Paris Trip Report

Old Apr 1st, 2006, 09:33 PM
  #1  
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Join Date: Sep 2004
Posts: 287
Paris Trip Report

My husband and I traveled to Paris from March 14-22 to celebrate our belated fourth wedding anniversary.

We flew coach Northwest Airline from LAX-to Detroit-CDG. We found an AMAZING deal -$400 each-roundtrip. We had a nice flight from LAX-Detroit. The airplane was a bit older, there was no movie (only if you're flying to Kuwait which is the response that DH received when he asked), and they served pretzels and drinks. We arrived about 30 mins early to Detroit and walked to our terminal because the tram was not working. The airport in Detroit looked new and there are lot of restaurants there.

We departed to Paris on time. We had a new airplane (airbus A330) and each seat had it's own TV. They served dinner (chicken or pasta) and a light breakfast (egg muffin) with drinks. The flight went well and we also arrived to Paris about an hour early.

The airport in Paris is like no other that I have been in (confusing!!!). We had to take a shuttle from the airplane to the terminal which took 15-20 mins. From there we walked to immigration. We found our way to the train station after going up and down a few escalators. We didn't realize that the sign with an arrow pointing down meant keep going straight vs. downstairs.

We purchased our tickets (8.50 euros) for the RER B to Paris and were on our way. I'm a bit scared using the metro since I never use public transportation where I live. I fear being mugged but we managed to arrive to our destination without any problems. It was about a 50 minute ride to our stop-St. Michel-Cluny. From there we walked 3 blocks to our hotel. Very easy and inexpensive. We each had a carry on and one bag. If you have more luggage-take a taxi or shuttle.

Hotel

We stayed at Hotel College de France on rue de Thenard in the Latin Quarter. I found this hotel through recommendations on this site. We were on a budget and this seemed to be what we were looking for. The hotel was clean and that was our main concern. The room was a bit small compared the rooms here in the U. S. but it met our needs. We had a standard room for $97euros per night. There was a full size bed and bath with shower. The restroom was a good size. The room had a closet, a desk area with chair , an additional chair and stool. I wrote a review for this hotel on TripAdvisor.com under a member from Orange County, CA. They offer superior rooms with a queen size bed for $117 euros/night.

Sightseeing:

We saw the major attractions being that it was DH's first time to Paris. Although it was my second, the first time I went was on a tour. It was the last leg of my 3week tour and by then I was so tired I only went to the D'Orsay museum and to the Eiffel Tower.

We purchased a four day museum pass (45euros) and thought it was worth it. The lines weren't too long when we went to the museums but it was nice to be able to jump to the front and not wait at all. We went to the Louvre twice, Rodin Museum, Picasso Museum, Marmottan Museum (not included in the museum pass), D'Orsay Museum, Pantheon, Notre Dame Cathedral, St. Chapelle, Eiffel Tower, and Arc de Triomphe. We used a Streetwise Paris map and found it useful and easy to carry.

We really liked the area around the Picasso Museum and walked around there for a bit after the museum. The first few days we walked everywhere from our hotel, all the way to the Marmottan Museum and back. The next day we walked to the Arc de Triomphe and back. This was not a good idea. It was nice to sightsee along the way but with the cold weather and all that walking-my knees were ready to give up . I'm only 31 but that was too much walking despite the fact that I exercise regularly. We began using the bus and found out it was easy and convenient. (We had a lot of downtime and some of that had to do with all the walking we did the first few days and the fact that on the third day I could barely walk!).

Restaurants:

Unfortunately we fell asleep the first day we arrived to our hotel and this threw us off the whole week. We would wake up around 3 or 4 am and were tired by 7pm. So for the most part, we grabbed a sandwich or pizza and ate at our hotel just because we were too tired to go out for dinner. Towards the end of the week we did make it to Mezza Luna and Marco Polo Italian restaurants. We ate twice at the Mezza Luna on St. Michel. We had lasagna, pizza, ravioli, and tortellini. Food was good and decently priced. It was less than 30 euros each time. At Marco Polo we both had the special, Ravioli with creme sauce. It was good and each plate was 15euros.

We had lunch at Vesuvio's Pizzeria several times. We ordered pizza to go several times to take back to our hotel. The pizza was excellent and inexpensive. For a margherita and a peperoni pizza, it was 15 euros, take out. They charge more if you eat at the restaurant. I think a margherita pizza was 9euros and 4 euros for one orangina.

We bought sandwiches on several occasions. There was a place by our hotel that sold them for 3euros. We also had them from Paul Bakery. They had so much bread, pastries, and sandwiches-it became my favorite place. We had breakfast there twice. Great coffee and crepes. I had a delicious cup of hot chocolate from La Maison Chocolat on our way to the Marmottan. A remedy for cold weather and the best I've ever had!

