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  1. #1

    • Joe Flowers
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    Joe's summer trip to Paris France

    Sadly yesterday was our last day at Disneyland, but today we're heading into the city of Paris.
    It's been a very eventful trip and we've see a bunch of things. First Theresa and I explored Rome Italy for 3 days. Then we continued on to Florence Italy. We just finished 3 days at Disneyland Paris, and now it's time to explore Paris itself.

    We left our hotel right at 11am.

    Hauling all our gear, we headed to the train station right across the street. The lines were pretty long for tickets, but the helpful guy with an “Information” vest directed us to more machines we weren’t seeing.

    We found a train car with hardly anyone in it and sat and enjoyed the trip to Paris. Well as much as possible. We were serenaded by a guitar player for a few stops who then came around asking for money. Then a few stops later we had an accordion player hop on and do the same thing.



    There wasn’t too much countryside to enjoy before we were entirely underground. Once we got to the Charles de Gaul stop, we transferred to the next line which would take us to our hotel. The trains here were packed, and there was a guy crawling along the floors of the super packed subway cars with flipflops on his hands and pushing a bowl for coins. What a tough way to make money.

    Just as we were nearing our stop and crossing the Seine, we finally see the Eiffel tower up close.

    We exit the train and right there is our hotel, the Eiffel Seine.

    We’re early checking in, but they happen to have Ruston and Jacob’s room ready, so we drop everything off there. It’s a small European room with just enough space for a bed.

    And just outside the window, we can look down and see the train tracks along with the river Seine.

    Since the four of us are living out of our carry-on bags, it's time to do laundry.
    It’s a little disconcerting that the front desk asks you to leave your key when you go. When we got back, we just tell whoever is at the desk our room number and they give us that key. No ID, no name on the reservation, nothing.
    It’s a short walk from our place and we’re getting a bit hungry. We pass a pizza place that smells good. Maybe we'll come back.

    We get the laundry started and it’s going to take at least 30 minutes so we look on TripAdvisor for suggestions for food near us. It's awesome having an international data plan on the phone.

    Lots of good places around but eventually we decide on So Good Bagel.

    They served bagel sandwiches with lots of different things to choose.

    I make my own bagel with cream cheese, chicken, salami, crispy onions and avocado. It was messy but good.



    We head back to the laundry and finish drying our clothes, then head to the hotel. We tell the person behind the desk (who was different than the person who checked us in) our room number and we get the keys to the room.

    It's time to go explore the city! Just outside, we head to the metro. Again there is a very helpful girl there with an “Information” vest on who helps us with the ticket screen to get it to English and get tickets.

    After a transfer we’re up near Sante Croche church. We hike up a street and we're at the bottom of a big hill, reminiscing of Kyoto Japan. We reach the stairs to this church on the highest hill in all of Paris. This area is littered with the “friendship bracelet” scam guys, so we make sure to tuck our arms in.



    Theresa was worried about climbing up the stairs of the Eiffel tower, but she should have been more concerned with all the steps here. To get to the top of the hill, she would need to climb 285 stairs. What a trooper.



    There are great views of Paris from up here, though it’s hazy and overcast, so you can’t see too much.

    Once inside the church, we learn that no photos are allowed, though plenty of people are taking them. The guards have their hands full.

    Back down the hill, and we walk to another Metro station and transfer to get us over to the Rodin museum.





    Here we all pick up the museum pass for 54 Euro each. It gets us in lots of places around Paris.



    When you think Rodin, you think of The Thinker. The Thinker is outside in the garden and at the moment he's probably thinking "How do I get this pigeon off my head."


    We suggest ways to shoo it off and someone suggested tossing something at it. A passerby says just don’t hit the statue. Eventually Jacob takes off his jacket and waves it in the air, which makes it go away.

    We all do our best “Thinker” pose and get a picture. T can’t put her right elbow on her left knee because of her pregnant belly.

    Inside there is a museum showcasing some of Rodin's models.




    A model of the Three Shades who stand at the entrance to Hell. They are very reminiscent of the Prisoners carved by Michelangelo. We'll see those at the Louvre tomorrow.

    Back outside we wander the gardens. If only the Thinker was facing the other way, he'd have a view of the Eiffel tower.

