Visiting Paris - should we buy tickets in advance?

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user9532
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Visiting Paris - should we buy tickets in advance?

Post by user9532 » Tue Oct 03, 2017 5:09 pm

DW and I are visiting Paris in November. Should we buy tickets to museums and other attractions in advance? Also, what is a good place to buy some euro?

Thanks.

jebmke
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Re: Visiting Paris - should we buy tickets in advance?

Post by jebmke » Tue Oct 03, 2017 5:20 pm

Not sure about the museums. I suspect there are package deals on passes to museums. I know there are metro cards that will cover you for riding the metro - those are usually a good deal.

Euros you can get at an ATM. You probably won't need a lot - most places take cards.
When you discover that you are riding a dead horse, the best strategy is to dismount.

fabdog
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Re: Visiting Paris - should we buy tickets in advance?

Post by fabdog » Tue Oct 03, 2017 5:23 pm

at least at the Louvre, if you buy ahead online you can go to a separate entrance which was not at all crowded. Not sure how the crowds will be.

info on passes

https://community.ricksteves.com/travel ... paris-pass

Mike

Theseus
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Re: Visiting Paris - should we buy tickets in advance?

Post by Theseus » Tue Oct 03, 2017 5:43 pm

Eiffel tickets on popular days sell out quickly - at least in the summer. If you want to be on the top at a specific time of the day (sunset), it may be worth buying ahead. We were there in summer. It was all sold out and we had to go through getyourguide.com. We ended up paying more for it. But the advantage was that we were able to "time" the weather.

Buying Louvre tickets ahead is so much convenient.

Two more recommendations.
- I can't recommend enough Rick Steve's free audio tour of the Louvre and other local attractions. Especially his approach to Louvre allowed us to see it with less crowds even in the busy summer.
- If you haven't used Google Trips app, try it out. I loved it during our Europe trip for planning my days and using their recommended itineraries to maximize time.

Have fun.

aqan
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Re: Visiting Paris - should we buy tickets in advance?

Post by aqan » Tue Oct 03, 2017 5:47 pm

user9532 wrote:
Tue Oct 03, 2017 5:09 pm
DW and I are visiting Paris in November. Should we buy tickets to museums and other attractions in advance? Also, what is a good place to buy some euro?

Thanks.
Definitely buy the Eiffel Tower tix well in advance or you could be standing in the line for 1-2 hours.

FullYellowJacket
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Re: Visiting Paris - should we buy tickets in advance?

Post by FullYellowJacket » Tue Oct 03, 2017 5:57 pm

DW and I visited Paris off-season (March) a few years ago. We didn't have any problems buying all tickets at the amusements. The Eiffel Tower line took maybe 5 minutes to go through around 10:00 AM.

denovo
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Re: Visiting Paris - should we buy tickets in advance?

Post by denovo » Tue Oct 03, 2017 5:58 pm

user9532 wrote:
Tue Oct 03, 2017 5:09 pm
DW and I are visiting Paris in November. Should we buy tickets to museums and other attractions in advance? Also, what is a good place to buy some euro?

Thanks.

Most/ all? places in Paris will take credit cards. If you don't already have 2, I would go research to find credit cards with no foreign-transaction fees and make sure to set up a travel notice before you depart.

https://www.nerdwallet.com/blog/top-cre ... edit-card/

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Watty
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Re: Visiting Paris - should we buy tickets in advance?

Post by Watty » Tue Oct 03, 2017 6:14 pm

If you want to see the Catacombs then I would recommend getting the tickets in advance. We tried to do that at the last minute without tickets but gave up because the line was so long and barely moving.

freebeer
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Re: Visiting Paris - should we buy tickets in advance?

Post by freebeer » Tue Oct 03, 2017 6:20 pm

Watty wrote:
Tue Oct 03, 2017 6:14 pm
If you want to see the Catacombs then I would recommend getting the tickets in advance. We tried to do that at the last minute without tickets but gave up because the line was so long and barely moving.
I'm guessing this was not in November. And probably not early in the day.

I visited Catacombs without an advance ticket and don't remember it being a significant wait. But I did show up as soon as possible after opening which is just common sense for any high-demand tourist attraction.

