FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
I'm choosing an apartment as an alternative to a hotel because I want to be able to cook with the wonderful ingredients you can find in Paris' markets and food shops. How well equipped are your kitchens?
Information on Haven in Paris
How do we know Haven in Paris is a legitimate company?
Haven in Paris is a member in good standing of the Better Business Bureau in the U.S. (we are based out of Maine). You can see our member profile here: http://www.bbb.org/boston/business-reviews/real-estate-rental-service/haven-in-paris-in-lexington-ma-100166/#bbbonlineclick. You can also read reviews written by clients who have stayed with us before: www.haveninparis.com/reviews.php.
I've only ever stayed in hotels while traveling, but think I want to try renting an apartment this time around. What are the main differences?
We at Haven in Paris think that staying in a furnished apartment is the best way to travel! Renting your own vacation apartment in Paris is a wonderful alternative to staying in a hotel. But it's true that renting a holiday flat isn't for everyone. If you think that it just isn’t a vacation without daily maid service, a concierge downstairs, and room service meals, then you might want to take a moment to think about whether a vacation apartment is for you. However, if you look forward to getting an insider’s view to the city, having a larger space and the comforts of home to return to at the end of the day, and the privacy afforded in your own apartment, then a holiday flat can be the ideal home base for your vacation. If you like the idea of renting an apartment, but would still like luxury concierge services during your stay in Paris, you can contact Haven in Paris and we will direct you to a personal concierge for à la carte services. They will be able to help you with restaurant recommendations & reservations, day trips, Paris sightseeing and walking tours, shopping, market tours, and more. We can also put you directly in contact with certain luxury service providers who we have tested and who have the Haven in Paris seal of approval.
What do your apartments have to offer that we might miss out on by staying in a hotel?
We like to think of our Paris apartments as your home away from home. To this end, we ensure that all of our apartments are outfitted with fully equipped kitchens, allowing you to cook your own meals from fresh food bought at Paris' amazing markets, boulangeries, fromageries, boucheries, and more. We provide unlimited high speed wireless internet and unlimited phone service** to many foreign countries, so you can keep in touch with friends and family at home. In most apartments, there is also a computer for your use during your Parisian vacation. We will even provide a crib, in most apartments, free of charge for your baby! For larger groups, our holiday flats allow you to share a space, rather than having to pay for and split up into separate hotel rooms. For couples, they provide privacy, intimacy, and the ideal setting for a romantic vacation in Paris. ** Please inquire if there is a specific country that you need to call - we can let you know whether it is included in a given apartment. Most of the free countries are outlined in the individual apartment descriptions.
How is HiP unique?
We at Haven in Paris pride ourselves on our top-notch customer service. Our aim is to provide the best vacation possible to you, our guests in Paris. All of us at Haven in Paris have lived in Paris and speak fluent French as well as English, so we are well prepared to answer any questions you have before, during, and after your stay.
Who are the HiP people?
Haven in Paris was started by Erica, a native of Massachusetts. Erica divides her time between Maine, Massachusetts, Italy and Paris! As the business grew, she took on Elise, Erin, Meghan, and Natasha, all of whom work in the U.S. with sporadic visits to Paris to check up on things! When you rent a vacation apartment from Haven in Paris, you may end up corresponding with any one or even all of us. You can also now see photos and bios of the Haven in Paris team at http://haveninparis.com/aboutus.php.
Renting from Haven in Paris
What are your rental terms?
You can find our full terms and conditions here: www.haveninparis.com/rentalterms.php These are the terms you will agree to on our rental contract.
What is your minimum rental?
We have a weekly rental rate (that's 7 nights), even for stays of less than a week - except when we have last-minute availability OR if the dates you need fit perfectly with an existing rental in a given apartment. There are so many costs involved in renting that it is difficult to justify a shorter rental, especially when it is far in advance. If you were already thinking of renting for 5 or 6 days, we often recommend reserving as of the day before your arrival in Paris – this way, you can ensure that no one else will be checking out on the day you arrive, so the apartment will be cleaned and ready to welcome you to the city. For any stays longer than a week, we do pro-rate for additional days; i.e., if you want to rent an apartment for 10 days, we won’t charge you for 2 full weeks. Please inquire about longer term rental discounts.