    But looking this way, he can see all the beautiful flowers.


    A full sized statue of the Three Shades. T and I try to emulate them.


    While in Florence we saw the Gates of Paradise. Here in Paris we're getting a look at the Gates of Hell. It's based on Dante's Inferno.



    Back outside we explore the garden and look for a place for dinner.






    Just outside the museum we finally figured out why all these stickers were on this pole. Admission to the Rodin museum comes with a different color sticker depending on the day. Looks like when people leave, this is where all the stickers end up.

    We decide to get back to the hotel and do more research for dining places there. So should we walk for ~30 minutes to get home or take the metro and 2 transfers? We decide to spend the money and take the metro, though it still takes us 25 minutes.

    T finds a Korean place nearby and everyone agrees that sounds good for dinner. The dining area was full, and they were getting a huge line outside. They agreed to let us do takeout and the prices here were amazing. Only 11 Euro for a salad, 2 wontons, an entrée of meat, dessert, plus a canned drink. Ruston and I waited for the food while T and Jacob went to the supermarket for other snacks and within 15 minutes, the food was ready.

    Ruston and I walked back in a rainy drizzle with the food. We commented that we’re glad it didn’t rain on us at DL, but how here in Paris the rain kind-of seemed right. We got back before Jacob and T, and asked if the hotel staff if we could eat in the lobby or in the downstairs breakfast area, but were told no. We take everything up to our small room and lay everything out there. Within a couple minutes, Jacob and T arrive. There’s so much food here and not only what we ordered, but all the little side dishes, tons of kimchi, rice, etc.

    Since it’s late we decided to just call it a night. It’s 1am now and we’re getting together at 9am for breakfast and a packed day.

  2. #2

    • Joe Flowers
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    Re: Joe's summer trip to Paris France

    We saw a whole bunch of stuff on our first full day in Paris. So much that I'm breaking it into 4 different posts!


    I had some concerns the night before that the noise from the metro would be constantly waking us up all night, but luckily it never did!

    Ruston and Jacob met Theresa and I at 9am and we all headed out for some breakfast. We found a small grocery shop just down the street where they were baking the croissants fresh right there and are constantly pulling new ones out of the ovens.

    I don’t think I’ve ever had a fresher croissant that wasn’t Pillsbury. These were delicious! Plus they had almost a liter of Tropicana premium no concentrate apple juice with a coupon for 1 euro off, making the bottle only 1.35 Euro. We enjoyed a tasty and cheap breakfast and were read to attack the day.


    I always appreciate the well organized Metro lines whenever we're traveling. We're going all over the city today and exclusively using the trains.


    First stop is the Opéra National de Paris. Exiting the subway, we could see this huge opera building in front of us, but it looked a lot different than the pictures in the Rick Steves guide. We thought we were in the right place, but not 100%.

    We walked a few steps back then got in the middle of the crosswalk in an intersection and could see it much better, so we took photos from there.



    We walked up close to it, then around to the side. There is some remodeling being done to the outside and the parts that are finished at least are looking much better.

    Check out the Before on this side.

    And the After on the other.

    We walked inside to see what we’d get if we paid for a tour, however they said the main auditorium was closed due to rehearsals, so we declined. The Phantom of the Opera is based on this opera house, so the auditorium is a must see if we were to do a tour. Maybe we’ll be back on Saturday when the auditorium is open.

    Instead, we circled the building, looking at all the sculptures and adornments.

    Time for our next stop. We hopped back on the Metro and started heading towards Notre Dame Cathedral. The Metro stop is on the other side of the river, so we had a nice stroll while we made our way to the church.

    Ruston reminded us that the Hunchback of Notre Dame song "Out There" where Quasimodo sings “Out there, strolling by the sand”, is actually “Out there, strolling by the Seine.” I never really understood that. Now that makes a lot more sense. Ruston continued to sing us various songs from the Disney Hunchback of Notre Dame move until we finally reach it.

    We get to the front, and there is a huge structure taking up the whole courtyard. It’s got platforms and ramps and a large sitting section. I wonder why it's here? I really would have preferred the big open courtyard.


