Paris Trip Report from TBelle

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Jan 18th, 2006, 09:12 AM
  #21
 
Join Date: Feb 2005
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Lovely trip!
As for the information given on Expedia website, it is supposed to be given by hotels which rent out.
The hotel I was working for was advertising and paying a commission on lastminute.com and we gave them all the info so... "It is written so you manage, I WANT my free breakfast or I'll make a (bad) report". What's the big deal for them anyway, you were not a group!
Next time don't be shy! ;-) (I'm shy but I always fight for my rights!)
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Jan 19th, 2006, 05:00 AM
  #22
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Day 4 - Cold and Icy

After my last entry, Kristen and I got ready for the day. The spitting snow had continued in a fury, and everything was layered in more than a thin coat of white. The snow turned to sleet, which convinced me to carry my umbrella. Kristen was left to the protection under her hat. We made it out the front door of the hotel, and mutually agreed that a breakfast was in order (ok, it was wet, icy and cold) and made our way directly across the street to Creperie La Petite Josselin.

I had the ham, egg, and cheese crepe, and Kristen *finally* decided to try a crepe - the chocolate one - probably after seeing the beauty of the one being eaten by the gentleman at the next table! I also got gutsy enough to try the cidre (Kristen had a something-Coca) - what an interesting drink THAT was! It tasted a bit like a cross between apple cider and a slightly sour champagne... Not what I expected, but it seemed to be quite the choice among others, so I was up for the challenge of finishing my small pitcher. The pitcher and cups, by the way, were gorgeous antiques - Kristen thought they had brought us cups with mold inside - it was the age spots, cracks, etc. *LOL*

After our mid-day breakfast, we ventured out in search of the Hop-on, Hop-off bus stop in Montparnasse. By now, the sleet had turned to rain, and there was clearly over an inch of ice underfoot. We headed for the Montparnasse Tower, watching many near-falls from other pedestrians along the way. I had my umbrella up, of course, and walked ever-so-slowly, knowing a fall could mean detriment to the next several days of our trip. We cut through the Inno store en route, a welcome warm and dry path.

We began circling the block which contained the Tower, looking all along the streets for the bus stop signs. The wind went from light to medium, then to fierce, and umbrellas were being forced inside-out all around us. Then *my* umbrella was forced inside-out. I was determined to keep it open. We walked about half-way around the tower (2 blocks) before going inside in search of directions to the bus stop. We asked a security guard, who spoke no English, but pointed us in the direction of the Tower's information desk. We asked the very polite lady at the desk, who tried in vain to give us directions (she spoke about as much English as I speak French). We finally thanked her and walked in the general direction she pointed.

Back outside, the wind had picked up (I didn't think it could get any stronger). The umbrella was hopeless (it inverted several times) in the fierce and shifting winds, I finally closed it and wished I had Kristen's hat. We were now back where we started, at the ice skating rink and carousel by the Tower in front of the Gare Montparnasse (main train station). Kristen begged to ice skate. I continued to tell her it was raining. She continued to beg. In desparation, and knowing finding the bus stop was now hopeless, I consented.

The little room in which entry is paid and shoes are exchanged was crammed just to the point of standing room only. Kristen did not know her European shoe size; the attendants did not know American conversions for shoe sizes. She was finally given a size 36. Skates on, she ventured to the skating exit, and I took the viewing exit, standing in the cold, windy rain. She did great! 'Must have been just like roller-blading. The rain, albeit light, continued to beat down steadily, and she was gloveless (a long story, but she left her gloves and Richard's camera on the tour bus to Versailles 2 days prior) and her little hands were freezing. She made it over to me to ask for my gloves, which I gave her. What seemed to be a very short time afterward, she made it over to ask if we could leave. Let me see - would I rather make her continue while I stood out in the cold, windy rain, or would I rather let her leave?

We stopped at Inno for fruit, pate, bread and cheese on the way back to the hotel. Kristen selected 2 oranges, 2 apples, 2 cucumbers and a small loaf of bread. When we were back in the room, she complained the cucumber "tasted funny". She wanted me to try it. I sliced off a small piece, and while slicing, realized quickly the issue. *LOLOL* "Kristen, this isn't a cucumber - this is zuchinni!!!" Ahhhhhhh... I had been browsing for cheese when she selected the "cucumbers" - I didn't give them a second glance!

