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tmodav Jan 21st, 2009 11:56 AM

Paris and Madrid Trip Report I
This is my first trip report so I may not be very good at it.

We left Louisville, KY on 12/27, we arrived early to try to get an earlier flight to Atlanta as we did not have much of a layover. The other flights were full so we had to stay on our original flight which left almost an hour late. This put us in Atlanta with about 12 minutes to change concourses and be on our international flight. Luckily, there were 9 of us trying to catch the same flight and passengers were nice enough to let us go first. We arrived about 2 minutes before boarding closed, breathed a sigh of relief and took off for Paris a short time later. I am sure that some of you realize that our luggage was not going to run as fast as we did :O).My family had a row of 4 in the middle and this worked out ok as our girls are 11 and 8. They loved the dinner (which lets you know that we are not foodies and why our Paris food budget was so low). After dinner we told them that they had to try to sleep so we could be as ready as possible when we arrived.

Our flight landed at CDG about 50 minutes late at around 12:00. We optimistically watched for our luggage to come around the conveyor belt...without much luck. We got in line around 1 to see when our bags would arrive and we kept hearing announcements about unattended luggage. We were 2nd in line when they evacuated the area. Keep in mind that my family knows that they need me and my research, which quite possibly saved my life. Isn't it amazing that those who put the most work in a trip are blamed for the mishaps??? We finally get to talk to an airline representative to tell them where we will be when our luggage arrives. Luckily, I had planned for this and we had enough to last us a few day in our carry-ons.

We are finally on our way! We find an information desk and find out where to buy our museum passes (One of our best buys of the week and highly reccommended-120E because the children are free in Paris museums). We go downstairs to buy our RER/metro tickets and it is about 3 at this time. There are only about 100 people ahead of us so we smile (at least I do) and begin our wait. When we finally get to the window, we buy the Navigo Dec and load it with the Carte Orange (Another buy that I highly reccommend). We could have bought 1/2 price tickets for the kids but the convenience of the card was well worth it and we used the metro so much that I am sure we got our money's worth. We also bought RER tickets for our ride into Paris and our return trip...all of this cost about 150E.

We get on our RER train without incident and head for our stop. The girls are really dragging and just want to get to the apartment and DH and I are feeling the same way. We see that we have only two more stops and are getting excited again. There is a long announcement in French and at the stop before ours, the train starts going back toward the airport!! There are several people on our train that did not know what was going on so we all get off at the next stop. It is freezing and my family was wishing that we were on a beach somewhere. We all walk around in disbelief for awhile then start looking for somewhere to buy another ticket. We stand in line and she tells us that they had left a gate open because of the problem and we could get back on the next train so back up the stairs we go and hop on the next train.

We finally get to our Les Halles stop, pull out our Paris map that we had pulled out of the guide book Paris Top 25 (excellent map with Metro also and laminated-used all week and kept for next time!!). We make it to our apartment in the 2nd at 5:30 and head out to find dinner. Our apartment was right off Rue Montruguil (sp) so finding something was not difficult. We had quiche, a ham sandwich, a sausage roll, and 3 desserts for 20E. All were happy with dinner and we are so exhausted, we are in bed by 8. Both of my daughter's journals start out with "It was a horrible day in Paris"!! Luckily, our trip improved.

Paris 12/29
Oops...jet lag + a bit of stress = 14 hours of sleep for all of us. We hurry to get ready and out the door. We start walking toward the Pompidou but decide we will have lunch first. On our way, we decide to buy our first Nutella crepe (4E) and it became our first of many. We continue on to L'As Fallafel to try their famous fallafels. DH and I really like them. Our picky eater loves them and our oldest says that they are ok. We pick up a bottle of water, some raspberries (5E), and 3 pears (2E) for the afternoon.

After lunch, we head back to the Pompidou. We go to the front of the line with our pass and head toward the escalators where we get our first glimpse of the Eiffel Towere and Sacre Couer. We walk through some of the permanent collection and go back down to the children's area (the kids were not really impressed).

We leave and walk toward the Seine. We were headed to St. Chappelle because the sun was out. The stained glass windows are amazing and the chapel dates back to the 13th century. The security lines were long but admittance to the chapel was easy.

After leaving St. Chappelle, we attempt the metro and make our way easily to the Arc de Triomphe. We by-pass the lines with our museum pass and walk up the 284 stairs. The girls griped about it but was rewarded at the top by the beautiful views. They were teased again by the sight of the Tower and can't wait to go see it. Sacre Couer looks very majestic and we all look forward to seeing it. The girls are tired and hungry by this time and although the Champ de Elysses and huge ferris wheel are beckoning us, we jump back on the metro and head for the apartment.

