Les clefs d'Or


Who lives in le Marais ? 
The residents of le Marais are mainly elegant people called Bobo's, meaning bohemian bourgeois: they have the best standards of living, good values, lots of savoir-vivre, and are unconventional and multicultural. They love American and English visitors and most of them speak good English… You'll be welcomed everywhere and realise the French are not as grumpy as their reputation says they are! Being so open to differences and respecting them made it possible to have a big Jewish community in this district, around rue des Rosiers, one of the biggest Gay communities in Europe around rue Sainte Croix de Bretonnerie, and more artists and creative people living here than in any other district of Paris.

Is le Marais a safe district ?
In terms of safety, Paris is very unlike many other major cities in the world. Despite an increase in crime levels of some suburbs, crime in the historical center of Paris is very low. Due to strong gun and personal weapons control laws, crime in the city is virtually non-violent. 
This district, which is also one of the most residential and prestigious, is safe at any time of the day. Of course, like everywhere, you should always be careful and sensible, especially in the metro. Walking anywhere at night or day in this neighborhood is probably the most peaceful thing to do.

Tipping in Paris ?
You normally do not tip for services or in restaurants. By law service and taxes are included in all bills. If your waiter is very nice and helpful you are welcome to give a little extra but it is not compulsory. 

Where to withdraw cash ? 
France is the number one country in the world for the number of cashpoints per capita! ATM's are everywhere and it's the most flexible and reliable way to obtain cash in Euros. There is no need to change money before you leave home. Almost every shop accepts payment by Visa or Amex.

Prices in Paris ? 
Here is a small list of prices to give you an idea of the cost of living:
- Carnet of 10 metro tickets : 10 euros 
- 3 course in average restaurant (lunchtime):12 to 15 euros 3 course menu in good restaurant (evening): 22 to 35 euros 
- Opera ticket top category: 105 euros 
- Theatre Ticket top category: 50 euros 
- CD's: 20 euros 
- Beer of soft drink on a terrace: 3 to 5 euros 
- Museum ticket: 4 to 8 euros 
- Cinema Ticket: 7 euros 
- Disco entrance: from 10 euros 
- High speed train ticket to Burgundy: around 100 euros round-trip
- Taxi from champs Elysées to le Marais at night: around 10 euros 
- 3 star hotel room in the center: 110 to 150 euros
- To buy a nice studio for your vacations: between 100,000 and 200,000 euros! Ask us for advice!

What to buy ? 
Advice on shopping: 
What is cheaper in Paris compared with the United States and other major European cities like London:
- Restaurants 
- Museums 
- Culture and arts 
- Public transport 
- Holiday accommodation 
- Luxury goods 
- Taxis 
- Quality food in street markets and grocery shops 
- Antiques
Slightly more expensive: 
- Drinking out 
- Clubbing 
- Car rental 
- Gym clubs 
- Some luxury clothes 
- Electronics and CD's

Cinemas in Paris 
Paris has more cinemas than any other city in the world, far more than London or New York. Prices are cheap, never over 8 Euros, and some cinemas offer cards of 5 tickets for around 30 Euros (UGC). The best of all is the UGC Cite Ciné in Les Halles, near the church of St Eustache: more than 20 screens with the most terrific sound systems and wide screens. Most films are shown in their original language version ("vo") but with French subtitles.
The most romantic is Le Grand Rex, with 3000 seats and a star-gliding ceiling that makes you feel as if you are in an open-air cinema. This place is so beautiful it has been classified as an historical monument. 75002. Métro Bonne Nouvelle.

What about Nightlife ? 
Nightlife in Paris is very active. It is changing all the time, so it is difficult to give particular advice! Apart from the usual and well established clubs and cabarets, you'll find day by day recommendations in papers than you can either buy throughout the city or pick up for free in the cafés and bars.
The best papers to find out what's on and where to go are definitely Pariscope, found at any bookshop with its English section Time Out Paris.
Buy Nova, the monthly Paris city guide for the fashionable and alternative young clubbers. And try also Zurban, the new weekly city magazine (in French).
To go out on the gay scene, pick up the free papers E-male or illico where you'll find a lot of addresses in Le Marais district. For the most elegant options, have a look at the monthly Paris Le Magazine.