Some Observations:

We noticed that shops open later. The first morning ,we were out by 8am and nothing was open except a small pastry shop near the hotel. We purchased pastries numerous times from this place (I can't remember the name)-the gentleman working there spoke very little English but always greeted us with a smile.

We had a bit of communication barrier and that was frustrating at times. I took French in middle school (many moons ago) and even when I tried to apologize for not speaking French some people were annoyed. It was a bit intimidating. However, we also come across others who were patient with us, like an older gentleman at the post office who showed us how to use the automated machines to buy stamps.

We were also there while the student protests were taking place. We did not see the students protesting or hear anything considering we were so close to the college. There was a strong police presence along St. Germain and near the college. We saw the area on St. Michel where it was blocked off in and storefronts boarded up. An ATM machine had been destroyed and a few days later, we saw a lot of glass and debris on the ground. We later learned from the news that the protesters were there earlier that day. The Picasso Museum was closed on Thursday and Friday due to the protests although it was far from where they were taking place. They re-opened on Saturday.

We took the RER back to CDG-it must have been an express since it only made a few stops. At one point we were worried if we were on the right one. When we arrived to the airport, we were confused about which shuttle to take to our terminal. An American gentleman overheard us and directed us to the shuttle we needed. We arrived 3 hours early and the lines were short. We made it to our gate with about an hour and a half to spare.

The weather was a bit too cold for me. I think it was in the high 40's the entire time. We lucked out because it only drizzled two days before we left. It drizzled on and off and cleared up by the evening. I felt I went prepared for the weather but I have lived in Southern California all of my life so it was still cold for me despite the fact that I wore silk underwear and wool sweaters.

Overall we had a wonderful trip. DH loved Paris and is asking when can we go back. The best part of this trip was being able to spend time with him and celebrating our anniversary. Due to his line of work we spend a lot of time apart so it was nice that he was able to get time off for our trip (even though a few days before he was told he might not be able to go!)

Last but not least, thank you to all of you who contribute such valuable information to this site. Fodors has become my addiction and with your help, has helped me successfully plan my trips. Keep posting because when I'm not traveling, I live vicariously through those of you who do.

Mariana
mv_rd is offline  
Old Apr 1st, 2006, 09:44 PM
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Join Date: Jul 2003
Posts: 403
What a wonderful anniversary celebration! I enjoyed your report...thanks so much for sharing. You got a fantastic airfare!
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Old Apr 1st, 2006, 09:48 PM
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tod
 
Join Date: Mar 2004
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Thanks for your report Mariana - I sympathise with the sore legs! I find that the first couple of days the enthusiasm gets the better of me and by day 4 my legs are shot!
This last trip I found sleeping with the matress elevated at the bottom (with pillows) helped tremedously.
Glad to had a good celebration!
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Old Apr 1st, 2006, 11:35 PM
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Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 1,886
Didn't you eat at any french restaurants ????
Marko is offline  
Old Apr 2nd, 2006, 12:21 AM
  #5  
 
Join Date: Mar 2006
Posts: 46
Wow...sounds like you had a great trip! Happy belated 4 year anniversary!

My husband and I will be leaving in two weeks for Paris.

I have a question re: transportation -

Did you buy the orange pass or the book of tickets?

Any other helpful hints would be greatly appreciated!

thx
eurogirl2006 is offline  
Old Apr 7th, 2006, 10:16 PM
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Join Date: Dec 2005
Posts: 172
Oh, man. I so feel you on that knee business. I'm 32 and on day three (this past Christmas) it looked like I might never walk again. Can't say it has ever really recovered. It flares up from time to time. Unbelievable considering I've lived in NYC for more than 8 years and walk everywhere no matter what town I'm in.

Likewise on the falling asleep at 7 and waking up in the wee hours. We went to a few restaurants, skipped lunch most days. We did have a couple of boulangerie sandwiches that made me love sandwiches again. L-O-V-E!

It was a clean split on the language. Some people were miffed, some chatted with me avidly nonetheless. The concierge at the hotel told me - in English - that he didn't speak English when I apologized for not speaking French. Okay, that's his issue. A restauranteur chatted me up in French and I got the drift. People offered me directions all over time. Just stare at that map long enough and help will arrive.

It was in the Louvre that a life of wheelchair confinement seemed most assured. To get the Caribbean/African/American exhibit, you have to go all the way up to the Italian/Spanish wing - all the way to the end of that to take a certain elevator down to the ground floor where the Caribe is located. It took asking 4 guides to find the right location by which point my severe limp and constant grimace had to be scaring someone. We got there and the darned exhibit was closed! I could have pulled a Zsa Zsa in there. My mom insisted on walking everywhere no matter what. On the last day I refused to walk from the Eiffel Tower to our hotel in the 17th Arr.
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