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CAsage
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Re: Visiting Paris - should we buy tickets in advance?

Post by CAsage » Tue Oct 03, 2017 6:23 pm

You can hit an ATM at the airport when you land, but I would suggest just getting a few (those are not banks, and they cost more). Any real bank ATM (walk around, they are all over big cities) can give you Euros without excessive fees. And yes, charge everything you can on a card that does not have that pesky 3% foreign transaction surcharge.
I bought tickets ahead just to make my life simpler.
Salvia Clevelandii "Winifred Gilman" my favorite. YMMV; not a professional advisor.

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Raymond
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Re: Visiting Paris - should we buy tickets in advance?

Post by Raymond » Tue Oct 03, 2017 6:57 pm

A great article by Rick Steves on credit card fees and avoiding "Dynamic Currency Conversion":

Card Fees (and How to Avoid Them)
"Ritter, Tod und Teufel"

Iorek
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Re: Visiting Paris - should we buy tickets in advance?

Post by Iorek » Tue Oct 03, 2017 7:29 pm

I would get Eiffel Tower tix in advance (there can be significant lines for security even if you have timed tix).

For other museums I would look into a Paris Museum pass, but you don't need to buy one in advance. You can get them at CDG airport, or at a less crowded museum like the Cluny or St Chapelle, and then bypass most of the lines at other museums (like the Louvre or the Orangerie).

BeneIRA
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Re: Visiting Paris - should we buy tickets in advance?

Post by BeneIRA » Tue Oct 03, 2017 7:49 pm

Hopefully you have an ATM card with a bank that does not gouge you with foreign transaction fees, such as Ally. If so, then you can pull out a small sum at an ATM in France. Buying Euros, especially for Paris, makes no sense. I was stunned by all of the places that accepted American Express. In Italy and other European countries I have been to, American Express acceptance is little to none, but in Paris, I used it almost everywhere (had a minimum spend to meet at the time). As for tickets, train tickets from CDG Airport into Paris can be purchased at the ticket office, which accepts all types of cards. In November, Paris will be cold and it will be the off-season, so lines shouldn't be long. The two tickets I would probably buy ahead would be Eiffel Tower and Louvre. Musee d'Orsay didn't make sense to buy ahead and either did the Palace of Versailles, which isn't technically in Paris, but no need to buy ahead.

stan1
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Re: Visiting Paris - should we buy tickets in advance?

Post by stan1 » Tue Oct 03, 2017 8:10 pm

One place that does not take American credit cards: The Paris Metro automated kiosks. You can use a credit card at the manned windows so plan ahead to get tickets at a place and time when lines are minimal.

We prefer to enter the Euro Zone with Euro notes in hand so we can move out of the airport quickly upon arrival. We usually keep a couple hundred euros from our last trip. I've also bought euros through my local Bank of America branch (you order online and then pick up at the branch). We use bank affiliated ATM machines to withdraw euro notes in Europe.

We used the Paris Museum pass. Buy it at a museum with short lines. Use the Metro to travel between museums and maximize the card's value. Study the long list of museums it can be used at; some are small, specialized, and enjoyable.

Take the RER out to Versailles. Book the "guided tour" in advance at Versailles. It is only 7 euro per person extra and gives you access to some parts of the building not available on the self-guided tour.

Also look into Paris Walks. Very enjoyable when the crowds are thinner in off-season and you can decide whether to take the trip based on the weather up until the last minute since no advance booking system is used.

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GerryL
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Re: Visiting Paris - should we buy tickets in advance?

Post by GerryL » Tue Oct 03, 2017 8:45 pm

If you're going to get a Paris City Pass, be sure to consider which days you intend to use it to see which sights. In France, most museums are closed on Monday or Tuesday. The City Pass website may have that info for each museum so you can make a list ahead of time. A guide book can also provide that detail. (I like the DK Eyewitness Travel guide for Paris.) There are other days you will want to think about. For example, the Center Pompidou is free on the first Sunday of the month, so you will not want to waste your Pass to go there when it is free and crowded but may want to take advantage of the free day if you are not using a Pass.

