Jazz Is Alive And Well In Paris

Paris and jazz have long enjoyed a love affair.  The city remains a top destination for local and American artists and boasts a lineup of clubs and nightly acts that often rival New York City.  If you love music, seeing a live jazz show in Paris is a must.

But first some history.

Did she get your attention?  That is Josephine Baker.  Dancer and jazz/pop singer, she grew up poor under the yoke of discrimination in America.  When she traveled to Paris she became a featured singer at ‘Le Ball Negre’ (more on that later) and her career took off from there.  The Ball Negre was a cultural icon frequented by the cutting edge of Paris society in the 1920’s frequented by everyone from Picasso to Hemingway to F.Scott Fitzgerald.  You can read more about it here https://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bal_Nègre

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With her stunning looks, eclectic personality and arresting voice (think Piaf meets Billy Holiday meets the personality of Cheavalier) she quickly became the toast of the town.  Indeed, she was said to have received over 1,500 marriage proposals in her life as she became a cultural icon in France.  For more information on her life go to her official website http://www.cmgww.com/stars/baker/about/biography.html

And no accounting of this period, however brief, would be proper without a mention of Gypsy Jazz and the great Roma guitarist Django Reinhardt who dominated the Paris scene at that time with his syncopated hyper fast picking.

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From World War I on, Paris was a refuge for countless American jazz artists who enjoyed the open bohemian spirit of the city.  Jazz artists who took up residence there in the included Sidney Bechet, Bud Powell, Dexter Gordon and Miles Davis to name a few. And with the embrace of jazz by the French the feelings were mutual.

Today Jazz remains alive and well in Paris.  You can hear it in small clubs throughout the city, on the radios of taxis and on the streets emanating from restaurants and bars. This recently renovated venue exemplifies this love.  The aforementioned Bal Negre was located on Rue Blomet, a 15 minute walk from the Yellow Flat vacation apartment.  It reopened on March 21 after lying in neglect and disrepair for years.  This must have been a labor of love, just look at what it looked like.

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The development was also the subject of controversy. The owner wanted to keep the original name, but in doing so, drew vocal protests of racism from the local community. It is an interesting question to ponder, when is an homage to a club and the use of a historical name inherently or explicitly a racist statement? Le Bal Negre was the name of the club with incredible historic significance.  In any case, the controversy resolved, the club is open and the music is alive at Le Bal Blomet.

Many well-known clubs abound in the city.  One place to start is New Morning where I enjoyed a recent show by vocalist extraordinaire Kurt Eling and his band.  This large scale club presents a wide variety of music from around the world, so be sure to view listings in advance.

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A tour of traditional and historically significant clubs always starts with the Duc De Lombard.  The granddaddy of Paris jazz venues leans to swing and cabaret and draws top talent, playing there now is Michael Fienstein.  Also located in the same part of the 1st district near Les Halles are Le Baiser Sale which has excellent open mike evenings and Caveau De La Huchette across the bridge in St Germain for more swing.

Paris has countless local clubs with home-grown talent.  These include Sunset Sunside and L’Improvsit. You can always get an up to date calendar by visiting http://www.parisjazzclub.net/.

If you want to see Gypsy Jazz then a trip out to Saint Ouen for a Sunday afternoon to La Chope Des Puces.  Its located at the flea market so you can combine the two sites in one day.  Pay attention to the area and watch yourself when walking.  Pickpockets abound. Other venues include the supper cub L’Atelier Charonne and Bouquet Du Nord, located near the Gare Du Nord.

And should you wish to feel a bit of Paris without leaving home, it is home to one the worlds great jazz stations TSF.  Listen at: http://tsfjazz.radio.net

So be sure to get your bop on when visiting Paris.  A little effort will be rewarded with a great time out.

The Yellow Flat is a one bedroom vacation rental apartment located a short walk from the Eiffel Tower.  Bright, warm and secure, it is our home away from home when we visit Paris and the perfect short term rental for you, your family and friends.  Returning guests always receive a 10% discount on their stay.

