Holiday Inn Notre Dame - Three Stars

Brand new. Just opened. Absolutely awesome!

There is no better location in Paris. Is a nice stroll away from Notre Dame, Saint Chapelle, Hotel De Ville, Musée du Moyen Age, La Sorbonne, Le Pantheon, Jardin de Luxembourg, Théâtre d'Odéon, the Louvre and Châtelet. When it says 50 meters from Saint Michel métro stop it's not lying. This hotel sits right on top of the métro station offering the best access of any location in Paris. Direct lines to both airports and all train stations. The neighborhood is very charming.

Holiday Inn is a guaranteed great stay! It will feel like a big luxurious Holiday Inn. It offers a panoramic view of Paris from it's rooftop terrasse! If you know anything about Parisian real-estate you know that's pretty spectacular. You won't be disappointed. I believe this hotel opened it's doors in November 2009.

The neighborhood can't be beat! Adorable! Boulevard Saint Michel is a true outdoor mall offering familiar shops like Gap, and classic french shops like Etam. There are four Starbucks in a two block radius to this hotel. This neighborhood is where people enjoy hanging out.

This hotel has Air-Conditioning, Elevators and Cable TV.

They have a page on the Holiday Inn Website, they're ready to take your reservation today.


Sleep is vital in the adaptation process, but you may be thinking, "On the plane? Are you kidding?" Yes it is possible! If you struggle to get some shut eye each time you take to the air, you're not alone -- but choosing the right seat, bringing the right gear and making a few small changes in your flying habits could help you sleep better on your next flight.

Mentally prepare for it.
  • Try to get a window seat if possible; it will give you something to lean against and get you out of the way of other folks in your row, who won't have to scramble over you each time they need to use the bathroom. You'll also have some control over the window shade. 
  • Avoid the back row where the seats may not recline.
  • Pack fluffy socks to keep circulation going, as well as an eye mask and earplugs to create your sleep environment.
  • Pray for sleep. Trust God for a miracle.
48 hours before departure
  • Change your watch to your destination time. Tell yourself “This is the time of day I will go to sleep.” “This is the time of day I will eat lunch.” If possible begin eating your meals at appropriate times for your destination. (Or simply fast for 24 hours, that works too.)
At the airport 
  • Immediately before you get on the plane, and before you prepare to sleep - do slow stretching exercises like toe touches, neck rolls, and twists. Remember the goal is not to get your heart rate going, but to relax your muscles by moving intentionally, slowly and smoothly.
  • Drink lots of water, avoid caffeine - that goes for your entire jet-lag experience. 
When on the plane
  • First take off your shoes.
  • Stop your watch
  • Do not stow bags at your feet.
  • Do stretching exercises ; stretch your back by lifting your arms as high as possible, point and flex your ankles, do neck rolls, relax your muscles. 
After the meal
  • Plan to sleep the remainder of the flight. 
  • Recognize that you must approach it differently than sleeping at home.
  • Pillows and blankets will be provided, if you need more don't hesitate to ask the stewards.
  • Lower your shade and turn out your light.
  • Wear eye masks and ear-plugs and don’t listen to music or movies that force your brain to work when it should be resting (as a matter of fact your sleep is worth the price of a movie... plan to buy the film you “can’t miss” when you hit the ground as your reward for sleeping.) 
  • Do pray, and pray for sleep. We need you to arrive relaxed and ready to hit the ground running.


Air Plane Exercising

  1. Everyone one is worried about their health while flying. Drinking lots of water and doing simple exercises can help ward off aches and pains and possible blood clots.

  1. Step
    Squeeze a tennis ball or a pair of socks with your hands until they're tired.

  2. Step2
    Keep the balls of your feet planted and raise your legs using your calf muscles. If this is too easy, place your carry-on bag on your knees. Continue until tired.

  3. Step3
    Plant your heels firmly and raise your toes as high as possible. Hold for five seconds, and relax. Repeat until tired.

  4. Step4
    Place your hands on your armrests and raise your knees slowly (together is harder than one at a time) toward your chin. Lower them slowly. Repeat until tired.

  5. Step5
    Cross your legs. Rotate the dangling foot in as wide a circle as possible. Continue until tired.

  6. Step6
    Stretch your neck by keeping your chin close to your throat and tilting your head forward. Roll your head from one shoulder to the other, but avoid rotating it backward.

