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Trip Report Just Another Macarons, Hot Chocolate, Tucked into Bed by 11 Paris Report

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WARNING: This trip report will be dry (not as in witty, but as in the text book you repeatedly drooled over in college), possibly long-winded, and totally ignore most restaurants in Paris. Except the ones with macarons and hot chocolate. And I was in bed by 11pm most nights. (And I stole the report title from a comment made in a recent and controversial trip report thread, many thanks to the poster for the comment.)

The background:
A work project was put on hold and I jumped on the chance to escape for a week. I played with the idea of multiple destinations and settled on Paris. Airfares & hotels weren't insanely priced and it seemed like a good idea. Although when is Paris not a good idea?

Logistics:
Flights/Etc- skip this part if you don't care about the getting to France details
I travel carry on. I have the worst luck ever with checked baggage (lost, delayed, strikes, rain, punctures, rips, you name it), so if I'd like to have undamaged luggage with me when I arrive, carry on is best.

And then, a winter storm hit Dallas. I was booked to fly through Dallas, so I started obsessively checking the forecast, the number of open runways (2), etc. And then, a second travel notice popped up. "Due to the situation in France". Wait. What? What situation? After searching online, no situation was apparent. So, I called AA. Strikes. So, along with my carry on luck, it's clear I have France strike luck too. The previous 2 times I was in Paris there were strikes.

The night before departure, I got a robo text that my flight to DFW was cancelled. (Winter storm, ice fog, etc.) I called AA -- along with everyone else whose flight was cancelled in a huge group of cancellations. This time AA could re-book my flight (previously, they couldn't change my departure city, once my flight was cancelled they would change the departure city to LAX - which gave a lot more options). So once again, I was a go, only this time through ORD.

And then... my flight from ORD to CDG was delayed for mechanical. Something about a starter for the engines. The delay was pushed out in 1/2 hour increments. We boarded after 3 hours. And then there was an issue with the toilets. Then they tried to start the engines and they wouldn't start. After heating up the engines (they had been sitting in the snow) with an external heater (that billowed black smoke) we were ready to go. Except then we had to wait for a de-icer. It all turned into a 5 hour delay into CDG. The up side? I had more room in coach seats and did get a bit of sleep on the flight over.

Apartment - I dither when trying to decide where to stay. I looked at a few hotels around $150/night. I called Vacation in Paris and they were really nice, but I was look for something in 3 weeks, didn't want a sofa bed, no higher than 3rd floor, not too far out, etc and the options were limited. I ended up on Airbnb and found a cute little 1 bedroom in the 5th a couple of blocks uphill from the Maubert-Mutualite metro. Up two rickety flights of stairs, but a great little place. The uphill bit was a little rough at the end of a long walking day, but it was nice and downhill every morning and about a 10 minute walk to Notre Dame. I didn't use my cell phone in Paris, but did have an international plan (and Skype) on my iPad, so I was able to e-mail my apartment host and let her know my new arrival time.

Transportation - I was arriving on a Monday and departing on a Sunday and planning to go to Versailles, so I got the Navigo Découverte for zones 1-5. Easy as pie to pick up at the airport. I followed the signage through the airport to the RER, took the escalator down and bought the Navigo from the ticket counter. I had printed up a picture of myself on the home computer and cut it down, so I was ready. The girl at the counter handed me the whole pack, so I put it together myself, but other than having the picture the specified size (3cm tall x 2.5 cm wide) and a pen to sign your name, nothing more is required. The pass was great. If I wanted to pop onto the metro for two stops (and after the first couple of days, yes I did indeed!), it was no problem.

Museum Pass - I stopped at the Tourist Information in terminal 2 on the way to the RER (outside of security) and asked about the strikes as I wasn't sure if this would impact Museums that were open. They didn't know, so made some calls and said it was just civil servants, such as teachers and for now, the museums would be ok, but with a little shrug, who could tell what might happen later in the week. So, I might want to wait to buy the pass until I was actually at the first museum. I ended up buying the 4 day pass at the Cluny (no lines, no waiting) and was very happy I had it. Not only was it a line cutting pass, but an all access pass to the museum bathroom's of Paris!

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