You say sometimes you can rent for less than a week. Do you have a nightly rate for those cases?
When we are able to rent for less than a week, we calculate the pro-rated price for your dates based on our normal weekly rate - we don't have nightly prices. However, for these shorter rentals, we also have to add a supplement onto the pro-rated price to help cover the extra greeting, cleaning, and laundry costs we incur on a shorter rental.
Do I have to rent from Saturday to Saturday?
In Paris and London, your rental can start and end on any day of the week – it's up to you! In Provence and Tuscany, rentals go from Saturday to Saturday. Please note: We may not be able to accommodate arrivals and departures on December 25 and January 1, but we are happy to confirm this on a case-by-case basis. Arrivals and departures on December 24, 25, 31, and January 1 may incur a special fee.
How and when do I pay?
We have four options in terms of method of payment. They are:
* By credit card (Visa, Mastercard, American Express) in US Dollars** using our secure server
* By check in US Dollars** to our office in Maine
* By wire transfer in US Dollars** to our bank account
We require a 50% deposit to reserve the apartment, and the remaining 50% two months before your arrival date. Our system will remind you automatically a few days before your balance payment is due. If you reserve within two months of your arrival, then we ask that you make the full payment at that time. Unfortunately, we can not accept money orders or bank drafts, as they are extremely difficult to recover or reissue if lost.
How far in advance do I have to reserve my apartment?
It depends. Sometimes, an apartment is rented 6 months ahead of time – or even over a year! In other cases, we have last minute availability. It is hard to gauge, which is why we recommend planning as far ahead as possible. This way, you are likely to be able to rent the apartment you prefer for the dates you want. Dates around Christmas, New Years, Easter, and Fashion Week tend to be booked well ahead of time.
Will you hold an apartment for my dates while I confirm other details?
Haven in Paris has a first come, first serve reservations policy. This means that, until you tell us you want to book and ask us to send our rental agreement, we can't hold your dates. Once we have sent you the rental agreement, we will hold the apartment for 48 hours to give you time complete it and arrange for payment. If we haven't heard from you after 48 hours, we reserve the right to remove the hold we had placed. We will however notify you before doing so. Because of this policy, we at Haven in Paris will do our very best to keep all parties up to date if there is overlapping interest for an apartment.
What does your price include?
The prices on our site are all inclusive – you do not have to pay extra for any utilities. This is vacation! There are no taxes added on to the apartment prices.
The price also includes:
* Unlimited free high speed WiFi (wireless Internet) in all our apartments.
* Free unlimited telephone calls in all** Paris apartments to landlines in: United Kingdom, Europe, France, USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, China, Taiwan, Singapore, Japan, Israel, Argentina. Includes calls to cell phones in USA and Canada. **Note: Rosiers Marais 2 Bedroom have free unlimited calling to North American landlines and cell phones & European landlines, but NOT to the other countries listed above. Please inquire for calling rates to specific countries not on these lists.
* Wine & flowers upon arrival
* Fluent English & French speaking greeter
* Maid service once a week for stays of 2 weeks or longer, & at the beginning and end of your stay
* Detailed HiP guide on your apartment & the surrounding neighborhood
* Service by phone and email for recommendations or troubleshooting
* Around the clock support for emergencies
Please note: Our prices do not include any fees associated with arrivals or departures before 8am and after 9pm.
Are there any potential extra or hidden costs?
There are no hidden costs. However, there are a few extras we do charge for:
1. We charge $75 to $200 per week (depending on the apartment) for each additional person over the standard occupancy rate, which varies by property. This is clearly stated on the web site. This fee is meant to cover the extra cleaning and laundry costs.
2. We also add on a portion of the extra greeting, cleaning, and laundry costs whenever we accept a rental of less than a week. These fees vary per apartment.
3. We are normally unable to accommodate arrivals or departures on Christmas Day (December 25) or New Year's Day. (January 1). All arrivals and departures on Christmas Eve (December 24) and New Year's Eve (December 31) should occur within the hours of 9am-5pm; all arrivals or departures after 5pm or before 9am on these days will incur a fee of 100 Euros/80 Pounds to be paid in cash to the greeter.
