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France Paris Itinerary + Catacombs & Millau / Gorge area

France Paris Itinerary + Catacombs & Millau / Gorge area

Apr 9th, 2002, 05:36 AM
  #1  
Shannon
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France Paris Itinerary + Catacombs & Millau / Gorge area

Hi! We are planning a family trip in mid-June. The first part is in Paris, then driving South through France with a stop in the Millau area, and continuing on to Barcelona and more.

We will be spending a little over 3 weeks on our trip ( and yes I know it's a whirlwind start - later there is ample chill time). This was the only way to include Paris in our trip and that was a definite on our list so please keep that in mind as you read : )

My questions: the catacombs in Paris - all info I have found says they are open only certain hours (till 4 pm I think on Sunday & closed Monday) - our time in Paris is VERY limited (better a little than none at all! My 13 year old would really love to see the catacombs. Our plane arrives at 10:45 Sun am and we leave very early on Tues am to go south. Does anyone know if the catacombs may actually be open different hours than this. Also, how hard should I try to fit this in?

On our Paris itinerary:
(staying in hotel very near Bastille)
Hop-on/off Bus tour; Eiffel Tower; Louvre (if time and tired family don't veto! - Figuring on going on Mon. pm as crowds are supposed to be less); Luxembourg Park (if time allows); le Marais area - shop eat, look; QUICK stop at the Arc de Triumphe and Champes elyesses (sp?!); Pompidour and surrounding area; St. Chappelle & Notre Dame; Boat ride on Seine.

I have a few possible extras (catacombs ...), but know that some (including our "A" list above) may need to be scrubbed. I think we will all be happy to just hang out watch people, shop a little, eat, etc. The only definite is the Eiffel Tower (the girls say so!)

Next, any info on the Millau area? We are driving down through France (already have Car thru short term lease - Renault - great deal!) and decided to cut through the less traveled section and stop overnight in Gorges du Tarn area (again, already have lodging set up -- on the river) Any insight into must sees in the area -- or just relax, enjoy & hang out for the day? Don't have too much time, but don't want to bypass something great .....

Will also be posting elsewhere with more questions! Fair warning! : )

Thanks for your help! Shannon

 
Apr 9th, 2002, 06:40 AM
  #2  
Rex
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Sounds spectacular! Here's a suggestion - - if you wouldn't mind a little detour - - when you get to Perpignan, take the spectacular mountain drive up through Andorra. Andorra is at most worthwhile to "collect" one more country you've been to. The drive to get up there is better than what you find up there.

but the descent back into Barcelona is half or more of the payoff as well. Spend the night in seu d'Urgell, And I particularly recommend the Parador there - - www.parador.es for more info.

Enjoy!

Best wishes,

Rex
 
Apr 9th, 2002, 06:41 AM
  #3  
Betty
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Hi, Shannon. A couple of suggestions about the area around Millau: if you would like a very interesting place to stretch your legs, go 6-7 miles NE of Millau (by D991) to Le Chaos de Montpellier-le-Vieux. You can hike into this area (not too strenuous) where you can see some fantastic natural rock formations in the shape of human heads, animals, etc. Nature at its best. Also just SW of Millau (perhaps you could stop here on your way out) is the village of Roquefort where the famous cheese is made. It's been a number of years since I was there, but at that time you could tour the Societe factory and see a film about the history of the cheese and how it is made. Very interesting.
The scenery around Millau, including the Gorges du Tarn, is beautiful. I know you will enjoy this trip through the heart of France.
 
Apr 9th, 2002, 12:30 PM
  #4  
ttt
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to the top
 
Apr 9th, 2002, 01:36 PM
  #5  
L
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A few suggestions on Paris. We stayed there from 03/09/02 -03/14/02, and on 03/30/02.

We did not like the red hop-on-hop off bus. The mike sounded like a muffled PA system. It was recorded, and the driver had to take a detour due to construction, and the sequence was all messed up. We did not see much on Champes elyesses that would interest us, nor Arch de Triumph. The Louvre is an all day event which is worth it. My favorite day was tour of Norte Dame, walk to deportation memorial, Historic walk of that area by Rick Steves. There is people watching along the Seine with a picnic. We know we are going back because you can not do everything in Paris in the time we were there.
 
