Getting Around the Town
As soon as airline reservations to Paris are confirmed (with XL or La Compagnie), dates for travel throughout France are finalized (with Rail Europe), and Parisian accommodations have been secured, it is time to make sightseeing arrangements with Paris Big Bus.
Paris can be a visitor’s dream come true or spark a migraine. There is so much to see and do, so many shops, fairs and museums to explore; so many different parts of the city to discover, and so many bars, cafes and restaurants to experience, it is frequently difficult to make decisions.
Depending on your activity schedule and interests, acquiring a Big Bus plan may be the most efficient way to organize your itinerary and it comes with a bonus – the passes actually save money through reduced (or free) access to museums (and other attractions), public transit and discounts at restaurants and bars.
The Paris Pass includes free admission to 60+ attractions (think the Louvre, Musee d’Orsay, Arc de Triomphe and Seine River cruise). Hop On/Off options and the Paris travel card delivers access to the different parts of the city plus Metro and city busses, as well as the opportunity to go to the head of museum entrance lines and an excellent guide book to help review activity options. The passes are available for Adults (over 18 years of age), Teens (12-17) and Children (4-11).
Museum of Decorative Arts
While in Paris I used the Museum Pass to visit an OMG exhibit at the Museum of Decorative Arts (MAD) “From Calder to Koons, the Artist as Jeweler.” Curated based on jewelry collector, Diane Venet’s book, the exhibition features her personal pieces and over 250 additional items (i.e., necklaces, earrings and brooches) designed by Alexander Calder, Louise Nevelson, Max Ernst, Salvador Dali and Niki de Saint-Phalle, Roy Lichtenstein, Picasso and Jeff Koons.
I also used the Paris Big Bus Metro/Bus Pass and it definitely was useful and saved lots of time and anguish – not having to look for Euros for tickets every time I wanted to get on a bus or subway.
Awesome Antique Shopping – Northern Edge of Paris
Le Marche Biron is part of the St-Ouen Flea Market (Marché aux Puces St-Ouen) considered the largest flea market in the world. Marche Biron includes professional antique vendors that offer vintage silver and other quality pieces by Christofle and Puiforcat.
There are over 14 different sections with more than 2000 shops and hundreds of unusual market stalls run by vendors willing to negotiate. Covering over 6 hectares of space, the market is within walking distance of the Porte de Clignancourt Metro station, 18th arrondissement (Metro Line 4; exit Marche aux Puces).
The market started in 1885 and provides an amazing shopping opportunity. Want to acquire large treasures (furniture, lamps, rugs)? No problem. The market offers worldwide shipping services.
Do not blink or dawdle or you will miss a vast array of vintage fashions (clothing, bags, jewelry, beads and buttons), tableware (earthenware, porcelain, silverware, crystal), and Asian arts (Japanese and Chinese arts). Visit the markets on Saturday or Sunday, the rest of the week is by appointment. Rue des Rosiers is the main shopping avenue and the market streets intersect (feel free to wander).
My favorite shops:
Heads UP for Flea Market Shopping
1. Plan to include this adventure into your itinerary. Schedule a day (if you can), otherwise, arrive early in the morning and shop until lunch (lovely cafes nearby).
2. Hide credit cards, cash and passports. Visitors are frequently distracted by the “treasures” and lose sight of bags and totes. Some cash may be useful, but most dealers accept credit cards.
3. Passports should be left in the hotel safe, as well as other documents that are unnecessary for shopping here because antiques do not have VAT for tax refund purposes.
4. Shop as a duet. Have your friend declare that the purchase is totally unnecessary or the wrong size/color. Some dealers may worry about a lost opportunity and renegotiate price.
5. Use a calculator money converter to determine the price in your own currency. Claiming that the price is “just too expensive” may spark a price reduction.
6. If you are uncertain, take contact information from the vendor and call back the next day. The “wait” may encourage the vendor to lower the price.
7. If you are professional shopper (i.e., antique dealer, interior designer), contact a shipper before heading down the aisles. The shippers can provide tickets to mark antiques and they will pick up the items left for shipment.
Plan your visit to Paris and leave lots of time to explore the neighborhoods, cafes, museums, and the Parisian lifestyle. For additional information, click here.
© Dr. Elinor Garely. This copyright article, including photos, may not be reproduced without written permission from the author.