I've been to Paris and Barcelona!

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#1
Going to Barcelona/Paris for my honeymoon. Anyone been? Any advice on where to visit, tips on my stay, places to eat... etc?

I'm currently working on my itinerary this week, feedback would be welcomed. :)
 
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#2
When in Paris, make a slight detour north and visit Brussels :p

More seriously, it depends a lot on what you like. Centre Pompidou is nice and all, but if you're not a huge fan of modern arts, I'd skip it in favour of the Musée d'Orsay. As for the Louvre, decide BEFOREHAND whether you want to wander through the halls and take in all the beauty, or rather just see the highlights (Mona Lisa/Venus of Milo/...). In one case, you can spend 2 full days there and not have seen everything, on the other hand, you can go through it in roughly 90 minutes if you know what you're doing.
The Moulin Rouge may have a famous name, but, if you and your wife are interested in such acts at all...Well, firstly, you've probably seen it done bigger and better in Vegas, and secondly, there are better cabarets in Paris by far. The MR just lives off of its name from days long gone by.
No matte rwhat you're interested in, there's a fair chance someone famous you like is buried in Pere Lachaise (seriously, from Oscar Wilde over Edith Piaf to Maria Callas, just to stay in the artsy sort of things, but famous inventors/politicians/etc as well). Even if not, the cemetery has a unique athmosphere, and its worth going to just for a nice stroll. Some great craftsmanship in the statues, too.
I know that's all terribly cliché, but, well, haven't been to Paris in a couple of years :p

Barcelona I can't say anything about, never been there.
 
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#3
When I honeymooned in Europe, we went through Paris. Like Bubble said, the Louvre is tough to do in one day, let alone two. Paris is VERY crowded with tourists at the usual spots, so it could be worth it to explore some parts of the city that are less crowded. We didn't go up in the Eiffel tower, for example, because the crowds were crazy.

To be honest, Paris was okay but we really loved Lyon. If you are taking the train to or from Barcelona, you should definitely stop in one or two of the cities outside of Paris. Since you speak French, you'll have no trouble getting around and you can find all kinds of pleasant little surprises in those towns.

If you post a little list of the places your considering visiting, we might be able to let you know we we thought of them.
 
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#4
I've been to Paris. I'll list stuff that I visited, and if you haven't heard of anything, you can use your Google-Fu to see if it appeals to you at all :)

I stayed at a charming little hotel called Hotel Boissiere; I'm not sure what your budget is, but it's a little bit outside of the heart of Paris (I believe it was either in or right outside the 17th arrondissement) and so it was very reasonably priced. We also had a room with a balcony that looked out on La Defense, so that was kind of neat -- if you decide to stay there, send them an email and ask if any are available first, because eating dinner out on that balcony was awesome. I loved staying there and would probably do so again (unless I had a MASSIVE budget increase) if I could get another room with a balcony; it was only a few blocks to the Metro, which took us to all the touristy sites, but we got to see the "real" Paris a bit too and eat at some more local places (I had the best hot dog of my entire life -- and this is coming from a Chicago girl -- at a boulangerie right down the street from that hotel. It was baked into some sort of sourdough roll with a bit of horseradish and a lot of cheese on top -- OH GOD MOAR.)

If you're going to do the Eiffel Tower, do it at night when the city below is all lit up. You'll have to wait in a bit of a line, but I thought it was very much worth it (even though my ex was being a jackass and made me cry while we were waiting in line :() . Don't go to the very top -- go to the level below it. It's cheaper, and I think you get a better view.

If you think you're going to do a lot of museums, DEFINITELY get a museum pass; it'll save you money quickly and you get to jump the lines at places like Versailles/Louvre/d'Orsay. You can buy them at the airport. I loved the Louvre, but I've also studied classical art, so your mileage may vary depending on where your interests lay (and prepare to be very underwhelmed by the Mona Lisa, if you do go.) I think I would have enjoyed Versailles a lot more if it weren't cold and pissing rain that day -- in the middle of the busy season -- which drove EVERYONE inside, so the crowds were insane. When I next go to Paris, I'll probably go back and hopefully enjoy it more. We also (for some reason) went to Les Invalides when we were there, and while it was neat, I wouldn't necessarily recommend it -- I had a list of places I'd rather have gone, but my ex saw the cannons in front and decided he wanted to look at some old weapons. Whatever. Unless you're a military buff, there are lots of places you'd probably enjoy more.