Apr 9th, 2002, 01:51 PM
  #6  
Fred
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Catacombes were rock quarries. Now you can see the bones and skeletons from way back when from old cemetaries dug up when Baron Haussmann redid Paris. Has skulls and bones of millions of people, if that is your wish to see. Has received mixed reviews. Bring a flashlight. Here's information:

Catacombes - are open Tuesday to Sunday 2:00-4:00 and in addition Saturday and Sunday mornings from 9:00-11:00.
location is at 1, place Denfert-Rochereau
Metro Denfert-Rochereau
Tel: 01-43-22-47-63
Note: You do not exit the Catacomes at the same place you entered - the exit is at a different location (in case you're meeting someone). For more Paris information e-mail me: [email protected]
 
Apr 9th, 2002, 03:26 PM
  #7  
Christina
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Those hours are accurate, it closes at 4. I definitely would not try to fit that in during your short stay because it's an ossuary, the remains from cemeteries moved for sanitation and overcrowding reasons at the end of the 18th Century. I don't think there's a compelling reason for your child to see that and wonder if he's studied what it is and what his reasons are. Those were real people and those are their remains. I think it's not uncommon for some teenagers to want to see things they think are "creepy" and "spooky" but some respect should be shown for the dead. If my ancestors were in there, I don't think I'd like tourists viewing it so lightly because many bones are exposed, it's not like a cemetery where you can view the graves.

Baron Haussmann wasn't even born when they did that, a man named Guillaumot (chief of the quarries) was responsible, it began 1786. Haussmann was involved in renovation and development of sewers and quarries, including some sanitation and organization of these catacombs, during his renewal years, but that was about 60 years later. They had been open to some public and visited long before that, around beginning of the Century. Here is a good brief history of the place
http://www.paris-france.org/parisweb...CATACOMBES.HTM
 
Apr 9th, 2002, 03:37 PM
  #8  
Violet
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My friends did not like the catacombs. What about the Roman ruins in front of Notre Dame? Not many people know they are there - they look like a parking garage.
 
Apr 10th, 2002, 12:52 PM
  #9  
Shannon
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Thanks guys for the input! I think we'll just bag the catacombs and I will try to find the ruins near Notre Dame, Violet - thanks! It may just fit the bill.

 
Apr 10th, 2002, 12:59 PM
  #10  
MIke Shaw
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If you like Roman ruins, also have a look at the Cluny Museum (which is built around roman baths) and Arene de Lutece (roman arena), nice place for a picnic. Both are on Left bank.
 
Apr 10th, 2002, 02:23 PM
  #11  
looking up
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from the bottom of the gorges du tarn
 
Apr 14th, 2002, 05:29 PM
  #12  
Topper
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toppignng
 
Apr 15th, 2002, 12:05 AM
  #13  
mpprh
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hi
Millau

Take the autoroute A75, it is spectacular.
The bridge at Millau is not finished, and there are delays in Millau at peak periods.

I have a link to the A75 site in my homepage at -

tlp.netfirms.com

Peter

 
Apr 16th, 2002, 11:53 AM
  #14  
Shannon
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Peter -

Thanks for the input! I tried to pick an out of the way area while still going in the right direction and there is very little in any guidebooks, etc. about the Millau area. I did find a good website about the Gorge du Tarn, but the personal insight & info (i.e. bridge unfinished ...) is what I really need. Thanks a bunch! Can't wait to go ....

