Airstud
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The Paris Thread - For Paree Beginners

Mon Sep 13, 2010 7:24 am

OK, it looks like I'm finally caving.

I've always loved travel and geography, and there's probably 1,000 places I want to go to and see and savor. A thing about me is that venerable ol' Paris has, for whatever reasons, never been at or near the top 15 or so places on my wannago list. It's always struck me as just too obvious a destination, to on-the-beaten path. I've wanted to see Madagascar and Perth and Iceland and Moscow, and dozens of other places, before - if ever - getting to Paris.

Well, for whatever reasons, I'm starting to accept the general concept of Paris. I think this has something to do with watching Charade three nights in a row on Hulu a few weeks ago. There's a movie with an ultimately flimsy plot, one of Cary Grant's lamest performances (which is really saying something), and not enough of Walter Matthau, but on the plus side, it was filmed on location in Paris and that simple fact I think is what kept my interest piqued.

OK, so my interest in Paris is finally piqued; no more anti-mainstream-tourism curmudgeonship from me.

...

...Now what? To be fair, I'm not about to go ahead and book a trip, see. If I manage any intercontimanental travel at all before year-end it's going to be to Perth (I kinda still need 20,000 miles for elite-type status, see). So I think I should just start some armchair travels to Paris. Enough already with the Eiffel Tower and the Louvre and the Notre Dame. I want to hear from those of you who've been to (or are currently in) Paris; about the non-touristy, non-obvious places that make up your personal Paris.
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NoUFO
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RE: The Paris Thread - For Paree Beginners

Mon Sep 13, 2010 9:25 am

It's probably neither non-touristy nor really off the beathen path, but I like to wald alongside river Seine.

The 6th arrondissement is now somewhat (or really) posh, but I still like it there.
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NoUFO
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RE: The Paris Thread - For Paree Beginners

Mon Sep 13, 2010 9:35 am

There's a nice hotel in Paris' 6th arrondissement as well: Chaplain Rive Gauche. Not cheap, but if you are in Paris, the city of light, spending some money on a good hotel is an investment that is completely appropriate and fitting.
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ScarletHarlot
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RE: The Paris Thread - For Paree Beginners

Mon Sep 13, 2010 4:05 pm

Quoting Airstud (Thread starter):
intercontimanental

This is a great word!
But that was when I ruled the world
 
Stealthz
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RE: The Paris Thread - For Paree Beginners

Mon Sep 13, 2010 4:25 pm

Curiously in my European sojourn of many years past, Paris was not high on the list of must see locations.
Come to think of it, not on the list at all, not sure why, just didn't seem important... until I got there.
As NoUFO said, Paris is one of the places splurging a bit on accommodation is well worthwhile, stayed in a nice little place in the St Germain district and for a few days was Parisian!!
Whilst "la Tour Eiffel " and "du musée du Louvre " will certainly be on anyone's must see list there is so much more...just walk around, I challenge anyone to be disappointed by doing so!

If you do not speak French like a native.. and few do!... at least try, and make sure whilst doing so that you apologise for being such an ignorant philistine for not speaking their glorious language... the citizenry will appreciate both your attempt and your apology.... your stay will be much more pleasant because of it!

Cheers
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GAIsweetGAI
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RE: The Paris Thread - For Paree Beginners

Mon Sep 13, 2010 4:34 pm

I might be stating the obvious, but everything worth seeing is bound to be at least slightly touristy.

I haven't been in Paris often enough to actually know the city well, but I can try to work off my memories.

If you want a pleasant/relaxing/romantic?/etc. stroll, try the Coulée Verte - it's a path built on an unused metro bridge and made to look like a garden. One of its ends is right next to the Bastille Opera - i can't remember where it leads to.

Staying in greenery - you can try going to the Jardin des plantes. I don't remember it being over-populated.

Bercy is a decent place to eat, and has a huge movie theater.

That's all for now - i might try to think of a few other things later.
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mirrodie
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RE: The Paris Thread - For Paree Beginners

Mon Sep 13, 2010 5:50 pm

We enjoyed Perth for a variety of reasons and can't wait to go back, but Paris for us is wonderful.

