Subject: Re: Paris in January
Katie,

You have asked a very difficult question and received excellent suggestions. Paris has so much to offer from food, art and architecture, to history and much more. I agree with Molly that you should pick a neighbourhood and explore. Use the Metro. It is efficient and easy to find your way around. There are "helpers" at transfer points who all speak English and will guide you.

I think the Louvre is too much to chew on for your short visit. It's huge. If you REALLY want to see the Mona Lisa (it's small and there are always crowds in front of it) or the Venus di Milo (stuck in an alcove) then go ahead; I wouldn't want to dissuade you, but you will find yourself wandering around for hours looking for other great art pieces on your agenda. I'm not sure what days you'll be there, but the museum is open on Wednesday and Friday evenings (why spend your time indoors for hours on end during the day?). It's closed on Tuesday.

Here's my suggestions. If you want to take in art, head out in the morning to the Gare D'Orsay to view world-class art and sculpture and have a lunch nearby. Walk through the St. Germain district and cross over the pedestrian bridge to the Tuileries Gardens. Walk through the gardens toward the Louvre (where you may or may not visit) on to Notre Dame. (Evan, a Ziner in Paris, can probably help with directions.)

If you are in the vicinity of la Tour Eiffel, you may want to visit l'Hotel National des Invalides. No one has mentioned this place. It includes Napoleon's Tomb and the Musee de l'Armee, which may not be to everyone's liking but it is key to the French psyche and very important in their history. Built by Louis XIV in 1670 as an old soldiers' home it is the largest monument in Paris. The Musee Rodin is nearby and a wonderful place to spend a few hours if you like sculpture.

I suppose if I had to suggest one "must see" over all others, it would be Notre Dame. It is magnificent and any time you spend in and outside of it will be memorable. On all my visits to Paris I always walk to Notre Dame, even if I don't go inside.

Regarding hotels in Paris, we stayed at Hotel Clement (on Linda and Don's suggestion) in August and found it to be clean, comfortable, friendly, well-located and well-priced. Our window overlooked the ancient St. Germain market and Eglise St. Sulpice, a very important church in Paris history and well worth a visit. Here's the site for the hotel: http://www.hotels-exclusive.com/hotels/clement/index_en.htm We were so pleased with this hotel that I would not bother to stay anywhere else in Paris (and we have visited many times) because the neighbourhood is fabulous.

Finally, have a look at Frommer's "Memorable Walks in Paris" to give you an idea of things to see and neighbourhoods to explore.

Above all, walk, walk, walk and enjoy the atmosphere of this wonderful city.

Lucy, Toronto