BTW I just returned from 3 weeks in France. I seriously considered getting a 2- or 3-day city pass in Lyon, where I spent most of my time, but I ended up not doing so. I like to spend serious time in the museums and didn't want to feel I had to rush from one place to another to "get my money's worth."

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Artful Dodger
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Re: Visiting Paris - should we buy tickets in advance?

Post by Artful Dodger » Tue Oct 03, 2017 8:49 pm

We just returned. I think crowds would be less in November. We pre booked Lourve tour, Versailles, and Giverny. The Versailles and Giverny tour was a small group tour that took a whole day. The Lourve tour we got through Viator. It was 3 hrs with a great guide who really made the tour worthwhile. It was about $70 each. We went to the Eiffel Tower first thing in the AM on Sept. 2nd, and waited maybe a total of 45 minutes including security. There are lots of tour groups with "skip the lines" status, but everybody has to go through security, then they line up too. Paying the skip the line fee would have saved us maybe 15-20 minutes. Maybe later in the day, we would have experienced a longer wait. We didn't pre book Orsay (30-35 minute wait), St. Chapelle, Picasso.

Enjoy. Great city. Great food. I thought pretty affordable too, compared to London.

wilshuer
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Re: Visiting Paris - should we buy tickets in advance?

Post by wilshuer » Tue Oct 03, 2017 9:01 pm

stan1 wrote:
Tue Oct 03, 2017 8:10 pm
One place that does not take American credit cards: The Paris Metro automated kiosks. You can use a credit card at the manned windows so plan ahead to get tickets at a place and time when lines are minimal.
I was there a few weeks ago and had no issue using my card at the kiosks, it would pop up asking for my pin and disappear a second later. Used it multiple times in different stations w/o issue. Penfed platinum reward card.

crazygrow
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Re: Visiting Paris - should we buy tickets in advance?

Post by crazygrow » Tue Oct 03, 2017 9:08 pm

Definitely buy skip the line tickets or timed entry tickets for Versailles, Eiffel Tower (sunset is nice), and catacombs. The Louvre there is an underground entrance that the line is way shorter and air conditioned.

user9532
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Re: Visiting Paris - should we buy tickets in advance?

Post by user9532 » Tue Oct 03, 2017 9:11 pm

I think I will buy tickets in advance for Louvre, Eiffel Tower, and Catacombs. I do have a no transaction fee credit card, which I will use. Thank you all for the helpful responses!

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tadamsmar
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Re: Visiting Paris - should we buy tickets in advance?

Post by tadamsmar » Tue Oct 03, 2017 9:15 pm

As others have said, get museum passes:

http://en.parismuseumpass.com/

I think we bought them online in advance.

They allow you to bypass the ticket buying lines and use the group/pass holder entrance. Saves time.

I found the Rick Steve's audio tours to be good:

https://www.ricksteves.com/watch-read-l ... ours/paris

We got some Euro and/or a prepaid credit card at the US airport Travelex.

There is usually a line at the glass pyramid to enter the Lourve. But between the pyramid and Rue de Rivoli there
is a passage way with an entrance that never had a line at the group entrance. But, once in the Lourve, it always had a pretty big crowd for all the attractions. If you just move with the crowd toward the Mona Lisa in the room where she is located, the crowd will turn over in a few minutes and you will find yourself standing right in front on the Mona Lisa.
Last edited by tadamsmar on Tue Oct 03, 2017 9:25 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Jags4186
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Re: Visiting Paris - should we buy tickets in advance?

Post by Jags4186 » Tue Oct 03, 2017 9:24 pm

I vote no. The French go on strike a lot. You should buy no more than a few days in advance otherwise you risk buying tickets you can’t use.

stan1
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Re: Visiting Paris - should we buy tickets in advance?

Post by stan1 » Tue Oct 03, 2017 9:35 pm

wilshuer wrote:
Tue Oct 03, 2017 9:01 pm
stan1 wrote:
Tue Oct 03, 2017 8:10 pm
One place that does not take American credit cards: The Paris Metro automated kiosks. You can use a credit card at the manned windows so plan ahead to get tickets at a place and time when lines are minimal.
I was there a few weeks ago and had no issue using my card at the kiosks, it would pop up asking for my pin and disappear a second later. Used it multiple times in different stations w/o issue. Penfed platinum reward card.
I believe that PenFed card is a true chip/pin card which has a much higher chance of working at EC unmanned kiosks in Europe. May have been set up to bypass the pin for low transaction amounts. Most American cards are chip/signature and have a lower chance of working in transit kiosks. That's been the case for me in Amsterdam, Paris, Copenhagen, and S/U-Bahn machines in Berlin (although Deutsche Bahn machines do take American credit cards).

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Re: Visiting Paris - should we buy tickets in advance?

Post by neilpilot » Tue Oct 03, 2017 9:50 pm

crazygrow wrote:
Tue Oct 03, 2017 9:08 pm
Definitely buy skip the line tickets or timed entry tickets for Versailles, Eiffel Tower (sunset is nice), and catacombs. The Louvre there is an underground entrance that the line is way shorter and air conditioned.
Air conditioning in November!

You might check Groupon. We've used a few dinner vouchers, including a very nice dinner cruise.

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GerryL
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Re: Visiting Paris - should we buy tickets in advance?

Post by GerryL » Tue Oct 03, 2017 9:52 pm

I had a Visa chip and pin card from BofA. Verified before leaving that it was true chip&pin. Used it everywhere, but I was never given the opportunity to put in my pin. Even with the ticket kiosks at CDG, Paris and Lyon. Sometimes I would be prompted to enter my pin, but before I could get past the first #, it would blank out the screen and just give me my ticket. With people transactions it would generally spit out a second receipt asking for a signature.

This was a new card. I did not try using my older Visa card that I had carried with me two years earlier. I did not use my AmEx card because I heard that many places would not accept it.

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Re: Visiting Paris - should we buy tickets in advance?

Post by neilpilot » Tue Oct 03, 2017 9:56 pm

GerryL wrote:
Tue Oct 03, 2017 9:52 pm
I had a Visa chip and pin card from BofA. Verified before leaving that it was true chip&pin. Used it everywhere, but I was never given the opportunity to put in my pin. Even with the ticket kiosks at CDG, Paris and Lyon. Sometimes I would be prompted to enter my pin, but before I could get past the first #, it would blank out the screen and just give me my ticket. With people transactions it would generally spit out a second receipt asking for a signature.

This was a new card. I did not try using my older Visa card that I had carried with me two years earlier. I did not use my AmEx card because I heard that many places would not accept it.
BofA visa is not a true chip & pin, like the typical EU bank cards are. Problem is when you ask at BofA, they tell you it is but they don't know what they are talking about.

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GerryL
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Re: Visiting Paris - should we buy tickets in advance?

Post by GerryL » Tue Oct 03, 2017 10:01 pm

Also, for exploring some Paris neighborhoods, check out Discover Walks (https://www.discoverwalks.com/city/paris-walking-tours/). They advertise FREE English-language tours, but they operate on tips. They offer daily tours of several popular neighborhoods. The guides are college students. I took a couple in areas that I was familiar with and learned a lot.

PS If you speak French and want a source of low-cost French-language tours in Paris that don't require reservations, PM me and I will point you to a great resource.

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Re: Visiting Paris - should we buy tickets in advance?

Post by Bfwolf » Tue Oct 03, 2017 10:09 pm

BeneIRA wrote:
Tue Oct 03, 2017 7:49 pm
Hopefully you have an ATM card with a bank that does not gouge you with foreign transaction fees, such as Ally.
Ally charges a fee for using overseas ATMs. https://www.ally.com/help/bank/atms-withdrawals.html

I have a Schwab checking account which doesn't charge foreign ATM fees. When I go on an int'l trip, I move money from Ally to Schwab and just bring my Schwab ATM card. When the trip is over, I move the remaining Schwab money back to Ally.

WhyNotUs
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Re: Visiting Paris - should we buy tickets in advance?

Post by WhyNotUs » Tue Oct 03, 2017 10:31 pm

I was there in April and did not buy anything in advance. Went to the Louvre about 5 pm and walked right up to the counter to buy tix. No line at Mona Lisa which I had not even planned on seeing due to comments about lines. Waited in a short line at Notre Dame and a 30 min. wait at Sainte Chapelle (there seemed to have been an incident there shortly before we arrived involving police).

Too much planning in advance does not work for me but I understand that it comforts others.

Highly recommend velib bike share, it was a delightful way to see the inner 6 arrondissements and very cheap. Download the app on a international phone to make it easy to find bikes and stations.

A bike tour was also a highlight, we did it the first day to get oriented.
I own the next hot stock- VTSAX

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BrandonBogle
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Re: Visiting Paris - should we buy tickets in advance?

Post by BrandonBogle » Tue Oct 03, 2017 10:32 pm

jebmke wrote:
Tue Oct 03, 2017 5:20 pm
Not sure about the museums. I suspect there are package deals on passes to museums. I know there are metro cards that will cover you for riding the metro - those are usually a good deal.

Euros you can get at an ATM. You probably won't need a lot - most places take cards.
I completely agree. I just spent three weeks in Europe with one week of that in Paris. I didn't need cash the entire three weeks except to use the restroom in Brussels and to give a delivery person a tip in London. The entire week in Paris was card only and maybe 50% of those were using my phone's version of my credit card for NFC contactless payments.

I didn't do any museum visits on this trip in Paris, so I can't comment on that. I would 2nd that if you need cash, just get some from the ATM and call it a day. You won't need much.

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BrandonBogle
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Re: Visiting Paris - should we buy tickets in advance?

Post by BrandonBogle » Tue Oct 03, 2017 10:35 pm

stan1 wrote:
Tue Oct 03, 2017 8:10 pm
One place that does not take American credit cards: The Paris Metro automated kiosks. You can use a credit card at the manned windows so plan ahead to get tickets at a place and time when lines are minimal.
This was one of the two places I couldn't use my phone's NFC payment nor my Fidelity Visa card (the other being the train station the next morning to buy a 10-pack of tickets). Thankfully, I had planned ahead and brought my PenFed Visa which is a true Chip + PIN card and it worked great.

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BrandonBogle
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Re: Visiting Paris - should we buy tickets in advance?

Post by BrandonBogle » Tue Oct 03, 2017 10:41 pm

stan1 wrote:
Tue Oct 03, 2017 9:35 pm
wilshuer wrote:
Tue Oct 03, 2017 9:01 pm
stan1 wrote:
Tue Oct 03, 2017 8:10 pm
One place that does not take American credit cards: The Paris Metro automated kiosks. You can use a credit card at the manned windows so plan ahead to get tickets at a place and time when lines are minimal.
I was there a few weeks ago and had no issue using my card at the kiosks, it would pop up asking for my pin and disappear a second later. Used it multiple times in different stations w/o issue. Penfed platinum reward card.
I believe that PenFed card is a true chip/pin card which has a much higher chance of working at EC unmanned kiosks in Europe. May have been set up to bypass the pin for low transaction amounts. Most American cards are chip/signature and have a lower chance of working in transit kiosks. That's been the case for me in Amsterdam, Paris, Copenhagen, and S/U-Bahn machines in Berlin (although Deutsche Bahn machines do take American credit cards).
Yup. My Fidelity Visa was my 1st choice, but it is a Chip + Sig card. My PenFed Visa was my backup since its a true Chip + PIN card. I also had my Amex and my debit card (a Visa), so I would have had other options too. I used the PenFed Visa (no transaction fee) for my two train/metro ticket purchases. I used my Fidelity Visa (1% transaction fee, but 2% cash back) on everything else. That was in Paris, outside Paris my Fidelity card was fine in Amsterdam and Brussels, but I used the contactless version though my phone. In London I had to fall back to the PenFed Visa ticket again for my train ticket.

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BrandonBogle
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Re: Visiting Paris - should we buy tickets in advance?

Post by BrandonBogle » Tue Oct 03, 2017 10:45 pm

Also, I used FreedomPop for this trip and had service without issue in Paris, Loire Valley, Normandy, Brussels, Amsterdam, and London. I was very happy as the SIM cost me $4.99 (from Best Buy) and service cost me $0.01. Great value and it was very helpful to have data, texting, and international calling while abroad.

oxothuk
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Re: Visiting Paris - should we buy tickets in advance?

Post by oxothuk » Wed Oct 04, 2017 1:45 am

I am visiting France now and have had no problems using my Marriott Visa (Chase, chip+sig) card anywhere. This includes unattended locations like parking lots and ticket dispensers for the Paris Metro.

YMMV

BeneIRA
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Re: Visiting Paris - should we buy tickets in advance?

Post by BeneIRA » Wed Oct 04, 2017 7:07 am

Bfwolf wrote:
Tue Oct 03, 2017 10:09 pm
BeneIRA wrote:
Tue Oct 03, 2017 7:49 pm
Hopefully you have an ATM card with a bank that does not gouge you with foreign transaction fees, such as Ally.
Ally charges a fee for using overseas ATMs. https://www.ally.com/help/bank/atms-withdrawals.html

I have a Schwab checking account which doesn't charge foreign ATM fees. When I go on an int'l trip, I move money from Ally to Schwab and just bring my Schwab ATM card. When the trip is over, I move the remaining Schwab money back to Ally.
I don't have a Schwab account due to the hard pull, but I may have to bite the bullet at some point. Ally charges 1% and you still don't pay the ATM fee the banks charge, so I am good with it.

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midareff
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Re: Visiting Paris - should we buy tickets in advance?

Post by midareff » Wed Oct 04, 2017 7:25 am

Eiffel Tower and Moulon Rouge tics should be in advance IMHO. I used a tour service for the Moulon that picked up and redelivered to hotel after the show. As I recall it was quite expensive (the show with dinner) but well worth it as a life experience.

dpm321
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Re: Visiting Paris - should we buy tickets in advance?

Post by dpm321 » Thu Oct 05, 2017 7:45 am

Just returned from two weeks in Paris. Buy the Museum Pass (not the Paris Pass). This will allow you to bypass lines at most places. Also, if you are going to Versailles, book the King's apartment tour. This will get you past the lines and you will see parts of the palace not seen with a regular ticket (like the gorgeous chapel). Purchase metro tickets as a "carnet." This is a ten-pack that will save you 25% per ride. Enjoy!

stan1
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Re: Visiting Paris - should we buy tickets in advance?

Post by stan1 » Thu Oct 05, 2017 8:01 am

WhyNotUs wrote:
Tue Oct 03, 2017 10:31 pm
Too much planning in advance does not work for me but I understand that it comforts others.
I am the same. Pre-trip planning in urban locations consists of making a list of places I'd like to go with their opening hours and whether they are part of a pass program such as Paris Museum Pass. If there are any special tours that need advance booking I'll do that but idea is to maximize flexibility. I buy a tourist public transit pass so I don't need to plan transportation in advance unless I'm going on a day trip outside the central city zone covered by the transit pass. I decide the night before or in the morning what I'm going to do on a given day based on weather and inclination. In Paris museums are closed on different days each week and sometimes there are evening hours so it helps to have schedules laid out (e.g. Louvre is closed on Tuesday and open until 9:45 PM on Weds and Fri).

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Re: Visiting Paris - should we buy tickets in advance?

Post by Lacrocious » Thu Oct 12, 2017 11:23 pm

We were in London and Paris the last half of Sept. No issues getting Euros from ATMs - opened a Capital One Checking for the debit card with no foreign transaction fees. No issues. Used our Barclays Arrival Plus MC for most every other purchase. Again, no fees and Pin for the Metro station. It is a bit annoying to have to sign for the Chip+Sign card, but it wasn't ever a problem. Oddly enough, they checked the signature against the card most every time. I don't get that here in the states ever any longer.

We didn't have any issues at the Louvre getting tickets, but it wasn't the busy season. Otherwise we would have gotten them.

If you intend to use the Metro and/or Bus - be sure to check out the "Citymapper" app on your cell phone. It was awesome with routing. Give it a start and end point and it gives you a various combinations of Metro and bus, times for the next trains, platforms to stand on, how many stops to skip, etc. I know both Google Maps and Apple Maps are integrating mass transit, but CityMapper just worked better. We used it for the London Tube & Buss and the Paris Metro.

Enjoy!
- L

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