Quoting Airstud (Thread starter):
. There's a movie with an ultimately flimsy plot, one of Cary Grant's lamest performances (which is really saying something), and not enough of Walter Matthau, but on the plus side, it was filmed on location in Paris and that simple fact I think is what kept my interest piqued.

too bad. I was gonna pick up that film. Try "Paris, J'taime" odd flick worth a look if not for hte gorgeous cinematography and women in it.

Quoting Airstud (Thread starter):
I want to hear from those of you who've been to (or are currently in) Paris; about the non-touristy, non-obvious places that make up your personal Paris.

For us, off the top of my head, check out Musee D'orsay, the Guinness Pub and spend a day in Versailles. And walk down unbeaten paths.


Guinness Pub is where we spent a night listening to french bands belt out great American Rock and Roll while enjoying beers with a bunch of locals. Got handed down to us from a relative who goes often and its not in the tourist map. If that is your thing, this pub is great.
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AF340
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RE: The Paris Thread - For Paree Beginners

Mon Sep 13, 2010 5:59 pm

Well an evening in Cimetiere du Montparnasse is always time well spent. I also enjoy walking through St. Germain-des-pres after catching a fine Belgian meal in the district. Montmartre and Sacre Coeur are touristy but still quite nice.

I spent a month there last year and I'm already forgetting the best places to go! Paris is a wonderful city, I'd recommend you stop by there soon!
 
flpuck6
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RE: The Paris Thread - For Paree Beginners

Mon Sep 13, 2010 6:19 pm

I will add :

A walk in the 16th arrondissement (Paris neighborhoods are distinguished by these numbers, 1 - 20) ...
If you don't mind a well-to-do part of Paris.

Parc Monceau

Breakfast pastries and desserts at any one of the several locations around Paris from "Le Notre".

French macarons from "La Duree" and "Fauchon" are overrated.

Also to be done as a first time visitor : Champ de Mars by the Eiffel Tower, Jardins de Luxembourg + Tuileries (near the Louvre).

So much to see, too little time.

Bon voyage !
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ipodguy7
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RE: The Paris Thread - For Paree Beginners

Mon Sep 13, 2010 9:21 pm

I love Paris (j'adore Páris)
I fell in love with the city when I made my first trip their at 7 years old (1999). Paris is a city that no other city can rival. Overall, I have been to Paris 3x and France a total of 5x and cannot simply get enough! I love the city so much that it has inspired me to take French so that one day i may live in Paris! Ok, well Laduree is simply a must. While it may be on the Champs-Elysee, it is far from touristy. This classic french pastry shop is fantastic. Quite simply the best macaroons on the face of the planet. Another must-do is go up the Arc De Triomphe at night! The view of the city of lights at night is just incredible from up there. One of my favorite districts in Paris is the Latin Quarter, it is a great place to get good, cheap food, and to just look around (start on Rue St. Michel). A nightime cruise on the Seinne is also a must do. If you can afford it, I would highly reccomend the Four Seasons (George le sanc). It is a fantastic hotel in a fantastic part of town. Make sure to take time to explore the area around Place de la Concorde, i find it very interesting. All in all, have fun in Paris. It is a city that in my short 18 years, has captured my heart! Bon Voyage!
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Airstud
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RE: The Paris Thread - For Paree Beginners

Mon Sep 13, 2010 9:35 pm

Quoting mirrodie (Reply 6):
too bad. I was gonna pick up that film

Pick it up. It's still worth seeing once, if only for Audrey Hepburn and the too-camp-for-words 1960's animated title sequence (throughout which I thought, I'm meeting the real Austin Powers!!)

The main problem I had with it was that I had recently seen North by Northwest, which has one of the greatest plots in the history of moviedom; and I couldn't shake the impression that Charade wanted to be North by Northwest. If you don't make the comparison then Charade is great fun.
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Charles79
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RE: The Paris Thread - For Paree Beginners

Tue Sep 14, 2010 12:43 am

Interesting thread, I have been through CDG at least 9 times yet I have not visited Paris in any of those trips (always transiting to my home away from home, Germany). However, this coming October I will make CDG my final stop as I plan to attend the Mondial De L'Automobile (Paris Auto Show). Of course, I want to take advantage of my visit and see more than cars so this thread came at a perfect time. I'm looking forward to enjoying the Parisian way of life, even if only for a few days!
 
