Thursday, April 11, 2013

Betsy's Favorite Paris iPhone Apps

My wife Betsy is a much more sophisticated iPhone user than I am, admittedly that bar is low.  A friend  just asked her for the best iPhone apps Betsy has found for Paris (did I mention that we love Paris?).  Betsy rapidly fired off this reply (which is premised upon her friend staying in an apartment with wifi) -- please do add to this list if Betsy has missed anything important!

Dear ____:
Here are some apps to check out.  Keep in mind that your cell phone bills will be super high if you don't access these via the apartment's WIFI.

A final note:  DON'T take your iPhone out on the metro or in a crowded tourist area to check out too much without being well aware of your surroundings…  some iPhone swipings reported there, especially in the very touristy spots like the Eiffel Tower or Notre Dame.  ALSO, there's a very common scam on a lot of the pedestrian bridges that cross the Seine.  Someone drops a "gold" ring and then asks you if it was yours.  They get very insistent.  Then they offer to sell it to you for a "good" price (or a colleague picks your pocket during the conversation).  Keep walking - don't engage!  In general, Paris is VERY safe, much safer than most American cities, but there are pickpockets.


Here are some great apps:
  • Food Lovers Guide to Paris (probably my favorite) - by the famed food writer Patricia Wells (we think she lives in the 7th)
  • Time Out Paris
  • Paris Pastry, David Lebovitz's app, which directs you to his favorite bakeries, chocolatiers, ice cream shops, etc.
  • Louvre and Orsay museum apps
  • Velib, the Paris public bike system, which is awesome; the app tells you where to find a bike, how many bikes are available at any particular station, and how many slots are available when it’s time to return it.
  • mPassport, an app that helps you find a french doctor/dentist and make an appointment.  Also helps you translate such tricky medical phrases as "he cannot move his penis" (LOL)
  • Larousse French-English dictionary, as well as Google translate
  • there is an app called Whizzer that is an awesome idea; unfortunately it's a little short on execution.  It tells you where you can take a pee in Paris, but I've heard it's not too accurate.  You should be forewarned that if you want to use a cafe's restroom you must order a drink beforehand, or you will get screamed at.  And I am not kidding. [Ed's note: one of our children, when very young, darkened a few walls in Paris...I won't mention any names and I am sorry]
  • RATP (if you actually plan to take these modes of transport, spring for the paid version, not the lite one) - this is for the bus, metro, and light rail system - find maps, but also create a journey, find out when the next bus is coming, learn what stations are near you, which stations are under renovation, get traffic information (including strikes and demonstrations), and read timetables.
  • Yelp works just fine in Paris if you like it in the states.... 
  • Paris M&M app (free) – gives all of the latest information about the Paris museums and the current exhibitions, times, entrance fees, etc.
  • Patrimap (free) locates where you are and tells you what famous buildings or sights are in the vicinity. It’s really helpful when a visitor asks, “So, what’s that building” and you don’t know the answer.
  • “Paris Movie Walks” by My Tours offers four guided walking tours through the heart Paris that take you past sites where famous movie scenes were shot. “Bourne Identity,” “Charade”, “Amalie,” “The DaVinci Code” are just a few of them.