Archive

Archive for the ‘travel’ Category

U.S. Embassy in France cautions Americans abroad

October 3rd, 2011 1 comment

The U.S. State Department, via the U.S. Embassy Paris in France, has just issued this travel warning below. There are several warnings per year, but it’s always better to be cautious. You don’t have to cancel your trip, just be aware of your surroundings. Safe travels!

U.S. Embassy
Paris, France

Travel Alert
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
Bureau of Consular Affairs
Worldwide Travel Alert
October 1, 2011

The Department of State alerts U.S. citizens to the potential for retaliation against U.S. citizens and interests following the deaths of key figures in the terrorist group al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula on September 30. This Travel Alert expires on November 30, 2011.

On 30 September, U.S. and Yemeni government officials confirmed that dual U.S.-Yemeni citizen Anwar al-Awlaki, the external operations leader of al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), was killed in Yemen. Open source information also indicates that U.S. citizen and AQAP propagandist Samir Khan was killed along with him. Awlaki played a key role in advancing AQAP plots targeting the United States.

The death of Awlaki, in the near term, could provide motivation for anti-American attacks worldwide from individuals or groups seeking to retaliate against U.S. citizens or interests because of this action. In the past Awlaki and other members of AQAP have called for attacks against the United States, U.S. citizens and U.S. interests. Awlaki’s standing as a preeminent English-language advocate of violence could potentially trigger anti-American acts worldwide to avenge his death.

U.S. citizens are encouraged to enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP). U.S. citizens without internet access may enroll directly at the nearest U.S. Embassy or U.S. Consulate. By enrolling, U.S. citizens make it easier for the embassy/consulates to contact them in case of emergency.

Up-to-date information on security can also be obtained by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll-free in the United States and Canada or, for callers outside the United States and Canada, on a regular toll line at 1-202-501-4444. These numbers are available from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays).

Stay up to date by bookmarking our Bureau of Consular Affairs website, which contains the current Travel Warnings and Travel Alerts as well as the Worldwide Caution. Follow us on Twitter and the Bureau of Consular Affairs page on Facebook as well.

For information on “What the Department of State Can and Can’t Do in a Crisis,” please visit the Bureau of Consular Affairs’ Emergencies and Crisis link at: http://travel.state.gov/travel/tips/emergencies/emergencies_1212.html

“Autolib”, Public car sharing scheme to launch in Paris Oct 1

September 28th, 2011 1 comment

Autolib is a new public car sharing scheme that will launch in Paris at a limited number of places this Saturday October 1st. Its name from comes “Vélib” (vélo + liberté = bike + freedom), so it means “car freedom”.

Stations will be opening gradually throughout Paris, with the network completion date set for May 31, 2012.

The total number will be around 1120 stations throughout the region, with on average 6 cars per station, where they can be recharged. There will be a clear touch screen at each station to help customers with the steps for renting. As you could expect, they’re also hiring.

You can see some preview pictures here and below. Below the pictures you’ll see an article in French describing the launch.

You can also read this New York Times article from April that mentions the program.

Les Autolib de Bolloré en avance sur le timing
Stratégies
le 27 septembre 2011

Les premières voitures électriques en libre-service Autolib, conçues par le groupe Bolloré, circuleront dans les rues de Paris dès le samedi 1er octobre, soit deux mois avant le lancement précédemment annoncé. A l’occasion de la Nuit blanche parisienne, 66 Blue Car seront mises en service et 33 stations ouvertes, avant une montée en puissance progressive. Le Syndicat mixte Autolib avait signé le 25 février dernier une convention de délégation de service public avec le groupe Bolloré, qui va investir 50 millions d’euros dans l’affaire et prendre en charge l’entretien et l’assurance des véhicules. Vincent Bolloré, PDG du groupe, a affirmé au début de l’année que d’ici à 2016, jusqu’à 5 000 véhicules électriques pourraient être offerts en libre-service à Paris et dans sa banlieue. Le prix de l’abonnement devrait être de 7 euros la demi-heure et des abonnements mensuel et hebdomadaire seront aussi proposés.

The Euro-trip is still “a rite of passage”

I loved this BBC News look into interrailing around Europe (from a British perspective). I know that as a student in Angers, France from 2004 to 2005, and since then, I’ve been able to visit many countries in Europe. But the Angers year was more akin to backpacking with friends and staying in hostels. There is excitement, new discoveries, self-reflection, learning about new cultures and languages, accompanied by the occasional logistic problem, cultural barrier, perhaps pickpockets…but it’s all part of the adventure.