Pyrex
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RE: The Paris Thread - For Paree Beginners

Tue Sep 14, 2010 5:53 am

Quoting charles79 (Reply 11):
Interesting thread, I have been through CDG at least 9 times yet I have not visited Paris in any of those trips (always transiting to my home away from home, Germany).

Wow... so you actually put up with the hell that is CDG (in particular Terminal 2E) without the only benefit (visiting that wonderful city)?

Anyway, Paris is a wonderful place, and all times I was there before I always felt blown off my socks. Except this last time, in June, where everything just seemed seedy and dangerous. I am trying to actively ignore that, though, and focus on the wonderful memories I have of that place.
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signol
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RE: The Paris Thread - For Paree Beginners

Tue Sep 14, 2010 1:02 pm

I spent a year living in the 14e in 1999-2000, and love going back. Some things I liked that were not on the tourist radar (or not quite!):

- Arènes de Lutèce, the old Roman amphitheatre. Now mostly ruined, but you can sit in the bottom few rows of seats and watch local kids play football on the oval.

- Get a newspaper and sit in the Parc des Buttes Chaumont and read it.

- Promenade Plantée, a park on an old railway viaduct, leading from Bastille to the Bois de Vincennes.

- Get a pair of rollerblades and join one of the two organised, weekly outings (that regularly attract 10,000 people!) Friday evenings for advanced bladers, Sunday afternoons for beginners and families. The police close the roads of the route.

- Sit at the very front of the train on a line 14 metro - it's driverless so you can see out.

- There's a huge underground shopping mall next to the Grande Arche de la Défence, including an Auchan hypermarket. Buy a baguette, some ham and cheese and eat them sitting on the steps of the Grande Arche, looking down the Grande Axe towards the Arc de Triomphe.

- Just near to the Gare du Nord (I think on rue de Valenciennes) there's a fake house. It looks like it's neighbours, but is actually just a fake frontage to hide an air vent for the metro. I only found out about this from Umberto Eco's book Foucoult's Pendulum.

Hope this helps keep away from the crowds in a fascinating city!

signol
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n229nw
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RE: The Paris Thread - For Paree Beginners

Tue Sep 14, 2010 3:47 pm

Oh, man, I looooove Paris.

Quoting signol (Reply 13):


Great list, hit on several things I was going to add.

Also:

--Besides just the Arenes de Lutece, walk around the Latin quarter in general, it is full of charming twists and turns, and even if it doesn't have childhood memories attached as it does for me, it is worth a visit. (You can start in the most touristy parts by the river and work your way past the Sorbonne and around the some more hidden parts)

--Make sure you get a nutella crepe from a street vendor

--If you are interested in multi-ethnic Paris, check out the African Markets around Barbes Rochechouart at the bottom of Montmartre, the large Vietnamese areas and "chinatown" in the 13th arondissement, and so forth

--Ride the metro a lot!

Quoting signol (Reply 13):
- Just near to the Gare du Nord (I think on rue de Valenciennes) there's a fake house. It looks like it's neighbours, but is actually just a fake frontage to hide an air vent for the metro. I only found out about this from Umberto Eco's book Foucoult's Pendulum.

Btw, There is a fake house in London too near Paddington, hiding the open District line tracks.

http://www.urban75.org/london/leinster.html
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Doona
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RE: The Paris Thread - For Paree Beginners

Tue Sep 14, 2010 4:16 pm

Paris is a wonderful city, when I'm there I usually just spend my time walking around. Still, for a first timer, it's always best to prepare oneself:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paris_syndrome

  

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asuflyer05
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RE: The Paris Thread - For Paree Beginners

Tue Sep 14, 2010 4:31 pm

Keep the ideas coming. I am planning a trip to Paris for New Years Eve.
 
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LTU932
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RE: The Paris Thread - For Paree Beginners

Tue Sep 14, 2010 7:45 pm

If you're spending the night at a hotel in the suburbs of Paris, and you intend to order a steak, be prepared because chances are you're getting the steak almost raw. I know from experience.  
 
wingman
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RE: The Paris Thread - For Paree Beginners

Tue Sep 14, 2010 8:58 pm

My two cents..Paris is the greatest city on Earth. There is no logical debate about it. It is the simple truth. The one problem is that the locals know it and so they can come off as a bit rude. But in the end it's not you, you're just one of a hundred million gawkers crowding their town so it's easy to empathize with them.

