Posts Tagged With: Metro

Raunchy and Sacred in Paris

July 29 2012

My mom and I are very strange, we don’t always like the ritzy neighborhoods. We are often attracted to some strange and sometimes dangerous neighborhoods. This was the case for Montmartre. We had heard horrible things about it. We were told not to visit at night or when it is dark out. That there is nothing but sex shops and pick pocketers. We got off the train prepared for the worse and wound up having a great time despite the fact we visited at night and while it was very dark (due to the rain).

We got out of the metro and immediately saw the Moulin Rouge. I was so excited! I posed for a picture in the rain. It was so colorful in neighborhood without much color. My mom and I then debated about getting back on the metro to go back to the hotel. However, I really wanted to see Sacre Coeur. We stopped outside if a sex shop that had an awning and covered ourselves up from the rain. We made sure all our belongings were hard to get to and then started our walk to Sacre Coeur. We quickly realized that the neighborhood was fine. It was like most of NYC just with more sex shops.

As we walked we found a lot of great souvenir stores. They were so cheap and had so much variety. We purchased a lot if items and browsed. We passed a lot of yummy looking bakeries and finally stopped at one (see below). Everything looked incredible. There were all different kinds of breads and desserts. I wanted everything. There was a lot of Sephardic pastries as well. We settled on chocolate and caramel beignets. I also got a chocolate cheese croissant. My 3 favorite things: chocolate, cheese, and bread. The prices were very reasonable for Paris. We finally found Sacre Coeur. There was a street of restaurants and shops leading up to it. We did more souvenir shopping, purchased a bag of cookies from the same company my mom bought from two days ago, and just browsed. Sacre Coeur is breathtaking. I loved seeing it from a distance over the last couple of days, but up close was something else. I used the restroom in a fried chicken place. I had to pay 1E but it was the cleanest restroom. We hopped on the metro and headed back to our hotel. Sadly, we were leaving for NYC the next morning.

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Categories: Europe, Family Vacation, Food, France, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Let Them Eat Cake and Walk 4 Miles

July 29 2012

We had breakfast at the hotel again. It was so delicious. I had my fill of croissants, mini baguettes, brioche, sugar rolls, and cheese. I asked them for ice this morning because I was getting sick of room temperature water. What a difference! Paris needs to learn about air conditioning and ice.

We took the metro to the Invalides stop where we purchased tickets for a train to Versailles. We didn’t have to wait long before the train arrived. The train wound up being packed! Unfortunately we chose seats that were facing the wrong direction. So we rode backwards. The train was stuffy and riding backwards was making me sick. We passed Paris’ copy/version of the Statue of Liberty. I took a really bad picture of it because I wasn’t expecting to see it. The train ride to Versailles was about an hour long.

My mom and I crossed the street and she stopped at a Starbucks to use the ladies room. Then we walked about four blocks to the chateau. I knew it was huge but a new word needs to be invented for how big Versailles really is. It was an incredible sight to see. We passed a guy dressed as King Tut which was super random and funny. We saw two enormous lines. I knew one was for ticket holders and one was for people with tickets. I got on line and sent my mom to make sure we got on the right line. We had. I had purchased an all access pass online for a lot of money (either 25E or 50E a piece-I think). The line moved very slowly. I was glad we already had tickets or we would have had to wait on two lines. About an hour later we were in. At that point I needed to use the ladies room. Time to wait on another line. There was no paper in the bathroom and I only knew this because I overheard the ladies speaking in Spanish ahead of me. However, they had their own. When they were done and told me to go in next. In Spanish I turned to them and said but isn’t there no paper. Then they bust out laughing. I waited for a stall with paper. While I waited I watched several women walk into a mirror at the bottom of the stairs.

I met up with my mom who was not happy that an art exhibit was being displayed in some of the rooms in Versailles. The art was loud and ostentatious and took away from the beauty of Versailles. We waited for our headsets that were included in the price. The headset was like a walkie talkie and I didn’t like holding it up to my ear so I took out my headphones and plugged them in. They were worked beautifully. Versailles was packed, but the beauty and architecture of the place was incredible. The audio was very informative. I just couldn’t believe that I was walking around in Versailles. I had seen these rooms in movies, documentaries, and in books. I could feel the history around me. I easily could have closed my eyes and pictured King Louis XVI and his contemporaries around me. The Hall of Mirrors was exquisite. There was a random pair of giant high heels in the room. Another room contained a pink helicopter. It seriously was a strange art exhibit.