  7. Step7
    Flex your trapezius muscles by doing shoulder hunches. Lower your shoulders, and then raise them up toward your ears into a shrug. Hold for five seconds. Continue until tired.

  8. Step8
    Arch your torso gently backward and forward like a cat.

  9. Step9
    Flex your gluteus muscles and hold for as long as possible. Squeezing your rear like this may occasion strange glances, but these muscles are the biggest in the human body and need to be exercised, too.


Table Etiquette


“When you enter a house, first say, ‘Peace to this house.’ If a man of peace is there, your peace will rest on him; if not, it will return to you. Stay in that house, eating and drinking whatever they give you, for the worker deserves his wages.” Luke 10:5-7

You are about to embrace another culture. You will never truly experience French culture if you do not eat with the locals, so consider every meal a learning experience. Tell yourself you like vegetables, even ones whose names you can’t pronounce! Decide to be daring and try everything in this gastronomical capital of the world.

*When we bring our friends over to visit, the menu has been chosen to introduce you to dishes from every region of France, representing what is commonly eatten around the family dinner table, promoting those dishes that allow us to be frugal, and contributing to a well-balanced diet.


  • Les quinze minutes de politesse - Arrive fashionably late for dinner invitations.
  • Take off your shoes when entering a home. If your host has their shoes on, still offer to take off your shoes and insist that you enjoy stocking feet.
  • The seat closest to the kitchen is the hosts’. Sit up straight at the table.
  • Once someone begins serving the meal you should open your napkin on your lap. 
  • Don’t turn your plate once it’s set in front of you.
  • Do not start eating until everyone has received their course. Take your cues from the host each course.
  • Use your fork and knife. Keep your hands in sight. Cut one small bite at a time. Never fill your fork while you still have food in your mouth. Pose your fork on the table between bites. 
  • Never serve yourself a beverage, always serve your neighbor.
  • Always accept wine offered, you don’t have to drink it. Do Not finish your glass - Be careful, if you empty your glass it will be refilled for you, by your host.
  • Finish everything on your plate. Speak up if you don’t want seconds or you will find a generous heap before you.
  • It is considered embarrassing to use the bathroom in someone’s home; avoid asking if you can hold it.


The Other Bike Tour

This is the lesser known bike tour, as opposed to the large groups of 30+ that you see in the crowded streets.
Bike About Tours specializes in small groups and seeing the hidden treasures Paris.


Packing for Paris

“The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few... Go! ... Do not take a purse or bag or sandals; and do not greet anyone on the road.” Luke 10:2-4


  • One pair of shoes to walk walk walk.
  • A credit card or ATM card for making all souvenir purchases, or just getting coffee. 
  • Bible, Journal, Note pad, pen, and a shoulder bag that zippers securely to deter thieves.
  • Travel pack of Kleenexes (handy while using public toilets that you won’t be sitting on, and cleaning doggy-do off your shoes.) I like moist charmin myself.
  • Presentable socks. Don’t embarrass your host when you are asked to take your shoes off upon entering a home.
  • Layerable water resistant clothing (multiple thin layers are preferable to thick items) Wear culturally sensitive attire, you should not wear short skirts, ties, ball caps, or shorts for men or women. For those who like to blend in - wear black.


  • camera
  • hand sanitizer
  • travel umbrella
  • transformers/converters for razors/hair dryers

Basic rule of thumb : Staying less than 10 days : pack ONLY a carry-on. Staying more than 10 days : pack everything into your carry-on that you cannot afford to lose or be without for a few days (in case luggage is lost or late). Expect to carry your luggage up and down many stairs. Your bag should not weigh more than 8 kilos (17lbs). Wheel-y bags are cute, but they aren't going to help you navigate our cobblestone alleys. We recommend a good backpacks because they distribute weight evenly on your body.

