Hot Tips for Winter Travelers to Paris

Skating rink in front of Hotel de Ville.
Ice skating in front of Hotel de Ville.
Happy new year from all of us at Take Me To Paris Apartments!
If you are traveling to Paris over the winter holiday season here are a few sneaky ideas for your trip:
TIP #1
It’s never easy to find exceptional value for your travel dollar however, La Compagnie is a new, exclusive, all-business-class service between New York and Paris.  The 757 cabin is equipped with 74 fully-reclining, business-class seats in blue leather.  Entertainment comes pre-loaded on Samsung tablets.  The round-trip fare is a reasonable $1856.  lacompagnie.com
TIP #2
The Picasso Museum is newly reopened in Paris and is a MUCH improved experience from it’s original version.  Check out the updated museum located at 5 rue de Thorigny. For hours of operation, be sure to visit  museepicassoparis.fr
TIP #3
If you are searching for specialized beauty products or a truly unique gift that will easily fit in your suitcase to take home, visit “Buly” for Buly 1803 products which feature mix-your-own-clay-masks and pure emu oil for starters.  The old world style products found here are particularly in high fashion in Paris.  6, rue Bontaparte in the 6eme or check out buly1803.com
TIP #4
It’s the little things that make our trips so demanding or easy!  Before you travel there is an inexpensive, light-weight item that is sure to make your travel more stress-free.  Pick up a Road Warrior Golcon W2 by Japanese company Shiroshita.  It’s an all in one adapter that works in 150 countries and only costs $20 on amazon.com.  Don’t leave home without it!
Bisous from Paris!

Christmas Markets in Paris

Christmas Markets in Paris

It’s a magical time to be in Paris! The city is aglow with gorgeous Christmas decorations lining the streets and covering the magnificent historical buildings. Paris is constantly alive with the hustle and bustle of Christmas shopping at this time of year.

Christmas-Market-Trocadero-Paris

Setting up Christmas markets throughout the city is a recent tradition that Paris has adopted from Germany and the Alsace region of France. Adorable wooden chalets covered in charming decorations line the streets and create a fabulous Christmas atmosphere. They are wonderful to visit if you want to have a nice walk, enjoy a cup of hot cinnamon-infused wine, or pick up some unique gifts!

Paris Christmas Market

The Champs-Elysees Christmas Market

By far the most popular market to visit in Paris at this time of year is very tough to miss. This winter wonderland stretches all the way down the Champs-Elysees from the Arc de Triomphe to the Place de la Concorde. Between the delicious treats, free shows, visits from Santa, and iconic ferris wheel with a view of the city this market is sure to please visitors of all ages.

Open from: November 14th – January 4th, 2015

Paris-Christmas-ChampsElysees

The Notre Dame Christmas Market

A smaller, more quaint market is set up near the stunning Notre Dame Cathedral. This lovely market houses craftsmen selling beautiful French products. It’s the perfect place to pick up a memorable Christmas present!

Open from: December 12th – December 23rd, 2014

CALLING ALL FOODIES! This is a festival you won’t want to miss…

If you are a foodie and you are in Paris this week, you chose the right time to visit! From September 22nd-28th the ‘Tous au Restaurant’ festival will be on all across France.

Tous Au Restaurant – The perfect week to discover some of the best restaurants in Paris!

The tagline for the event is “VOTRE INVITÉ EST NOTRE INVITÉ”, which literally means your guest is our guest. This means that two can dine for the price of one at some of Paris’ most amazing restaurants. Some very famous chefs will be participating including Alain Ducasse and Cyril Lignac.

Alain Ducasse au Plaza Athénée – Chef Romain Meder
Bofinger – Chef Georges Belongrade
Le Pré Catelan – Chef Frédéric Anton

Don’t miss out on this fabulous event! Take a look at the fixed menus available and book a table today before they all fill up!

http://www.tousaurestaurant.com/

Bisous from Paris!

The Grand Palais+ Art, Antiques and Precious Jewels = Super High Security

The Biennale des Antiquaires

Check out the final days of the absolutely stunning exhibit of gorgeous antiques and precious jewels on display at the Biennale des Antiquaires from Sept 11-21st, 2014.

The Grand Palais.
The Grand Palais.
The Grand Palais
The Grand Palais.

Held in the magnificent Grand Palais in the 8th arrondissement, this bi-annual event brings together the most world renowned antique experts and jewelers, (including Cartier, Chanel, and Dior) to display some of their greatest masterpieces.