We settled in for the evening with our little feast, and watched 3 movies on the laptop from the selection Richard had put together for us.

Happy New Year's Eve!

Now it is Saturday morning (the beginning of Day 5), New Year's Eve, and I will make this post and wake her for another adventure. Today we have 2:00 pm tickets to Cirque d'Hiver Bouglione for a performance of Audace. We'll have a long Metro ride with an exchange along the way - hopefully we will find where we are going in time to see the performance!

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Jan 19th, 2006, 07:08 AM
  #23
 
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Oh my, you are taking all this with pretty good humor. Thanks for sharing. I am hoping to read about a stop in a shop for a pair of gloves in the near future.
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Jan 19th, 2006, 11:01 AM
  #24
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Nikki~

*giggles* You'll read about the gloves in a subsequent post, yes! The funny thing about the hop-on, hop-off is that even though we were there for 17 days, we didn't even SEE one until over half-way through the trip! Then, every time we saw one, all we could do was laugh!
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Jan 19th, 2006, 11:30 AM
  #25
 
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This is a great report! A rare gem!

TBelle, I honestly hope you continue to travel and to post here as I'd love to know how the travels will go when your daughter is 16 LOL

When my son was 16 I just lost patience and left him in the hotel room. Picked up to take him home though
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Jan 19th, 2006, 01:51 PM
  #26
 
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That was great again I could even feel the coldness at the ice rink!
And I learnt a new word (among others)zucchini is une courgette, I always thought it was pasta! ;-)
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Jan 19th, 2006, 03:14 PM
  #27
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FainaAgain~ The whole thing was an eye-opener for me. I thought she was acting up (at home, prior to the trip) because I wasn't giving her adequate time. She has now proven (and it is MUCH worse now that we are home) that she is simply spoiled rotten.

I love her to death (duh, guess who spoiled her???), but she is now grounded, her doorknob has been removed from her door (door itself will follow if things continue spiraling downward), no phone, tv, computer, music... We will see what happens.

Last year, she started the year in the gifted program. This year, as of report card received after our return, she had 1 B, 1 D, and the rest C's. It's not the grades, really, it is the attitude.

Coco~

BRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR... I thought I was gonna freeze myself to death! And you thought zuchinni was pasta??? *LOLOL* Nope - a really cool little veggie, great fried, sauteed, grilled, or sliced fresh in salads!

See you tomorrow on the next update!
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Jan 19th, 2006, 03:25 PM
  #28
 
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TBelle, at your daughter's age this system worked with my boys: alternating vacation days.

One day we go where they want to go, the next day we go where I want to go. So we'd have a nice mixture of everything: museums, parks, zoos, rides, even a shopping mall!

The only thing I've learned, if I let them have their day first, the next day it will be whining only. If I have "my" day first, then no problem!
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Jan 19th, 2006, 03:33 PM
  #29
 
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LOL, coco, what you call rocket, we call arugula. Courgette is zuccini, aubergine is eggplant, There are so many others!
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Jan 19th, 2006, 08:28 PM
  #30
 
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TBelle--I have never been to the top of the Tour Montparnasse and we plan on doing that on our next trip. Could elaborate a little more on that? Is there a charge? I know there is a restaurant up there(Ciel de Paris)--is that where you were? Which street did you find the entrance?

Thanks for the great report!
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Jan 20th, 2006, 12:12 AM
  #31
 
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Happy to make you laugh mimi and TBelle! but when you know that spaghetti, ravioli, fettuccini, tortelloni etc are pasta, I found zucchini sounded the same!
mimi thanks for the eggplant, I see that word quite often but as I can be lazy sometimes to open a dictionary I really wondered what it was! funny name!
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Jan 20th, 2006, 05:11 AM
  #32
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Arriba~

There is indeed a charge - 8,50€ for adults, 4,0€ for children aged 7 through 15, and an in-between price for students.

I am not sure what the "scoop" is on the restaurant - there was only a little cafe when we were there. The area in the photos that supposedly houses the restaurant was filled with video displays when we were there, so perhaps it is converted to a restaurant during certain hours? Maybe someone else can elaborate on that.

The views from both the 56th floor and the top (take stairwell to go to top) are breathtaking, and I would definitely recommend the trip. The 56th floor is very well equipped with interactive computers, lighted information boards, etc.