To learn more about the yellow flat, visit www.yellowflat.com or contact us at jkragen@prodigy.net

10 Things We Love About Our Yellow Flat.

It’s rather amazing but it has been ten years since we finished renovating our Yellow Flat Paris and began sharing it with our guests.  Along they way we have gotten to know a wonderful community of people who enjoyed our pied a terre as much as we did.  So to celebrate the 10th anniversary Florence and I took a moment to think about what makes this place so special and why we enjoy it so much every time we visit Paris.

Number 1. Something new! Our comfortable queen sized bed. We sleep well after a day of enjoying a day in the city.  Good reading lights too.

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2.  Our living room couch.  We love the wonderful late afternoon light on the corner seat of the couch reading or just relaxing and taking it in.   It makes a great second bed for our extra guests.

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3.  The third thing that the we love about the Yellow Flat is our remodeled kitchen, efficient as hell and fully stocked. And our new espresso machine.

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4.  Our shower. It has so much hot water and great pressure. Perfect for relaxing after  a day of touring or walking.

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5.  The two-minute walk to the Champ De Mars park to look at the Eiffel Tower. We never get tired of looking at.  It is spectacular at any time of the day.

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Or night.

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6.  Walking to Poilane bakery for their amazing breads and morning pastries. Yes those are some amazing apple ‘chansons’ that make a perfect breakfast.

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7.   Two glasses of rose’ on the terrace enjoying the afternoon sun.  No comment needed.

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8.   The views of the Parisian skyline from our floor to ceiling sliding glass windows in the living room and bedroom.

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9.   Buying a salad at the Grenelle Marche bringing it home and enjoying it with a plate of artisan cheeses and a fresh baguette. And perhaps a lightly chilled Chinon or Bourgogne Aligote to go with it?

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10. The 10th reason to love the Yellow Flat is that we are celebrating our 10th anniversary. So please take 10% off of any booking of a week’s stay during July or August 2016. Just mention our 10th anniversary celebration when you book. And enjoy this shot from 2006 when we were finishing construction.

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As well as that wood paneling from the old kitchen.  It seems so dated in style.

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As a further thank you to everyone who has stayed with us over the years I am happy to send you an 8 by 10 print of any photo that has appeared in this blog  Just tell us your story on our Facebook page and mention the photo you have in mind.  Or ask me to pick one.  Like this one for example.  I think its pretty cool.

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All the best.

Jules and Florence

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www.yellowflat.com

We Feel The Pain Of Paris. What Can We Do Now?

The Eiffel Tower Shines On

The Eiffel Tower Shines On In The Night

The city of Paris has a Latin motto which is: ‘Fluctuat ned mergitur”. The translation to English is ‘tossed by the water but not sunk’.

When visiting Paris the week the before the November 13 massacres, I enjoyed the hospitality of a city full of spirit, wonder and warmth. The first night there I had long-planned a visit to the wine bar at Verjus to enjoy the explosion of informal drinking and enjoying smaller plates that has spread across the city.  Imagine my surprise. When I arrived I found that it was closed for a private party.  We lingered for a moment on the street and struck up a conversation with a man who turned out to be the host of the party. Seeing our disappointment, he invited us into his birthday celebration for a glass of red wine.

Doors opened to us.

Verus Wine Bar Paris

Verjus Wine Bar Paris

Now doors need to remain open for them.

I walked the streets of the 10th and 11th.  The district was packed with people out enjoying their lives in these vibrant neighborhoods.  7 days later hell would break loose.

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The decision of whether to travel and where to travel will always be personal. Only you can decide whether to travel to Paris, or for that matter Beirut or Tel Aviv or whatever city struggles with the horrors of this modern world.

I ask you to go. When you do, think about this: By doing so you stand in defiance of those that who act without regard to human life. You stand in support of the working people of Paris, from the maid that cleans your room to the chef at a gourmet restaurant to the bartender who pours your wine.

Parisians are returning to their cafes.  They will not back down. Will you join them?

A glass of Calvados at Odeon.

A glass of Calvados at Odeon in the 6th.  The way to finish a night.

We are tossed by turbulent waters but our spirit must not sink.  When you wonder, when you doubt, do not give in.   Go to Paris for the first time or the 10th.  It is the loudest statement that you can make to honor the 128 innocents who died.

