Rick Steves' Travel Blog

I'm sharing my travel experiences, candid opinions and what's on my mind. If you think it's inappropriate for a travel writer to stir up discussion on his blog with political observations and insights gained from traveling abroad, you may not want to read any further. — Rick

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Coming home at midnight after a great evening in Paris with no one to drunk dial, I shot this little video clip for you instead. The world’s a good place, full of good people, and even though there was a light rain falling when I shot this, I just needed to step onto the balcony and marvel at the Eiffel Tower.

This is Day 55 of my “100 Days in Europe” series. As I travel with Rick Steves’ Europe Tours, research my guidebooks, and make new TV shows, I’m reporting on my experiences across Europe. Still to come: Ireland, England, Scotland, Germany, Switzerland, and more. Thanks for joining me here on my blog and via Facebook.





Overcome by the merging of my love of Paris and my love of guidebooks while enjoying Paris’ Panthéon, I just had to shoot this little clip.

This is Day 54 of my “100 Days in Europe” series. As I travel with Rick Steves’ Europe Tours, research my guidebooks, and make new TV shows, I’m reporting on my experiences across Europe. Still to come: Ireland, England, Scotland, Germany, Switzerland, and more. Thanks for joining me here on my blog and via Facebook.





The big Eiffel Tower question: How high is high enough? Going up the Eiffel Tower is one of the great travel thrills in Europe. Given the cost, the long lines, and the time involved, a big question for many is: How high to go up? For €11 you can ride to the first level (200 feet up) and the second level (400 feet up). And for €17 you can ride all the way to the top (900 feet up). For me, the best view is from the second level (the top is actually higher than it needs to be to see Paris). But it is a thrill to be at the top of the tower. With this clip, you can actually see the same view from each level and decide what’s best for your visit.

(This is Day 53 of my “100 Days in Europe” series. As I travel with Rick Steves’ Europe Tours, research my guidebooks, and make new TV shows, I’m reporting on my experiences across Europe. Still to come: Ireland, England, Scotland, Germany, Switzerland, and more. Follow along at http://www.ricksteves.com/blog.)





Rick Steves with iPhone and book

Photo: thetravelphile.com

Once upon a time, long ago, before the Internet, there was a Rick Steves guidebook called Mona Winks which contained historic walks and tours of Europe’s 20 greatest museums — “take-you-by-the-hand self-guided walks to Europe’s most exhausting and frightening cultural obligations.” Those tours survive to this day in our various city guidebooks and on our free Rick Steves Audio Europe app. While in Paris, I’m reviewing all the existing audio tours (and charting out new ones for Rue Cler and the Père Lachaise Cemetery) and I met a woman actually following a ripped-out chapter from her 20-year-old copy of Mona Winks. Back then, I remember encouraging people to rip up their guidebooks (and making that more palatable by offering this deal: send back the pieces and $5, and I’ll mail you a new Mona Winks guidebook…intact).

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This is Day 52 of my “100 Days in Europe” series. As I travel with Rick Steves’ Europe Tours, research my guidebooks, and make new TV shows, I’m reporting on my experiences across Europe. Still to come: Ireland, England, Scotland, Germany, Switzerland, and more. Thanks for joining me here on my blog and via Facebook.





One of history’s greatest megalomaniacs was Napoleon Bonaparte. I’m forever enthralled by the majesty of his tomb and the memorials to his family surrounding it. He put his son and siblings on various thrones around Europe: brother Joseph, who was King of Naples and Spain; brother Louis, who was King of Holland; brother Jérôme, who was King of Westphalia; son Napoleon II, who was King of Rome; sister Elisa, who was Grand Duchess of Tuscany; and lots of nephews and nieces. It got me thinking about autocrats, political nepotism, and how lonely it would be if the only people you could really, really trust were relatives.

This is Day 51 of my “100 Days in Europe” series. As I travel with Rick Steves’ Europe Tours, research my guidebooks, and make new TV shows, I’m reporting on my experiences across Europe. Still to come: Ireland, England, Scotland, Germany, Switzerland, and more. Thanks for joining me here on my blog and via Facebook.





I’m in Paris, updating my Rick Steves Paris guidebook and snapping photos of various observations I’m making along the way.

People come to Paris for many reasons. You’ll see many couples from Asia dressed up as if getting married at the iconic viewpoints. This couple from Singapore (in beautiful wedding dress and suit) explained to me that they plan to get married in six months and were just here with a photographer to get their wedding shots taken.

wedding couple and photographer at cafe

On this visit to Paris I’ve been particularly tuned in to the fun people enjoying their first trip out of the USA are having in France. I keep running into one delightful woman — a Roman Catholic sister from Indiana — who is wonderstruck by how amazing Paris is. Unsophisticated as she may be, she is doing everything right — picking up local words, talking to every local she can, and enjoying some of the greatest artistic and cultural experiences the world has to offer. It’s the childlike joy, wonder, and wide-eyed enthusiasm of travelers like her that make my work particularly rewarding.

excited woman with phone

With a man like Donald Trump in the White House it’s hard to avoid thinking about him while traveling. Of course, France just rejected their Trumpish candidate and elected Emmanuel Macron instead. The contrasts are thought-provoking: When he’s not at the White House, our leader lives in several floors of a Manhattan skyscraper he owns — and we spend millions of dollars a month for its security. Until the election, Macron lived in this simple apartment (on Rue Cler) and his security was much less expensive. A friend of mine, Slim — the receptionist at my favorite hotel on Rue Cler — lived on the floor above him.

emmanuel macron's previous residence

Some people dress up before going to museums. Their primarily mission: to take selfies of themselves in front of art they forget to look at.

woman taking selfie in front of art

Visiting the Mesopotamian section of the Louvre, it occurred to me that many Western travelers head directly to the Western art (the ancient Greek and Renaissance masters) wing while many Middle Eastern travelers seem to focus on the great art from their corner of the world. When visiting great museums like the Louvre, consider being less ethnocentric in your sightseeing. If you are Western, venture into the less Western exhibit halls.

mesopotamian art wing louvre

This is Day 50 of my “100 Days in Europe” series. As I travel with Rick Steves’ Europe Tours, research my guidebooks, and make new TV shows, I’m reporting on my experiences across Europe. Still to come: Ireland, England, Scotland, Germany, Switzerland, and more. Thanks for joining me here on my blog and via Facebook.