We saw a sign for Angelina. We have been trying to get to the one on Rue di Rivoli but kept missing it because they close early. So I was like lets do this! We don’t normally eat at places that are part of historical sites because of the cost, but you only live once. There was a short line. You had to tell them whether you wanted to go to the restaurant portion or the quick take out area. We chose the take out bakery area. My mom grabbed a table and I waited on the line for food. About 15 minutes later I emerged with a water bottle, their famous Mont Blanc, and a chocolate macalon (which is basically a long chocolate macaroon). Our deserts were delicious! Now we could say we ate at Versailles. The bathroom had the cutest sign (see the picture below). There was no toilet paper again.

Next we finished up the top level and went downstairs to the children’s bedrooms. Then we did the gift shop. I got postcards and a book. We returned our headsets and went out to the entrance of the gardens. We showed our tickets to prove that we had paid the gardens entrance fee. We went on a day where the fountains were on and music was playing. I wanted to take a hop on hop off tram to see all the sites, but my mom felt 10E a person was too much (even though I was going to pay for it). Hours later my feet would regret listening to her. THE GARDENS ARE MASSIVE! They are also beautiful. You are definitely transported to another time. We posed for pictures with the fountains and statues. Then we started our long walk to the Grand Trianon. About 30 minutes later we still weren’t there so we sat on the side of the road and ate some food from breakfast. We kept going and finally saw it.

The building has a pink hue to it. We showed our all inclusive ticket again. The interior looks a lot like the interior of the chateau, but with a little less gold. They had a lot of portraits out for us to see. It was commissioned by King Louis XIV and was residence to mistresses and many of the royal maidens. Next we walked to the restrooms which weren’t the best but they got the job done. There were bees so I was seriously freaked out. We walked further down the road and saw a sign for another Angelina. That sign made us completely miss the sign for the entrance to the Petit Trianon. So we never went in there, which meant I missed seeing the theater Marie had built. We kept walking to the Hamlet (about 3.5 miles from the beginning). We were beyond exhausted at this point. I felt I could collapse right there and then. We showed our tickets again and spent about 5 minutes walking around. It felt like a zoo and we were too tired to pay attention at this point. We walked back to the area outside of the Petit Trianon (again not realizing it). We waited for the tram and paid 5E to get back to the entrance of the gardens. As we started to drive away it started to rain. We walked back to the train in the pouring rain. We decided to stop at the McDonald’s to get out of the rain and to use the restroom. This was not your average McDonald’s. It was clean and modern looking. They also had a bakery. We bought a box of reasonably priced macaroons.

We boarded the train back into Paris and it was packed. My mom and I took a seat on the floor. We didn’t want to stand for an hour. We got off at Gare d’Austerlitz. Then we took two trains to get to the Moulin Rouge.

Categories: Europe, Family Vacation, Food, France, History, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Strolling down the Champs-Élysées

July 28 2012

We started walking down Rue di Ravoli. Everyone told us this was the street with great food and shops. Originally we had planned on taking this block all the way back to our hotel. However, that would have been an hour walk. We were tired and still had a lot to see. So we decided to take it until we got super tired.

We passed a lot of bakeries and picked up some water and sweets at Paul. Everything looked so good! I just wish things were cheaper. We went into some clothing stores and eventually decided it was time to take the metro. We hopped on the metro at Saint Paul and got out at the Arc de Triomphe. We took some pictures and observed the crazy traffic circle it was on. I knew from reading posts online that you can’t cross the traffic circle and instead you need to use the underground tunnel. Once inside the tunnel there was a long line. I was so glad we didn’t have to wait on it because we had the museum pass. The tunnel was hot and smelled. Once out of the tunnel we were rushed into the staircase to climb to the top.

There were several levels within the Arc. They contained a gift shop and a bathroom. We visited both. The bathroom was very small. The stairs weren’t as bad as Notre Dame. We got to the top and were greeted with the wonderful view. There were a lot of people so you had to be patient for a perfect picture. It had a great view of the Eiffel Tower.

We climbed back down and took some pictures at the base of the Arc. Then we intended to take the Ave des Champs-Élysées all the way back to the neighborhood of our hotel. We window shopped until we got to Swarovski. My mom had me take pictures of her on the very cool crystal stairs. We people watched and I was starting to get really hungry. We passed some teen clothing store that had two hunky guys outside to draw the girls in. There was a big group of girls standing outside flirting with them. We stopped to see the Grand Palais and Petit Palais, which we were supposed to see after Les Invalides, but were too tired to. At this point my feet were killing me so we decided to hop on the metro and take it to where we were going to eat dinner.