Do you ever run discounted rates?
We often run special prices when we have last minute availability in an apartment. While it varies by property, we also try to run introductory rates when we have just taken on a new property. If you are a returning client, we are happy, when possible, to give you a small discount as a thank you for returning to HiP! Feel free to check out our current specials at http://haveninparis.com/special.php.
What is your cancellation policy?
We have a strict no cancellation policy. In the event that you do need to cancel, all sums paid to HiP as of the date of your cancellation will be forfeited UNLESS we are able to re-rent the property for your dates. If we are able to re-rent the flat, we refund the amount paid, less a 20% administrative fee.
Do you offer cancellation insurance?
Cancellation insurance is your personal responsibility, and we strongly recommend that you take out insurance for your trip. We cannot be held responsible for a cancellation for any reason, whatever it may be. It’s hard to believe it will happen to you, but sometimes life has a way of changing our plans for us. Please protect yourself! If you would like to take out insurance for your trip, we recommend that you take a look at the options available on sites like ADAR: http://www.aduciel.fr/Particuliers/Vacances/adar-assurance-annulation-partenaires.aspx?id=641574, www.insuremytrip.com or www.travelersmed.com. These websites allow you to compare the plans offered by reputable travel insurance groups. Some insurance companies that we recommend are: CSA (www.csatravelprotection.com ), Travelex ( www.travelex-insurance.com ) and AIG Travel Guard (www.travelguard.com ). These websites allow you to compare the plans offered by reputable travel insurance groups. Haven in Paris is in no way affiliated with any of these companies and these are merely suggestions. We suggest you shop around and compare until you find a product that best suits your needs.
So if I decide I want to reserve an apartment with Haven in Paris, what do I need to do?
Reserving a holiday rental with HiP is simple! If you decide you want to rent an apartment with us and your dates are available, we will confirm the price, the dates of your stay, and the number in your party. We will then send you an email with a link to our rental agreement, which you can fill out online. Once you have submitted this agreement, our system generates a PDF of the rental contract that is emailed to both you, the client, and us, Haven in Paris. Finally, you are taken to our payment page, where you can choose to pay by credit card through our secure server, or by check or wire transfer to HiP in Maine.
Is there a security deposit? How much is it and how do I pay it?
We do require a security deposit for all of our properties. You can elect to fill out a credit card authorization form, which authorizes us to charge your card for specific damages caused by you during your stay in Paris. These damages will be documented with bills and your card will never be randomly charged. If there are no damages, we destroy your credit card information without charging your card. If there is any damage, we notify you before running any charges on your credit card*. If you would rather not fill out the credit card authorization, you can send a check to HiP. We cash the check and, after your departure, refund either the entire amount by check, or deduct accordingly for damages and refund the balance. The amount for the security deposit varies by property – please ask about your specific rental.
*In some of our properties the credit card and check process are the same: your card would be charged and then refunded after departure. Details about this can be found in the description of the apartment on its individual page on our site.
How early can we check in and how late can we check out? What should we do with our luggage in the meantime?
Our official check-in is at 4 pm, and check-out is at 10 am. This gives our cleaners time to fully prepare the apartment between the departure of one party and the arrival of the next. However, we do understand that you may come in on an early flight, or want to leave the apartment a little later, and we do everything possible to accommodate all parties as best we can.
If you would like to guarantee that an early check-in /late check-out will be possible, you must book an additional night at the beginning/end of your stay. This is the only way to ensure that there is no same-day turnover between guests, thus allowing the cleaners and greeters to have enough time to fully prepare the property.
Your greeter will be able to confirm an exact check-in time with you when they contact you to coordinate your meeting you at the property, approximately two weeks before your arrival. As they manage the arrivals and departures, as well as the cleaner's schedule, they will be in the best position to advise you on what time you may be able to drop off luggage, and when you will be able to check in.
