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TOURING TIPS

Left-Bank Hotels:

Try the Hotel Colbert, and ask for a room looking out at the towers of Notre Dame. Or try the Hotel d'Angleterre, and request a view of the quiet courtyard. You could also settle into one of the hotels on the Ile St.-Louis with a glimpse of the Seine, or at the Hotel Jeu de Paume on the inner courtyard - and avoid rooms on the noisy Rue St. Louis. Rooms in these moderately priced hotels (by Paris standards) have attached baths.

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Restaurants:

Serendipity may take care of your meals as you walk around. My wife and I stumbled upon the parasol-shaded L'Ebouillante on the Rue des Barres, a pedestrian way sloping gently from the river opposite Ile St. Louis to the Marais district. We returned there for the pleasure of eating a lazy, tasty, light meal while watching Parisians go about their daily routines.

I'd skip dining in the pricey Champs-Elysees district unless you're going to a highly recommended one- or two-star restaurant. In general, food is sharply more expensive in Paris than in the provinces.

Incidentally, if you wish to order a glass of tap water - perfectly tasty - with a meal, just ask for ``une carafe de l'eau.''

Getting out of town:

You can pick up a rental car at the Air France bus terminal on the Esplanade des Invalides. Ask the agent how to get to the Peripherique (Paris's ring road) and one of the high-speed ``A'' toll roads that get you to the point where you can wander off on charming rural roads.