Paris-London via Chunnel on the Eurostar
$US90 return; 2.5hrs by train;
rail passes for non-residents of France (must be purchased before
entry to Europe):
France Railpass - unlimited travel
on national trains incl. TGV for 3-7 days: $A248 3 days 2nd
class or $A286 1st class pp if 2-5 people, or $A467 for 9 days
2nd class or $A540 1st class + $A10 issuance fee
Paris has a similar temperate climate to Melbourne, that is, a
fairly evenly distributed monthly rainfall of 40-60mm, hot, dry
summers and cold winters, although Paris is on average a few degrees
cooler in summer & some 7 degrees colder in winter.
good accommodation is hard to get in peak times (eg. fashion/trade
fairs January, early July, March, October) so book ahead at these
times. Consider air conditioning in August.
NB. most museums & monuments are closed on Mon &/or Tues
Museum Card allows free entry to 70 Paris museums &
monuments $A75 for 3 day card, $A112 for 5 days; (most museum entry
fees are normally 5-9 euros each), smaller museums in Paris may be
closed over summer.
exploring Paris by foot is the best way to get to know it, but
remember to anything on wheels including cyclists &
rollerbladers, pedestrians are the lowest form of life & by
law, drivers are only obliged to stop if there is a red light
and many take calculated risks with these, while most will
ignore flashing lights or signs saying pedestrians have priority
- so take care - 3000 pedestrians a yr are hit by vehicles.
pickpockets & bag snatchers are rife - pay particular
attention as doors are closing.
trains run 5.30am - 12.40am, while buses run 6.30am-8.30pm but
limited on Sundays & public holidays;
open top double decker buses with commentary - great for
orienting yourself to Paris
4 bus routes and buses depart every 15-25min depending on
$A58 or 28 Euro 2 day pass allows you to get on & off as
much as you like on consecutive days from approx. 9:20-18:30
in addition to the state SNCF
rail system, Paris has two other train systems:
Métro underground: lines are numbered with each
direction named after the last stop
RER suburban express: 5 lines: A,B,C,D & Eole -
less stops, thus faster than Metro & serve suburbs as
well as airports.
Visite Card allows unlimited public transport on Paris/Ile de
France trains, buses $17 1 day zones 1-3 or $35 for zones 1-5 with
discounts on more days, eg. 5 consecutive days zone 1-5 pass = $A95
zone1-2 tickets cost €1.30, thus cheaper to buy a carnet
of 10 tickets for €9.60
a Coupon Hebdomadaire weekly ticket (Mon-Sun inclusive)
at €13.75 for zone 1-2 is better value than the Visite card
Paris is divided into 20 numbered neighbourhoods called arrondissements,
and their number is reflected in their postcode - eg. the 12th is
75012, the 16th is subdivided into 75016 & 75116.
The suburbs are called the banlieue. They are generally
more peaceful than the city, and those to the west of Paris (Neuilly,
Boulogne, Saint Cloud, Levallois) are the most desirable.
The neighborhood has the feel of a small village and
students mix freely with professionals in its winding
streets. The rue Mouffetard is a primary artery where shops,
international restaurants and student bars and cafés are
Panthéon - built 1790
Musée de Cluny
St-Germain - Luxembourg quarter:
Once the hangout for bohemians and intellectuals, this
neighborhood has undergone gentrification and is now newly
chic. Upscale boutiques, art galleries, and restaurants can
be found throughout this district.
Palais du Luxembourg - b. 1631
Fontaine de l'Observatoire b. 1873 - one of the finest
fountains in Paris
Jardin du Luxembourg
Champs-Elysees & Invalides:
lots of international residents can be found in this very
The area around Champs Elysèe, has lots of shopping and lots
of tourists, while in the area to the East, between the Champs
Elysee and Place de la Madeleine you will find a mixture of 19th
century buildings intermingled with businesses
The center of the Marais, this is a lively neighborhood with a
strong alternative lifestyle scene as well as lots of trendy
bars, shops, and restaurants. The rue des Rosiers is a
centerpiece of Jewish lifestyle in Paris and the Ile St. Louis
and the Ile de la Cité are the oldest parts of Paris.
the "enchanted" forest of Arthurian legend, said to have
been home to the legendary 6thC wizard/prophet Merlin (the Latinised
name from the Welsh Myrddin that Geoffrey of Monmouth gave to him in
his "Vita Merlini" in 1151)
Pont Dom Jean believed by many to be the bridge of the sword
crossed by Lancelot to deliver Guinevere.
most paths are privately owned, and some are closed during the
hunting season April-October.
for guided tours, contact Centre L'Imaginaire Arthurien,
Comper-en-Broceliande Castle, said to be the site of the Lady of the
The Loire Valley (southwest of Paris):
Burgundy & Franche-Comte (south-east of Paris)
The Massif Central (south of Paris & west of Lyon):
The Rhone Valley & French Alps (south-east):
apart from the Alpine regions, local train & bus services tend to
be slow & inconvenient, a car is essential if you wish to get off
the most heavily traveled auto-routes.
high alpine passes can be closed Nov-June.
wine regions include Beajolais, Rhône Valley and Drôme
spa regions include Évian-les-Bains & Aix-les-Bains
founded by the Romans 43BC as "Lugdunum" as a crossroad
for roads leading to Italy, the Meditteranean, the Rhine, the
Aquitaine & the Atlantic which today has resulted in it becoming
France's 2nd largest city (pop. 2 million) with a multicultural
character being a meeting place for Germans, Swiss, Italians &
Spanish since the 15thC in particular.
the 2nd Catholic Church in the West outside of Rome is built
in Lyon in c150AD.
Lyon was destroyed several times - 65AD by fire; 725AD by the
Saracens; 935AD by the Hungarians;
known for its expertise in printing in the 16th century, it became
the capital of the Resistance forces in WWII during its occupation
by German forces, it is now known for its restaurants
lies half-way between Paris & Nice, each being approx. 470km
(4hrs drive) and some 150km to Geneva, 314km to Marseille
one of the most liveliest & forward-looking cities of the south
with a quarter of pop. under 25yrs.
Sète: - major fishing & industrial port, with great seafood.
Cap d'Agde - a naturist town where nudists even shop nude in the
north-east quarter of the town! Nudism is optional except at the beach,
but locals dress for dinner.
11thC Cistercian Abbey de Fontfroide
the Horreum - an underground warren of granaries & grain
chutes dating back to 1stC BC when Narbonne was the capital of the
largest Roman province in Gaul, but the port declined after 15thC AD
when the harbour silted up & the river Aude altered its course.
the Citadel of Carcasonne is a perfectly restored fortified
Provence & the Cote D'azur (south-east Mediterranean coast
& its beach resort towns - the French Riviera):
Musée Calvet - Roman artefacts, overview of French art.
Pont du Gard - 2000yr old Roman bridge, the highest the Romans
ever built - used to carry water 50km from the springs of Uzès to Nîmes.
Fontaine-de-Vaucluse - the most powerful spring in France -
90,000L/s from an underground river at the foot of a cliff which is
the source of the river Sorgue.
Gordes - the most popular village in Provence
a bastion of Provençal tradition & culture, its museums are
among the best in the region.
gateway to the Rhône delta, 140,00ha of wetlands, pastures, dunes
& salt flats that make up the Camargue.