If you will be arriving on an early flight, you should be able to drop your luggage off in the property starting at approximately 10am, after the previous guests have left. You will be able to return to settle in as soon as the apartment has been cleaned for you. Please be aware that the cleaning crew can not do their work effectively when there are people in the property, and we appreciate your cooperation in helping the process run smoothly. Your greeter or the cleaner will let you know when you will be able to return to the property to settle in.
You may also be able to leave your luggage in the property a little bit past your check-out time on your departure day, depending on the cleaning schedule, and on the incoming guests' itinerary.
* Please note: We may not be able to accommodate arrivals and departures on December 25 and January 1, but we are happy to confirm this on a case-by-case basis. Arrivals and departures on December 24, 25, 31, and January 1 may incur a special fee.
I've paid for my apartment and finished the reservation process. Now what?
We will send you a link to a page where you can download all the practical details about your apartment including address, arrival and entry instructions, door code, contact person, and other important information. Please take a moment to print this out and don’t forget to bring it with you! A Haven in Paris representative will meet you at the property. PLEASE make sure that we have your arrival information as far in advance as possible. If we do not know when and how you are arriving, we cannot ensure that you will be met at the proper time. If you do not yet have the details when you complete your rental agreement, please think to email us as soon as your arrival plans are finalized. We need to be able to schedule as far as possible in advance to ensure that you are met at your desired time. If you are delayed, give us a call to let us know. Please be aware that someone will be physically waiting for you in the apartment and be as considerate of his or her time as you hope one would be of yours.
Haven in Paris Vacation Apartments
Are your apartments located in safe neighborhoods?
All of our apartments are located in central Paris and are very secure. Paris is a safe city, and we are confident that you will feel at ease in your neighborhood. We do!
How good is the public transportation in Paris? Will I be near a metro station?
The Paris metro and bus system (RATP) is amazingly efficient. Our apartments are all within a 5 minute walk of the closest metro station. Metro service begins around 5 am and continues until 1 am on week nights, and about an hour later on Friday and Saturday nights. You can also take the bus with the same tickets you use for the metro – not only is it a good way to get around, but you also get an above-ground view of your route. For tickets, you've got a few options. If you plan on using public transportation some but not a lot, a carnet (10 tickets) offers a price break off of the single ticket price, and is easy to get at a ticket window or vending machine. If you plan to use the metro a bit more, they have come out with an option called "Paris Visite," which is a travel pass you can purchase for 1, 2, 3, or 5 days. There is much more information online (and in several languages) at www.ratp.fr - you can click the little British flag on the top right-hand corner for English.
Do your apartments all have elevators and air conditioning?
While many of our apartments are located in elevator buildings and some are air conditioned, it is not the case in all of them. As so many buildings in Paris are old, they have not always been retro-fitted with elevators and air conditioning. This information is displayed on each apartment page. Otherwise, please inquire about your specific apartment and we will let you know. We do provide fans in apartments that do not have air conditioning, and generally, Paris does not get too hot in the summer. When it does, the old stone of the buildings helps to keep the indoors cool and comfortable. * Please be aware that when apartments do have air-conditioning this will cool the flat down, but is often not the sub-zero temperature you will find in many US buildings.
I'm choosing an apartment as an alternative to a hotel because I want to be able to cook with the wonderful ingredients you can find in Paris' markets and food shops. How well equipped are your kitchens?
Our kitchens are all fully equipped with a refrigerator/freezer, stove, oven, dishes & cutlery, pots & pans, and a coffee maker. Most of our apartments also have a dishwasher and microwave. And, of course, a dining table where you can enjoy it all.
How conveniently located are the apartments to shops and restaurants?
We have chosen to represent apartments in neighborhoods that we personally feel are interesting. They are all within walking distance of a number of good eating options, and one-of-a-kind shops and boutiques are scattered throughout the different neighborhoods of Paris.
Do we need to bring our own sheets and towels?
Nothing of the sort! We provide more than enough clean sheets and towels – no need to lug them along. Your bed will be freshly made for your arrival.
Do you provide any toiletries, shampoo or soap?
