I couldn't resist chiming in on Paris - my favorite city in the world! I traveled there again this past June and can also recommend the Grand Hotel Jeanne d'Arc, which this group had recommended to me.
(thanks, group!) It's at 3 Rue de Jarente (01-48-87-62-11, fax 01-48-87-37-31), 4e arrondisement and we paid 500 francs for a double room + 5 francs/per person/per day city tax.
The reception folks were very nice (check out their great library of Paris/France guidebooks), and the coffee at breakfast was so good we had 2 pots. The Marais is a wonderful neighborhood, lots of good restaurants and shops and convenient to Notre Dame and the Place des Vosges (DO try the restaurant at the Place des Vosges, called Ma Bourgogne and don't skip the Berthillon ice cream - more intense than Ben &Jerry's).
We then headed to Provence for a week and came back to Paris to stay at the Hotel Grand Leveque, 29 Rue Cler, 7e arrondissement, 1 4705 4915 fax: 4550 4936. http://www.inter-resa.com/hotel/leveque/fr (420 francs for a double room).
Rue Cler is a (mostly) pedestrian street, written up by Rick Steves with the same downfall as Fodors and Frommers guidebooks, that is, once a wonderful place is written up it gets flooded with people you could meet at home, instead of people from the locality. However, it's a pleasant hotel and street, and very close to the Eiffel Tower which you must go up at night to see the famous City of Lights at night. Especially this year, when the tower is lit up like a sparkler on the hour to celebrate the millennium. A nearby local restaurant recommended by the hotel, L'AubergeBressane, served the best swordfish my mom ever ate.
Rue Rivoli near the Louvre has wonderful, cheap shopping for those must-buy souvenirs for those that got left behind. Yes, lots of tacky stuff, but some nice finds as well.
As has been mentioned, the French love to hear French. But a little effort goes a long way, don't worry. Throw in lots of merci and excusez-moi! They are also being kinder to their tourists than before, I think. Bon voyage, et bonnes vacances!