One of the places you TOTALLY have to go if it at all appeals to you at all is the Catacombs -- it was one of the creepiest, most surreal experiences of my life. Another long line, but if there was any line that was worth it, it was that one.

Both Notre-Dame and Sainte-Chapelle are awesome. Sainte-Chapelle is a bit less famous than Notre-Dame, but it's easy walking distance, and it has gorgeous stained glass windows. Shakespeare and Co. bookstore was a bit of a literary mecca for me, and I had to go by a copy of James Joyce's Ulysses there, but if you're not a MASSIVE book nerd it might not be worth your time.

Visiting the Arc de Triomphe and walking down the Champs-Elysees was fun, but touristy. If your wife likes shopping, she'd probably enjoy it.

It's been a few years since I've been there, but I adored Paris. I thought it lived up to every ounce of its hype. I think you guys will have a blast :)
 
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#5
When I honeymooned in Europe, we went through Paris. Like Bubble said, the Louvre is tough to do in one day, let alone two.
Oh, yeah, the Louvre is massive. You can rent audio tours, though, that walk you around the really famous highlights -- ours was the Venus de Milo, Mona Lisa, and Winged Victory of Samothrace, and then we obviously got to see a bunch of pieces in between. Unless you and your wife both really, really love art, that's probably enough for most people.
 

fade

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#6
Never been there, but a good friend here at work is Parisian. Let me know if you want an insider's perspective on something, and I'll ask. Full disclosure, though: he prefers Houston to Paris, so maybe his opinion is suspect.
 
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#7
Been quite a while since I was there. I visited Paris, but most of the time I spent in Spain (4 months!) was spent in central and southern Spain (Madrid, Cordoba, Granada). If you're going to be in Europe for any decent length of time (>7 days), I would definitely consider adding the Alhambra/Generalife to your list of destinations. They are much more romantic a destination than any museum. If you're planning on doing any shopping, you might want to stop by Andorra on your way through. Paris has already had a lot said about it. I never got to Barcelona, but there's Gaudi's Sagrada Familia cathedral, sports galore to be had, and beaches. Given the choice between B&P, I would probably choose Barcelona, but that might be because I've already seen Paris.

Just make sure your trip is over before monsoon season sets in (usually starts mid-August).

--Patrick
 
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#8
Never been there, but a good friend here at work is Parisian. Let me know if you want an insider's perspective on something, and I'll ask. Full disclosure, though: he prefers Houston to Paris, so maybe his opinion is suspect.
I've been to Paris multiple times, and I am not surprised. It's a great city for tourists - not so much to live in. My tips:

- Depending on how long you stay, get a metro-pass. They usually sell weekend passes and I think week-passes, which are always cheaper than buying a ticket for every individual trip. Driving in Paris is a nightmare, and the metro is super convenient, aside from the stairs at the Montmartre station, but there's always a lift :p
- Eat your breakfast in wherever it is you're staying. Go down to your nearest boulangerie at like 8am, get yourself a nice baguette - fresh from the oven - and pick up some cold cuts or cheese, milk and orange juice or a piece of fruit from a nearby convenience store. Unless your hotelprice has breakfast included with the price, but I've never stayed in a hotel in Paris, so I can't judge their food.
- Echoing HowDroll's recommendation for the Eiffel Tower at night. It's amazing. Or, if the weather is particularly nice, you can do it during the day and afterwards relax in the nearby park with an ice cream while sitting in the shade of a tree.
- Also echoing her recommendation for the Catacombs, but be prepared for a long walk, and do it in the morning, otherwise the heat when you come out will be overwhelming.
- The Louvre is, contrary to previous recommendations, easily done in a day, unless you're a superhuge art fan, in which case you'll be standing for hours in every single room. Also, the Mona Lisa is kind of disappointing. Huge crowd, tiny picture, so I was barely able to get a glance in. Again recommending to go in the early morning, you'll beat most of the crowds.