    We sit and as Ruston called it, bask in the cathedral. Ruston reads to us the history of the cathedral from the Rick Steves guide while we bask.



    Oooh. Gargoyles!


    The outside looks great, but now it's time to head inside! We find the line and it stretches all the way across the courtyard. We’re not sure how long it’s going to take to get into the cathedral.

    We line up and I’m surprised there aren’t more gypsies around? Last time we were here, I remember the place being full of them. I am seeing a much bigger police presence here than last time though, so maybe that’s keeping it down. Beside the line is a statue of Charlemagne, one of Ruston’s ancestors.

    He gets a family photo in front of him.

    The line moves really quick and within 10 minutes or so, we’re ready to enter.

    The entire center of the nave is closed for mass. We get in right around 11:55 and mass is at noon.


    We circle around to the various chapels.



    We get a pretty good view of the South Rose window. Beautiful.

    I’m still curious why these crazy smiling guys are at the very top of ceiling.


    We exit the chapel, but Ruston never did find the “Steps of Notre Dame” mentioned in the Alan Menkin song, "The Bells of Notre Dame". The lyrics go “See there the innocent blood you have spilt on the steps of Notre Dame.” We never could find those steps. It’s all flat here.

    Our museum pass gets us up to the top of the Notre Dame bell towers for free so that's where we'll be going next.

  3. #3

    • aka 'KiMcHeE'
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    Re: Joe's summer trip to Paris France

    Wow, you had quite an adventure in Europe! I didn't realize there was more from your trip! Been loving your Europe Trip reports; keep the entries coming! Can't wait to see the rest of your trip!

  4. #4

    • Joe Flowers
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    Re: Joe's summer trip to Paris France

    Ruston, Jacob, Theresa and I are exploring Paris today. We've just exited the inside of Notre Dame cathedral and happen upon what was once the very center of the city of Paris.

    I have explored Notre Dame on a previous trip, but now it's time to do something I've never done. Head to the top!

    Being pregnant, Theresa decides to opt out and instead hangs out in front of the cathedral.
    Ruston, Jacob and I go around to the line, and boy does it stretch a ways. I don’t think this one is going to move nearly as fast as the first. The wait in line is fairly uneventful, though we do see a couple gypsies trying to do the “sign the petition” scam where they ask if you’ll sign something to keep kids off drugs, or something like that. Once you sign, they'll show you a line at the bottom saying there's a minimum donation of 10 Euro, which you don’t know at the beginning. Most everyone we see refuses.

    The line moves very slowly. Ruston jumped out of line to see what was happening at the front. Looks like they’re letting in 30-40 people in every 7-8 minutes or so, unless a tour group comes by and then they get to go in right away. It’s been 30 minutes already and we still have 150 people in front of us. I take a break to go see T. She’s still hanging out on the steps. After an hour and twenty minutes we finally get to go inside.

    We enter the doors and start heading up a spiral staircase.

    The first stop is actually the gift shop/ticket office a few stories up. They hold you here for 10 minutes before letting you continue.

    The three of us are first in line when they finally let us go, so I led, Jacob followed and Ruston brought up the rear. We didn’t stop until we got all the way to the top.

    Once we reach the top, there are some great views all around the cathedral.

    The gargoyle looking off towards the Eiffel tower.

    Oh Ruston.

    The view up here are great, but it’s impeded by a wire mesh completely encompassing you.



    We give Theresa a call and wave to her.

    She grabs a picture of all of us.

    Looking back towards the cathedral between the two bell towers.


    The belfry would have been next, but it's closed at the moment, so we can’t see the bells.

    See those columns between the bell towers?

    Quasimodo was chained to them in the Disney movie.

    One of the stranger gargoyles who appears to be biting the head off a chicken.

    We squeezed along the narrow pathway towards the southern bell tower.

    And see another gargoyle overlooking the Seine and the Eiffel tower.

    Looking over towards Montmartre.

    And getting a better view of the Eiffel tower.

    It’s another good climb to the top of the southern tower, and again you’re completely surrounded by the mesh. It does have a great panoramic view of the city.


    You're certainly a ways up at 315 feet above the ground.


    On the way down, Ruston gives us his best Quasimodo impression. Oh Ruston. You make us laugh.