Cooking, Shopping and Touring With Paris Passioinista EJ Keller, Much More Than A Lesson.

DSC_0819When visiting Paris earlier this year we (myself and three of my closest friends) had the opportunity to take a market/neighborhood tour with our  friend and Paris Passionista Chef Edward EJ Keller seen here piping blue cheese into slices of endive (our appetizer). EJ is a former resident of the US living in the 2nd arrondissement near the great shopping and pedestrian street, Rue Montergeuil.   Classically trained at some of the greatest restaurants in Paris including La Grand Vefour, L’Escargot Montorgeuil, Jacques Cagna and Cabaret, he now works with private clients offering home meals and culinary events including the market tour and cooking class that we enjoyed.

We met him on a Monday morning near metro Sentier and began our walk through his district going from the 2nd to the 1st visiting several institutions of French food and history along with way.

There was the always beautiful classic bistro Au Pied De Cochon:  DSC_0782

The famous kitchen supply store Dehlerrin, which I will blog about in more detail soon.

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The beautiful church across from Les Halles,  Saint Eustache, wonderfully understated and with a touching memorial to the wholesale food market which dominated the neighborhood until the 1960’s when it moved to the suburbs and the controversial mall constructed and now being reconstructed again.

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From there we walked about Rue Montorgeuil, one of the best shopping streets in Paris where Edward met his butcher to get the proper cut of veal for our lunch.  It was the further thing from buying packaged meat in a Safeway you could imagine, the butcher asked for what he was cooking first and then gave the alternatives.  You can find the movie where EJ talks about the pleasure of his local butcher by going to this you tube address: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c-l5aq3Q6Hk&feature=youtu.be

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We continued our tour up the street past the famous Patisserie Stohrer, home to what are arguably the best eclairs in Pairs (read the blog on this here).

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And then on to his home kitchen.

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Edward is a teacher full of techniques that you can take home with you.  Anyway, they say a photo tells the story so enjoy this pictorial with minimal commentary of the meal we made.

Cutting the endive for the appetizer.

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And the result (stuffed with bleu cheese and home-made confiture and nuts)

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As it was spring white asparagus was in season.

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And the result?  Amazing.  But everything is better with bacon and a warm vinaigrette

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 Mark patiently tossing the cous cous for 15 minutes.  It made a difference.

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The veal before.

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After.

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Along with this we enjoyed an easy to make vegetable soufflé and for dessert, a chocolate cake.

Somewhere along they way after several glasses of wine we forgot to take pictures of the finished plates.  Oh well,  just too much fun.

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 Salut!

You can learn more about EJ at his website carottecaviar.com  When visiting the Yellow Flat Edward offers you a wide variety of cooking options including market tours, cooking classes and should you wish, he will come to the Yellow Flat and cook for you.  We had a great afternoon with Edward learning about French cooking and the area around Les Halles.

 

 

 

 

 

How To Enjoy Your Vacation In Paris.

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-This traveler’s opinion on how to enjoy your vacation Paris.

I started into the business of renting apartments for vacation because I enjoyed the experience of staying in them while I was on vacation.  It gave me a sense of adventure and reality that I never found in hotels.

Yet where you stay is only part, albeit a critical one, of what a vacation means.  Vacation is personal time, something we often lack in our daily lives.  It’s freedom, away from the boundaries of home. What you do on vacation, and in all cases what you don’t do, is what defines this precious time.  It will make all of the difference in your trip.

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So here is what I learned over these years of being an American tourist in the city of Light and what I want to share with you:

I want you to travel with purpose.    Now, just what does that mean?

Let’s start with what you do.  As you plan your trip and well before you leave ask yourself this question:  Why am I going to Paris?  And once you answer it (and if you can’t then skip to the second part of this article) prioritize those reasons.  It is not hard to find the experiences you are looking for There is an overload of information on the web, you will find what you need quickly and easily and there are plenty of resources to turn to.

There is another key lesson about what you do in this great city:  Don’t try to do it all.  Paris is a big city and that means travel times, traffic and all of the things that can go wrong.  Prioritize and then localize.  That means planning.   You need to shape your trip around your priorities.