Shannon
 
Apr 16th, 2002, 12:12 PM
  #15  
mpprh
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hi

here is the tourist local site, in French ?

http://www.tourisme.fr/office-de-tourisme/MILLAU.htm

Bon chance

Peter

 
Apr 16th, 2002, 12:20 PM
  #16  
StCirq
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Shannon:

I've been in the Millau area a number of times. It's a fascinating part of France, little visited by comparison to other parts of the country, and full of geological and other surprises. Millau itself is a nice medium-sized town with decent restaurants and cafés (none to absolutely rave about that we've found, but still delicious local food). It used to be the center of glove-making in France, and there is still some evidence of that. Villefranche-le-Rouergue is another interesting town, with a fabulous Saturday market in a diamond-shaped cathedral square - you'll see more kinds of bleu cheese than you could ever imagine existed. Definitely visit the Roquefort caves, and if you have time, drive up into the Parc National des Cévennes - some truly wild scenery there. Shepherds still practice the transhumance there, and up among the causses you can see their bories (shelters). The Gorges-du-Tarn is absolutely spectacular (not for the faint of heart, though - stay on the main road and pray a wide-load doesn't approach in the other lane). Be sure to stop and wander around St-Enemie - a good stop for lunch if you spend a day driving the length of the Gorges. Florac is another typical Cévennes town. There's a marvelous B&B near there where I stayed two years ago - if you're looking for accommodation in that area, let me know and I'll dig up the particulars.
 
Apr 16th, 2002, 01:13 PM
  #17  
StCirq
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Shannon:

I've been in the Millau area a number of times. It's a fascinating part of France, little visited by comparison to other parts of the country, and full of geological and other surprises. Millau itself is a nice medium-sized town with decent restaurants and cafés (none to absolutely rave about that we've found, but still delicious local food). It used to be the center of glove-making in France, and there is still some evidence of that. Villefranche-le-Rouergue is another interesting town, with a fabulous Saturday market in a diamond-shaped cathedral square - you'll see more kinds of bleu cheese than you could ever imagine existed. Definitely visit the Roquefort caves, and if you have time, drive up into the Parc National des Cévennes - some truly wild scenery there. Shepherds still practice the transhumance there, and up among the causses you can see their bories (shelters). The Gorges-du-Tarn is absolutely spectacular (not for the faint of heart, though - stay on the main road and pray a wide-load doesn't approach in the other lane). Be sure to stop and wander around St-Enemie - a good stop for lunch if you spend a day driving the length of the Gorges. Florac is another typical Cévennes town. There's a marvelous B&B near there where I stayed two years ago - if you're looking for accommodation in that area, let me know and I'll dig up the particulars.
 
Apr 16th, 2002, 02:10 PM
  #18  
MaryC
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Shannon,

Just got back from Paris myself and the very 1st thing I did was go to the Catacombs. I had missed it on my 1st trip and it was a MUST on this one.

Even though you said you've changed your mind, just wanted to point out that the walk-through only lasts about 1/2 an hour, it's VERY easy to get to from the Metro (just across the street) and it was very creepy and cool. Highly unusual. There are many signs (in French) reflecting/philosophizing on death in general and on these bones in particular. Signs asking for moments of silence, requests for prayer, etc.. It is weird realizing that the bones ARE real people and the sad realization hits home when you see a hole in the "artwork" where a skull is missing. However, there are precautions now against the stealing of these bones.

I had promised to give some info about the place when I came back:

EXIT ADDRESS: #36 Rue Remy Dumoncel (above Rue Halle) in the 14th arr.

PRICE: 5 euros

# STEPS TO CLIMB WHEN EXITING: 83

TOTAL HIKE LENGTH: 1 km 70 (from sign at entrance)

They do search your bags, etc. when you enter AND when you exit.

Catherine, I hope you and your family have a wonderful vacation at each location!! Bonne chance!!! : )
 
Apr 16th, 2002, 02:21 PM
  #19  
MaryC
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Ooh! Oooh! We did do the Hop On/Hop Off tour bus in Paris - the green L'Open Tour!! 3 hop on locations that I can remember off the top of my head are at
1) Place de la Concorde (looking North towards Madeleine the stop would be north of the Place just to the left),
2) Champs d'elysees in front of the Lido (coming up out of the Metro, turn around behind and you'll see it),
3) Notre Dame (past the Parvis, past the Crypt Archeologique, at the bus stop in front of the Conciergerie).

We liked it a lot! With the price of the ticket you get a set of earphones with which to listen to the tour in English/French. About 40 stops total and you can take 3 different tours (Bercy/Bastille, Montmartre, Central Paris). Very Cool!! Very informative!!
 
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