A stunning ruby and diamond necklace.
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A gorgeous piece of jeweler y by Wallace Chan.
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A stunning emerald and diamond necklace by Wallace Chan.
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Beautiful antiques and works of art.
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A breathtaking emerald and diamond necklace.

Opening Times: 11am-8pm

Tickets: €30 (free for students and children under 12 years old)

The Friday Five: The Top Five Ways To Spot a Pickpocket in Paris

I adore Paris in the summer; however, as the numbers of visitors increases, so does the number of pickpockets looking for an easy score. Something I have learned after living here for years is how to spot pickpockets in this city from a mile away. I have shared this knowledge with many guests who have stayed in our apartments, and I have had overwhelming feedback thanking me for the tips.

 

I cannot stress enough that Paris is a very safe city and that if you are vigilant you will have no problems, but I urge you to heed the warnings of the infinite number of pickpocket warning signs around the city. Ladies, this means keep your bags closed and close to your person at all times. Gentlemen, this means keep those wallets out of your back pockets.

 

If you are curious how things work here in Paris and you want to see the city with the eyes of a local you absolutely must know:

 

The Top Five Ways To Spot a Pickpocket in Paris

 

  1. The Charity Scam

 

This is probably the most common scam I have seen in Paris. If you have ever been to the Eiffel Tower and you have NOT seen this scam happen I would be downright flabbergasted. It usually involves groups of women ranging in age from teenagers to middle-aged, although lately I have also seen some teenaged boys involved.

 

How it works: While you are strolling around taking in the view they will approach you with a paper and pen and ask you if you speak English. They will tell you they are raising money for some charity and ask you for a donation. The thing is, not only will they take your money they will also have others around who will attempt to take things from your bag, or survey what is in your wallet so they can follow you and steal from you late.

 

The best way to react: If you are approached immediately take stock of all your belonging, protect your bags and pockets, politely say no and walk away. They will get the point that you are not an easy target and they will leave you alone.

 

Hotspots: The Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame

 

 

  1. The Ball Under the Cup Scam

 

It should come as no surprise to anyone that this is the oldest trick in the book. There are two variations of this scam; one involving finding a ball under one of three cups, the other finding white paper glued to the bottom of one of three black circle disks. You will see this happening frequently as you take the walk from the Bir Hakeim metro station to the Eiffel Tower.

 

How it works: Usually a man will have this set up on the street corner and will be playing the game and calling out for people to place their bets. There will always be a group surrounding him, and people will usually bet with €50 or €100 bills. The thing is, mostly everyone in the group is a cronies of the man who are planted there to place bets and draw people in. Unsuspecting tourists pass by, see someone win a quick €50, stop to watch, and then get hustled. Some people catch on too late, but once your money is in their hands it is you against their group so there is no arguing with them.

 

The best way to react: Just ignore them, keep walking, and watch your stuff.

 

Hotspots: The Eiffel Tower, The Champ de Mars

 

 

  1. The Gold Ring Scam

 

This is a slightly less common trick, which I assume is because it is pretty ridiculous and does not work very often.

 

How it works: A person will discreetly drop a gold ring on the ground as you walk by, then they will pick it up and come up to you and ask if you dropped your ring. He or she will convince you it is yours and give it to you, then walk away, double back and ask for a reward of some kind. There are other variations of this scam, but let’s just say if anyone approaches you with a gold ring you should probably bail.

 

The best way to react: Just ignore them, keep walking, and watch your stuff.

 

Hotspots: Along the Seine, Montmartre

 

  1. The ATM Scam

 

This scam usually involves groups of children. Don’t be fooled, the kids can be the sneakiest so be vigilant. If you see a bunch of young kids running around unsupervised it should raise some red flags.

 

How it works: There are many variations of this trick but it usually involves a group of young people swarming around you just after you have put your PIN in the machine and the money is coming out. As one asks you for money, the rest might try to grab the money from the machine and take your card. I know that this scam exists but it is not as common as the others.

 

The best way to react: The best way to avoid this happening in the first place is being very aware of your surroundings before withdrawing cash. Make a point to look around the area, protect your PIN with your hands, and be ready to take your card and cash as soon as they come out of the machine.

 

Hotspots: Any ATM in a very touristy area.

 

  1. The Terrace Scam

 

This is probably one of my biggest pieces of advice. Never leave your things out on the table when you are sitting on a terrace. EVER. It is a habit to sit down on a patio and put your phone down on the table at home. This is a huge mistake in Europe.