I also purchased the little "guide book" when I purchased the tickets - this one I do NOT recommend - the same information is available in the information boards on the 56th floor.

Their website is in several languages - www.tourmontparnasse56.com - and has all the time information.

Oh - almost forgot - the entrance! I can't say for sure - we tried the main entrance and were instructed to go back out the doors, down a bit, then up the stairs to enter. If all else fails, ask at the information desk at the main entrance - it's not far from there!

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Jan 20th, 2006, 10:11 AM
  #33
 
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I went to the top of the Montparnasse Tower last summer (amazing view), so can tell you about the restaurant. It's not the snack bar/cafe TBelle mentions, which is on the other side of the building. It's the same floor -- I think the elevator probably has its name on the buttons. Most people don't go to it, of course, but are just up there for the view so they aren't going to have all those people trooping through this restaurant all the time -- that's why it is completely separate. You go by it, actually, when you get off the elevator.

I wanted to just have a drink in there (even if it were 10 euro) and enjoy the view from the restaurant bar, but they had no space for me, so I did the same in the cheap cafe/bar area. It's kind of cool because it is circular so you can walk all around and see the city from different areas. They have some of those binocular things for viewing, also. I went at night because I wanted to see the lights in the city from up there. Going up on the actual roof to view is a climb up some stairs from that top floor you reach by elevator. I don't think I'd want to be up there in bad weather or if it were windy (even though there is some railing, of course).

I entered from a door on the inside part of the building (it didn't face the street, but the inner part of the square).

I really like your trip report, TBelle, I think it's one of the better ones I've read. Lots of interesting info and experiences.
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Jan 20th, 2006, 10:36 AM
  #34
 
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Just the info I wanted and thanks TBelle for the link to their website! Would either of you think the snack bar/cafe would be okay for a quick lunch? I am hoping it is more cafe than snack bar! I think it would be nice to eat there but am not sure I want to do a grande manger like I think the restaurant would offer!
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Jan 20th, 2006, 11:12 AM
  #35
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Arriba~

I'll be perfectly honest - the little cafe does have food, but it's not really a place I'd want to have lunch. You could, of course, but you'd get a much better atmosphere and probably better food for the same (or probably much lower) price elsewhere...

Remember, one coffee, one sprite and one ice cream cost us 2 Euros more than a full crepe breakfast!
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Jan 20th, 2006, 11:18 AM
  #36
 
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TBelle I was wondering if Kristen wanted a big coin they sell up there with the tower on it (from a automatic machine). My kids wanted one each of course to show their friends that they have been to Paris' highest tower. We really enjoyed the view as well but it was much hotter on the roof in July!
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Jan 20th, 2006, 11:20 AM
  #37
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Day 5 - New Year's Eve

Kristen and I found our way through the Metro to the Cirque d'Hiver with ease, arriving with one hour to spare. I wanted to walk around and take photos; Kristen wanted to stop at the pizzeria she spotted across the street and eat. We went to the pizzeria. Kristen finished up just in time for us to head for the show.

The Circus - an Amazing Performance

The Cirque d'Hiver is a large, circular building, very elaborate and gorgeous. The building has 3 or 4 levels of seating; we were fortunate enough to have second row seating just right of center stage! I've been to a few circuses throughout my life, but nothing like the elaborate Audace, featuring vaudeville, a full band with violinist, dancers, and acts with horses, camels, dogs and a gorgeous lion. OH! And a lovely woman shot from a cannon!

At the beginning of the show, they spotlighted a "no smoking" sign in the center of the ring (that was a no-brainer, I thought, but since the air was filled with smoke from the various acts in the morning performance, perhaps not!). The second spotlighted image was a "no camera flash" sign (how *do* you depict that???) - all the time commented in French by the vaudeville performers. We didn't know what the image was, but were able to ascertain that flash was not allowed by the performance of the actors (there were also areas in the Castle of Versailles where flash was not allowed, tho for a different reason).

The show began, and I was glad I had a camera that performed somewhat adequately without flash in the "automatic" mode. The first act was the horses - and a beautiful act it was! I was taking photos so quickly that I was almost missing the show - until..... OOOPS! The "no flash" image was not a "no flash" image - it was a "no photography" image!!! OK, I could watch the show better without the thing in front of my face...