If you’re lucky enough to do it, go for it.

This particular article talks about the differences (modern technology, nicer hostels, the Euro…) that have changed backpacking today…but much remains the same. My favorite passage is below. What are your experiences in traveling Europe this way?

“…The essence of an interrailer is constant, Matthias Schwender, who runs an independent hostel in Prague, said to me.

“Someone who is independent-minded, that can connect to other people, that is culturally aware, wants to learn about new cultures and cities, they want to know where the locals go. They know the value of taking some time off in your life for travelling.”

Another interrailer, Titi, argued that you learn about Europe’s tumultuous history by being there, understanding what happened, rather than reading about it in books.

The Englishman who tends Monet’s Giverny gardens

The New York Times has an interesting profile of the Englishman who is head of the grounds at Giverny’s Monet estate gardens, James Priest. Excerpts below.

Keeping Abloom the Inspiration for Masterpieces
By SUZANNE DALEY
Published: July 26, 2011

GIVERNY, France — James Priest stood on a footbridge overlooking the lush Japanese-style lagoon at the bottom of Claude Monet’s garden, pleased with what he saw.
Enlarge This Image

It was here that Monet painted the water lily series that hangs in the Musée de L’Orangerie in Paris.

“Some people go into the museum and they say — ‘wow,’ ” Mr. Priest said. “But I get that feeling standing here. Looking at this makes your head spin. It makes your heart boom — just like his paintings do.”

Mr. Priest, who is British, likes it even better in the evening when the visitors are gone, a solitary view he can relish whenever he wants. He took over last month as head gardener of the grounds that surround Monet’s pink stucco country house here, where the painter lived and worked during the last four decades of his life.

No one has made much ado about handing over an iconic French garden to an Englishman, he said. But he does blanch when asked if parts of the garden — with their wild tangle of flowers — reflect more of an English style than the formal, symmetrical style of French gardens.

“Oh, you must not say that,” he said, looking just a little bit panicked. “It is a unique garden, neither French nor English. It’s an artist’s garden, a dreamer’s garden.”

“This is France,” he added. “They cut off people’s heads for saying less than that.” …

Mr. Priest was raised in England and studied gardening there, but he has lived in France for some 30 years, much of it married to a Frenchwoman and tending the gardens for the Rothschild family estate in Chantilly, on the outskirts of Paris, called Royaumont.

At first, Mr. Priest took his new job at Giverny in stride. But having spent much of the last few weeks giving interviews, he says the weight of the task of caring for one of France’s most famous gardens is sinking in. “I know this sounds silly,” he said. “But it’s only little by little that I’m realizing the aura around this place. I was quite naïve really.”…

Plenty of sunshine ahead in Paris…and France

After a few cloudy days, summer is finally here. Be ready for sunshine in Paris and elsewhere in France. Sunday will particularly be spectacular all over the country (see image below from this website). It will be hot though, hitting up to 85 (29) on Sunday and 92 (33) on Monday! You can check out local weather at Meteo France.

Get out and enjoy the sunshine!

Categories: France, travel Tags: , ,

France’s Fête de la musique June 21, RER interruptions …

Today is the 30th annual Fête de la musique (Festival of music), a French tradition across the country. Despite the rainy weather in Paris, expect bands in the streets (in addition to pubs and bars) of all different flavors.

Learn more about the agenda at the website above.

For those not in Paris, there are many concerts elsewhere in France. Check with your local tourism office or city hall.

In Paris today, there will be some delays on the RER suburban rail lines, notably RER B, which connects downtown Paris to Roissy Charles de Gaulle airport. Information below from RATP’s website.

Mardi 21 juin 2011, État du trafic à 9h15 : Trafic normal sur les réseaux Métro, Bus et Tramway.

Préavis du syndicat CGT concernant les lignes A et B du RER zone RATP :
RER A :
Trafic quasi normal.

RER B :
1 train sur 2 entre Denfert Rochereau et Robinson / Saint Rémy-lès-Chevreuse.
Pas de trafic entre Denfert Rochereau et Gare du Nord.

