This Business Travel Guide to Paris is provided in interview with Scott Alboni, CTM UK/EU Marketing Director.
Scott Alboni is based in CTM’s European head office in London, and travels frequently to Paris on business. All opinions and recommendations are the interviewee’s own. CTM recommends all travelers conduct their own thorough, independent research into their travel destination(s) prior to making any travel decisions, and take out adequate travel insurance prior to travel.
Q. What makes Paris a great place to visit for business?
A. Paris as a destination for business travel is less expensive than many other major cities in Europe such as London, Frankfurt and Madrid, so business travelers can spend less on a trip while enjoying a fantastic range of hotels and restaurants. Even if your time in Paris is short, it is a city that lends itself to being explored easily – by walking down its cobbled streets or main strips you can easily enjoy the beautiful architecture and Parisian landmarks along the way.
Q. In your opinion, which is the best area of Paris to stay in when traveling for business, and why?
A. If you are staying within central Paris you can’t go too wrong, but as a large city it’s always wise to stay close to the areas you need to visit. I would recommend staying in the following areas: Champs Elysées, Notre Dame, St Germain des Prés, Concorde and Opéra. These areas offer a large range of restaurants, attractions and shopping as well as being well connected with public transport and an abundance of taxis.
Some top hotels to check out for the business traveler:
- Marriot Rive Gauche Hotel & Conference Center
- Pullman Paris Tour Eiffel
- Hotel Vernet – Champs Elysees
Q. Any recommendations for effective communication where French is not your mother-tongue?
A. English is becoming more widely spoken in Paris but attempting a few words in French will get you a long way and make your interaction with locals a lot easier.
The basics you may need to know:
- Bonjour: Hello
- Merci: Thank you
- Au revoir: Good bye
There are also a number of apps on the market to help you with short phrases and sentences to help you navigate the city and grasp the basics during a business trip. I highly recommend iTranslate Voice 2 for those with a smartphone, which allows conversations in 40 languages via the app.
I highly recommend iTranslate Voice 2 for those with a smartphone, which allows conversations in 40 languages via the app.
Q. If recommending a place to hold an unforgettable business meeting in Paris, where would it be and why?
A. Depending on the type of meeting or corporate event you are trying to organize there are a number of options:
- Smaller business meetings can be held in hotels, many of which offer beautiful settings from the period of Parisian buildings they now occupy.
- For larger corporate events and exhibitions, the Grand Palais is a magnificent building offering plenty of space.
- For an entertainment-style meeting experience, I highly recommend hiring a boat to cruise down the River Seine.
- For a more corporate setting, try out the Parc des Expositions – a large convention center conveniently located near to CDG Airport.
- And for a space which offers a bit of fun and the Moulin Rouge experience, the Musee des Arts Forains offers three thematic rooms for a truly unique business meeting or corporate event.
Q. What is the best way to get from Paris CDG airport to the city?
A. The quickest and easiest way is by taxi, readily available from outside the airport and offering flat rates between 40-55 Euros depending on the day and time. Uber is also widely available in Paris.
Le Bus Direct (formerly known as Air France Bus) offers a bus service into the center of Paris, making several stops close to Metro stations. Approximately 12-21 Euros one-way depending on where you get off, and takes between 45 mins – 1 hour.
Roissy bus service also runs direct from CDG Airport to Opera. Approximately 11.50 Euros one-way.
Train (RER B) is not recommended as tourists and business travelers can be targets for robbery or pick-pockets.
Q. If traveling intra-Europe from Paris, what is the best form of transport for business travelers and why?
A. Depending on your destination, flying tends to be the most common way of travelling around Europe. For destinations neighboring Paris, there are also some quick and affordable rail options. Eurostar runs a fantastic service to London and is often cheaper and more efficient than flying. Travel time from Paris to London is approximately 2 hours. Thalys Rail connects Paris to Brussels in approximately 1.5 hours and Amsterdam in 3 hours.
Q. Top tips for conducting business at CDG AIRPORT?
A. Free Wi-Fi is available in all terminals at CDG Airport.
The Sheraton CDG is centrally located inside the airport (Terminal 2) and offers several meeting rooms. Regus also offers meeting facilities at The Dome. Both these locations offer rooms of various size and additional business services.
For travelers who don’t have access to an airline lounge, Aeroports de Paris have a lounge in Terminal 1 called ICARE. The 45 Euro access fee gives you free Wi-Fi, shower facilities and the usual food and beverages found in other lounges.
Q. Best places to conduct a working lunch / dinner in the city?
A. One of the best things about Paris is the food. The other is the wine, and both can be found to high standards and fairly inexpensively across the city. If you are a first-timer or have limited time in the city, some recommendations would be:
1. Monsieur Bleu – boasting an amazing view of the Eiffel Tower and has a popular terrace area in the warmer weather
2. Café Marly – near the Louvre art gallery
3. Le China Club – in the Bastille area
4. Josefin Restaurant at Hôtel Banke – in the Opera area
Q. Must-have app for navigating ground transport options in the city?
A. RATP (Paris metro) shows both Metro/underground stations as well as bus routes. Google Maps also comes in very handy when navigating the city on foot.
Q. Any traveler safety tips while visiting Paris?
A. Paris is considered quite a safe city, however some areas of the city are safer than others. The north of Paris is not recommended, and particularly around Gare du Nord and Gare du l’Est you should keep an eye on your wallet and personal belongings. In general, keep to well-lit and well populated areas for maximum safety. A few top tips for your safety and security:
- Watch your bags – do not leave bags open or on your back while in the Metro
- Do not leave your mobile on a table while sitting at a café or in a public square
- Do not leave unattended luggage – people are on high alert following terrorist activity in the city
- It is not recommended to buy souvenirs from street sellers, instead head to one of the many souvenir shops on Rue Rivoli
Q. Any advice for female travelers to maximiZe their safety while in Paris?
A. Female travelers should avoid the north of Paris if traveling alone at night, and the Metro. Taxis are plentiful, fairly cheap and a much safer form of transport.
Q. What’s the best way to manage foreign currency in Paris?
A. There are lots of exchange desks around the main stations and tourist areas of Paris. The best place to do this is any currency exchange on Rue de l’Opera. Always check your money before you walk away from the window.
Q. What should every business traveler experience while in Paris, and why?
A. A few of the must see attractions are the Eiffel Tower, especially at night with a glass of wine from a nearby bar. You should also take the short trip to the top for an amazing view over the city.
Walking in the streets of the Marais and St Germain des Prés areas gives you an authentic feel of Paris and soaking up some art and culture in one of Paris’s many art galleries such as the Louvre.
A walk or boat trip along the River Seine is also a great way to see the city without too much walking.
Q. What does Paris do better for business travelers than any other European city?
A. Paris is well connected to the rest of Europe and attracts a large number of international business travellers every year. Paris has a huge offering of meetings and conference spaces, and hotels and venues can facilitate almost everything you could need or want from a business trip.
Paris has a huge selection of hotels and restaurants and caters to every budget. Food is never disappointing, and the age old trick of looking for locals will land you in a fantastic restaurant no matter how it looks from the outside.
But I think the one thing Paris offers better than anywhere else in Europe is its charm and culture, easily transforming a business trip into a sightseeing city break or romantic weekend getaway.
Paris’s charm and culture easily transform a business trip into a sightseeing city break or romantic weekend getaway.
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