We stop on our way to get a few necessities that had been in our luggage and pick up dinner. A rotisseri chicken, baguettes, tomatoes for dinner runs us about 22E. After our fabulous dinner, we are off to find dessert. All of the pastry shops are closes so we buy some little desserts at a fallafel shop. We decide that we would have to make sure that we get our desserts earlier in the day. Off to bed about 11:30-it was a great day in Paris!!!

Wow, this is already long and I have only covered two days. I will try to condense on the remaining days.


nancicita Jan 21st, 2009 12:35 PM

Hi Tina,

I enjoy reading your trip report. So far, so good. :-)

309pbg Jan 21st, 2009 12:44 PM

Love your report Tina! Keep going.

Samsaf Jan 21st, 2009 01:59 PM

Enjoying your report!

Mamaw Jan 21st, 2009 04:35 PM

Great! I am so excited for the rest.

tmodav Jan 22nd, 2009 02:14 PM

Tues 12/30

We are up and out by 8:30 and our breakfast consists of 4 pastries (5E). We arrive at Notre Dame and the crowds were small. We did not go up the tower because the lines were already pretty long and we had to go to Galleries Lafayette for supplies for DH that I had forgotten in his carry-on. Very busy and 45 minutes to even find the sock department. It was pretty but will not be upset never to set foot in there again.

We went back to the apartment for lunch of cheese, bread, olive oil, and tomatoes (7E) and then another nap. After our nap we head down to Pont Neuf for a boat ride (36E)was freezing but we enjoyed it. The tower was lit in blue which the girls loved.

Our luggage arrived today and when he called,I could not understand him so he hung up on me. I thought that he would find someone that spoke English but he called right back. The girls said they thought they heard someone yelling downstairs...maybe that was why he was mad. DH walked downstairs where he pretty much threw our stuff at him. He was not very happy with our French.

Everything was closed when we got back from our boat trip so we grabbed dinner at the Daily Monop' where DH and I had Lasagna (7E) and the girls had ham and cheese sandwiches (8E).

The girls keep seeing the Eiffel Tower and really want to go up and we promise them that they will go...little did we know how difficult that was going to be. Off to bed fairly early since the next day was NYE.

More to come...


Cries_Van_Notebook Jan 22nd, 2009 09:02 PM

Why did it take you 45 minutes to find the men's sock dept. at Galleries Lafayette? It is one floor above the Food Halls.

Did you buy any of those Falke socks at 25 euros a pair? LOL!


ParisAmsterdam Jan 23rd, 2009 06:06 AM


2 points...

1) no need to condense things!

2) First trip report? It's wonderful reports like this that keep me from attempting one! I couldn't do this well.


tod Jan 23rd, 2009 06:59 AM

great! Keep going and we LOVE the incidentals by the way! It's very refreshing to get a Trip Report which is not shy to mention the 'bad' stuff along with the good.

tmodav Jan 26th, 2009 02:41 AM


I am not sure why it took us so long but the place is huge. His socks were only 15E/pair but we thought that was bad enough.

DH and I are up early and off to get pastries which my girls are getting very used to. We leave the apartment around 9:30 and start walking toward the Louvre. We are amazed at the size of the line...the museum pass is a must! We start in the Richolou room and really enjoy all of the sculptures. We start toward the Mona Lisa (it's easy to find, just follow the 10000 other people that are going in that direction). We finally get to the room and get our first glimpse. My 8 year old and I look at each other and said that we were happy with viewing it from afar and go out in the hallway to wait. DH and DD (11) said they did not come to Paris to not see it so they wait and were happy that they did.

We leave the Louvre at about 2 and start back to the apartment for lunch. The girls had pizza (10E) and DH and I have Chinese (18E). We have found that baguettes go with any cuisine that we choose-at least we think so...I know all of you foodies are cringing at our choice of foods in Paris!

We take another nap after lunch as we have found that the girls do better with a break. The girls are not interested in getting up a couple of hours later so we run out to get dinner for later, roasted chickens, baguettes and dessert (18E).

We drop it off and jump on the subway and head to Sacre Couer. We walk up the street and men with strings try to stop us...DH actually stopped while I said "no" and kept walking. He remembered what I had told him and caught up. We take the funicular up and walk through the Basilica. It is absolutely amazing and one of my favorite buildings in Paris. We head back to the apartment and eat dinner and get ready for our NYE night.

