Our overnight train arrived at Gare de Bercy, Paris in an early and crisp October morning. Armed with a metro map printed from my home computer, we had no problems negotiating the City subway system to get to our hotel, the Relais Bosquet near Eiffel Tower.
Paris' Metro is cleaner, better run and easier to use than Rome's. We bought two-day unlimited ride passes which cost $18 a person and used them repeatedly. As in Rome, not all metro stations in Paris have elevators or escalators so we did plenty of exercise climbing up and down the stairs those two days. Our hotel is located in a section of town that is full of restaurants, bakeries, flower and tailor shops. People filled the sidewalks going places while other folks sitting in sidewalk cafes observing the hurried ones.
Lee at Eiffel Tower
View from the Seine River Cruise
Seine River Cruise. We boarded a cruise parked on the river near the Eiffel Tower. The one-hour trip costs $15 a person and is a good way to view various monuments and bridges along the Seine.
Champs Elysees. A wide boulevard with lots of trees, people and commercial places. We had lunch here then went to the next site.
Sidewalk cafe on Champs Elysees
Arc de Triomphe. Erected to celebrate French military victories. This huge arch is located in a circle where Champs Elysees traffic is crazily mixed with traffic dumped from four or five other streets. I like the sculptures and all the intricate details carved onto the arch.
Arch de Triomphe
The Louvre. For people who were short on time like us, we had to settle for the Louvre from the outside. We walked around and looked at various buildings on the compound including I M Pei's glass pyramid.
Saturday, October 13th
Versailles Chateau. Our Eurail train pass provided us free transportation to the Versailles which is about 45 minutes from Paris. Walking toward the compound, we were approached by groups of vendors hawking anything from plastic Versailles models to wind-up air planes while Donna Summer's "She Works Hard For The Money" blaring in the background. We decided to visit the garden instead of getting in line, buying tickets and visiting the chateau. The Versailles chateau is big and imposing but the garden is so immense and impressive. It has water falls, walks, ponds, pools, sculptures, and of course, perfectly manicured landscaping. Tree and shrubs were pruned to the exact same size and all kinds of fall flowers were in display. It must have taken a small country's Gross National Product to construct and maintain this place. Our trip to Versailles took about four hours but in my book, this is a MUST SEE.
In front of the Versailles
A parade going by
Montmatre. An interesting neighborhood built on a hill and has a Bohemian flavor. You can get there by accessing the Abbesses Metro Station. I like this place a lot. We walked through various streets, window-shopped and had lunch at a sidewalk café. As we were sitting there, a parade came by. We enjoyed the music and the people in colorful clothing and hats. I rate this place a MUST SEE.
Sacre Coeur. An immense church built way up on a hill overlooking the City. We walked up the winding streets from the Montmatre Area to this church while fending off vendors. They were having some kind of festival and the place was filled with people. We stood on an outside balcony for a long time admiring the church's architectural details and the view of the City. I would have loved to be here when it's nice and quiet and therefore, I rank this place a MUST SEE when it doesn't have festivals.
Good bye everyone!
(Written October 14, 2007)
Chinatown. a metro ride to Porte de Choisy will take you to Paris Chinatown. Two parallel streets house Asian restaurants, grocery stores, shops and churches. We didn't spend much time here.
We took the metro to Musee d'Orsay neighborhood and had dinner at a restaurant nearby. France was playing England in the semifinal game of the Rugby World Cup and the restaurant was filled with fans. The atmosphere was exciting and our foods of chicken and steak were excellent. We then went back to Champs Elysees to have a nightcap of beer, café and desserts.
What do you think?
Tue, 11th August, 2009
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Autumn has begun and the rows of ash trees lining the streets have started changing colors. It was a beautiful sight to see. I spotted a couple of cafes where we will spend time in. After dropping our luggage in the room, we set out to see the City of Lights. We had a list of places we wanted to visit and at the end of our three-day stay; we were able to visit them all. We weren't equally impressed by all the sites we visited but overall, it was time well spent.
Eiffel Tower. Unbeknown to me, the Rugby World Cup had been going on for days in Paris and the sponsors took over the ground near the Eiffel. They had set up tents and shops which attracted large and loud crowds. It was hard to imagine that this is supposed to be a romantic place when there was that much commotion going on. We walked around for a while and moved on.
Sunday, October 14th.
Time to go home. Our vacation has ended. We packed our bags, took the train to Charles De Gaulle Airport and flew home this morning. Our flight will soon arrive at DFW where Stephanie and Julian are awaiting us. I am writing this blog on the plane and can tell you this has been the most memorable trip for Lee and me.
While we're looking forward to seeing our family, we're already talking about our next trip. This trip has gone so smoothly and we'd done everything we'd wanted to do. When I have time, I will write down a few pointers to help your future travels to Europe. Thanks for reading my blog and sharing your thoughts. I can't wait to pick up Julian and hold him tight.