Finally, I'd like to recommend my favourite restaurant in all of Paris: Chartier. The food is simple and traditionally French, but the atmosphere is amazing and given the quality, it's probably one of the cheapest restaurants in Paris. It's also insanely busy once you get past 7pm, with waiting lines stretching all the way out of the alley and onto the street, so I recommend arriving at ~6pm or 6:30, unless you don't mind waiting. And if you do arrive to a waiting line, I heartily recommend toughing it out, because it's great. Tables for two usually go the fastest, though, so even if you do have to wait, it shouldn't be too long. I especially recommend the duck confit (confit de canard). Adress: 7 Rue du Faubourg, Montmartre. If you take the metro, it's the Grand Boulevards line, exit Blvd Montmartre. From there, it's just a minute walk to the nearest side-street (the Rue du Faubourg) and you should see an alley with a sign on your left hand side. Or just follow the line of people :p
 
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#9
If you can, I would go see the Sagrada Familia in Barcelona. It is probably the most beautiful buildings on the planet, to me anyway. But I've never been anywhere over seas, so sorry I don't have any real recommendations for you.


(La Sagrada Familia)
 
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#10
One thing about Paris that was fun is the rent-a-bikes that they have. Take a bike from point A and return it to any of their stations throughout the city. If you do it in under (I think it was) 30 minutes it's free.

The louvre is fun but skip the renaissance stuff. Spoiler alert: its paintings of Jesus. The Roman stuff I thought was way more interesting.

The Rodin museum I thought was pretty cool. It's mostly just a big garden with his statues scattered throughout so it's really relaxing to be there.
 
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#11
As for Paris....I think it's overhyped; Droll thinks it's worth all the hype. You'll have to judge for yourself.
Depending on how long you're staying, though, I will second the suggestion for Lyon, or many other slightly-less-touristy places. Depends on your personal tastes, of course. The benefit of the more touristy places is you'll likely be able to have a guide guide you past the 6 Most Important Places, and leave; having seen everything the books tell you is "important". The benefit of the slightly less touristy (but not entirely untouristy!) places is that you'll be able to drink in the actual athmosphere, enjoy the sights, talk with actual French instead of just other tourists, and so on.
Reims is lovely this time of year. If you don't mind driving a bit further, Bruges is fun for a day (too touristy for my taste, obviously :p), Lille is actually a very charming city, and, well, if you actually *do* make it to Brussels, I'd certainly be willing to give you an insider's tour or something.
The other direction, Carcassone is amazing. I have to also second @PatrThom's suggestion for the Alhambra. It's one of the most beautiful man-made places in Europe, if not the world.
 
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#12
Whoa... love the feedback people. Keep it coming.

Right now, I'm slowly working on things, should be able to have a nice first draft by the weekend.
 
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#13
I could put in a word for Sacre Coeur. I found the basilica quite beautiful and the view over Paris from the hill rather impressive. And if you want a portrait of yourselves done, the nearby Place du Tetre is the traditional place for that, and there are a lot of artists there selling their pieces. Also, while I do agree with the assesment that Moulin Rouge is, in fact, nothing all that special, it is nearby to Sacre Coeur and therefore worth seeing, if you are in the area. What I personally found to be a drawback of Montmartre is that there isn't perhaps all that much else to see there in addition to the above, little left of the famous bohemian atmosphere of the great painters of the past who lived there, and it is a bit off the beaten path. But if you are in any way interested in Montmartre, do visit Sacre Coeur.

Personally I would recommend Les Invalides, if you are in any way interested in matters military. The museums there are well worth the visit for military buffs, and the church holds the tomb of Napoleon which is demanding you take a picture of it. Plus, Les Invalides is pretty near to the Eiffel Tower, which you will probably visit regardless.

I wish to second the recommendation to visit the Catacombs. But do consider that the place is pretty macabre, and might not be very suitable for the most sensitive of people.

And a useful thing to notice is that there is a straight line going through Arc de Triomphe, Champs-Élysées, Place de la Concorde, Jardin des Tuileries, and the Louvre. All are places worth seeing, and might make for an efficient one day's worth of program right there.
 