In our guidebook work, we love to identify a travel challenge and find a fix. For example, there are two problems with hotel breakfasts in Paris: They are overpriced, and they stop you from enjoying a very Parisian experience…breakfast at the corner café. Knowing we had travelers in the Rue Cler area staying at our many recommended neighborhood hotels, we talked a café (Brasserie Aux PTT) on Rue Cler into offering a “deux pour douze” breakfast special to our guidebook readers: two classic Parisian breakfasts for €12. Part of our research chore is checking in to see if special deals like these really work for our readers. And, as you’ll see in this clip, “deux pour douze” is still a winner on Rue Cler.


What’s your best breakfast tip for enjoying great cities in Europe?

This is Day 49 of my “100 Days in Europe” series. As I travel with Rick Steves’ Europe Tours, research my guidebooks, and make new TV shows, I’m reporting on my experiences across Europe. Still to come: Ireland, England, Scotland, Germany, Switzerland, and more. Thanks for joining me here on my blog and via Facebook.





For me, my personal safety in Europe is the same as in the USA: I don’t give it much of a thought. But I am fully aware that there’s a huge risk of petty, nonviolent purse snatching and pickpocketing. Thieves in Europe target American tourists — not because the thieves are mean…but because they’re smart. We’re the ones with the good stuff in our purses and wallets. I’ve been preaching that (and the importance of wearing a money belt) for decades. And for decades (probably 4,000 travel days in Europe) I’ve never been hit. Well, my happy streak ended: I was just pickpocketed.

Thieves know where the crowds are — and where the tourists are — and they are very, very deft at their work. A petite bump and a slight nudge getting off the Métro in Paris and bam — wallet gone. OK, I admit, it’s my fault…I wasn’t wearing my money belt. And it cost me. I went back to the hotel, referred to the emergency section in the appendix of our Paris guidebook, and set about canceling my credit cards. I lost my driver’s license, two credit cards, and some money.

It’s funny because just last week I saw some street thieves on a trolley in Lisbon. I was feelin’ pretty cocky, and took some photos in preparation for posting them with the following text:

There’s a thief on this trolley car. Lots of tourists are pickpocketed in Europe, and I’d bet half of all the incidents are on public transit — particularly on routes popular with tourists, like trolley #28 in Lisbon. Looking out the window of our trolley, my guide said, “See those three women? They’re pickpockets. Be on guard.” They settled into the crowded trolley, and I got to be the sly observer.

I don’t think the thieving women knew I was on to them, so I had a little fun. With one, I pretended to be concerned about her personal vulnerability and warned her with sign language to watch her mobile phone and that there were likely thieves on this very bus. It was fascinating watching the thief team communicate: to see their ready hands and darting eyes and notice their patience as they stalked the people who came and went. And every time I raised my camera to snap a shot of my TV producer, Simon Griffith, one of the thieves raised her map to cover her face.

It may be entertaining to see thieves in your midst, but they are cleverer than we are and sooner or later, if you’re not on guard, wearing a money belt — or at least keeping everything properly zipped and buttoned — you’ll be a victim.

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This is Day 48 of my “100 Days in Europe” series. As I travel with Rick Steves’ Europe Tours, research my guidebooks, and make new TV shows, I’m reporting on my experiences across Europe. Still to come: Ireland, England, Scotland, Germany, Switzerland, and more. Thanks for joining me here on my blog and via Facebook.





It’s so great to be in Paris. You know, I love great cities all over Europe. But, seriously, there is no place like Paris. Each morning I set out from our hotel with a list of sights to check for our Paris Guidebook. Today I was walking to the newly renovated Picasso Museum. Overwhelmed with the vitality and warmth of this city, I had to stop and make this little “feelin’ groovy in Paris” clip. It’s at the St. Paul Métro stop in the Marais neighborhood. (Little did I know that in 24 hours I’d fall victim to a pickpocket. That story is tomorrow’s post.)

This is Day 47 of my “100 Days in Europe” series. As I travel with Rick Steves’ Europe Tours, research my guidebooks, and make new TV shows, I’m reporting on my experiences across Europe. Still to come: Ireland, England, Scotland, Germany, Switzerland, and more. Thanks for joining me here on my blog and via Facebook.





France, like America, reached a fork in the political road in its last election. We turned one way (by about 80,000 votes in three key states out of a nation of 320 million) and France turned the other (by about 30 percent). They elected the candidate of hope, Emmanuel Macron — and rejected the Trump-like candidate of fear, Marine le Pen.

I’m in Paris, which seems to be breathing a post-election sigh of relief. In a park, being out and about with Parisians at play, I have an appreciation of the beauty of a society that chooses the collective good rather than a vast gap between rich and poor. This scene feels like a rejection of the angry, anti-Europe, small-government message of Le Pen for a festival of diversity and government-funded public spaces.

This is Day 46 of my “100 Days in Europe” series. As I travel with Rick Steves’ Europe Tours, research my guidebooks, and make new TV shows, I’m reporting on my experiences across Europe. Still to come: Ireland, England, Scotland, Germany, Switzerland, and more. Thanks for joining me here on my blog and via Facebook.