Parisian Woman

  • dark trendy jeans
  • black capris
  • stylish Ts
  • classic French striped T
  • jersey dress
  • a light sweater suitable for over Ts or the dress
  • light belted trenchcoat
  • all-day walking shoes
  • comfy black shoe that's not a tennis variety
  • cute socks
  • shoulder sac

Parisian Man

  • dark trendy jeans
  • black T
  • casual button down
  • formal, solid-colored button down
  • khaki jacket
  • belt
  • versatile casual shoe like Sketchers
  • black socks
  • messenger bag


Four Meals A Day


Families wake up and eat breakfast together at the kitchen counter. Someone runs to the street corner and buys a nice hot baguette from the bakery and brings it back home. Parents fix coffee-milk (1/2 coffee / 1/2 milk) and children fix hot cocoa and they all prepare their hot drinks in a bowl! In France you don’t cut a baguette, you tear it.

And so, everyone tears off a big chunk of bread spreads it with real butter and dunks it into their hot drink (that’s why it has to be in a bowl). Most kids like to spread Nutella, a chocolate-hazelnut spread, on their bread.

Off To School - Home For Lunch

Children walk to school. It’s fun for neighbors to run to each other’s house’s and ring the doorbell summoning their friends. Then they walk together laughing and talking. Children have an hour and a half for lunch break. 

They don’t really want to get stuck at school that whole time so if their parents don’t work too far away they come home and fix a nice hot meal for the family. (Parents get a two hour lunch break). Otherwise the kids eat at the school cafeteria.


Goûter means snack. This is the third meal of the day, and it is just as important as the other three. On their way home from school children stop at the bakery and get a Pain Au Chocolat, a bit of croissant dough rolled around a chocolate bar and baked crispy and golden. This tradition helps the kids transition between work and play and end the school day well.


Dinner at home with the family. French kids drink water and only water with their well-balanced meals. They can choose to drink sparkling water if they like. French are famous for beef stews, green beans, and yes, they LOVE French fries!


Views of Paris From Above

In my opinion the most splendid view of Paris rooftops is from the towers at Notre Dame Cathedral. The best part is the cathedral's location in the heart of Paris where you can see everything important close up and intimate.

History comes to life as you wander the ancient corridors! If you're the kind of person that likes to walk the side streets this is a great view to remind you of every path taken, or map out new areas to explore. From the heights you can identify the Pantheon, Musée d'Orsay, Invalides, Eiffel Tower, Saint Chappelle, Louvre, Pompidou Center, and Sacre Coeur.

   Plus you get to climb the original stone spiral staircase, visit a conference room perched in the heights, get friendly with the gargoyles, and commune with bells of Quasimodo! The singular bell in the south tower weighs 13 tons.

Entering the cathedral itself is free to the public from 8am to 6:45 daily. Visiting the towers is not free, however. You will find the entrance to the towers on the left (or north) entrance on the side of the building, they are open from 10am to 5:30pm (except they're closed from 12:30pm to 2pm on Saturdays). Entrance fee : 5 euros.

With its 387 steps to the top this visit is not recommended for persons of reduced mobility.

Definitely the most visited look-out tower in the world. It's worth a visit while you're in Paris, but I have always preferred staring up at the magnificent tower than looking down from it. Now, when I accompany people to the eiffel tower, I go straight to the coffee shop on the first floor while they visit the sights. I truly believe the view on the first floor is better than the other levels as it is already well over the treetops and rooftops you can already see as far as you're going to see. To go any higher means you are simply further away from the sights you want to see, building become miniatures difficult to distinguish, and cloud cover can get in the way of your view.

The first floor boasts a classy restaurant, a simple café/snack shop, a free cinéma about the eiffel tower (always a hit on a cloudy day) and three science installations (an 1889 hydraulic pump, ferOscope, and real-time observation of the tower's oscillation)

Elevators open from 9:30am to 11:45pm (final entrance at 11pm) Second floor 8€, Third floor 13€
Stairs open from 9:30am to 6:30pm (final entrance at 6pm) Second floor 4.50€
All entrances from June 13th to August 31st from 9am to 12:45am (final entrance at midnight)
The glass elevator ride to the third floor is not recommended for people who are afraid of heights or elevators.

Who hasn't dreamed of walking on the rooftops of Paris? Here's your chance with the Sacre Cœur Dome Tour. The basilica is a bit far from the city center, but the rooftop tour is an unforgettable experience. The tour climbs quite a few stairs and pops out a little door on the side of the left spire. Guide rails lead you as you ascend the rooftop to the dome where there is a proper porch around the dome offering a 360º view.

