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Trip Report My Visit to France

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This was orignialy written on associatedcontent.com where I am jobythebay. I have changed it a bit to fit in here.

We went in March. The weather was cool - in the 50s. It didn't rain much but I doubt if you go in March that you will avoid rain. If we could have gone in the spring that is truly the time to go to Paris - as the song says.

Day 1 I suggest since you will be jet lagged you take a walk around the area in which you are staying and get a lay of the land. We rented an apartment. You may have a refrigerator in your hotel room. This is a good day to go into a local market or the much larger Monoprix for food.

Day 2 This is a great day to take the hop on/hop off bus tour. You will get to know Paris and where the highlights of your trip will be. We did the whole bus loop which was 10 stops not getting off until we got to Notre Dame which is where decided to start the tour from. You will find lots and lots of souvenir shops. I bought quite a few items. I thought they were reasonably priced. Scarves are very "in" in Paris. You can pick up a nice one from $5.00 to $15.00.

Day 3 If I had to do this trip again I would build in somehow more than 8 days. On day 2 we walked almost 7 miles. For some that may not be a lot but if your feet bother you a day of rest would be nice.

This was our day to visit The Arc de Triomphe. Note in spite of all the information we had no one told us that there are 200+ steps to the top. The steps are spiral making it even more difficult. It was worth the walk up. Going down was easy. At the top you'll notice that 12 avenues come off of The Arc de Triomphe including the Champs Elysées. It was interesting to see the city from the top. It looked like spokes on a wheel and all the spokes looked the same.

We took the red bus to the Eiffel Tower but just passed through. Note: Museums are closed one day a week for the most part. Check so you don't walk to Rodin like we did only to find it closed. From the closed museum we went across the street to Musee de l'Armee and walked through World War 1 and World War 2 exhibits. This was not a highlight. My husband likes these things and since we were right across the street we went. I would highly recommend a museum pass. It will save you money and you can bypass any long lines you encounter with it. Afterward we went next door to the gold dome where Napoleon's crypt lies.

It was now time to go to the Eiffel Tower. The wait was actually longer than when we had walked by. Your best bet will be first thing in the morning. We had a 45 minute wait and went to the top in something like a gondola. The views are amazing. I have published a slideshow of this trip.

Day 4 Another suggestion is to buy metro station tickets in bunches of 5. They can be bought at a machine. The metro station is huge and clean. Our first stop was the Rodin Museum. The Thinker is outside. The garden area was large and I imagine in the spring it is beautiful. There are many well known sculptures outside including Gates of Hell.

From there we went to the Sewers. There was no guide on this day. There is a guide on some days. We spent ½ an hour. The ticket guide said about 45 minutes. At one point it was very smelly but my husband found it all fascinating. At this point you'll get chance to walk along the Seine River. We walked to Musée d'Orsay. This is the left bank and you'll see many paintings for sale and people painting. Whistler's Mother was a highlight as well as some famous Monets, Van Gogh's self portrait, Cezanne's fruit, Renoir's dance, and lots of pictures that would be X rated. The museum was easy to follow because on each of the four floors the exhibits were off the hallway, just one or two deep and circled the whole interior of this very pretty museum.

Day 5 We took the train to Versailles. It is huge. A kingdom in actuality. I've never seen anything like it. There were fountains and water ponds everywhere. The bushes were all carved and ready for plants. What impressed us the most inside were the hall of mirrors which is a long hall with perhaps 24 chandeliers and mirrors on each side. Gold statues held up some of the chandeliers. In general I didn't like the museum collection. The art was dark and military. You will be able to take a mini-train (That's how large this place is!) to several stops one of which was Marie Antoinette's house and also the Grand Trillion. I wasn't impressed with Marie's house. The lobby area is pretty with a gold staircase and the fact that she had her own house is impressive with the largest pool table I've seen but I thought it would be grander.

Walking around the house outside was impressive. We loved the rock! One of the Louis had it made on the grounds at a man made pond. I also liked the Lovers which Marie had commissioned. The Grand Trillion was a palace - lots of sculptures in and out. Napoleon and other Kings stayed there. Another stop was at the Canal where if you have time stop and get a waffle.

We had enough time to get to the Veux Mouchez. This is the larger of the Seine tour boats. It holds 900 people though it wasn't nearly full. The city at night is pretty though to call Paris the city of lights - well I think that's pushing it. The Eiffel Tower was truly amazing.

We ended our day at the Center George Pompadou which is enormous. The building is the most unusual I've seen and too large to take a picture of. It holds The Museum of Modern Art, an enormous library, wi-fi everywhere and very few people under the age of 30.

Day 6 We started with the Jewish Museum which was the only museum in which we have been that allowed no photos even without a flash. It was about the holidays and customs. We thought it was well done. The Museum wasn't crowded. You'll learn a lot about the Dreyfus affair, circumcision, and marriage.

From there we went to the Picasso Museum. We saw the Self Portrait, 1901 and Two Women Running on the Beach.

We then went to the Memorial to the Holocaust which was incredibly well done. Outside was a large star on the building and a big cylinder like a gas chamber with the names of the concentration camps on it. We got inside and like many museums not a lot was in English. The first place we went to was the eternal lamp (not real). There were quite a few people including many school groups all of whom were attentive. Many museums have sheets with explanations in about a dozen languages but the videos and a lot of the narrative was in French. I was most interested in the people whose stories were in English, and the floor dedicated to the children of the Holocaust. Only one video was graphic and it said so on it. There were lots of photographs and a whole room on menorahs.

Then we went to Notre Dame. My husband walked the close to 400 steps. I decided not to go so I had cappuccino at a pub. My husband loved the chimeras which different than gargoyles.

We went to the Archeological Crypts which were in the park across the street not at Notre Dame. We are still trying to understanding exactly what that was all about!

Day 7 We took the train to the Louvre and spent about 4 ½ hours there. I would suggest checking your coat where ever you go if you can. . This was the most impossible place to figure out. . Everyone was lost - not just us. The highlights: Mona Lisa, Winged Victory and Venus de Milo.

We walked across the Toulleries which unfortunately since it isn't spring wasn't all that pretty but it's a great park. Sculptures, a trampoline, fountains, crepe vendors, and a carousel just to name a few of the treats here

We went to the Museum de L'Ongery which is famous for Monet's panels of his water lilies. You'll see other well known artists there as well. This museum is not part of the museum pass so you may want to skip it.

Day 8 Today we went to Sacre Coeurwhere you will see a spectacular view of Paris. You can walk up the steps or take the venicular up to the church.

Down the hill is the Dali Museum which was very small. If you've been in the one in Florida you might want to skip this one. This area, Montmarte, is a haven for painters and perhaps even more patisseries than I had seen previously It's a charming area.

Continue heading down hill and you'll find Moulin Rouge where you can read a well done time line. I am going to leave you at The Musee de L'Erotisme. This was something else indeed. There were seven floors of every culture dating back to 500AD. There were two special exhibits and a 45 minute video.

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