France Bicyle Trip

Aug 8th, 2010, 07:26 PM
Join Date: Oct 2008
Posts: 2,084
Happy to hear that my long-ago impressions of the Dordogne were "on task" (ie: HILLY).

However, we just came back from doing Apilles/Luberon in Provence in 90-plus heat and any hills we climbed in the Dordogne were EASY-city in comparison. We caught the Mistral for a few days and it was sort of an exchange: the wind took the oopmf off the heat but certainly slowed the uphill to a stall. I felt like a sail (note to self: lower body mass before next trip). We all laughed that we were willing to die to bike on the left side of the road to catch just ten feet of shade.

By the way, traffic was rarely a problem. Lots of side roads to choose from.

Fayew: Yes, do start a new thread about Paris--and you can leave that planning until last minute.

You can bike in Paris, but it's in a different context, and I actually am going to recommend taking the bike away from your thoughts for now. I don't necessarily think that staying ON the Ile St. Louis is your only option, but for first-timers, considering that general area as "Ground Zero" is certainly wise.

Most of the "biggie" sites in Paris are from Notre Dame outwards--the Eiffel and Basilique du Sacré-Cœur are more or less outskirts on that circle--so your instincts are right on.

Since time is on your side, ask your kids what they specifically are interested in. Before we ever went, one of my kids became a "Tale of Two Cities" fan. Obviously, the Conciergerie became a must. The other kid was a total Van Gogh freak--Musee d'Orsay. You get the drift.

Have so much fun planning!
AlessandraZoe is online now  
Aug 9th, 2010, 06:44 AM
Join Date: Apr 2010
Posts: 2,552
Hi FayeW,

I would suggest getting a guidebook or two about Paris but I'll throw out some suggestions to go along with the hundreds of other suggestions you'll get between now and June 2011. You don't need to be reminded about going up The Eiffel Tower and Arc de Triomphe.

Ile St. Louis is charming but it is a small island and can be quite crowded in the summer months. I think you need to make the call on that one.

How about the catacombs? Montmartre? Walking along Canal Saint Martin? Renting bikes and riding through the city (a Fat Tire Bike/Segway Tour?). Sainte-Chapelle? Walk through the Latin Quarter and The Marais? Go up in a balloon for an aerial view of Paris. There is such an opportunity near the Maison de la Radio building along the Seine. It's teathered to the ground, lest you think you will be floating over the city. The Louvre has great art but you can also see the medieval walls and donjon from the 13th century in the lower level. I think the boys would like the Egyptian and Persian collections of The Louvre. The crypte in front of Notre Dame shows various archaeological remains of foundations from Roman through medieval times. Climb the towers at Notre Dame. Boat cruise on the Seine. Les Invalides has great exhibits on WWI and WWII but my favorite are the collections of suits of armor and weapons from the 14th to 17th century. The boys may find it "cool". Maybe the Musée Grévin wax museum might be fun for the boys.

Père Lachaise cemetery. Lots of famous people buried here and many elaborate and ornate tombs. A lot more fun than you'd think. Jim Morrison is buried here. The Opera Garnier building? Les Grands Magazins (turn of the century department stores) being Galeries Lafayette (amazing stained glass domed roof) and Le Printemps. The various 19th century covered passageways with Galerie Vivienne being the most spectacular. One the edge of the city is the Château de Vincennes. Google some pictures of this one. It is a large castle/château complex with a medieval donjon and walls, ornate gothic chapel and buildings from the time of Louis XIV. Near here is a nice park with a lake called Lac Daumesnil and you can rent boats and row around the lake. Biking through the trails in the woods near here is a lot of fun and something I do frequently.

Perhaps a day trip to Versailles? A day trip to Monet's house and gardens in Giverny? A day trip to Château Gaillard, Richard the Lionheart's ruined fortress perched high above the Seine with a medieval village called Le Petit Andely below it. It's not far from Giverny.

How's that for a start?
FrenchMystiqueTours is offline  
Aug 13th, 2010, 08:45 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jul 2010
Posts: 40
Thanks for the info FrenchMystique, AlessandroZoe, and others. I think I'll work on dates and flights and will start looking at existing research on Paris before posting again. The catacombs and cemetery look really interesting and assume getting there will be half the fun!
Fayew is offline  
Aug 13th, 2010, 09:15 AM
Join Date: Apr 2010
Posts: 2,552
Good luck Fayew.
FrenchMystiqueTours is offline  
Aug 15th, 2010, 01:39 PM
Join Date: Dec 2006
Posts: 1,033
Pere LaChaise cemetery is certainly worth a visit, Fayew. You shouldn't miss it. Here's a useful tip: use the Gambetta metro stop, not Pere LaChaise. The cemetery is steep in parts, and starting from the former, your stroll will be mostly downhill. Also, most tourists seem to start from the latter, and you'll miss some of the crowd by using Gambetta.
RedStater is offline  

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