Les Alyscamps - tree-lined avenue of broken medieval tombs
a huge limestone range is one of Provence's most appealing areas
a regional nature park rising to 1,125m with picturesque villages
incl. Bonnieux with its 12thC church & Lacoste, the site of the
ruins of the Marquis de Sade's castle.
a Greek settlement founded in 7thC BC, then called Massilia, &
seized by the Romans in 49BC,
France's largest port, lies 314km south of Lyon
Hyères - one of the 1st
health resort towns, established near the end of the 18thC; popular
with experimental film makers
Îles d'Hyères - locally known as Îles d'Or for its golden
cliffs, this is a trio of islands
on the tip of a peninsula, it is the only north-facing town on the
coast so did not appeal to those seeking a warm & sheltered
winter and was a quiet fishing village. During WWII, its beaches
were landing sights for Allied landings.
mass tourism followed 1956 Vadim-Bardot film "And God
created woman", the wave of Parisians coming in the 1950's
giving it a reputation as a playground for gilded youth with wild
public behaviour of the famous such as Roger Vadim, Brigitte Bardot
& Sacha Distel.
very crowded on weekends in Summer
the best known clothing optional and more risque beach on the
Riviera - Plage de Tahiti
Gorges du Verdon - inland from Cannes is one the the most dramatic
natural sights in Europe, deeply cut valley of the green river
Verdon with gorges up to 700m high
just inland from Cagnes-sur-mer and one of the most visited
villages in France
190km east of Marseille (2hrs drive), Nice is France's 5th largest
town and has been inhabited for
400,000yrs while the ancient Greeks in the 4thC BC established it as Nikaia and the
Romans then promoted tourism with their extensive baths on the hill
of Cimiez (from 100BC, although the ruins of the public baths date
from 3rdC AD) which now hosts a number of museums.
after Barbarian and Saracen invasions in the Dark Ages reduced the
community to almost nothing, the Counts of Provence took over the
site first created by the Greeks, but tired of continuous political
squabbling, the people asked to be placed under the sovereignty of
the House of Savoy which continued until 1860 except for two
interruptions: 1691-1731 it belonged to Louise XIV and 1792-1814
became part of the French Republic.
in 1860, the people enthusiastically welcomed the Treaty of Turin
signed by Napoleon III & King Victor Emmanuel II of Sardinia
which stipulated Nice would again become part of France.
It's Vieille Ville
(old town) still displays its Medieval character while the Promenade
des Anglais is a popular walk along the beach.
the beaches of Nice, and along the coast to Antibes, are shingle
(smooth stones). From Antibes-Juan-les-Pins to Cannes, the beaches
best way to get around is by bus
(7 day unlimited local travel pass available for 15Euro but only
east as far as Cap D'Ail and west to Cagnes-sur-mer and the
fortified medieval tourist village of Saint Paul de
otherwise single trips to Monaco cost ~4Euro). By 2007, Nice should
have a new tram line.
its international airport has limited service but does offer
flights to many European cities including London as well as New
York, but not Australia.
Jan-Mar 6-15degC; Apr-May 10-18degC; June 15-23degC; July-Aug
19-29degC; Sept 18-27degC; Oct 14-22degC; Nov/Dec 7-18degC;
but colder in the hills such as at Cimiez, Saint Paul de Vence
protected from winds by its hills and the Esterel mountains to
the west and the Mercantour Alps to NW, while temperature is
moderated by sea breezes, giving a mild Winter and never too hot
in Summer, although it is usually humid and very warm.
charming spa town at foothills of the Alps; train trip on the Train
des Pignes offers superb views.
a deep port with a pretty village, a destination of larger
there are some walks out around the Cap-Ferrat peninsula (presqu'ile)
as well as the 11th century Chapelle Santa Maria de Olivo.
up-market seaside resort 7km east of Nice, 10-12min by train
with trains every 20-30min or so M-F until 8pm, at other times
train line (on the main Nice-Monaco-Menton-Ventimiglia line)
was the ancient Greek port of Anao and enlarged by the
Romans but the village was destroyed in the 3rd century. A small
monastery built on the 3rd century ruins was destroyed in the
6th century by the Lombards and locals took refuge to the hills
and it wasn't until the 13th century that the village shifted to
its current seaside location.
a 1,000 year old hill-top medieval town sitting high up on a
1300' cliff to the east of Nice,
accessible by bus or car from Nice