We provide hand soap, dish-washing soap, dish-washing detergent when there is a dishwasher and laundry soap. Because everyone has their favorite brands, we leave it up to our guests to bring their favorite shower soap, shampoo and conditioner. Unfortunately, we don't provide q-tips or cotton balls, so remember to pack those as well!
What else do you provide?
Hair dryers*, telephone, computer, crib (but no linens), high chair (available in some apartments upon request). Most of our apartments also include a small library of various books and guidebooks which you are welcome to read and enjoy during your stay. *Note: If you are coming from North America where the voltage is different, your hair dryer won't work in Europe, even with a voltage adapter. For this reason, we provide them in each apartment.
Do you provide electronic converters in your apartments?
We try to have a couple of extra converters in each of our apartments. However, we can not guarantee this as sometimes people accidentally take them home with them. You can buy basic converters at many electronics or hardware stores or at the airport; they are not very expensive. However, you can not use a foreign hair dryer in France (even with a converter), and so we provide them in each apartment for that reason. Unfortunatley, flat-irons and curling-irons will also not work in France, so if you will need to use one, we suggest buying one when you arrive at the local Monoprix. If you plan on bringing a computer or cell phone, it should be able to plug in fine with a basic socket converter.
What if I want to bring along my pet?
Unfortunately, you're going to have to leave dear Fido at home. Even if you have the most well-behaved, cleanest dog or a cat that never sheds, we unfortunately can’t accommodate them. This is out of consideration both to the owners, who don’t want to deal with the potential messes pets can make, and to other guests – while we know you love your pet, the next people to stay in the flat might be horribly allergic.
Are all of your apartments non-smoking?
Our apartments are all strictly non-smoking. However, it's fine to smoke outside on the balcony if you have one, or downstairs in the courtyard.
Are all of your flats child-friendly?
With the exception of a few apartments, children are welcome in all of our Paris, London, Provence, and Tuscan homes. If there is an age limitation for a property, it will be noted on the property page. Feel free to ask us as well. Please note that several of the apartments do contain delicate artwork and fragile materials, so do make sure children are very careful.
Is there a safe in the apartment?
At this time, most of our apartments do not have safes.
Can I rent strollers or car seats for my children in Paris?
Yes! There are two wonderful websites, www.kidelio.com and www.babytems.com, where you can rent gear for your children. They have convenient pick-up points throughout Paris. We suggest you visit the sites to see all they have to offer.
Is there an easy way to book a taxi or driver in Paris?
There are several taxi services in Paris that offer call-ahead bookings. Normally, they charge a small fee for this, about 5 Euros. Here is a link to a list of reputable taxi companies in Paris: http://www.haveninparis.com/links.php#l52. ; We also know of a few private drivers in Paris. You can read about each one, view their rates, and contact them directly at this link: http://www.haveninparis.com/luxe.php#c3.
Is there an easy way to book a taxi or driver in London?
There are several taxi services in London that offer call-ahead bookings. Here is a link to a list of reputable taxi companies in London: http://www.haveninparis.com/links.php#l53
What do Paris' different neighborhoods have to offer?
Paris is split into 20 distinct neighborhoods ("arrondissements") that spiral outwards from the center of the city. These neighborhoods each have their own unique histories, local cultures, ambiances, and architectural and natural features. As you plan your trip to Paris, it would be wise to familiarize yourself with the different neighborhoods in order to decide which area of Paris best suits your tastes and interests! Here are a couple of resources that can guide you in your research: http://www.frommers.com/destinations/paris/0062020048.html http://www.slowtrav.com/france/paris/td_arrondissements.htm
What's the best way to get to the apartment from the airport or train station?
From any of Paris' airports, we recommend reserving a car service to take you to the apartment. There is often a long wait for taxis at the airport, and some drivers may charge extra for luggage. You can find our suggestions online here: www.haveninparis.com/luxe.php. From the train stations we recommend taking a taxi to the apartment.
When I arrive, will someone be there to meet me? How do I get the keys so I can get into the apartment?
There will be a greeter waiting for you at the apartment upon your arrival in Paris. He or she will let you in, give you keys, and show you what you need to know so that you can best enjoy your vacation apartment. You will also be checked out at the end of your stay.