Here is an example, if you are going to eat, then search for Paris food blogs and go from there.  Start with parisbymouth.com.  It is always current, deep and unbiased.  When you have found a number of restaurants you like then base other activities in the same district to maximize your time.

Be open to new foods and tastes.  Ask your server what they would eat or what the chef recommends.  It won’t always work but when it does the magic that is vacation starts to seep into your experience.

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That is the easy part. Now here is the hard one, how to work on what you don’t do.  That is right, you have to work on it. I know that this sounds counterintuitive, but you need to set aside time not to do things.  Vacation is about leisure and discovery and it doesn’t hurt to prime the pump.

Let me give you some suggestions:

If you are following my suggestions you are looking to localize your day.  That is critical.   The less ground you cover the better you will do it and the more you will enjoy it.

Plan a walk a day.  Walk to one of your destinations and give yourself plenty of time to be surprised by something along with way whether that is a park, a bakery or a view.   Have an apple tart for breakfast.  Treat yourself.

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If you get tired then find transport.  Never exhaust yourself unnecessarily.

Sit.  You may never do this in your day-to-day life so sit.  Sit on a bench. Sit in a café.  Watch life unfold.

Explore life as locals live it.  Pick something you like to do be it sports, yoga, a work out or a bike ride and do it.

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It’s a funny balance, to prioritize yet plan enough so that you hit your must haves and leave enough space for leisure and surprise.  You may not get it right the first time but any effort will yield results.

Finally consider extending your trip.  An extra day in Paris means the difference between being rushed and finding the center of what a vacation is all about.

My last blog was on the top 25 things to do in Paris.  Next, I will write about 25 steps you can take to help you do less on your vacation and places where less is more.

I hope to see you there one day, looking out at the Seine smiling and watching the river go by.  Take an extra moment and let it all seep in.  Remember, you are on vacation and it takes a little work to make great things happen.  Or not.

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10 Great Things To Do With Kids In Paris You May Not Know About

Many visitors to Paris ask this question frequently.   “I am so excited to be visiting the city, but  what do I do with the kids?”

Paris can be a daunting challenge for families.  It is one of the reasons why we love short-term vacation rental apartments like the Yellow Flat.  Nothing better than being able to hand your tyke a bowl of choco-puffs and a seat in front of the TV at 9am instead of calling room service.

Still, this question remains a tough one and I am often at a loss to help.

The bloggers at SRSCK, a Dutch blog with great articles and photos have just published a piece on this subject with some great ideas, but it is in Dutch.  So, with their permission and the aid of modern technology, we have translated it into English.  If you want to see the original just follow this link:

http://srsck.com/2013/08/04/top-10-wat-te-doen-in-parijs-met-kinderen/

So please enjoy the English version (with a few of my comments and edits).

In Paris you do not get bored for a second. Apart from being a city that appeals to the imagination, it is also a city that has everything. Well, almost.

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Culture, nature, sports and games, you name it and you will find it in Paris. For all tastes and all ages especially for children because there is a huge range of activities and interesting places. We put together a top 10 for our highlights for kids in Paris!

Musee Grevin

This wax museum in Paris has a collection of images of about 300 images. The museum is similar to the Madame Tussauds in Amsterdam, well at least what the images are concerned, then, the atmosphere is in fact very different. Where Tussaud modern series, plays Grevin on old French charm and bygone times. The museum has therefore been around since 1882.

The museum was conceived by Arthur Meyer. He was a journalist and pictures were still very little used in the press at that time so it seemed fun using wax to show how the people he wrote about looked his readers. He asks Alfred Grevin to help him. Grevin is a sculptor, cartoonist and costume designer, an artist so! Since then, the museum expanded course. There is a recently opened in Montreal in 2014 and one in Prague.

The images are divided into different areas according to themes such as singers, political figures, historical figures, characters from children’s books and cartoons, actors from home and abroad and more. You’ll see Obama, Elvis, Michael Jackson, Frankenstein, Louis XIV, Picasso and Marsupilami. Calculate about 1.5 hours to see the Musee Grevin. On the weekends, except during school holidays, there are also special guided tours for children (from 7 to 12 years) in which the children are dressed up and also look behind the scenes. Everything is done in a fun way but is in French.