Prévisions pour la journée :

RER zone RATP

RER A :
3 trains sur 4 en moyenne sur la journée
(interconnexion maintenue à Nanterre-Préfecture)
Voir les horaires détaillés
A partir de 20h30 et tout au long de la nuit jusqu’au lendemain matin : Trafic assuré à 100%

RER B :
De 16h30 à 20h30 : 1 train sur 2 entre Denfert Rochereau et Robinson / Saint Rémy-lès-Chevreuse
Voir les horaires détaillés
Après 20h30 et tout au long de la nuit jusqu’au lendemain matin, 1 train sur 3 entre Denfert Rochereau et Robinson / Massy-Palaiseau / Saint Rémy-lès-Chevreuse.

Nota: Des précisions vous seront communiquées à partir de 9H30 pour le trafic en heures creuses (entre 10h30 et 16H30 et après 20H30).

La RATP met à la disposition de ses voyageurs
un numéro vert : 0 800 15 11 11 et pour les téléphones mobiles : wap.ratp.fr

Paris RER traffic to be slow Friday May 13th

I guess Friday the 13th is bad luck at times….

Just to give you a heads up, there will be some disruptions on the Paris RER suburban lines this Friday (metro, bus, and tram lines should not be affected).

Below you’ll see a notice from the Paris public transport service RATP. You can read an article in French about the demonstrations here.

Good luck!

Trafic normal sur l’ensemble des lignes RATP et Transilien SNCF.
A noter, vendredi 13 mai, une manifestation sur la voie publique, pour plus d’infos, cliquer sur Manifestations.

Prévisions à 24 heures pour le vendredi 13 mai 2011 :
A la suite des préavis des syndicats CGT, FO, SUD, et UNSA pour la journée du vendredi 13 mai, la RATP prévoit un trafic :

Métro : Trafic normal.
Le service sera renforcé sur les lignes 1, 4, 6 et 14 du métro.

RER A zone RATP : 1 train sur 4.
Interconnexion maintenue à Nanterre-Préfecture.
La SNCF prévoit 1 train sur 2 entre Nanterre-Préfecture et Cergy / Poissy.

RER B zone RATP :
La RATP prévoit 1 train toutes les demi-heures aux heures de pointe
entre Denfert-Rochereau et Saint-Rémy-lès-Chevreuse / Robinson.
Tous les trains auront pour départ et terminus Denfert-Rochereau.
L’interconnexion à Gare du Nord avec la SNCF ne sera pas assurée.
La SNCF prévoit 1 train sur 2 entre Gare du Nord et Aéroport Charles de Gaulle / Mitry-Claye.

Bus et Tramway : Trafic normal.

Communiqué de presse version PDF, cliquer ici.

La RATP met à la disposition de ses voyageurs
un numéro vert : 0 800 15 11 11 et pour les téléphones mobiles : wap.ratp.fr

Paris 4th most expensive city for hotels

February 23rd, 2011 1 comment

I read this on The Economist travel blog, Gulliver, and it should not come as that big of a surprise (though there seems to be an increasing number of affordable accommodation options). The original study is linked to below, and I have boldfaced Paris’ ranking. Make sure to check out my travel links section.

Russian alpha beds
Feb 16th 2011, 12:02 by A.B.

MOSCOW still has the most expensive hotel rooms of any city in the world, according to the latest annual survey (PDF) by Hogg Robinson Group (HRG). The average price of a bed in the Russian capital declined over the course of 2010 by 3% when measured in pounds (12% in roubles) to £258.67, yet keeps the city in the top slot for a sixth successive year.

Abu Dhabi, which was behind Moscow last year, plunged to 19th place, mirroring Dubai’s fall in the previous year, and for much the same reason of soaring supply. As a result New York moved up to second place with rates of £211.92, an increase of 3% on 2009.

The biggest increases were seen in Australian cities, with costs in Sydney and Brisbane soaring by 21% and 32% respectively. The report attributed to this to a strengthening of Australia’s dollar and its resource-rich economy. And it was a recovery in the financial sector that helped London avoid the downward trend shown elsewhere in Europe. Instead, its average rate rose 3% to £156.91, though this was still only enough to place it 29th out of 75 cities, below the likes of Istanbul, Johannesburg and Mumbai.