I read about a place called Pastapapa. It sounded and looked delicious plus it was reasonably priced. There was a deal for a drink, pasta, and dessert. I ordered a big bottle of water and got penne alfredo. The penne alfredo was huge!!!!!!!! My mom helped me out with it and we still had some leftovers. It was the best pasta I have ever had! My mom agreed. There was a couple next to us eating penne with salmon which looked incredible. They ordered a chocolate caramel ice cream cake. It looked good so we ordered it as well. It was so yummy! GREAT DINNER! We went back to the hotel and soaked our feet. Then went straight to bed.

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Hanging with Quasimodo and Storming the Bastille

July 28 2012

About a block away from Sainte Chapelle was Place St. Michel. My mom and I went and took a picture. Then we headed to Notre Dame. I was really excited about finally seeing it. We walked along the Seine and people watched as we walked. When we finally turned the corner and saw it I was struck by how beautiful Notre Dame really was. We waited on a line to get in. The line to get in moved quickly and I spent the time on line just staring at the building.

Once inside we walked all around. It was very dark so the pictures I took didn’t really come out well. It was peaceful and if we weren’t in a rush to see all of Paris in two days then I would have sat and took it all in. While walking around I kept looking for the line to go into the tower. Since we couldn’t find it we finally stopped and asked someone. They told us the line was outside by the side of the building.

We went outside and saw that the line was huge! It was an entire block long. I didn’t know what to do. I really wanted to go up into the tower, but I hadn’t planned on spending a lot of time on line. I hoped the line would only be 30 minutes so I waited. My mom left me to walk around a bit. She came back 30 minutes later and I was still on line. She took everything but my camera and museum pass from me. I’m so glad she did! After another 30 minutes I was let in. You stop at a gift shop first to buy tickets. The guard saw my museum pass in my hand and let me go straight up! I got a 10 minute jump on the rest of the group. I’m glad I did because climbing those stairs were not easy. I was out of breath. When I finally got to the top I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. The view was incredible! I could have looked at it all day. I loved the gargoyles. They had so much personality. One of them was in Hunchback of Notre Dame (the Disney movie). I visited the bell tower and wasn’t too fond of the small wooden staircase. After that I thought we were headed back down, but I was wrong. Time to climb even higher! The view from the very top was fantastic. The space was tight and I was looking forward to being on solid ground again. The climb down seemed to take forever since it was now 3 levels at once. It made a lot of us dizzy. However, I am so glad I did it. The wait was worth it. It was probably my favorite part of the trip.

I met up with my mom and we started our walk to the Pantheon. Along the way we passed a lot of great stores and bakeries. We stopped in one because they had souvenirs at a decent price. I had over 20 people to buy for so I stocked up. Traffic was crazy and it was fun to watch the activities of the city as we walked. We passed a Hippy thrift store, but unfortunately they were closed. We turned a corner and looked left and there was the Pantheon. It looked like it belonged in Washington DC. We stopped at the top of the steps and sat at the base of the columns. We pulled out the remaining food from breakfast and ate. We had a lovely view of the Eiffel Tower from our position.

Time for the museum pass again. We walked around inside. The inside was filled with tributes to the French Revolution and the enlightenment thinkers. The pendulum was cool to watch. We went downstairs into the crypt and saw the tombs of the enlightenment thinkers. I have spent so much time learning about these figures and teaching them. It was strange to see them before me. We used the ladies room and then it was time to head to another site related to the French Revolution.

As we walked to the metro we passed a wedding party. The area near the metro seemed quaint, almost as if it didn’t belong in a city. The metro went outdoors and my inner 5 yr old was excited. I loved seeing the different neighborhoods as we passed by. We got off at the stop for the Bastille. I had read that a piece of the old Bastille still exists in the metro station and there is a line in the station showing where the Bastille was. We easily found it and I was so excited by it. None of the other tourists realized what it was. We exited the train and immediately saw the Place de la Bastille. There isn’t much to see. I liked the subway portion better. It is worth going to if you are a history person and just want to say you were at the site. Otherwise, you can skip it. On a different note, I had spent the last day and half looking for the famous Paris metro art nouveau signs. I finally found them around the Bastille! They were great. My mom loved them as well.

