the best attractions the world has to offer. However, many travelers (and, indeed, the French outside of Paris) consider the Parisians to be haughty, impolite and cold.

We have found difficult people around the world and do not think that there are more of them in Paris than elsewhere. However, Parisians are matter of fact, reserved and choose not to participate in small talk. In addition, when they think you have made a bad decision, they are likely to tell you. However, they do not discriminate against travelers; they will tell anyone when they have made a bad decision.

Once, when coming from Orly Airport to the city, we took the Airport Transport Bus to its station in Paris and planned to take a cab to our hotel from that location. When the cab driver eyed our bags, he raised his voice and seemed to be berating me. It took me a second to translate and realize that he was telling me that I had wasted my money on the bus, since I had to buy two tickets and now a cab fare and that I could have traveled from Orly to the hotel by cab for less. He was right and I was not offended at his response, since I had learned something.

Some travelers feel differently about the Parisians and there is an excellent article on the topic of “service” in Paris published by the BBC.

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TripAdvisor Poll Has It Wrong

May 5, 2009 on 3:27 pm | In Copenhagen travel, Europe travel, France Travel, Germany travel, Ireland travel, Italy travel, London travel, Paris Travel,, TripAdvisor, Uncategorized, things travelers need to know | Comments Off

Today, we saw the results of a poll by the website TripAdvisor representing the sentiments of their members on travel in Europe. (We have attached links to each city mentioned here in case you want to take a look at our recommendations on these destinations.) 

According to the 2,376 people surveyed, London is the most expensive, has the worst-dressed citizens and is the dirtiest city in Europe.  The headline of the article claimed that London had the worst cuisine in Europe, but in the poll it was voted second behind Paris (by one percentage point), and ahead of Rome (by four percentage points). How London could be the worst, when it was not voted the worst seems like editorial malpractice.    Somewhat curiously, in a poll by TripAdvisor held on March 13, 2008, London was voted as the best European city to visit, although it was cited as being the most expensive and the dirtiestParis was evaluated as overrated and expensive. 

Brussels and Zurich were rated as among the most boring European cities, while Venice was crowned the most romantic, although also very expensive. 

Apparently there is a silver lining to every dark cloud as the voters loved London for its numerous free attractions (most of its major museums for instance), while Paris was cited for having the best food and best-dressed people.  Dublin fared well as a friendly place, as did Amsterdam and Prague (the best bargain). Copenhagen was voted as Europe’s cleanest city.  Barcelona was rated as having the best architecture, while Warsaw was rated as having the ugliest.

We don’t know about you, but if we had the chance to hop on a flight today for any of these cities, we would happily do so.   In large part, the quality of your travel experience depends on your doing the research to find the place that is right for you.  If you do not like art, fashion, history and great food, or the French, you will hate Paris.  Most of us find it a joy to visit the City of Light and would recommend it to others.  London, too, is a fantastic place to visit and we have never had a bad time while exploring the complex entity that is London.  We have found that street food in London is greasy and poorly prepared.  However, if you are willing to pay the price, London has some of the best restaurants in Europe. 

One final observation – we tend to fill out review forms when we have had a bad experience.  If the restuarant’s service was poor, we let them know.  If the flight was delayed and the service was cruddy, we let them know.  Conversely, when things go well we also let them know, but would likely not fill out a form to tell that that our experience was just as it should have been.  In other words, we take polls for what they are worth – very little.  But, they do make life interesting. As does travel.

Pasted below is the data from the TripAdvisor Poll, in case you do not want to read the release.

    Best Free  
    Attractions:             1. London (35%)    2. Rome (9%)       3. Barcelona (9%)
    Most Over-Rated:     1. Paris (25%)     2. London (12%)    3. Dublin (6%)
    Most Under-Rated:   1. Krakow (7%)     2. Bruges (6%)     3. Edinburgh (5%)
    Locals:                     1. Dublin (15%)    2. Amsterdam (14%) 3. Edinburgh (8%)
    Least Friendly:          1. Paris (36%)     2. London (17%)    3. Moscow (6%)
    Most Boring:            1. Brussels (14%)  2. Zurich (9%)     3. Dublin (6%)
    Most Tourist   
    Traps:                     1. London (30%)    2. Paris (15%)     3. Rome (10%)
    Most Romantic:        1. Venice (29%)    2. Paris (21%)     3. Rome (11%)
    Most Expensive:       1. London (23%)    2. Paris (19%)     3. Venice (8%)
    Best Bargain:           1. Prague (16%)    2. Amsterdam (9%)  3. Istanbul (8%)
    Best Nightlife:          1. London (27%)    2. Amsterdam (17%) 3. Barcelona(11%)
    Cleanest:                 1. Copenhagen (9%) 2. Zurich (8%)     3. Stockholm (7%)
    Dirtiest:                   1. London (36%)    2. Paris (9%)      3. Athens (7%)
    Best cuisine:            1. Paris (18%)     2. London (17%)    3. Rome (13%)
    Worst cuisine:          1. London (10%)    2. Moscow (7%)     3. Warsaw (6%)
    Architecture:            1. Barcelona (15%) 2. Rome (14%)      3. London (12%)
    Architecture:            1. Warsaw (8%)     2. Berlin (7%)     3. Brussels (6%)
    Best Public 
    Parks:                     1. London (50%)    2. Paris (7%)      3. Barcelona (6%)
    Best Dressed:          1. Paris (26%)     2. Rome (23%)      3. Madrid (8%)
    Worst Dressed:       1. London (20%)    2. Dublin (6%)     3. Moscow (6%)