We get to the Champs de Elysses, along with 1000's of our closest friends, get a couple of nutella crepes and wait to bring in the New Year. The energy on the street was exciting but we head back to the apartment soon after midnight. We get back at about 1:30 but were not in bed until about 3.

New Year's Day...coming soon.


yk Jan 26th, 2009 07:05 AM

Tina - enjoying your trip report. What a great way to spend NYE's. I'm sure your girls will remember it for the rest of their lives (and probably have been bragging that to their friends in school? ;) )

tmodav Jan 26th, 2009 12:52 PM

New Year's Day

We slept in after our late night and went out in early afternoon hoping something would be open. We went to the Eiffel Tower but it was so overcast, you could only see 1/2 of the tower so we did not go up. We grabbed a sandwich (and even to us, it was terrible) near the tower and headed back to the ferris wheel since they said it would be open. The ride was 30E but everyone enjoyed it. We walked around just enjoying Paris and made it back to the apartment around 8. We had leftovers for dinner and enjoyed an evening of relaxing. We made our plans for a serious day of sight-seeing.


We were out of the apartment by 8 and walking in St. Sulpice. It was a beautiful church but under renovation and we could not find where to go up to the dome. When we left, it was snowing. We went to the Rodin Museum which was the highlight museum for us. We found that we really enjoy sculptures.

We left the museum and went over to Invalides to visit Napoleon's Tomb. The girls were fascinated at how many layers the man was buried in. We went through the WWI and WWII museums which DH enjoyed very much. I thought it was funny that on the brochure, they give an estimated time on how long going through takes. It said women-2 hours and men-3 hours. The girls thought they should add children to the list and put 1 hour. LOL As we were leaving, DD (11) and I saw a sign that 50 million people had died throughout WWII, how sad and a fact that hit home for all of us.

We left the museum and walked over to the Eiffel Tower and started to stand in line to go up. The girls were so excited and DH was tired of hearing about the tower. We had arrived just a couple minutes after it was supposed to open but they had not started letting people up. AFter we stood in line for about 10 minutes, we hear a guard yelling that it was closed?? When we finally found out what was going on, they said that it was because of ice and snow. The girls were beginning to think that there was a conspiracy abound in that was going to deny them access to the tower.

Back to the metro and over to the Pantheon. We really enjoyed seeing the pendulum. The dome is really beautiful and we start to make our way to the back to go down in the crypt. The excitement showed in DD's (8)eyes as she said, "We are going to see more dead people?" I told her that this was a trip of a lifetime and dead peoople were mandatory. She doesn't think I am nearly as funny as I think I am. They did enjoy finding Victor Hugo's crypt and Braille was interesting for them. The girls are starving so it is back to the apartment for lunch. We luckily run into a crepe stand on the way to the metro and the parents are popular again as we spring for more crepes. We stopped by the market on the way back for ham, cheese, tomatoes, and baguettes (12E). It was about 4 and we decided to nap for a couple of hours. The girls struggled but we were up and out the door by 6:30.

We jumped on the metro and headed toward Sacre Couer. We were able to get some really good pictures because the night was so clear. We head back down because we wanted to surprise the girls by going back to the tower. It was a very clear night and had warmed up a little so we thought it would be a good time to go. We were headed back to the metro when I saw a bus that said Trocodero so we jumped on that. We saw the Moulin Rouge and some of the racy places around there and were thankful that we were on a bus instead of walking.

We had to get off the bus and the tower was still not in view so they still didn't know where we were going. We walked around the Palace and it was all lit up and beautiful! My little one wondered why it was so close and took so long to get A nutella crepe for the walk was the ticket. The line was not too bad so we bought our tickets (36E) and headed up. The views were amazing and the girls and I each called a friend to tell them where we were. We roamed around and stayed until they were closing. The girls couldn't stop talking about it the entire way back to the apartment...they loved it! We had our normal dinner of ham, cheese, and baguettes (14E) and then off to bed. We promised the girls that they could sleep in after their busy day.

DH and I lingered over coffee and started walking toward the Picasso Museum around 10. We left the girls to sleep and went by ourselves. We enjoyed a quick stroll through the museum and started back to get the girls and eat lunch. We picked up pasta and fruit(17E) and took it back for the girls.

We left after lunch and took the metro to the Concorde stop. We walked in Tuilleries Garden and watched a man feed birds out of his hands. Watching the girls chase birds and laugh was a highlight of the trip which really surprised me. Taking the time to enjoy the small things with the girls made our trip so much more enjoyable. After playing for about and hour, we walk over to see our last must see.