What if (gulp) I lose a key?
Please guard your keys very carefully!! A lost key may cost anywhere from 500€ to 3000€ as we must change all locks if a key is lost to ensure your safety and the safety of future renters. Please do NOT carry the key and the address in the same pocket.
Also remember to never leave the key in the lock inside the apartment; if someone tries to open the lock from the outside while a key is in the lock on the inside, both keys will break off inside the lock and the entire lock will need to be replaced.
Lock and key replacements can be very expensive in Paris, and you will be held liable for all costs associated with the replacement of the lock and keys, including any expenses associated with coordinating the locksmith, even if this cost exceeds the security deposit amount for the property.
So the greeter will let us in and show us around the flat. What else can they help us with?
Your greeter is your contact and support in Paris. If you have any questions or issues during your stay, feel free to call or email your greeter. Generally, they are also happy to give a few restaurant recommendations or even make a reservation or two if you are shy about calling. For more services please inquire about a personal concierge.
What if it turns out there is construction going on in the apartment or building I've rented?
At Haven in Paris it is our promise that, if we learn of any work going on in the building where you will be staying, we will let you know as soon as we find out. Unfortunately, there are times when we have no advance notice about work going on in a building. Since we rent out single units in residential buildings, and, unlike hotels, do not own entire buildings, we do not have control over what other owners may decide to do. As you can imagine, this is very frustrating for us, and we do our best to stay as informed as possible. If it does happen that there is work going on in the building where you are staying, please let us know immediately so that we can work with you to find the best solution possible for your particular situation. We are committed to making our guests' stays as comfortable, relaxing, and easy as possible.
What do I need to pack – does it get very cold or hot in Paris?
Paris is fairly temperate – warm but not often extremely hot in the summer, chilly but rarely bitter cold in the winter. It does get a lot of drizzle – but we provide umbrellas in our apartments for that reason. Other good things to know are that Parisians very rarely wear shorts, white tube socks or sneakers, so if you are traveling in the summer and don't want to stand out as a tourist, keep this in mind.
Do you have some sort of luxury concierge service if we want more than what the greeter generally provides?
While Haven in Paris does not provide concierge-type services, if you think you will be needing assistance during your stay, we would be happy to point you towards some trustworthy contacts to help make your Paris experience as carefree and enjoyable as possible.
Can anyone recommend restaurants for us to try?
We have a long list of restaurant recommendations on our website at www.haveninparis.com/restaurants.php. Your greeter can also recommend places in your neighborhood, or for more personalized service, you can get in touch with our luxury concierge.
What sort of luxury à la carte services can the concierge provide?
If you can think of it, a concierge can make it happen. In fact, they may even have ideas that haven’t occurred to you yet. Just as a starting point, here are some of the services and activities that can be arranged; you can also find some ideas at www.haveninparis.com/luxe.php. * Private driver * Stocked fridge upon your arrival or breakfast ready for early morning arrivals * Extra cleaning during your stay * Babysitting services * Personal chef or cooking courses and market tours * French lessons * Massage & yoga, either in your apartment or elsewhere * Customized sightseeing, shopping, and photography tours * Wedding planner * Cell phone rental
Where can I get information on museums, exhibitions, and tickets?
There is a useful website, available in English, with great information about Paris' museums and exhibits. The site is called Museums in Paris (http://www.museums-in-paris.com). There is also something called the Paris Museum Pass, which will grant you access to most of Paris' museums (including the Louvre, Musée d'Orsay, & Centre Pompidou) and many sites. In many cases, this pass will allow you to bypass lines. You can find more detailed information on this pass at http://www.parismuseumpass.com/en/home.php. The Museum Pass is sold at all participating museums & monuments as well as at a few other locations in Paris. You can also purchase the pass at a few terminals in the Charles de Gaulle airport. There is a comprehensive list of points of sale at http://www.parismuseumpass.com/en/pass_points.php. If you plan well enough ahead of time, there is option to purchase the pass online and have it delivered to your home OR to an address in Paris. If you would like to have it delivered to Paris, please let us & your greeter know at least 4 weeks in advance so that we can let you know where is best to have it sent and ensure it will arrive on time.