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#14
If the weather's good, organise a picnic at the Parc du Champ in front of the Eiffel Tower.

As for Barcelona:
- The Sagrada Cathedral is a must see for a reason, the interior is fantastic (as in it looks like actual fantasy artwork embedded in the walls and ceilings)
- Las Ramblas is very cool to take leasurely strolls on, it's always busy and lively, so there's plenty to see.
- The Montjuic Castle sits atop a large hill, it's really nice to walk around there ánd you get a great view of the city. There used to be a military history museum which I found very interesting, but I just came across one source that it had closed down in 2009..
- There's a water fountain that does a light show from Thursday-Sunday which is cool to see, it's called the Font Màgica de Montjuïc
 
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#15
Oh, hey, yet another post: the Arche de la Défense is the "modern counterpart" to the Arc de la Triomphe. Not as spectacular, maybe, but if you're getting tired of the old architecture (as a European, I do not understand that. Buildings in Paris are on average a couple of centuries younger than their counterparts over here :p), it can be worthwhile to go and have a look at a completely different side of Paris. There're usually art exhibitions there, I don't know what's going on right now but it was nice when I was there.
 
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#16
As for Paris....I think it's overhyped; Droll thinks it's worth all the hype. You'll have to judge for yourself.
You've probably traveled a lot more of Europe than I have, though ;) It was my first (and, sadly, only) trip over there, and I'd only been to a few other cities in the U.S./Canada previously. I didn't have a lot to compare it to. I have no idea if I would have found it so enchanting if I'd had visits to other European cities in my arsenal -- but I'm also a huge francophile (was a dual English/French major in college for awhile until I switched schools), and visiting Paris had been my dream for years and years, so take my opinion accordingly.
 
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#17
Oh, regarding the Eiffel Tower, if you are interested in one-upping most of the lazybones tourists who have visited there, consider climbing the stairs instead of using the elevator. You can get to the second level by using the stairs, though you will have to take the elevator from there to visit the top.

Some of the more engineering-minded visitors to Paris might enjoy the trip of the parisian sewers. There is a rather extensive exposé of the sewer system, it's history and the history of sewage treatment, and draining of the marshlands surrounding Paris. While trudging through the sewers might not be a very romantic experience for a honeymoon, more technical-oriented visitors might enjoy it; I know I and my posse did.
 
S

Soliloquy

#18
I only spent a weekend there, and spent most of it just walking the streets and eating baguettes (I figured, hey, it's France! I gotta try the baguettes!)

One piece of advice I can give is to remember the phrase "Parlez-vous anglais?" If you don't use it, there will be plenty of people who will pretend that they don't speak English even if they do, because they'll think you're an obnoxious tourist who doesn't even try to communicate on their terms.

Also: The crepe stands are amazing. If you see a crepe stand, buy a crepe. One with Nutella, preferably.
 

fade

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#19
If TV has taught me anything, you should wear a red beret and a black and white striped shirt if you want to fit in.
 
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#20
Also, if looking for places to eat, I recommend watching Anthony Bourdain's No Reservations episodes on Paris (I think he did two of them). They might not all be cheap - I wouldn't know, I only started getting into the show after my last visit to Paris - but you can be assured they're quality.
 
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#21
I have a friend currently living in Gibraltar who travels to Spain regularly. I'll see if she has gone to Barcelona (I seem to remember she and her family went there for vacation) and if she has any recommendations.
 
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#22
Going to Barcelona/Paris for my honeymoon. Anyone been? Any advice on where to visit, tips on my stay, places to eat... etc?

I'm currently working on my itinerary this week, feedback would be welcomed. :)
When are you going? We're going three weeks in September ;)

If I can give you any advice about Paris, take the TGV to the south and avoid Paris altogether, hahah.
 
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#23
One piece of advice I can give is to remember the phrase "Parlez-vous anglais?"
You do know that Jay is French-Canadian, non? Although he has his particularities with how the True French speak French, there proabably won't be that much of a language issue :)

(Although I will say, the thought of Jay walking around asking other French speakers if they speak English, and then trying to have a broken conversation in English makes me smile)
 
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#24
You do know that Jay is French-Canadian, non? Although he has his particularities with how the True French speak French, there proabably won't be that much of a language issue :)
Well if theres one thing cultural stereotypes have taught me, the only nationality French people hate more than Americans are french canadians.
 