I wouldn't even know where to start with recommendations except to walk out of your hotel and take a left or a right and walk for the next 10 hours. You can stop 20 times along the way for a bite to eat or a coffee or a glass of wine. As someone said above, strolling along the Seine is hard to beat. The museums and cathedrals are fantastic and even the regular old apartment buildings seem like Disneyland to a novice. I've been at least 10 times and I'll never tire of going back.

One suggestion I do have regarding food..check out Anthony Bourdain's recent show (his 100th episode anniversary) on Paris. He hit some pretty cool looking spots including one breakfast joint that served what looked like a full pound of fried sweetbreads as one of the house specials (this must be the Paris response to bacon!), unreal. Plus he does two other dinner spots featuring some young and aspiring chefs and finally one of Joel Robuchon's restaurants. If you're taking a femme-bot with you she'll be impressed. Have fun man.
 
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czbbflier
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RE: The Paris Thread - For Paree Beginners

Tue Sep 21, 2010 4:08 am

The ultimate experience in Paris is simply to live life like you live in Paris.

Don't stay in a hotel. Go online and 'homestay'. An acquaintance friend and his wife go to Paris for a month every year and rent an furnished apartment. Every day they go out and live like they're from there.

The local coffee shop. The croissant or pain au chocolat. The shopping for dinner at the many street markets. The RATP (Metro, bus and RER). The walking down any ol-street and gawking at real, honest-to-God history. Emerging from one tranquil back street onto a major Grande rue and then plunging into the next off-the-beaten track neighbourhood.

I have been to Paris several times and miss it horribly. I keep telling myself that I prefer Lyon or Toulouse or Nice or smaller places like Strasbourg or even Chambéry. But mentally I keep coming back to Paris.

One thing you have to understand: there is a real delineation between Parisiens who live in Paris and the French who live outside Paris (and yes I deliberately make that distinction Parisians and French):
Generally, the French outside Paris have a distain for Parisiens while Parisiens have a distain for everything.

I dunno- there's a vitality, an organized vitality, you won't find in London (London is a crush of people) with everything seemingly having its place. Living some dream in the shadow of 'la Belle Epoch", Paris is still very much a post-empirical Capital. Its legacy oozes from its pores.


I have never visited the Louvre (THAT is too cliché). Real Parisiens will declare that you cannot possibly do the museum justice by visiting it for a mere couple of hours or even a day. You have to spend WEEKS in the Louvre. So I am saving myself for the time when I can spend that kind of time there.

Avoid the Musée du vin (Wine museum). It is the cheesiest place in the city as far as I'm concerned (pardon the pun).

So just go. Go and plan to do nothing at all. That's the best experience you can possibly have.
 
ltbewr
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RE: The Paris Thread - For Paree Beginners

Tue Sep 21, 2010 11:32 am

I have been fortunate to be in Paris 2 times in the 1980's and again in 1997. For me, it is a great city to visit, one that all world travelers should see. My main interest in visiting there was to visit the fine art musems, major and minor. While the Lourve (art from BC to about 1840) and D'Orsay (art of 1840-1915, especally the Imprssionists) are something one should see, also go to one of the smaller and less visited ones. It is a wonderful city to walk in, generally flat with interesting and low rise archecture, a well organized street system, one of the best and easiest subway systems (the Metro). Paris is a city that saw little or almost no damage from either WW I or II so it has a great feel to it. I would devote at least 3 days, maybe even 5 to really see the top features.
 
signol
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RE: The Paris Thread - For Paree Beginners

Tue Sep 21, 2010 9:31 pm

Quoting LTBEWR (Reply 20):
I would devote at least 3 days, maybe even 5 to really see the top features.