The basilica is one of the most solemn church visits in Paris they still insist on silence and no photography permitted inside. The basilica is open to the public with free admission from 6am to 11pm. With the dome tour you also get to tour the crypt as well, all for only 5€. The entrance for this Dome & Crypt tour is down the stairs on the left side of the building.


Currency Exchange

The best way to exchange money is to bring a credit card with you.

Archaic methods such as foreign cash, money orders, or traveler's checks are difficult to exchange and will be penalized with HEAVY transaction fees.

To get the best exchange rates possible on any given day simply pull out your credit card and charge your purchases directly. VISA guarantees the best rates of the day, and charges no extra middle man fees.

Warn your bank that you will be traveling out of the country so that they don't see your purchases in Paris as fraudulent. It's simple, just call the bank, explain how many days you will be gone and which countries you expect to be visiting.

You will need a four digit pin number with each purchase you make with your card. Plan ahead. You may need to ask your bank to remind you of your four digit pin number - which they will most likely have to send to your home address by snail mail, so don't wait till the last minute with this one.

Some credit cards have a daily purchase limit, while others have a monthly purchase limit. Talk to your bank counselor and inquire about yours. Changing the credit limit is as simple as a phone call.

YES, but... In France small markets and family businesses are still unhappy about the cost of providing this service. (I think VISA charges shops a couple cents for every transaction.) So you'll find many café's and groceries that have minimum purchase limits. While every establishment accepts your credit card they may be unhappy if you want to swipe plastic for a ten euro purchase. So we recommend that once you arrive you withdraw twenty euros and keep it in your pocket just incase you stumble across this kind of situation. If you're planning on making lots of little purchases, take a minute to figure out how much fast cash you need on hand.

NOPE. This is the best part of using your credit card. ATMs in France process your withdrawal as if you just purchased something from the store, so they do not charge you any additional fees. Some of us have banks that charge foreign transaction fees, but even half of those charges never get billed because when you withdraw cash at the ATM on the street corner your bank thinks you just made a purchase at a department store.

In Paris there is only one bank that has started charging foreign card fees. So if you are serious about cutting out extra fees avoid using the bank called La Banque Postale. I think they charge something like two euros to outsiders who withdraw from their ATMs but it's a pretty easy fee to avoid.

Sorry, this one is going to be unavoidable. IF your contract with your personal bank authorizes them to charge a transaction fee for every purchase you make outside of America, you can be sure they won't miss a thing when you start making withdrawals in Paris. But, don't worry, no matter what they are charging you it is a LOT cheaper than if you had to pay the currency exchange rates other methods of exchange bring upon themselves. You can control these overseas transaction fees by withdrawing at an ATM all of the cash you expect to use during your visit in one transaction.

Your card is very different from a French card. There will be a few cases where you will notice this incompatibility and you will need to use an ATM and come back with euro cash. One of these situations is purchasing metro tickets.

There are two ways to pay for the metro. The self-service distributors only accept European cards containing a microchip. Your foreign swipe card will not function in these machines. You will need to go to the ticket window and talk to a real human being. Start your plea with, "Bonjour," the staff should have a swipe machine behind the counter.

If you haven't waited till the last minute there are a few plastic options available to you. Ask your father to add you to his account. If he has good credit his bank can issue you an access card on his account for while you travel.

As a last resort, with several drawbacks, VISA Gift Cards can be purchased online but will need to be purchased for you by someone with a credit card. VISA Gift Cards are not accepted everywhere in Paris. It looks like a credit card, and the restaurant will try to swipe it as a normal card, but 50 % of the time the transaction will be denied. The credit card exchange rates are always the best, so if you want to use this method to save money we suggest you take a moment upon arriving and try all of the distributors until you find one that likes your card and withdraw all of the cash you will need at one time, thus saving you the hassle of being refused several times a day. Click the GiftCard photo to create your GiftCard now.

Here's what you can do. Bring over American cash and walk up to any one of the hundreds of these CHANGE counters on the streets of Paris. You will be greeted by a real live person who speaks English and who needs to make a living adding extra fees to your transaction. The exchange rate may not be the best of the day, but the margin he adds pays his rent. And he will charge you commission including a transaction fee, and a service fee that go towards feeding his family.