10 Boulevard Montmartre Paris

Metro Grand Boulevards or Richelieu Drouot

www.grevin.com/

The Parks of Paris

In the parks of Paris, there is always a lot to experience. That in itself is 10 great things and in the parks you will find playgrounds, a zoo, Ferris wheels, carousels, museums and much more.   Just pick one in your neighborhood like the Champ De Mars, 10 minutes walk from they Yellow Flat.

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Flight experience

This is a very special experience, but it is suitable only for older children The minimum age here is 10 years and the minimum length is 1m40.  In this experience, you control a plane in a simulator, where you “sit” in a Boeing 737-800. The simulator is completely closed so you really feel like in an airplane.

You can opt for a flight from 30 minutes to 90 minutes. You will be guided by an instructor, the instructors are all too real pilots. There should be one person playing for pilot and two people as passengers in the back.

Flight Experience.  6 Quai De La Gare  Paris

Cirque d’hiver

The cirque d’hiver real circus lovers will certainly appeal. It is a classic traditional circus in a beautiful historic building. You really feel like you are sent back in time. The circus was founded in December 1852. The Trapeze movie from the 50s with Gina Lollobrigida, Tony Curtis and Burt Lancaster is included here. The circus is in any case often been the scene of movies and events Phenomenal, new show every year.

Since 1934, waving the famous circus family Bouglione here with the scepter. Bouglione’s always come with new shows. It is recommended to the extent possible to buy tickets in advance as the shows always get quickly. Tickets can through the website of the Cirque d’Hiver be purchased.

110 Rue Amelot Paris, metro Files du Calvaire.

Cinéaqua

Cinéaqua is a very nice aquarium in Paris at the Trocadero. There are not only aquariums but also cinemas and a theater in the complex. There are more than 40 basins with countless fish, sharks (32 species!) And marine animals from all over the world. There are also various workshops and activities for children. Oh, and there is a Japanese restaurant! All in all a very nice aquarium and fun for the kids for a day.

5 Avenue Albert Du Mun, Paris.  www.cienaqua.com.

Boating on the Seine.

A nice change from the metro is a boat. The kids will also like to determine from the mythical Seine to explore the city.

Boating is also helping many different companies and both day and evening. The Bateaux Mouches are the most famous and offer many different options. Besides just off topic, or just the contrary: it’s fun to Paris before you leave the animation film “A Monster in Paris” look. A very nice movie then the children will recognize all of the film on the Seine and speed that makes the whole vivid for them.

Another way to enjoy the Seine is the Batobus.  This systems uses boats going up and down the Seine as transport.  Reasonably priced at 15 euro for the day or 18 euros for two days of unlimited rides with 8 stops at key destinations such as the Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame and Musee D’Orsay.

For more information go to http://www.batobus.com/english/

Cité des Enfants at the Cité des sciences et de l’industrie

The Cité des Sciences et de l’Industrie in La Villette is a huge complex of five floors of anything and everything about technology and science. The building is to be found among others: a planetarium, an IMAX theater and a museum. A portion of the center is specially designed for children: La Cité des Enfants.

It is divided into two areas, one for children aged 2 to 7 and the other for those aged 5 to 12. There are all sorts of games and activities to do. Tests The program is interactive and children will not get bored here. It is worth also just to check what exhibitions there. These change regularly and are often very nice. For example, there now until August 18 an exhibition about the projects, designs and drawings of Leonardo da Vinci.

Cite Des Enfants.  30 Avenue Corentin Cariou, Paris.  www.cite-sciences.fr

Cites des Science.  Same.

La tete dans les nuages

La tete dans les nuages ​​is a great arcade (1500 m²!) with fun games and games for all ages. I would not linger too long because the money goes here quickly but just half an hour if it rains for the children long enough and they find it super fun. Also fun for the kids is the mini bowling here.