 

How it works: Occasionally people come around with a folded card that has a message written on it asking for money. When you are not paying attention they will approach you, put the card down over your phone/wallet/camera like a tent and while you are reading it and asking them to go away they will take the item with them as they remove the card. It can happen VERY quickly and they will be gone in a flash so it is best to keep all of your valuables in a safe guarded place when you are sitting outside.

 

The best way to react: Keep your belongings safely on your person or in your sealed bag in a safe spot. If you notice someone coming around asking for money put a hand on your things and guard them.

 

Hotspots: Any busy touristy area with lots of terraces – St. Michel, Notre Dame, St. Germain, Le Marais

 

 

Again I want to stress the fact that Paris is a lovely city and not a dangerous place. Pickpockets are looking for easy, unsuspecting targets around major tourist areas, inside the museums and on major monuments like the Eiffel Tower. If you show them that you are conscientious of your things the chances are you will never be approached and you will have nothing to worry about.

 

Hopefully this information will just make you that much more aware. We hope you have a safe and wonderful stay in this gorgeous city!

 

Bisous from Paris!

 

 

 

The Friday Five: The Top 5 Places to Spend Summer by the Seine

The sun is shining in Paris, the metros are packed with people looking up from their iPhones to complain knowingly to each other that they are melting, and the annual mass exodus of Parisians to the beaches of Deauville and the Cote d’Azur has begun.

 

Summer is in full swing here in the Paris and if you are visiting and want to know where all the remaining Parisians are hiding I’ll tell you: The Seine. Like clockwork, every year the sun comes out and the entire city flocks to the banks of the river!

 

If you have time to wander along the river I highly recommend it, but if you have limited time for wandering allow me to introduce you to:

 

The Top 5 Places to Spend Summer by the Seine

 

  1. Paris Plages – July 19th – August 17th

 

Every year the city of Paris takes pity on the unfortunate Parisians who are unable to flee to the beach, and so they bring the beach to them! Paris Plages, or Paris Beaches, are set up along the Voie George-Pompidou and at the Parvis de l’Hotel de Ville complete with sand, beach chairs, hammocks, activities, and plenty of room to lounge and sun tan. To find out more about the programming check out the Paris Plages website:

http://quefaire.paris.fr/parisplages

paris plages

 

  1. Square du Vert-Galant

One of my favourite spots on the Seine is the Square du Vert-Galant at the far west tip of Ile de la Cite! You can enjoy a lovely picnic at the little park in the centre, or try and grab a coveted spot on the bank. I prefer the farthest tip of the island in the shade of the beautiful tree at the very tip of the island. It is a lovely place to sit and watch the boats go by on the water.

square du vert galant

  1. Quai Austerlitz

 

Located farther east along the Seine and away from all the major tourist attractions, Quai Austerlitz is a hidden gem that I feel is generally not well known by travelers. The quai is lined with plenty of beautiful outdoor bars with large terraces, wooden picnic tables, beach chairs, and chill music. Lounge on the banks with a mojito or try one of the bars on the riverboats. The atmosphere is lovely for a chill summer evening!

quai austerlitz

  1. Les Berges – Port de Solferino – Port des Invalides – Port du Gros Caillou

 

Stretching along the Seine in front of the Musee d’Orsay, this section of the riverbank has recently been reopened after extensive renovations. There are plenty of activities for all ages, places to eat and drink, and regular live music events. Feel like having a workout to make up for all the ridiculously fantastic croissants and pastries you have been eating? Why not take a free group exercise class one morning? Check out the official website homepage to see the daily program of activities: http://lesberges.paris.fr

 berges de seine

 

  1. La Plage du Batofar – 11 Quai François Mauriac

 

Every year the Batofar, a bar on the Seine, sets up a 300m2 terrace on the quai in front of the boat. Far enough away from the touristy centre of Paris and equipped with lounge chairs, umbrellas, and cocktails this is an after work refuge for Parisians in the summer. Open Monday-Friday from 5pm-1am, and the weekend from 12pm-1am.

The Friday Five: The Top Five Reasons Paris is Just Fabulous in July

It has been an absolutely gorgeous summer so far in Paris. To all of our lovely travelers staying in our apartments in the month of July, here are some of the best things going on in Paris this month:

  1. Bastille Day – July 14th

 

France’s National Day is on July 14th, so if you are staying with us at one of our apartment rentals in Paris you should be prepared for most of the city to shut down that day and for celebrations to begin! The day begins with the annual military parade on the Champs-Élysées, complete with representatives marching from each of France’s military forces and jets flying overhead. The theme this year is the “Centenary of the first world war”. The area gets extremely packed so if you want a decent viewpoint you should arrive very early and secure a spot. The parade runs from 9am-noon!