What else can Haven in Paris help me with?
We are not a travel agency! While we are delighted to help you find the right apartment for your stay & see you through the booking process, we are unfortunately not able to assist with specifics such as day trips, tickets, reservations, and the like. As much as we would love to help out, this really is not our field of expertise. To remain efficient and give all of our guests the best service possible, we have decided to keep to the rental side of the business. For good resources, we would suggest searching the Internet, or for a more directed search, you can start by looking at a travel forum such as www.tripadvisor.com, www.slowtrav.com, or www.sloweurope.com. On the Haven in Paris website we have collected many useful links for the benefit of our clients for guides, trips, classes and more. There are also links to useful blogs with tons of information, which should help guide you in the right direction: http://www.haveninparis.com/links.php. Finally, there is our fabulous HiP Paris blog: http://hipparis.com/. And again, we are happy to put you in touch our personal concierge: http://haveninparis.com/luxe.php#c7. If in your research you come across any sites you feel would be helpful for future clients, please do not hesitate to send them along and we will add them to our links page. We are always on the lookout for new & helpful information about things to do!
What kind of fun and enriching activities are available for my family in Paris?
Here are two sites that have very useful information about child-friendly Paris: http://www.francetravelplanner.com/go/paris/kids/index.html http://paris.angloinfo.com/af/281/paris-and-ile-de-france-children-activities-for-kids.html
How do I rent a car?
In general, you wouldn't need a car to get around Paris. However, If you would like to rent a car to take day trips outside Paris then we recommend booking one from www.autoeurope.com. Auto Europe works with the top car rental agencies in Paris. They offer competitive rates and excellent customer service. They are open 24/7 and they have a free number to call the US from France. The headquarters are located in Portland, Maine.
How can I gain free entry, without queuing, to over 60 museums and monuments in and around Paris?
With the PARIS MUSEUM PASS, you gain free entry, without queuing and as many times as you wish, to over 60 museums and monuments in and around Paris: http://en.parismuseumpass.com/
What should we know about tipping in Paris?
In general, tipping in France is a symbolic acknowledgment that you have sincerely appreciated the quality of the service rendered, as opposed to an expected supplement to your server’s wages. In most cases (cafés, restaurants), a 15-20% gratuity is already factored into the prices you see on a menu, so a tip recognizes that you have truly enjoyed the service. Here is a rundown of some standard tipping guidelines:
* If you order a drink, leaving a little extra change on the table (15-20c) is perfectly acceptable. * After a simple, but pleasant, meal, a couple of €1 coins are greatly appreciated. At a nice restaurant, it is customary to leave about 5% of the final bill.
* For taxis, depending on the length and cost of your trip, it is standard to tip 10%.
* If you go to the theater, it is standard to tip €1 to the person showing you to your seat.
* For hairdressers, a 10% tip is appropriate.
* 20-30c for a washroom attendant is fine (although a sum is often indicated).
* You will usually want to tip tour guides €1-€3 (if it is a group/museum tour) or 5% (for a private tour).
* A weekly cleaning is included in your rental price. If you are extremely pleased with the cleanliness of the flat, a tip of 5-20€ (depending on the size of the apartment)is always appreciated but never necessary.
* Tipping your greeter: If you would like to recognize your greeter’s service, it is entirely up to you. Your greeter is required to make sure that you are settled comfortably into your apartment and that you know how everything works. If you feel that he or she has gone above and beyond and has been incredibly responsive, they would surely appreciate a recognition of their efforts and this amount we will leave to your discretion. Please note: If you ask them to make numerous reservations, purchases for your arrival and any other services that go above and beyond, it is appropriate to either tip them or pay them for their time depending on the service rendered. Most of our greeters have standard fees they attach to concierge-type services, but a reasonable tip for an unpaid service would be €5 to €20, depending on the amount of time and energy they devoted to the task. We hope that these guidelines are helpful to you. Please do not hesitate to contact us directly at [email protected] if you have any questions.
How does public transportation work in Paris?