You can spend a week, or more, and still not see everything "major"  

signol
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LTU932
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RE: The Paris Thread - For Paree Beginners

Wed Sep 22, 2010 1:00 am

I've been to Paris like once (the trip was attached to a trip to Disneyland Paris aka Eurodisney). Apart from the Arc de Triomphe, the Eiffel Tower and maybe the Champs-Élysées, and the steak incident at a hotel in the suburbs, I actually did not see much of Paris. I'm thinking of maybe going back there soon, but I'm not sure when. Currently I'm thinking about going to Rome, London or Barcelona in December or January, and Paris was only once under consideration. If I go, I don't know if I should take the bus to Paris (which is an overnight ride of like 8 or 10 hours out of Hamburg) or put up with flying to CDG (because of the bad rep CDG tends to have from what I read).
 
lxa333
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RE: The Paris Thread - For Paree Beginners

Wed Sep 22, 2010 1:42 am

Paris, is nice as a tourist, but I would become insane if I ever had to live there. I prefer London much more if were talking about living and working.
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ReidYYZ
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RE: The Paris Thread - For Paree Beginners

Wed Sep 22, 2010 5:03 am

I went for a couple months at a time for a few years in a row for work, but that was 10 years ago. I would mark on my map the different route I would walk every day the whole time I was there. The map would look like it went through a shredder by the time I was done. My suggestions: Grab a blanket and park yourself in Place de Voges and just watch Parisian life go by. Parc Monceau is also good for that. The grass in front of Les Invalides is good for that as well, and the fact that I was in the way of an impromptu soccer game got me an invite to said game. Due to the simple fact that I suck at all sports, I had to decline. Go to Pere Lachaise and say hi to Jim (cheesy, I know. I was big into the Doors as a teen) No doubt you will be riding the Metro at some point. See if you can spot any of the http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ghost_stations_of_the_Paris_M%C3%A9tro Even a leisurely cruise down Canal St. Martin is nice. Although touristy, not one of the more common ones.

Quoting czbbflier (Reply 19):
Generally, the French outside Paris have a disdain for Parisians while Parisians have a disdain for everything.


True, outside the city, very friendly and forgiving of my crap French. My only time i got an earful was in the city with a crepe 'Nazi' as I stumbled for the words too much and got "In my country, we speak French"........but he was Algerian. Go figure.
 
MadameConcorde
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RE: The Paris Thread - For Paree Beginners

Wed Sep 29, 2010 8:19 am

Quoting Doona (Reply 15):
Paris is a wonderful city

Well I would not call it a wonderful city anymore.
See what happened at the end of the Techno Parade last Sunday Place de la Bastille.

http://www.liveleak.com/view?i=63c_1285702480

Some of these groups of thugs are roaming around the city, all the time. You can run into them in the metro or on the streets any time day or night. Groups of 3 or 10 or more. They are armed with baseball bats and whatever else. The police has no control over them. I would advise to stay away from group/crowded events. Please. This is not an illusion. It's reality.  Wow!
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babybus
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RE: The Paris Thread - For Paree Beginners

Thu Sep 30, 2010 4:18 pm

I love Paris and go there every year. I'm still happy to do the usual things plus one new thing each time.

Don't bother with a fancy hotel as you'll be out and about most of the time. I'd also recommend you don't ask for recommendations about restaurants. It's best to take pot luck walking down a street. The French love their food so it's hard to find a really bad restaurant.

Quoting asuflyer05 (Reply 16):
Keep the ideas coming. I am planning a trip to Paris for New Years Eve.

We used to go to Paris for New Year for about 4 years. We finally stopped as it is bitterly cold and not nice to walk around in.
and with that..cabin crew, seats for landing please.
 
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Aesma
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RE: The Paris Thread - For Paree Beginners

Thu Sep 30, 2010 11:33 pm

Quoting mirrodie (Reply 6):
Try "Paris, J'taime" odd flick worth a look if not for hte gorgeous cinematography and women in it.

I think you're referring to "Paris, je t'aime". It certainly shows a more current Paris. Not that anything major has changed, but still.

Quoting LTU932 (Reply 22):
If I go, I don't know if I should take the bus to Paris (which is an overnight ride of like 8 or 10 hours out of Hamburg) or put up with flying to CDG (because of the bad rep CDG tends to have from what I read).

Well, I'm guessing people badmouthing CDG are the kind that would die before taking a 8 hours bus ride ! As a teen I've been to Scotland and Wales by bus (two distinct journeys), but I wouldn't do it anymore, given the choice (taking a cheap flight or my car).

Quoting LXA333 (Reply 23):
Paris, is nice as a tourist, but I would become insane if I ever had to live there.

Why ? I lived there for two years and loved it. I've visited London several times and have nothing against it, except the size of it and the distance between two subway stations. I feel Paris is easier to grasp due to its small size, on more than one occasion I walked from one end to the other (having missed the last train). And now there is Vélib'.
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