Just a few weeks after returning from my Rome trip, I started planning the next trip. I realised that I’ll be having a 2 weeks holiday in April after my exams, and it is a perfect opportunity to go somewhere. After much consideration and research, I decided to go to Paris. I planned it to be a group trip. The idea is for my brother Aiman to fly into Paris from Kuala Lumpur, while me, my fiance, and my sister Syahirah will meet him there.
Below are the costing details:
- Duration: 7 days 6 nights (14th April to 20th April 2012)
- Accommodation: Novotel Hotel Vaugirard, GBP296 per person for 6 nights
- Flight: Easyjet, GBP99 (return flight from Bristol to Paris)
- Season/Temperature: Early Spring, average 1 to 4 degrees Celsius
Note: click on images to enlarge and click on links for further info.
As usual, I got myself a DK Eyewitness Travel book for Paris.
I did a fair amount of research before the trip and discovered 2 main things:
- Paris Museum Pass: It will be cheaper for us to visit the museums we have in mind if we get this Pass . They have a 2, 4 or 6 day pass. You can purchase this at various locations, including big museums, in Paris. (link here)
- Paris Visite Pass: This travel pass enables us unlimited travel on almost all of Paris’ public transport. It is available on a 1, 2, 3, or 5 day pass. (link here)
Paris has an excellent metro train service. I did some reading on their metro map before arrival, hence I was able to find my way around quickly. They have numerous lines and networks that it would be possible for you to go anywhere in Paris using the metro. For the first-timer, the Paris metro map can look quite overwhelming. It doesn’t help that everything is in French too. Just take your time to understand the colour-codes and the signs, and once you get it, moving around Paris would be a breeze.
Day 1 (14 April 2012)
We arrived in Paris at 12:20PM. I was quite excited to arrive in Charles De Gaulle (CDG) airport. Given it’s reputation as the worst airport in the world, I was anxious to see how bad it really is. To my disappointment, it wasn’t that bad at all! OK, the baggage area did smell of urine and the airport had an old 80s feel to it (this is suppose to be a “highly developed country”), but I couldn’t see how all this could make it the worst in the world. But then, I was reading from a UK based review site. Hmm..
From CDG, we took the train to the city. As mentioned previously, I had done some prior reading before arriving, hence I was able to locate the right train and line that we were suppose to take. It took us around 30-40 mins to get to the city center. Since our luggage was kinda heavy and I didn’t feel like changing train lines to get to our hotel (the hotel is near the Vaugirard station, on a different line), we decided to get out at Saint-Michel Notre-Dame station. That station was quite near to Notre-Dame cathedral, and we could see it from across the river. From there, we hailed a cab, and our French-speaking adventure began.
At the hotel, we met up with my brother. After putting our stuff, we went out to explore the city. We took the metro from Volontaires station and went back to the Saint-Michel Notre-Dame station. We explored the area as there were many restaurants and cafes there. We had lunch at one of the French restaurants.
After lunch, we walked around, exploring the area. We ended up at Pont de l’Archevêché, a bridge near Notre Dame. This bridge is similar to Pont des Arts where lovers put their “love padlocks” on the bridge. We were just in time to observe a newly wed couple taking a photo there.
From there, we walked to Notre Dame and took some photos on the outside. We plan to come again on Thursday for a tour inside the cathedral. From there, we explored the little island that Notre Dame is on (it’s a small island on the Seine River), and from there, we went across to the other side of the river. We walked along the Seine. The view was amazing. We could see Eiffel from far. At the Quai du Louvre, which is a street near The Louvre, I was hoping that we would be able to get a glimpse of the great museum. Turns out we are behind it. Since we plan to visit the Louvre on Monday, we explored the nearby area for coffee shop.
As we were looking for a place for teatime, I spotted Church of Saint-Germain-l’Auxerrois. It was situated right behind the Louvre.
We had teatime at Cafe Massena, on Rue de Rivoli near The Louvre. It turned out to be a very good choice. Allow me to explain something first. From what I discovered online, the French people don’t like it if people speak in a foreign language to them, especially English. However, most of them would open up if you attempt to speak French. With that in mind, everywhere we went we would muster all the French we knew. From the basic bonjour to ordering food and asking for directions. It turned out, the waiter at this restaurant was so amused by our efforts to speak French that he became really friendly. His friendliness convinced me that what I read online was true. Our experience at Cafe Massena made everybody very eager to speak more French. It was a good start to our 1 week holiday in Paris.