Most expensive cities:
1. Moscow £258.67
2. New York City £211.92
3. Geneva £203.42
4. Paris £200.90
5. Zurich £198.58
6. Washington, DC £193.12
7. Hong Kong £191.24
8. Stockholm £189.30
9. Doha £183.54
10. Riyadh £175.82

Christmas events in Paris, Coldplay’s new Christmas song

December 15th, 2010 No comments

Tis the season, n’est-ce pas ? In addition to the events listed by American Clubs of France, you can find more events in Paris for the holidays at this website.

According to Expatica:

“The new comprehensive english speaking guide on what’s on in Paris during Christmas and New Year’s Holidays. Where to eat, special Christmas menu; nightclubs for the best New Year’s Eve or celebrate at the theatre, ballet, opera, cabaret or burlesque: find the most amazing and unique Christmas gift with a Parisian flavour and much much more! Find out a new tip every day from now until Christmas 2010.”

One of the most helpful posts is perhaps the list of illuminated neighborhoods in Paris (see below).

Joyeuses fêtes !

Neighborhoods illuminated:

Rue de Richelieu, Paris 1
Rue Montorgueil, Passage des Panoramas, Paris 2e
Old streets of the Temple and Britain, Paris 3e
Rue Saint-Paul and Rambuteau, Paris 4e
Rue Mouffetard, Place de l’Eglise Saint-Médard and place of Contrescarpe, Paris 5e
Boulevard and the Place Saint-Germain-des-Pres and the Rue du Dragon, Paris 6e
Rue de Grenelle and Boulevard Raspail, Paris 7
Carré de Castellane, rue Royale and François 1er, Paris 8th
Streets and Vignon Caumartin, Paris 9e
Marché Saint-Quentin and Rue du Faubourg Saint-Martin, Paris 10e
Rue Oberkampf Paris 11e
Rue de Charenton and the Viaduc des Arts, Paris 12e
Avenue des Gobelins and Italy, Paris 13e
Streets of Alesia, Daguerre, and Brézin Didot, Paris 14e
Lecourbe streets and Cambronne, Paris 15e
Streets Duret, Lesueur, Pergolesi, des Belles Feuilles, Annunciation and Avenue de Passy, Paris 16e
Rue de Courcelles, Levis, Poncelet and avenue des Ternes, Paris 17e
Place and Rue des Abbesses, rue Lepic and High Montmartre, Paris 18e
Secretan Street and Avenue of Flanders, Paris 19e
Rue de Belleville, Jordan and the Pyrenees, Paris 20e …

Lastly, I leave you with my new favorite Christmas song, “Christmas Lights” by Coldplay, filmed in London.

Lyon’s Fête des Lumières starts tonight thru Dec. 11th

December 8th, 2010 No comments

Lyon is a wonderful city with a rich culture and history as well as modern innovative industries, world class food, museums, parks and architecture, not to mention the host to many events and the site of Interpol. It’s also a UNESCO World Heritage Site, as I posted before.

Its most famous event is the annual Fête des Lumières (“Festival of Lights”) which each year attracts an estimated 3 million visitors over a span of 4 days for a magnificent light show. Consider that the population of the Lyon metro area is about 1.7 million, and you realize how big that number is. I’ve been the past couple years and it’s definitely worth it. The only thing annoying is the crowds, but that’s expected. You can see some pictures from last year’s event at BBC. It has its origins when the people of Lyon lit candles to thank the Virgin Mary for saving the city from the black plague. Now it’s since 1999 a modern light show with the main sites of the city the objects of dramatic and sophisticated light animations with colorful lasers, layered digital graphics and world-renown technology. It’s really quite remarkable (the picture above is of this square, Place des Terreaux). You can see a video of the scene here.

You can find more information on the festival’s background here, and the official festival site (available in English) as well. This page has a simple list of main sites to see as well as hours of the shows (notes below). December 8th, 10th, 11th will go from 6pm to 1am, and December 9th from 6pm to midnight.

The Lyon culture site has information on the festival as well (in French).

I know I’ll be going. Have a good time!

Bien d’autres illuminations et animations visuelles se dérouleront au coeur de la ville, comme à Ainay (dans le 2ème), Gerland (7ème), Confluence (2ème), Duchère et Vaise (9ème), Plateau (5ème), Plateau de la Croix-rousse (4ème), Foch (6ème), Guillotière (3ème et 7ème) et enfin l’Ile Barbe.

Les animations seront visibles de 18H à 1H les 8, 10 et 11 décembre et de 18H à minuit le 9 décembre.

%d bloggers like this: