Subject: Re: Hello and recommendations for Paris needed...
Dani,

Three years ago I had the good fortune to spend five months working in Paris. I spent the first month in a wonderful three star hotel in a quiet neighborhood behind the Madeleine Church in the 8th arrondissement It is called the Concortel, they speak perfect English and were very welcoming and helpful. Perhaps one of the outstanding features of the hotel is that the bathrooms are much bigger than other Paris hotels that I have seen. Plus their croissants are the best I have ever had. They have an internet special of 690 FF for a double room INCLUDING breakfast which works out to about $95. Here is the url for their web site: http://www.hotelconcortel.com/en/index.htm

I spoke very little French when I went over there but still got around just fine. My main rule was to respect the civility that Parisians expect. That meant that I always greeted whomever I was speaking to - Bonjour, madame. Bonsoir, monsieur. Then if I did not know how to ask for something in French, I would ask politely if they spoke English - Pardon, je ne parlais pax bien francais. Parlais voux anglais? If they said no, I had at least established the basis for some kind of civil exchange using hand signals perhaps. Sometime they would go and get someone who did speak English. But I also learned a few easy French words and phrases. Je voudre . . . means I want or I would like and it served me well.

Also as you research your trip, here are a few web sites that I have bookmarked

http://www.bparis.com - articles, chat and discussion about France and French culture (like restaurants and shopping) http://www.paris.org - everything a tourist might want to know about Paris (akin to a visit to the virtual tourist information center) http://www.paris-anglo.com - advice for english speakers who are travelling, living or working in Paris

Yes, Paris has wonderful museums but you are missing so much if you spend all your time indoors. I had enough time while I was there to explore a lot of the city and completely enjoyed just walking around. If you want to know more history about the places you are seeing, I recommend a book by Thirza Vallois called Around and About Paris - Volume 1 (1st - 7th Arrondissements). It is like having a very knowledgeable tour guide with you as you wander about. Also, I am not a shopper but I noticed a lot of women's clothing stores on the streets around my apartment in the 7th arrondissement. See especially Rue de Grenelle and Rue de Varenne east of Rue de Rennes. Also the Bon Marche department store. Seemed to be a much less touristed area than the Right Bank.

I could go on and on but I will close by strongly recommending that you make at least one visit to Berthillon on the Ile St. Louis for the world's greatest ice cream!

Bonne journee!

Mark May Los Angeles, CA