Today if you took a credit card to an ATM and withdrew 50 euros, your credit card bill would be charged $71.28 (plus your bank's $2 overseas transaction fee). If you simultaneously took $100 in cash to the CHANGE counter you would walk away with about 55 euros. Then you would say you got ripped off, but you didn't get ripped off. That's just the normal going rate. So the moral of the story is this : Those who bring plastic enjoy more coffees.


Eau de Paris

Tap water in Paris is not only safe, it's delicious!
In Paris water is a human right, intended to be appreciated by the masses for FREE!

Drink EAU DE PARIS with pride.

In fact Paris water is the most highly controlled product produced in the city.

It's a source of pride for the mayor, as well as the citizens.
Paris water has it's own marketing campaigns always featuring cutting edge designers and artists. Run your cursor over the EAU DE PARIS header and appreciate their magic on their website
dedicated to nothing other than Paris water.

Fresh Springs

Four underground springs are the source of the majority of Paris water.
It's clean, healthy and yummy.
Need I say more?

Wallace Fountains

Dehydration is the number one cause for illness when traveling. Hydrating with good clean water is the best way to fight jet lag.
Paris actually has 108 public fountains where city water runs continually. Simply hold out your willing water bottle under the stream to carry this life source
with you wherever you go.

"Une Carafe d'Eau S'il Vous Plait."

Don't be fooled, water is always FREE at restaurants. Now, it does happen now and again that tourists walk into a restaurant and get duped. Here's what you need to know ...
If it looks like you don't know French, then they'll assume that you don't know their customs, therefore, if you order, "Water, Please." They'll most likely bring out a bottle of water and add it to your tab. If you order like a Parisian you'll say, "Une carafe d'eau, s'il vous plait." and they'll bring you tap water in a pitcher without hesitation.
On the right, you'll see a restaurant that has decided to charge by the glass. They can do this legally but it must be printed on the menus and posted visibly inside and outside the restaurant.
I might add that fancy restaurants make an exception to this delightful rule. If you are paying more than 10 euros for your main dish, they will only serve you bottled water - on the grounds that it is more classy.

Souvenir Water

You may have probably heard of Evian bottled water, but did you know that Evian is a city in France with fresh spring water on tap? If you go to visit you will find that the water running through the pipes is the same quality as the water they market in bottles.
So, why haven't you heard of Paris brand water? Maybe because Evian has amazing marketing plan. Maybe Paris water will be the next big fashion. While you're in Paris you may want to take home a unique souvenir, this carafe conceived by the fashion designer Frédérique Daubal is intended to be sold to Parisians and refilled endlessly with EAU DE PARIS. You can pick one up at a shop near the Louvre called Machupichu 4, rue des Pyramides, and at a shop not far from Notre Dame called La Marchande de Couleurs 10, rue Lagrange.


Fly Liquid Free

I have just discovered the most amazing invention, and I'm totally addicted. You're going to laugh ... it's Solid Shampoo! It's actually not a new invention at all, it's just that recently it's become more fashionable and so we are seeing it more.
Not only is it practical, it's also ecological - one bar of soap is equivalent to three bottles of shampoo!
So this new little fascination of mine has got me thinking... Somewhere in history we switched from solid shampoo, to liquid because it was more marketable. As a frequent traveler I have become aware of the hassles of traveling with liquids (carry-on restrictions, and spills within checked-in bags, not to mention the overall weight of liquid products). So, as you see, I'm sold on this product, at home and away. And, while the shampoo discovery is the purpose for this post, I thought it would be fun and useful to remind my readers of the wide variety of the other liquid free cosmetics that exist - just in case you're thinking about starting a liquid-free fetish!

Solid Shampoo
Godiva Solid Shampoo $9.25

Good Old Fashioned Bar Soap
Demon in the Dark Soap $7.50

Solid Lipstick (no lip gloss please!)
Long Last Soft Shine Lipstick $14.oo

Cake Mascara
Paula Dorf's Cake Mascara $20.00

Foundation Pressed Powder
Stay-Matte Sheer Pressed Powder $19.00

Loose Powder
Blended Face Powder and Brush $19.00

Deodorant Powder
Coconut Deodorant Powder $7.65

Cake Deodorant
T'EO Deodorant $8.15

Tooth Paste
Peppermint Tooth Powder $4.53