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Trip Report Trois jours à Paris

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Just returned from our whirlwind three days in Paris. I am very grateful to all the dedicated, passionate Fodor’s posters for all the helpful advice. My research and your input on this site truly enriched our experience and I thank you all.

Day One- Feb. 17-18 Flight and “near disaster” journey to hotel

Quick recap, hubby is an airline employee and we have the awesome perk of flying standby when there are seats available. Typically, February is the good time to snag seats to some pretty nifty locales…like Paris! We’d been watching the loads on the flights to Paris for several weeks. It looked as if we’d have no problems flying standby out of Atlanta. I was afraid to miss out on a really great hotel first suggested by adrienne and went ahead and booked http://www.hotel-grandes-ecoles.com/, knowing that I could cancel a week out if we didn’t think we’d make it on the flight.

I felt sick to my stomach when just days before our departure, our intended flight started filling up. B (hubby) frantically started to look at other options and saw that the flight out of Chicago was wide open. This was actually better for us as it left a couple hours later than the Atlanta flight and got us in at a much more reasonable hour (8 a.m. versus 6 a.m.).

I put lots of thought into what I packed and thought I did pretty well. There was only one shirt I did not wear. I also brought a pair of sneakers that I never wore. I thought I’d need a break from my new walking shoes, but they turned out to be really comfortable. I listened to what everyone said and came prepared with layers. Luckily, the weather was exquisite. It was cold but there was plenty of sunshine and very little wind. I’d have to say I was never uncomfortable.

Our flight was lovely. Despite being so very excited, we did manage to sleep a little. How fun it was to see Paris and the Eiffel Tower as we landed! Customs was a snap and we were off! B is very frugal by nature and poo pooed the €55 cost of the cab to our hotel. He thought we were rested enough and savvy enough to tackle the RER to Luxembourg station. That and the fact that it was only around €27! That made sense as we would have no connections and it is relatively close to the hotel. Despite what could have been a catastrophe, we made it in one piece. I swear, I still shudder when I think of what could have happened.

The train was fairly crowded on the ride to our station. One thing that I did not learn on this site but every first timer SHOULD ABSOLUTELY KNOW! When on a busy train with luggage, be prepared to exit before you arrive at your stop. That means climb over people and their suitcases and stand by the door before your stop. That might be common knowledge to many, but we made a critical error. Only I made it off the train. I had no phone. B did not know where our hotel was. CRAP!!! Enter a lovely young man who witnessed our debacle. At first, the man suggested I get on the next rain and try to “catch” hubby. Uhhh, I don’t think so. Thank goodness B had an international phone. The nice gentleman let me use his phone and after a couple of tries I was able to reach B and he said he was already on the return train with W (son). What if it was W alone on the train?! I revisited that thought often during our visit and we were very careful to have him in between us whenever traveling on the metro. Worst case scenario, W did have the address and phone number of our hotel in his iPod. The man did not want to leave me until I had B in my sight across the track. So very sweet.

Yes, we had to climb the stairs with our luggage, but it wasn’t a big deal. How exciting it is to see Paris unfold itself for the first time as we exited the station! Earlier I had mapped out the exact route to our hotel. It took us right beside the Pantheon. Stunning! I’m sure we looked like grinning, crazy Americans as we craned our necks to take it all in. The Eiffel Tower, behind us, the Pantheon ahead and peeks of Notre Dame down the side streets.

The hotel was easy to find and as charming as everyone who’s stayed there described it. Luckily our room was ready and we were able to drop our luggage off and change clothes. Our room was on the 2nd (3rd) floor facing the courtyard. It was a bright, cheerful, good sized room with a single bed for our son and a double for us. There was even a heavy curtain which separated the two sleeping areas in case we were up later reading. More later…

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