The Water Lilies were not what we expected but we all loved them. We loved seeing the differences that Monet saw when he was painting them.

We cruised around for a couple of hours and saw some other paintings and we were ready to leave. We walked toward the metro and stopped by for a crepe and a waffle, it was our last one and we were sad. We got on the metro and I told the girls that I wanted to see one more hotel before we left. They whined and told me that they did not want to see anymore old buildings but I insisted because I had done all the research and knew that we would find an ice-skating ring there. We came up from the subway and saw Hotel Duville which was very pretty. We also found out where the lights were coming from that we saw when we were out at night. I was once again very popular when they saw what we were going to do. We stood in line for over an hour to do this and it was very cold so they had to listen to how much they should appreciate me throughout that time. We finally get to the front and get the girls skates on. They are out there for only a couple of minutes when a French boy asked them a question. When they stared blankly at them, he started to try to speak English with them. It was so cute and he and his brother hung out with them while they were skating. It was probably a good thing that this was our last night because I believe my 11 year old was in I had to make them get off of the ice because DH and I were popsicles and the girls had the nerve to tell me that they were hot! We headed back to the apartment around 10 because we had to pack and be at the airport at 6am...yuck.

Sunday 1/4

We were up at 4 and out the door by 5:15. We had already purchased our tickets so getting to the airport was easy. I am surprised at how well we learned to navigate the metro in a week. I can't imagine traveling any other way in Paris. Checking in for our Easy Jet flight was easy and we were delayed about 45 minutes because they had to de-ice. We were off to Madrid...

Just a few of the things that I learned:

The museum pass saved us time and money and we would not go back if we didn't have it.

The Navigo Dec. was very convenient and saved us from having to mess with tickets.

Slowing down and realizing that my girls were young and they needed to have down time was important and made for a better trip for everyone.

The Parisians that we met were helpful and kind and the city is beautiful.

An apartment is the way to go!

I will start with Madrid soon and if someone tells me how to post photos, I will put some of our best up.


yk Jan 26th, 2009 12:58 PM

Tina - really enjoyed your Paris segment and I'm looing forward to Madrid. Your girls are very lucky to visit Paris at their young age.

<i> if someone tells me how to post photos, I will put some of our best up.</i>

Do you have an account at any of the photo-hosting websites such as shutterfly, kodakgallery, pbase or picasa etc??? If you do, after you posted your photos into an album, you can post the URL link to the album here.

tmodav Jan 26th, 2009 01:42 PM

OK, I gave it a try. These are just Paris pics. I have not done Spain yet. Let me know if it does not work.

I can't get it as a link so you may have to copy and paste. Sorry.


tmodav Jan 26th, 2009 01:44 PM

It did show up as a link after I posted. I hope I did it correctly.


yk Jan 26th, 2009 01:55 PM

Tina - LOVE all 77 of your Paris photos. You are one good-looking family, and your two girls are truly adorable. The smiles on their faces are so genuine that I'm 100% sure they were having a great time!

You and your husband look too young to have an 11 year-old daughter. And she looks really tall for her age!

OMG, the crowds at the Louvre are truly unbelievable. I've been to the Louvre several times but never seen crowds that bad!

Also love those pink Paris sweatshirts that your 2 girls were wearing towards the end. I bet they're still wearing them back home in Louisville???

tmodav Jan 26th, 2009 03:05 PM


Thank you. We took a lot of pics and those are the ones that we are putting in our album that we are making on Shutterfly. I was beginning to think that they all looked alike because we were always so bundled up.

We all have sweatshirts and wear them around. I was wondering if the Louvre was that busy on a Wednesday morning in the winter, what it would look like in the summer? I am happy to hear that it is usually not that bad.

Mara Jan 26th, 2009 04:31 PM

Tina - Great pictures - I love the blue Eiffel Tower - your night pictures came out so nicely. Also looking forward to Madrid as I'll be there on Thursday. :)
PS I agree with yk - beautiful family.

mms Jan 26th, 2009 05:00 PM

Love your trip report, and the pics! Our kids were 7 and 10 the first time we took them, so I can relate a bit;)

Very nice that you were able to get a couple pics of the 4 of you.

DD and I are headed back in June, and your report is making me wish it were sooner!

Anna1013 Jan 26th, 2009 07:01 PM


Enjoying your report, and thanks for putting up your lovely pictures. Good Lord - what was going on at the Louvre? Was it this crowded because it was Christmas eve? I was almost feeling claustrophobic just looking at the amount of people waiting to see the Mona Lisa! I have nothing to complain about now when I think about our visits in late May.

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