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Spending Time with the Prisoners of the French Revolution

July 28 2012

We woke up early and had breakfast at the hotel since it was included in the price. The buffet was great! There was some hot food, but I ate my weight in different breads and cheeses. They had all these sweet breads with sugar, chocolate, and jam. Bread and cheese, my kind of heaven. I took some food to eat later in the day.

We took the metro and walked a couple of blocks to Place du Chatelet. There were sphinxes. So I posed for a couple of pictures. It gave us a great view of the Conciergerie. We walked along the seine. There was a fake beach set up. We walked to Hotel del Ville. The architecture was absolutely incredible. There was a HUGE tv with bean bag chairs set up so people could watch the Olympics.

Next we walked to Sainte Chapelle. We passed the Conciergerie and Palais de Justice. We were coming back to Conciergerie since it is not a popular attraction. We took pictures from the outside of the Palais de Justice. We joined the line for Sainte Chapelle. The line moved very quickly. Then there was a second line for tickets. We got to skip that line because of the Paris Museum Pass. The bottom level is pretty much the gift shop. We bought some pens for people. We took the winding stairs (very claustrophobic) to the room with all the stained glass. I was expecting to be amazed, but I wasn’t. It was just pretty. They were doing some construction work which took away from it. People hyped the windows up so much so I had high expectations. I couldn’t believe it was just one room. We exited by the Palace de Justice and headed next door to the Conciergerie.

We used the Paris Museum Pass again. The Conciergerie is where they held Marie Antoinette before they beheaded her. We got to see her cell and what the other cells looked like. We also got to see items from the revolution. I enjoyed it. They had picnic tables so we sat down and ate our leftovers from breakfast for lunch. Then we used the ladies room and left.

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Short Man Huge Sarcophagus

July 27 2012

After the Eiffel Tower our plan was to walk to Invalides. My mom decided to stop a couple blocks away from the tower to look at souvenirs. I didn’t eat on the plane so the hunger was starting to kick in. I waited outside the stores and ate crackers while she browsed.

I had walking directions to the Invalides, but they seemed wrong. We kept stopping people to ask for directions but everyone told us our directions were correct. We just under anticipated how long the walk would be in a straight line. We finally found it.

We walked around to the front of the building, which has great architecture. We took out our Paris Museum Pass to use for the first time. We bought a 2 day pass at the airport. We walked right in and they stamped our pass.

The courtyard looked like it was undergoing renovation. The statue of Napoleon was very life like. We made our way to the area that his tomb. My mom was surprised how large his tomb was. It actually was a beautiful sarcophagus. There were two floors to walk around and a mini gift shop.

Next we did the bottom floor of the museum. We saw lots of armor from different time periods! It was all very fascinating. We decided not to do the second floor because we still had so much to do. We used the bathroom and left. It was raining so I decided not to walk to our next destination. We hopped on the metro and headed to the Madeline.

Once we came out of the Madeline I decided I was still hungry so we stopped at Fauchon. Everyone told us to go here. They have beautiful but expensive macaroons. I just bought a cheese roll. It was good and hit the spot. We crossed the street to the Madeleine. The view from the steps was fantastic. You could see the obelisk in the distance. The Madeleine is free and I was glad about that. It only took us about 10 minutes to walk around and see everything. It was pretty, but boring.

We then walked back to our hotel to see if our room was ready.

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Climbing to New Heights in Paris

July 27 2012

Before arriving I knew about the elevator situation. Some of the elevators were down because of repair. This was causing long lines for tickets. I had resigned myself to the fact that I would not be going to the top of the Eiffel. I had decided just to walk to the 2nd level.

After an eight hour plane ride and not sleeping for over 24hrs I thought it would be a smart idea to do the Eiffel Tower first. I have no idea what I was thinking. We took the train from our hotel to the tower. The view approaching the tower was amazing!

We waited on line for the stairs. The line was directly in the sun and we were melting. It was also about to rain so the humidity was ridiculous. I was drained before we even started climbing the stairs. The stairs felt like they never ended. I just wanted to sit down and catch my breath. I kept chugging water. This was so not the thing to do after a long plane ride, lack of sleep, and a time difference.

We finally got to the first level and I sat and rested for a while. When I finally felt like I could move I walked around. The view was beautiful. I took tons of pictures. It was worth the climb. It was a great orientation to the city of Paris. We debated walking to the second level, but I was just way too exhausted.

We spent time shopping at the gift shop. We used the tiny bathroom and started our climb down. It started to drizzle as we walked down. It was cool watching the elevator as we walked down. One couldn’t help but admire the workmanship on the tower

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