I'm afraid I was guilty of taking a few more photos throughout the performance, but from my lap, and as inconspicuously as possible. I really wanted to remember some of these things, and didn't want to rely on my brain cells alone.

The dancers and vaudeville performers did little numbers between the animal acts, and when the dancers ended with little lit up letters spelling something or another in French, they exited and the lights came on. It had been a one hour show. I was not disappointed; I was, however, confused that everyone was leaving their coats behind as they exited. Ahhh... Intermission! Kristen got up for a bit, but I stayed in the seat. After a good 15 minute break (actually, it could have been half an hour - I wasn't counting), the show resumed.

At the end of the show, I was surprised to note it was already 5:00 pm. The time had flown by. We made our way to the restrooms, then exited the building. I really wanted to walk around this part of town; Kristen wanted to head back to familiar territory. We went straight to the Metro, and headed home. Back in Montparnasse, we dropped our things at the hotel (I purchased a souvenier program), then went to Kristen's favorite local bistro for the obligatory french fries and coca. I had a wine and was given a complimentary snack mix (I figured I'd dine more cheaply on the bread and pate still left in the room). By this time, it was only 8:00 pm, and Kristen had no desire to end the day. This time, *she* suggested walking.

Time for a Movie

We walked, but there was little to photograph in the territory we had already covered. Then we happened on a movie theatre (I'm starting to wonder if her tiny built-in mapping system had it located from the beginning of the walk), and purchased tickets to see "The Exorcism of Emily Rose." There was a half-hour wait, which we spent sitting in the lounge area on the bottom floor with a few dozen other patrons.

The movie was VO (Version Originale), meaning it was still in English and the subtitles were French. Thank goodness, otherwise I would have gone to sleep long before. I found the movie to be not at all to my liking, but Kristen enjoyed it. At the end, as we were walking back to our hotel area, the clock hit midnight and there were masses of horns blowing from the passing cars and people making loud celebratory noises. We stopped at the Bistro on the way to the hotel; Kristen for a Coca and I for a champagne. We were hoping for a bite to eat, but apparently eating at that time of night is simply not done.

Back at the hotel, I *finally* enjoyed my dinner of bread and pate, Kristen had an apple, and we watched some movies on the laptop. I *did* sign on to have Richard call, we spoke with both Richard and Stephen (my 19-year-old son). It was distressing to hear that Stephen had been in an automobile accident, and his car was in undriveable condition, but also relieving to hear that both he and the passenger of the truck he rear-ended were not hurt.

I'm homesick - ready to return. I know it would be much better if I had an internet connection so I could do a bit of work and converse with my family, but I don't. Kristen is not ready to return, but why would she be? I notice that we stop for her food whenever she asks, and seem to be on a straight course of entertainment geared toward her. Also, she sleeps half the day, making mornings a bit difficult for me but a delight for her. I know, I know - I've spoiled her. Working on that now...


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Jan 20th, 2006, 11:21 AM
  #38
 
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I agree w/Faina...the whole taking turns thing seems to work particularly as long as they have something to look forward to. At that age (& perhaps you did this) I would have also made her do a little homework in regards to planning the trip. So expectations are reasonable, and hopefully met. Sorry about the illness, our Dr. always gives us samples of antibiotics & what not to take with us, just in case. We have been fortunate to date, but you never know when something may pop up.
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Jan 20th, 2006, 11:23 AM
  #39
 
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TBelle, Kristen is a real trouper! And you too. What was her favorite thing in Paris?

I always get travel insurance when traveling with kids, just because it seems so highly probable someone will be sick. For example, shortly before the trip my daughter and I took this summer, she had a serious bout with some virus or other, and there was a mono scare because a couple of her friends had it. As it turns out, she got better from the virus and did not have mono, but at least I had peace of mind not worrying too much about all the prepaid stuff, due to the insurance.
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Jan 20th, 2006, 11:24 AM
  #40
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Coco~

She did want a coin, but she didn't see the machine there. She found the machine inside Invalides, and got her coin!

Christina (and Coco)~

When we went on top, remember, it was the day ice was everywhere. I have to admit I was a nervous little chickie walking up the steps on the outside, but even with snow/ice on the top of the building, I was not afraid... It was just SO nice!
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