What about transportation in Paris ?
Taxis Paris Cabs are reasonably cheap, even if you have to sometimes cope with an anti-social attitude from the driver... It will cost you around 8-10 Euros to go from République to Gare du Nord and about 35-40 Euros to go to the airport from République.
One good tip about Paris on Weekends: It will be virtually impossible to flag a taxi down on the street on a Friday or Saturday night. Finding a Taxi in the middle of the night is even more of a nightmare. Before you leave an establishment, ask for the nearest taxi rank as this will save you some time. Be prepared to wait in a long line.

Paris has the biggest and probably the best Métro system in the world with over 500 stations! The Métro is cheap, convenient and runs until 00.45 hrs (12:45 a.m.). The best deal is to buy a carnet of 10 tickets for around 10 Euros. Be sure to hold on to your ticket until you exit the station as there is a fine if you don't have a current one. 
Experience the new high tech automatic line 14 to go to the Great Library François Mitterrand on the south bank and to the charming new district of Bercy Village, formerly a wine market.

An excellent service and one of the best ways to see Paris! But, it will be slower and can be difficult to use when you don't know the town so well... You can use Métro tickets to take them but make sure you punch them in the machine at the door by the driver.

Parking your car 
Driving and parking in Paris is a nightmare, no question! That's why 60% of the Parisians refuse to have a car and use the efficient and cheap public transportation. If you still decide to come by car, we'll recommend safe private parking nearby. Parking in the street can cost you as much as 2 Euros per hour…



So reads this sign found on a street in the 13th arrondissement of Paris. One would think that this is a basic rule taught to small children when they are learning to cross the road. I shudder to imagine what unfortunate incident may have prompted the need for such a sign to be placed at this particular crossing.

As a pedestrian in Paris, crossing the street is a constant contest of man vs. machine.
When encountering a red light, most North Americans stand obediently at the corner waiting for it to turn green.
Not so the Parisians!

They simply give an almost imperceptible glance left and right, and if there are no cars in the immediate vicinity, step boldly into the street. If a car does come close, they simply pretend not to notice, and the drivers will often yield to pedestrians.
Now it may be that many of the streets in Paris are so narrow compared to those at home in Toronto, it often takes just a couple of steps to get you across, so why bother waiting? Each time I visit Paris, it takes me a day or two to get back into this rhythm of crossing against the red, almost without hesitation.

On my recent visit, I found that the Champs Elysées was one of the more dangerous destinations for pedestrian crossings. I suspect this is due to the fact that the most famous avenue in the world is filled with many tourists who are simply not trained in the Parisian art of crossing against the red. They see Parisians step into the street, think it’s safe and don't bother to check for that oncoming vehicle racing to make the green light.

I witnessed this firsthand, holding my breath as three young American ladies stepped into the path of a speeding scooter. As the driver screeched to a halt, he yelled several nasty words, in French, as the girls simply giggled and went on their way. I don't think they got it.
So when in Paris, certainly do as the Parisians do, cross as the Parisians cross… but please, be careful !


I admit it, I am a car person.
At home in Toronto, growing up in the east suburbs, my car became a symbol of freedom from the sporadic to non-existent transit service where I lived at the very end of the Lawrence and York Mills bus lines.
But when I’m in Paris I LOVE taking the métro. The service in Paris in so superior to the subway service I’ve experienced at home. In Toronto, you can go north and south (as long as it is along Yonge Street or University Avenue) or east and west (as long as it is along Bloor/Danforth) and recently along Sheppard (but only as far as Fairview Mall). If you want to get from the Beaches to College Street, forget it!
But Paris! In Paris, the métro opens the entire city to you. I have found that after spending months at a time in Paris for the past few years, most places I needed to go I could get to by taking only two métro lines. In rare instances I would have to take three.

Recently the TTC introduced a service on the TV monitors in their stations that reports to riders when the next train is expected—what a major breakthrough! Paris has had this service since at least 2001, and I’m sure it was available long before that. The photo at top is the sign on the 8 line (there are 20 métro lines in Paris) that shows the first train is coming in two minutes, the next in seven minutes. As a rider, this is definitely a useful service.

Not only is this service available on the Paris métro. The bus shelters in Paris also report the timing of the next two buses. The second photo shows that the Saint Germain bus will arrive in two minutes and the following bus in 14 minutes.
One can't help but wonder...if it took the TTC this long to implement technology to show the time of the next subway train, how much longer will it take them to offer this service on their bus and streetcar lines ?

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