5 Boulevard Des Italiens Pris.  www.itdn.com.  Metro Richelieu-Drouot.

Ballon de Paris

Climb into a huge balloon and see Paris from a height of 150m. Paris looks great from high altitudes and some balloon offers respite from the view from the Eiffel Tower or from the famous Ferris Wheel. There can be up to 30 passengers in the balloon. Always check in advance the website of the Paris Balloon because they depend on the weather and sometimes not fly. That is always indicated on the site.

This attracation can be found in the Park Andre Citroen located in the 15th and a great place to hang out and watch the French locals actually enjoying themselves.

Ballon De Paris, Park Andre Citroen, Paris 75015.  Nearest metro Lourmel

Musée en herbe

This museum is especially designed for children from 3 years to 103.

Exhibitions are also arranged so that they will appeal to children. Visit the site of the Musée en Herbe to look at the exhibitions and workshops there. There are many activities and workshops and installations are often interactive for kids really involvement.  It is located in one of the great parks of Paris, the Bois De Boulogne.  Open daily.

 

Wide range of workshops (c) Musée en herbe

Musee en Herbe, 21 Rue Herold, Paris.  www.musee-en-herbe.com.

In our top 10, we focused on Paris itself but if you are willing to step outside the city, in the vicinity of Paris, to go poking around there are plenty of options for kids.
Of course there are the major theme parks such as Euro Disney and Parc Asterix but also the Palace of Versailles and children will be amazed by the beautiful zoo: Parc de Thoiry zoologique.
Closer to Paris itself are the pool of Neuilly and many indoor playgrounds like the Playmobil Funpark (yes a park dedicated to those goofy Playmobile toys)  and Ludiboo. All in all, kids will definitely enjoy themselves in the French capital!
Thanks to our friends at Srsck for this great information.  We could not agree more!  And make sure the kids enjoy a crepe with lots of whipped cream during their day.
Do you have places that your family enjoyed while in Paris?  Please comment so we can grow this list.

You Have Questions. We Have Answers. FAQ’s About The Yellow Flat.

bank atmEveryone has questions about Paris, whether you are visiting it for the first time or the fiftieth. This blog will look at some of the practical aspects of traveling to France, money, credit cards and phones.

What about money? Should I bring Euros with me?

You should bring enough money for your first day of travel and transportation from the airport (see the discussion above).  After that use the ATM machines that are everywhere in Paris.  Your US debit card will work there (but you may wish to let your bank know before you go).  While you will be charged a transaction fee but it still works out better than changing dollars to Euros in the US or at the airport.  And since it is a fee per transaction, you can save a little by withdrawing money less frequently in large amounts.  As with any big city pay attention when withdrawing money and don’t let the Parisian’s crowd you when you are using an ATM.  They often will.

Can I use my credit card when in Paris?

Mostly yes and a little but important no.  First find out whether your credit card has a chip on the front (most don’t and ask your bank if in doubt).  Then find out whether your bank charges you a foreign transaction fee (this again is per transaction and can add up fast).  At writing Capital One does not charge this fee on several of their cards, the key is to find out in advance.  Let your bank know you are traveling in Europe; they are likely to freeze your card if you don’t.

Back to your card.  If you have a chip you can use the credit card anywhere.  If you don’t, it will in most places (and you will get some pushback but it will) except automatic machines.  This is important because you often need a credit card to by metro or RER tickets.  So if you are planning a train ride have chip card or cash

What about phones?

Unless you are moving on a short-term trip contact your carrier and get an international plan.  For example, ATT has both voice and data plans.  It is not cheap but in the end run you have your phone, your phone number and it works.  If you are in France for more than a month then you should look into getting a phone through a local carrier or getting a replacement SIM card.  Either way, using your phone is expensive in Europe.  If you need to get data, use the free WIFI at the Yellow Flat.

Do I tip?

It depends.  In taxis tips are not expected but if service is good then round it up.

What about restaurants? In France your tip (a service charge) is included in your bill, good service or not.  If service is good then round-up your bill by a few euros.  That will be fine.

Do you have other questions?  Either email them to me at: jkragen@prodigy.net or give me a call at 510.524.4446.

Safe journeys always.

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