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Europe’s Strike Season Begins

April 9, 2009 on 12:37 pm | In Paris Travel,, things travelers need to know, travel, vacation travel | Comments Off

Today, we noticed an AP article that the Eiffel Tower in Paris was closed today due to a strike.  It is the beginning of the spring and summer “strike season” in Europe and you should expect to be incovenienced by a wildcat strike or two, if you are lucky enough to visit.  Due to the worldwide economic downturn, we expect that there will be more strikes (and service disruptions) this season than in past years. 

What to do?

Take any strike you meet in stride.  While we recommend that you stay away from the strikers and wherever they are gathering, there is always something else to do that will be just as much fun. In fact, the most difficult thing to change will probably be your attitude.  Finding another worthwhile attraction will be easy.

The start of the “strike seaon” just means that you should have a flexible itinerary and be prepared to adjust it when you need to do so.  No Eiffel Tower today?  Substitute the Musee D’Orsay, Notre Dame, the Invalides or any of the wonderful places to see and things to do in Paris

Sure it’s irritating when things don’t go like you planned, but being angry about them isn’t going to call off the strike or have any result other than you wasting your precious vacation time being angry when you could be doing something else that is a lot of fun.

Our advice is simple – “Go with the flow” and have a flexible plan for where you want to go and what you want to see.   By the way, you won’t run into strikes in Europe in August, since it  is the month when most European workers take their vacation, but you will run into crowds.  Ahh, the more the merrier!

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Travel Decline and Travel Deals at Home and Abroad?

April 2, 2009 on 8:19 am | In Air Sale, Europe travel, Paris Travel, personal travel, things travelers need to know | Comments Off

An Associated Press article in the Seattle Times indicates that the airlines are discounting tickets to jump start the summer travel season.  Most airlines have experienced low traffic over the last several months and are now trying to lure passengers into reconsidering traveling this summer, by offering what appear to be incredible deals on airfares.  Unfortunately, the often airlines play “games” with their inventory, so you might not find many seats available at the lowest sale prices. However, it is clearly the time to take consider a summer vacation, as some of the discounts are outstanding.  Naturally, it goes without saying that “you deserve a break.”

In another interesting story that may have implications for the cost of travel, Spiegel Online, reports that even Paris, one of the most popular international travel destinations, is suffering from a significant decline in tourism.  Airline arrivals in Paris are down eight percent, year over year, hotel occupancy is down ten percent and restaurants seem to be suffering even more, as people are avoiding expensive, signature restaurants and turning to good quality, but less expensive alternatives (more “snacking and picnics).

We suspect that the decline in vacation travel is hitting most places and that the entrepreneurs who provide travel services are aware that they need to adjust their prices and improve their services to survive.  For the traveler, however, this may convert to lower prices, better service and less crowds.  In other words, now may be the time to consider travel, even if you are a little pinched.  Real travel discounts, which are usually hard to find or misleading advertising, seem to be surfacing for travel this summer.  So take a close look at what the travel industry is offering and see if they have something this year “just for you”.

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Storms In Paris, Snow In The UK, Fires In Australia – Travelers In The Breach

February 9, 2009 on 12:12 pm | In Australia Travel, France, France Travel, Paris Travel, UK Travel, Uncategorized, United Kingdom, Wales Travel, travel news | Comments Off

It continues to be a hard-weather winter in Europe.  Both de Gaulle and Orly airports have closed for the evening due to expected high winds of up to 120kph (75mph) and are scheduled to reopen on Tuesday morning  at 0700,  De Gaulle is one of the busiest airports in Europe, so the closure will play havoc with travel throughout the continent.

Across the Channel, rain, snow and flooding are plaguing the United Kingdom in the south and west after the most largest snowfall in the last 18 years.  Blizzard conditions are expected in Wales tonight and tomorrow.  Throughout the country roads and bridges are icy and many municipalities are running short of road salt to melt the ice.  Expect difficult travel conditions if you are traveling in the UK by car during the next week. If you are interested in recreation you should know that the skiing is Scotland has benefitted the large snowfall.

Fires, some natural and some set, have killed over 170 in south eastern Austrlia, north and east of Melbourne.  The effect of the fires has been influenced by high temperatures and drought conditions that have plagued parts of Australia over the last several years

A good overview of all of these stories can be found at the BBC or by searching a news aggregator.

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