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After 32 Years

photo: champs elysees

The Tourist Office Moves

Paris:– Saturday, 27. December:– 'L'Office de Tourisme et des Congrès de Paris' leaves the location that it has occupied on the Avenue des Champs–Elysées since July of 1971. The famous rotating door will close forever at 19:00 on Wednesday, 31. December 2003.

Until it opens its main office in June in the Rue des Pyramides, the services of the Paris Tourist Officephoto: cafe royal opera will be dispersed to the locations listed below. None of these branch offices will offer the full range of services offered by the original Paris Tourist Office.

The closest café to the new and future Tourist Office location.

At this time, one grouped telephone number is foreseen for the various branches of the Tourist Office. This is the InfoTel.: 08 92 68 30 00. This is a toll number costing 0.34€/minute. After several euros spent listening to automatic replies, it may be possible to speak to somebody human.

The New Locations

Paris Tourist Office – American Express. Official name – Opéra – Grands Magasins
Open from 9:00 to 18:30, Monday to Saturday. At 11. Rue Scribe, Paris 9. Métro: Opéra and RER 'A' Auber. Hotel reservations possible.

Paris Tourist OfficeEspace Tourisme Ile–de –France
Beginning 2. January 2004, open daily from 10:00 to 19:00. In the Carrousel du Louvre, 99. Rue de Rivoli, Paris 1. Métro: Palais-Royal. Ile –de –France InfoTel.: 08 03 81 80 00.

Paris Tourist Office – Gare de Lyon
Open from 8:00 to 18:00, Monday to Saturday. Closed on Sundays and public holidays. At 20. Boulevard Didot, Paris 12. Métro: Gare de Lyon. Hotel reservations possible.

Paris Tourist Office – Gare du Nord – in the new Gare Ile–de–France section
Open daily from 12:30 to 20:00, except 25. December and 1. May. At 18. Rue de Dunkerque, Paris 10. Métro: Gare du Nord. Hotel reservations possible.

Paris Tourist Office – Montmartre
Beginning 2. January 2004, open daily from 10:00 to 19:00. In the office of the Syndicat d'Initiative, at 21. Place du Tertre, Paris 18. Métro: Abbesses or Lamarck –Caulaincourt.

Other information offices will be open seasonally, such as at the Tour Eiffel, from May to September.

Paris Tourist Office – To Come
A new space, somewhat smaller than the Champs –Elysées office, will function as the headquarters of the Paris Tourist Office. Currently under construction, the new focal point for visitor information is expected to open in June 2004. It will be located at 25 –27. Rue des Pyramides, Paris 1. Métros: Pyramides, Tuileries or Palais–Royal.

The Official Story

As a non–profit organization, the Paris Tourist Office, cannot afford to pay a massive hike of the rent on the prestigious premises that it has occupied on the Champs–Elysées near the Arc de Triomphe since 1971.

The Arc de Triomphe charges a modest fee for a view from its upper platform, which offers panoramic viewsphoto: new entry, rue pyramides of the Champs-Elysées, the Tour Eiffel, Montmartre and La Défense. This national monument had 1,152,448 paying visitors in 2001.

Will this be the new entry to the Paris Tourist Offie?

The Avenue des Champs–Elysées is not a national monument, and access to it is free. Paris officially calls it 'the most beautiful street in the world.' There were twelve million five hundred thousand visitors to the Notre–Dame cathedral in 2001, and eight million climbed the heights of Montmartre in the same year. There are no recorded numbers for the Champs–Elysées.

The city operates the Paris Tourist Office in co–operation with the Chamber of Commerce, and since 1997 has also functioned as the 'Bureau des Congrès,' mixing tourist information with promotion of Paris as a centre for conventions. In 2002, Paris hosted 229 meetings of international associations, to remain the world's leader.

According to official numbers, there are 134,000 employees directly concerned with the hospitality industry in Paris. Indirect workers in the industry double the figure. There are 1,452 hotels in Paris and 9,419 restaurants in the city. Taxes on the industry were based on revenues of 22.69 billion euros in 2002.

Paris' two airports handled 71 million passagers in 2001, and the Eurostar train alone carried 7.7 million passengers. The Paris transit authority RATP moved 2.6 billion passengers in the same year.

The number of hotels situated in the 8th arrondissement, where the Champs–Elysées is located, is the second highest in the city with 11.3 percent of all rooms, only slightly less than in the 9th arrondissement. Foreigners staying in hotels handily outnumber French nationals.

According to another study, 93.3 percent of visitors polled said they were visiting Paris to see its museums and monuments. Another 58.9 percent cited shopping as a primary reason. Taking part in cultural events was in third place with 40.3 percent.

So it is surprising to learn that there are some in the city administration consider it 'arrogant' to 'compel' visitors to go all the way to the Champs–Elysées near the Etoile, to find information they are seeking about museums and monuments, about tours, about shopping or cultural events, or to book a hotel with the aid of the Paris Tourist Office.

Since people living in 90 countries are regularly reading this magazine, I doubt that visitors from many more countries have not been able to find somebody at the Paris Tourist Office who speaks their language. With the dispersal of thephoto: nearby building decor multilingual Champs–Elysées' team, it is doubtful that visitors will be better served in the future than they have been in the past.

The official statement says that the implantation of a unit of the Paris Tourist Offices in the American Express headquarters near the Opéra is 'symbolic.' Going on with, 'a new epoque, a new reception, new forms of communication, the information points will multiply within the capital.'

Facade of building new the future Tourist Office location.

The new tourist information offices are supposed to be close to locations 'most frequented' by visitors. As far as the Opéra–Grands Boulevards office is concerned, the official number of visitors to the bibliothèque and museum of the Palais Garnier – the Opéra – was 431,254 in 2001.

This is probably about the same amount that can be found strolling along under the trees on the Champs–Elysées on an average sunny day.

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