I went to Paris for New Year’s! It had been over thirty years and a lot of Frequent Flyer Miles since that visit and I was eager to re-see it.
- Don’t go for New Year’s; it’s crowded with foreigners!
- Don’t go far from your hotel on New Year’s Eve if you don’t have set plans for getting back. You won’t be able to get a cab and the Metro is unpredictable. You are forewarned.
- Don’t dress like a tourist! Do the ‘when in Rome thing’—dress like the French—blend instead of stand out. I guarantee that you’ll be treated better and enjoy yourself more.
- Do get tickets in advance to places you definitely want to visit. I had tickets to the Louvre and Musée d’Orsay in advance. There was even a line for ticket holders at The Orsay—but shorter, and at the Louvre, we went in a back door.
- Don’t stand in long lines long! I know, it’s hard to leave knowing you haven’t seen the Mona Lisa, but, you’ll live. There is so much to see in this beautiful city that you should not waste a moment on such mundane things as standing in line. Instead, go to the Rodin Museum or one of the many others—you are in the ‘city of art’; go sit by the Seine and watch the smoke from the stacks of little tug boats fold back as they go under the low bridges–Hemingway did. AND EAT—when in Paris, you eat.
6. Do make dinner reservations for nine pm. This is the time to eat inParis. I know what you’re thinking, but it will be worth it. By that time they are fully staffed and ready for you. If it helps, be glad you are not inSpain where it is at least ten before anyone will want you. Almost any café or bistro will do but this is also where your hotel concierge comes in handy. Remember, FOOD is what the French do well and they take pride in it.
7. Do hang out in the Montmartre. It’ll be crowded but you can still find your own space. For example, sit on the steps of the Basilica Sacre Coeur and think about where you are, stop by Renoir’s home, and wander around the artists at work in the square and wonder if another Van Gogh, Renoir, or Degas is waiting for you to spot them.
8. Do hang out at Le Père Lachaise. Just about anyone who was anyone in France is buried there. Get a map and begin your search for them. (I put an app in my I-Pad.) Here’s a starter list: The tragic lovers Abelard and Héloïse share a canopied tomb, Frederic Chopin is buried with a small urn of Polish soil and a red rose on top, Edith Piaf, Balzac, Bizet, Colette, Corot, Daumier, Max Ernst, Pissarro, Proust, Rossini, Seurat, Stravinsky, Gertrude Stein, Oscar Wilde, and even Jim Morrison—a treasure trove of immortals to whom you may pay your respects.
9. Don’t take a Dinner Cruise unless you have planned for transportation afterward. We took one with Bateaux Parisienne. The sights were lovely and the food was good enough but it was somewhat ruined when there was no transportation at the Quay when we disembarked and the boat people were just interested in getting home themselves. Plan ahead.
10. Do spend lots of time with the Eiffel Tower. It is soooo French and simply magical, especially at night when it’s lit up. In fact, if you stand near it, close your eyes, sing a little of Cole Porter’s “I Love Paris”, and click you heels 3 times, well, who knows what it might bring. I wish I had thought of that when I was there–let me know.
(In my next blog, I’m going to tell you my menu for New Year’s Eve. A French eating experience. Look for it.)