Tickets from our visit to Paris.
At €103 for a 2 day park hopper pass, the Disney tickets weren't cheap.

Over the Easter holidays and on Jeanette's birthday, we spent 5 days in Paris. This is the story, in a journal like fashion of what we experienced.

Generally,. Paris was an easy destination from Munich with Lufthansa regularly offering cheap priced tickets. Unfortunately for us, as this was a long weekend during the peak season, special priced tickets were not available ... at least not until the last minute, we later discovered. Tickets were purchased on Air Berlin about three weeks before the flights at the price of € 262 00 per person, return. Air Berlin all-business-class aircraft arrives at the Orly Airport, 15km south of the city of Paris.


This was also a benefit as it would be cheaper to travel into Paris city from Orly' airport. The taxi fare from Orly airport to the Hotel Victor Hugo, where we stayed cost €33 00 during the peak hour. Oh yes, two days prior to the trip, Lufthansa released new flight pricing over the Easter Break for London, Paris and some other cities for an all inclusive return price of €110.00

We found the general nature of obnoxiously rude Paris people (known as Parisians) of past experiences have changed to a people that are more gentle in nature, more smiles and generally a pleasure to be around. There was this one waiter at a restaurant in Notre Dame who took our food and drinks order rather abruptly, but we quickly sorted him out. English is widely spoken - perhaps much more than it is used in Munich.

Arriving in Paris
The Air Berlin Fokker F100 landed in Paris' Orly airport at around 8.30 in the morning.  We were surprised that there weren't any border controls, mainly because we flew into Paris from Germany.  Both countries are members of the Schengen treaty, border controls for these two countries have been abolished.  Therefore, our passports were missing those souvenir stamps - the vital proof that we were actually in Paris.

By 9.30 we were already at the hotel reception in Paris. We decided after being informed that our room is not ready, to take a tour on an L'Open Tour bus.  We purchased a 2 day ticket for €28, which gives us the possibility of touring 4 different circuits in Paris.  We also had the opportunity of stopping on any of the 51 stops and to return to the next available L'Open Tour bus, continuing where you had left off earlier.  These options were certainly great value, especially for those who want to see the most of Paris. 

What wasn't great value was the ticket itself - a simple thermal printed non-colour job which you have to keep and show each time you board the bus.  The ticket was smashed each time we put into our pockets, so making it last 2 days was challenging. When you alight the bus and pay your tickets, you also get a discounts booklet and a very uncomfortable nuclear-green headset that you can plug into listening points beside each seat to listen to tour narrations in one of six languages. We were blessed with nice sunny weather at around 15ºC most of the time.

Getting around Paris
Paris is served by two rail systems; the Métro and the RER (Réseau Express Régional or the Regional Express Network).  The Métro is the rapid transit system in Paris much like the Munich U-Bahn or London's Underground.  Each journey costs
€1.40 although you can bulk buy 10 journey packs of tickets for €10.90.  Some Métro stations are inter-linked with RER train stations.  The RER lines connect Paris into the region.  Ticket prices are dependent on distance traveled.  Our trip to Disneyland from Charles de Gaulle - Etoile station costs €6.25 per direction per person.

We are told from narrations during the tour that a Métro station is never further than 500 meters from any location although Métro stations are not always clearly marked - one can be found with a red "M", the words "Metropolitan" or simply just walk into a pedestrians underpass and hope that it is a Métro station.

We tried doing a little "Da Vinci Code" trail thing by visiting all the sites where the "Da Vinci Code" was filmed. Looking at the Mona Lisa in the Louvre was interesting, then toddling off to the Saint Sulpice Church where some of the Church scenes was filmed. We were still not able to find the "Rose Line" on the grounds by the Louvre pyramids this time. Better luck next time.
 

More about

 

The Louvre

Disneyland Resort Paris

Da Vinci Code Trail

Champs Elyseés

Open Top Paris



Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel
just outside the Louvre


During the 5 day adventure, we must have covered 30 - 35km on foot, spent time in the Louvre, Champs Elyseés, the Magdaline Church, Saint Sulpice Church, Disney Movie Studios, Disneyland Park, we toured all over Paris on an open top bus and finally, spent an evening photographing the Eiffel tower in lights.

Although Paris is not an unsafe city, it pays to always be aware of your surroundings. Like any large city, it can get nasty if you are not careful.

 

Accommodation
We picked a nice 3 star hotel called Hotel Victor Hugo over the internet via the fastbooking.com people.  It cost us €480 in total for the 4 nights we stayed in Paris (€125 for the first three nights and €105 for the last).  Not the cheapest hotel in the world, it was certainly in a very good location with Champs Elyseés (Charles de Gaulle - Etoilé station) about 1.4km away and an excellent photo point at Trocadéro also 1.4km away. 

Look at this map and locate the Trocadéro Métro station, marked with an "M" near the top left corner and then you will be able to see it's line of sight to the Eiffel tower down through the Champs de Mars park.  From the Trocadéro area, we were able to take nice evening pictures of the Eiffel tower which glitters every hour on the hour after dusk.  There were also many people, especially that of African descent selling little Eiffel tower souvenirs although their goldfish style memory can be rather annoying (five minutes after coming to ask you to buy their souvenir, they ask you again!)

Cost of Living
Paris is by no means a cheap city, judging by the price of things above which covers food, lodging, transportation and some entertainment.  There were several cabaret style shows on offer - the most famous being "Moulan Rouge" but Nicole Kidman and Ewan "Obi-Wan Kenobi" McGregor was replaced by some lesser known faces.  This and some the "Can Can" shows attracted some pretty high prices.

Breakfasts average from around €12 per person but you do enjoy the European Café scene, very much "to see and be seen", we see people sitting outside café's on the sidewalk next to each other all facing the one direction - the street!  It looked like a nice experience though although I'm not too keen on sitting in the sun, arm to arm with strangers with little possibility of communicating.... having said this, a few did wave to us frantically when our L'Open Tour bus was going past.

We found menu's posted outside almost every restaurant or brasserie (the latter being a restaurant that serves meals faster), displaying what the restaurant serves and within these menus, you will often find daily chef specials which can be reasonably priced.  Be prepared however to spend €15 and upwards per person per meal. 


Cafe de Flore
made famous as Picasso's favourite cafe.

When in France, you just have to try their specialties - Escargots (snails), Croissants, Crepes (pancakes), French Onion Soup and Foie Gras d'Oie Entier (Goose Liver Paté).  Jeanette says that the Escargots' were fantastic and we can both attest to the quality of the French Onion Soup and Crepes.  The latter may be loaded with sugar, Nutella or a mixture of just about anything savoury and sweet.  I enjoyed the ones with Nutella and Coconut shavings.

We would gladly place Paris back on the map for any European trip as it has a lot to offer in terms of sights, shopping, food and culture ... plus we must say now that Parisians are nice people.  We took a total of slightly over 700 pictures that weekend - now this is a big task to catalogue and prepare for display on the web.  We hope you enjoy the article and pictures..

 

 

Jeanette and Raymond
6th to 10th April 2007

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