 

In the evening there will be a giant fireworks display at the Eiffel Tower at 11pm and will run for 35 minutes. Unless you are staying at one of our beautiful apartment rentals with a view of the tower from your window, you should arrive early at the Champ de Mars or the Trocadero to secure a good spot.

 military parade

 

 

  1. Bal du Pompier (Fireman Ball) – July 13-14th

 

One of best parts about Bastille Day is arguably the annual Firemen’s Balls that take place throughout the city on July 13th & 14th. Each year the firemen of Paris open up the fire stations in each arrondissement of Paris and hold huge parties. The firemen run the entire evening, from selling tickets at the door to serving your beer/cocktails. It is a pretty cool opportunity to have the chance to see inside Paris’ fire stations and dance the night away under the stars.

 

Night of 13 to 14 July 2014 (From 9pm to 4am)

  • 1° Cie CS CHALIGNY – 26, rue de Chaligny – Paris 12e – Métro Reuilly Diderot
  • 3° Cie CS PORT-ROYAL – 53-55, boulevard Port-Royal – Paris 13e – Métro Les Gobelins / RER Port Royal
  • 4° Cie CS COLOMBIER – 11, rue du Vieux Colombier – Paris 6e – Métro Saint-Sulpice
  • 6° Cie CS GRENELLE – 6, place Violet – Paris 15e – Métro Commerce
  • 7° Cie CS BLANCHE – 28, rue Blanche – Paris 9e – Métro Trinité d’Estienne d’Orves
  • 8° Cie CS ROUSSEAU – 21, rue du Jour – Paris 1er – Métro Les Halles
  • 10° Cie CS LANDON – Centre de secours et voie publique 188, quai de Valmy – Paris 10e – Métro Louis Blanc
  • 10° Cie CS BITCHE – Centre de secours et voie publique 2, place de Bitche – Paris 19e – Métro Crimée
  • 11° Cie CS SEVIGNE – 7-9, rue de Sévigné – Paris 4e – Métro Saint-Paul
  • 12° Cie CS MENILMONTANT – 47, rue Saint-Fargeau – Paris 20e – Métro Pelleport
  • 19°Cie / 2° Cie : CS MASSENA – 37, boulevard Masséna – Paris 13e – Métro Porte d’Ivry
  • 20° Cie / 9° Cie CS MONTMARTRE – 12, rue Carpeaux – Paris 18e – Métro Guy Moquet
  • 20° Cie / 9° Cie CS BOURSAULT – Centre de secours et voie publique, 27, rue Boursault – Paris 17e – Métro Rome
  • 29°Cie /CCL 5 – Arènes de Lutèce, 47-59, rue Monge – Paris 5e – Métro Place Monge

 

Night of 14 to 15 July 2014 (from 9pm to 4am)

  • 1° Cie CS CHALIGNY – 26, rue de Chaligny – Paris 12e – Métro Reuilly Diderot
  • 3° Cie CS PORT-ROYAL – 53-55, boulevard Port-Royal – Paris 13e – Métro Les Gobelins / RER Port Royal
  • 4° Cie CS COLOMBIER – 11, rue du Vieux Colombier – Paris 6e – Métro Saint-Sulpice
  • 6° Cie CS GRENELLE – 6, place Violet – Paris 15e – Métro Commerce
  • 8° Cie CS ROUSSEAU – 21, rue du Jour – Paris 1er – Métro Les Halles
  • 11° Cie CS SEVIGNE – 7-9, rue de Sévigné – Paris 4e – Métro Saint-Paul

 

 

  1. Final Stage of The Tour de France – July 27th

 

Each year thousands of people flock to Paris to cheer on cyclists competing in the Tour de France as they complete their final laps of the epic three week long bike race on the Champs-Élysées. The finish line is located in the Place de la Concorde, where the winners receive their jerseys. It is cool to pass by and check out a few laps, even if cycling isn’t really your thing!

 

 

4. Cinema en Plein Air – July 23-August 24

 

One of my favourite things about Paris in the summer is the open-air cinemas that pop up around the city. The best one is Cinema en Plein Air in Parc de la Villette in the north east of Paris. From July 23 – August 24 films are shown on a giant screen that is set up in the park every Wednesday – Sunday. It is the perfect place to have a picnic while you wait for the sun to go down and the movie to begin!