Although any foreign public transportation system is intimidating at first, the Paris system is a simple, efficient, and reliable way to get around. Here is a short introduction to the Paris system. Metro * There are 14 metro lines. Each line has a set number and color (ex: Line 1 is yellow). The final stops of each line are also listed so that you can figure out which direction you need to be going. * Metros do not run all night! The first and last metros are displayed in each station. In general, the last metro Monday to Thursday and on Sunday is around 12:15am. On Fridays and Saturdays, they run until about 1:45 am. The first metro is generally around 5:30am. * Metro stops in Paris are closely spaced - you should never be more than about a 5-minute walk from a station. Trains come at regular intervals (every 3-5 minutes during the day, 4-8 minutes at night) so it is rare to be left standing on a platform for long. In most stations, they also display how many minutes it will be until the next train arrives. Tickets * You can buy tickets at the automatic vending machines (which accept cards,** bills, and coins) or at the agent-operated booths. As of Summer 2009, the price for a single ticket is €1.70. A booklet of 10 tickets (a “carnet”) is €13.70. Each ticket is valid for one ride. With one ticket, you can transfer between lines within the metro, but unfortunately not between a bus and the metro. **Note: Some machines don’t accept all American cards. If you are having trouble, you can go to the ticket window and the agent will be able to take your card. * You can also purchase a daily “Paris Visite” pass, which affords you unlimited rides on the Metro, Bus, Tram and RER services. The tickets can be purchased by the day for up to 5 consecutive days. Visit www.ratp.fr for more detailed information & current pricing. Buses * The bus system is also fairly straightforward, although a little bit more confusing than the metro as stops are not always announced by the conductor. Each bus line is identified by a number (ex: 95), and bus stops also often feature screens with the waiting time for the next bus and maps of all the stops. It can be a great, economical way to see the city from above ground! * There is a nighttime bus system called “Noctilien.” If you think you will be taking night buses, you may want to pick up map of Noctilien bus stops at your local metro station. You can also find all these maps online at www.ratp.fr.
How easy is it to catch taxis in Paris?
Generally speaking, taxis are easy to find and are an easy way to get around Paris, provided you don't get stuck in a "bouchon" (traffic jam). A few points to note... * You may not always be able to hail a cab in the street. There are laws forbidding taxis to pick up passengers within 200m of a designated taxi stand, so if you are unable to get a taxi’s attention standing in the street, your best bet will be to find a stand and get one there. * The minimum fare for any ride is €5, even if you are only going two blocks. * A 10% tip is standard and appropriate. Taxis can be hard to come by between 2am and 5am on weekends, once the metro has stopped running. If you find yourself stranded, there are some private taxi companies that you can call to pick you up at a designated address. Please note, however, that if you call a taxi to come pick you up, the driver will start the meter once he starts his journey to come to where you are, so it is not unusual to find €5-10 already on the meter when you get in the cab. Taxis Bleus (08 91 70 10 10, 23c/min) and Taxis G7 (01 47 39 47 39) are reliable agencies used by most Parisians.
Is there any way to get around on bicycle?
Another wonderful way to get around the city is on Paris’ “Vélib’” system. These bikes are available for public use and are sponsored by the city of Paris. You will likely see Parisians of all ages riding around on them, and they are a practical, economical and green way to get around the city. Vélib’ stands can be identified by their rows of identical gray bicycles attached to small posts with green or red lights (a red light indicating the bicycle needs repair). If you have a credit card with a magnetic chip on the front (instead of just the standard magnetic strip), you can use it to rent a bicycle from the automated machine located at the Vélib station. Unfortunately these machines do not accept American-style cards without magnetic chips**. You can return your rented bike to any other Vélib’ stand throughout the city. If you return it within a ½ hr, you are not charged for the rental. The first additional ½ hour is €1 and the second additional ½ hr €2. Beyond that, it is €4 for every additional ½ hr. You must have the equivalent of €150 in your bank account for your card to be approved for the rental of a Vélib’. You can find more information on the system here: https://aboen-paris.cyclocity.fr/ and http://en.velib.paris.fr/ **Please note: While most American cards won’t work, some people have been able to use the Vélibs with their American Express charge cards.