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#25
I wonder how an italian french-canadian will be treated by the locals in Paris. :trolol:

When our french won't work cause they have baguettes in their mouth in their dirty french accent, I wonder how they react when I'll change to italian than american.

Bordel de merde!
 
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#27
Arrête de ces conneries, putain merde alors! *chuckles*

Honestly, I've never been a big fan of Paris, but then, I'm not a fan of doing "touristy" things, anyways - which kinda spoiled Rome for me, honestly. *grins*

My parents, however, went for a second honeymoon that happened to coincide with some celebration of the Eiffel Tower... I want to say it was the 200th anniversary of it's construction, or somesuch... The photos Dad took back up the statement that it's a wonderful sight at night. And his photos of the Catacombs are magnificent. I've been wanting to pay it a visit since I saw them. Les Invalides sounds like a treat, too!
 
M

makare

#28
If TV has taught me anything, you should wear a red beret and a black and white striped shirt if you want to fit in.

I went to a fashion show in Paris. While I was waiting outside this man came up who looked just like that. I am not sure what he was doing, I am sure it was just a play on the stereotype, but it was so funny. I took some pics with him but I don't remember what happened to them.

I really loved Paris. When I was there they were having some kind of music festival in the area around the tower. It was really fun. Or maybe it is like that all the time.
 
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#29
Honestly, I've never been a big fan of Paris, but then, I'm not a fan of doing "touristy" things, anyways - which kinda spoiled Rome for me, honestly. *grins*
Right on, brother.

I visited Denbrought in Barcelona earlier this summer and had a great time. La Sagrada Familia cathedral is a must-see, definitely the most impressive cathedral I've been to. Parque Guell is also really great for a morning of walking around and is filled with Gaudi architecture. If you like art museums, MNAC (National Art Museum of Catalonia) is very good. If you don't mind heading out of town about an hour or so, Montserrat is a pretty cool cliffside church/monastery.

I had a good time in Barcelona but only got to see a small part of the city. Silver Jelly could probably give you more detailed advice.
 

North_Ranger

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#30
Been to Paris once, staid at a tiny hotel for ten days.

I have to concur with my fellow Finn about Sacre Coeur and visiting the Montmartre. Worth a go, and the basilica is definitely a sight worth seeing alongside the more famous Notre Dame. Louvre... yes, it's a huge place, but if you focus on things that interest you instead of trying to scope out every piece of art there you can do it in a day. Versailles is also worth a visit if it's a nice day and you don't rush things. Walk around. Enjoy the sights.

Hotel des Invalides... yes, definitely a place to go if you are into weaponry and military history. I would also recommend taking time to just walk along the Seine and study the bridges there, a lot of them are works of art in their own right.
 
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#33
Paris was a beautiful city for sure, but the people weren't terribly friendly. My friends and I were mostly in the touristy spots, though, so I'm sure that was part of it. Don't skip the cathedrals, they're amazing, even if religion isn't your thing. Sadly Notre Dame was under renovation when I was there so the construction scaffolds took some of the majesty out of it. I was in Spain too, but I think we only hit Madrid and I don't remember much, it wasn't terribly exciting.

If I could really go anywhere I've been in Europe again, though, I'd pick Italy. Rome, Pompeii, Vatican City, and all the little vineyard/castle towns were awesome and the food's amazing.
 
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#34
Paris DOES have an unusually high percentage of snottiness per capita, and that's by FRANCE'S standards. *wry smile* A lot of French, at least where I used to live, had a generally poor opinion of Parisians.
 
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#35
Paris DOES have an unusually high percentage of snottiness per capita, and that's by FRANCE'S standards. *wry smile* A lot of French, at least where I used to live, had a generally poor opinion of Parisians.
Yeah, outside of Paris people were more friendly. Might just be the grating issue of constantly dealing with tourists/stereotypes/etc. I'm sure if I lived in a big tourist city I'd feel the same eventually.
 
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