 

Go to the website to check out the program for this summer:

 

http://www.villette.com/fr/agenda/cinema-en-plein-air-2014.htm

cinema en plein air

 

5. Dancing along the Seine! – Every night from July 1st-August 31st

 

All summer long from dusk until the early hours of the morning people of all ages flock to the banks of the Seine, particularly around Quai Saint-Bernard near Gare d’Austerlitz, to dance the night away. It’s the perfect place to surprise and impress your loved one with a spontaneous and romantic evening!

dancing along the seine

Have an amazing vacation!

Bisous from Paris!

Our Passion: The Davis Moon Project

This week instead of doing The Friday Five I thought I’d share something with all of you that means a lot to us here at Take Me To Paris Apartments: The Davis Moon Project. You might have noticed if you visit the “About Us” section of our website (http://takemetoparisapartments.com/about.php) that ten percent of all profits from our company go directly to supporting The Davis Moon Project’s primary school in Ethiopia.

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One of our founders, Sonja Simmons, adopted her son, Davis Moon, from Awassa, Ethiopia about eight years ago. Sonja decided from the day she adopted her son that she never wanted him to lose touch with his birth family or his Ethiopian heritage. At the same time she saw a great need for a library and a school in Davis’ hometown. She decided to act and do something that would create lasting meaning in her son’s home community and to return on a regular basis to visit with her son and help out.

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This amazing project, which has become an invaluable resource for children’s libraries, schools and orphanages in Ethiopia, has grown incredibly over the years. The school that was built has expanded over and over and now has classrooms for around 900 students. As the demand increases and the expansion process continues, all of us at Take Me To Paris Apartments are so proud to be actively involved.

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Sonja is currently leading the bi-annual literary mission to Ethiopia and is on the ground delivering school supplies and spending time with the students. If you want to find out more about what they are up to check out their blog: http://davismoonproject.org/category/blog/ .

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We thank all of our guests from the bottom of our hearts for choosing to stay with us and for supporting The Davis Moon Project.

 

Bisous from Paris!

The Friday Five: The Top 5 Reasons Paris is Jubilant in June

With the summer fast approaching and our apartment rentals filling up with eager travelers, Paris is about to liven up with tons of amazing events during the summer months. Although it is hard to resist the temptation of the beaches of Deauville or the Côte d’Azur, I absolutely love Paris in June. The weather is (usually) gorgeous; people flock to the banks of the Seine and the many beautiful parks, and drinks on sunlit terraces become a staple of daily life. Here are some of the reasons Paris is absolutely jubilant in June:

 

Fête de la Musique  – June 21st – All day long!

This is by far one of my favourite days of the year in Paris! The Fête de la Musique  was started in 1982 and quickly became one of France’s biggest cultural events. Every year on June 21st, in every city in France, musicians are free to perform all day and night anywhere in the city, at a venue or simply out on the street. It is the absolute perfect way to start the summer! There is no need to make any serious plan. I can tell you from experience the best way to soak up the Fête de la Musique  is to simply wander the streets all day and enjoy as many performances as possible.

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The Princess Rally – June 1st – Beginning at 8:30am!

Created in 2000 by Viviane Zaniroli, this event has become one of the best events in the international women’s motor sport world! Passionate female fans of classic automobiles and road rallies sign up this Saturday May 31st for the 15th anniversary rally from Paris to St. Tropez. If you are into classic cars you might want to head to the Esplanade des Invalides Sunday June 1st to check out the gorgeous cars as they begin making their way out of Paris.

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Summer Sales (SOLDES) – Beginning June 25th 

Another obvious reason people flock to Paris: fashion!

The summer sales begin June 25th and run for five weeks. Need I say more?

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Prix de Diane Longines – June 15th – 11am

The perfect June day trip! Held at the gorgeous Hippodrome de Chantilly just outside of Paris, this event is simply spectacular. People start arriving at 11am, dressed to the nines, to set up their picnics and enjoy the free pre-race concert on the infield. The actual races begin at 2pm, and the famous Prix de Diane Longines takes place at 3:45pm. It is a fabulous ambiance. The perfect place to get dressed up, enjoy a champagne-laden picnic, and place a bet if you’re feeling lucky.

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Solidays Music Festival – June 27-29th

This annual festival is put on by Solidarité SIDA, France’s main charity promoting the cause of those with HIV. This lively weekend long music and arts festival is held at Paris’ Hippodrome de Longchamp.

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Start planning those summer vacations!

Bisous from Paris!