    We met up with T and we're all pretty hungry, so we headed to lunch.
    It's fantastic to have an international data plan on the phone. T Yelped a Chinese place close by that is supposed to have good roasted duck. What? This is Paris, why not Chinese food?

    We were seated right away, placed our order and were brought a whole 0.5L of tap water to split between the four of us, about 4 oz each. They were pretty slow to bring us more.

    As far as the meal goes, what we got was pretty tasty. Ruston got chicken and vegetables, T got beef fried rice and roast duck with rice. Jacob and I split sweet and sour chicken and pineapple chicken. It all costs about 55 Euro ($76), so a fairly expensive lunch, but it was still good.

    After filling our bellies, we had one more thing we had to do at the cathedral.
    Underneath Notre Dame are the ruins from Roman times. There are still some crumbled walls and arches underneath everything above.

    Glad it was included with the museum pass. While they had some nice interactive stuff, it wasn’t a big enough pull to interest me.

    There were some touch screens that showed what Notre Dame looked like while it was being built and the various stages of construction. Interesting, but hard to be impressed by it when we just walked around the beauty of what was above.


    Our last stop of the day is the Louvre and we haven’t moved as quickly as we expected earlier in the day. That long wait to climb the bell towers put us a little behind, so it’s going to be a little rushed at the Louvre. Instead of taking the metro two stops, we decide to walk it. Again we’re strolling by the Seine, seeing the Parisian book sellers along the water.

    We'll continue the next part of the trip report at the Louvre!

  5. #5

    • Joe Flowers
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    Re: Joe's summer trip to Paris France

    This morning we explored the Opera House and Notre Dame. Now it's time to see one of the best museums in the world! The Louvre!

    We walked from Notre Dame along the Seine and arrived at the Louvre and were impressed by the size. Later I learned that it was a palace on one side, a second palace on the other, then someone decided to combine the two palaces by connecting them on both ends. A fire destroyed one end, so now we’re left with a giant U shape.




    The special entrance is closed right now so we go in through the regular entrance. There is a shorter line on the side for those of us with the Museum Pass, so we go there.

    Hi Ruston!



    Off to the Denon wing which holds things like Venus de Milo, Winged Victory and other things. We only had 1.5 hours to see everything on the Rick Steves guided tour so we had to cut a few things short.



    T always enjoys seeing old coinage.

    The Winged Victory of Samothrace. Estimated to have been carved around 200 BC.



    We walked through the museum pretty quickly since it was closing very soon.



    Of course you can't leave without seeing the Mona Lisa. As usual, it's a madhouse around the painting.

    But with the right lens, and standing in the right spot, you can make it look like it's just you and her.







    Directly opposite the Mona Lisa is the largest painting in the Louvre's collection. The Wedding at Cana was painted in 1563 and measures 22' by 32'.

    Measuring almost a large at 20' by 32' The Coronation of Napoleon depicts the moment when Napoleon removed his own laurel and crowned himself, instead of letting the pope do it.

    One of the last major paintings we see is The Raft of Medusa. By this point, the docents have started forming a line and are moving people towards the exits.

    As we're shuffled out, we see one of Theresa's favorite sets of statues by Michelangelo. Titled the Slaves, we saw their counterparts, The Prisoners, in Florence just a week ago. Because they're unfinished, it appears that these men are struggling to pull themselves out of stone they're carved into. You can see the strain in their muscles as they pull against the stone.

    You can see the docents in the picture below forming the line behind us, moving everyone out. The docents have a no nonsense approach and are actually yelling at people who are standing around taking photos.



    To finish up, we grab a couple more photos underneath the huge glass pyramid.



    After only an hour fifteen, the museum is closed and we have to leave.

    Luckily for T and I though, we'll be back in a couple days during our free day in Paris to spend a little more time here.


    We make our way back to the hotel, but our night isn't quite over. There's one more huge icon in Paris that we need to go see. It's been a busy first day here in Paris! We'll continue there in the next post.

  6. #6

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    Re: Joe's summer trip to Paris France

    it's nice to see my city and home DIsney Park and RER Station . What do you think of DLP ?
    HKDL : Done !!!

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