Subject: Which Paris airport

As others have pointed out you will fly into Charles de Gaulle airport, which is about a 40 minute drive north of Paris (40 minutes if no traffic, much longer in rush hour). Since you are new to the city and country and if your travel budget allows, I would suggest a taxi to your hotel. It will cost about 30 euros (about $25). A cheaper alternative is the Air France bus (which serves all airlines), which is about 10-15 euros (if memory serves). It goes to several stops in the city, including a couple of railway stations and points in the city center. You will then need to take the Metro or a taxi to your hotel. Check for information -- however, I had trouble getting into this site today. Also, virtually all of the signs in the airport are in English as well as French.

If you want to save money and time and are a bit more adventurous, you can take the RER (the commuter railway), which takes you from CDG to the Chatelet Metro (subway) station in the center of town. A couple of warnings, however: 1) there are reports that thieves and pickpockets target the train knowing that tourists take it; 2) Chatelet station is one of the biggest, is very crowded and also popular with pickpockets. It's also very easy to get confusing how to get out. I personally have never been bothered by anyone on the train or at Chatelet, so I never feel unsafe (tho I do hate Chatelet station and try to avoid it.)

Once you are in Paris, you will definitely want to take the Metro, which is extensive and easy to use. I recommend buying a ``carnet'' (car-nay) of 10 tickets for about 8 euros -- that's less than a dollar a ticket --cheap! Paris is a great walking city, so expect to do a lot of walking.

As for the language, while you should learn a few phrases, don't expect to understand French when spoken to you (I still have lots of trouble after living here for a year). Many of the service, tourist-oriented people you will encounter (waiters, hotel people, taxi drivers) speak English and will probably reply to you in English even when you speak to them in French (that happens to me all the time). (Note: a lot of Parisians don't know any English, or they speak very little. Still, don't worry, you will get by.)

May I make another suggestion: on your first day take one of the bus tours. In a couple of hours you will see many of the sites you will want to visit later. The tours give you a basic overview of the city and helps orient you. My wife and I took one of those tours the first time we came to Paris, and found it very helpful. Enjoy your trip. Bons voyages! Evan in Paris