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bootlegga Paris - A travel report by James
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Paris,  France - flag France -  Ile-de-France
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bootlegga's travel reports

24 hours in the City of Lights

  8 votes
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There isn’t much that can be said about Paris that hasn’t already been said. The City of Lights has been inspiring people for centuries and I'm sure will continue to do so.


Arc de Triomphe
Arc de Triomphe
During my very compressed trip to Europe in 2005, I stopped in Paris. It was always part of our agenda, but neither I nor my buddy thought Paris was worth more than a couple of days. Perhaps someday in the future, y wife and I could go there and really enjoy ourselves, but for two young guys, Paris wasn’t as intriguing as it might be for some. I assume that if I had had longer than 2 weeks to explore Europe, I would have stayed longer, but I was more interested in seeing the Normandy beaches and an array of other battlefields in NW Europe, so we only could stay for about a day.

We arrived from Arras at about noon, and took out our map of Paris and tried to decide what to see first. We chose to stop at the Arc de Triomphe, as it was on the same subway line as our hotel.

We got to the Arc and made a bit of a mistake. We paid for admission to the top of it, thinking we had to pay to take the tunnel underneath it to get up close and personal. So, having paid for the trip to the top, we took turns climbing the stairs to the top. We would have preferred to go together, but security restrictions would not let us take our backpacks to the top, so one climbed while the other waited with the packs. The climb was tiring, but well worth it, as the view, despite it being a cloudy day, was still great.

After an hour or two, we bought some nice 5x7 and 8x10 drawings of the Arc and headed to our hotel. We left the train station and were pleasantly surprised to find it right next to the entrance. We checked in, dropped of our bags and headed out to the Hotel les Invalides, Paris’ military museum, which was only a few blocks away. When we got there, we were disappointed to see that it was closed on Mondays. So we walked over to the Eiffel Tower, again, only a few more blocks away. We stopped and took pictures and watched people for a bit, then decided to head back to the hotel.

Favourite spots:
Hotel les Invalides
Hotel les Invalides
One of Paris’ lesser known sights, the Hotel les Invalides houses a fine military museum and Napoleon’s tomb. Originally built in 1670 by Louis XIV, it was created as a hospital for French soldiers, though today it houses Napoleon’s tomb and a very fine war museum.

While the Museum is not the best military museum I’ve ever seen, it is still impressive, with original vehicles and equipment from a variety of eras. Not surprisingly, some of its best is from the medieval and Napoleonic eras. One of the most interesting artifacts is Vizier, Napoleon’s horse, which was stuffed after it died and placed there.

It is also a short walk (10 minutes) from the Eiffel Tower.

What's really great:
Eiffel Tower
Eiffel Tower
No matter the time of year, Paris offers something for everyone. Whether you want romance, stunning architecture, world famous art or total opulence, it can be found in Paris.

Sights:
Eiffel Tower
Eiffel Tower
Paris’ signature sight is of course the Eiffel Tower. It is spectacular all the time, but it is at its finest in the evening when it is lit up. Unfortunately, we didn’t get a chance to see it. Next time I guess…c’est la vie.



Another equally famous landmark is the Arc de Triomphe. Built by Napoleon to honour France’s soldiers, it is the world’s biggest traffic circle, and it intersects one of Paris other major sights, the Champs Elysee. Head to ‘downtown’ to see a post-modern version of the Arc.



No trip to Paris would be complete without a stop at the Louvre to see the Mona Lisa, or a visit to Notre dame, one of Europe’s oldest and finest cathedrals.



Just outside of Paris, the palace at Versailles is definitely worth a visit. Filled with glitz and glamour, it is opulence that only royalty can possess.

Accommodations:
The view from our hotel
The view from our hotel
Paris is full of hotels, ranging from hostels to five star hotels.

I stayed at the Hotel Innova, near Pasteur train station. From there, it was a 10 minute walk to the Hotel Invalides, and only another five to the Eiffel Tower. Locate right on a train line, it was only a few stops to either Notre Dame or the Arc de Triomphe.

Of course, no matter your budget, there is always an option, from hostels to five star hotels.

Nightlife:
The Louvre
The Louvre
Once back at the hotel, we bought some kebabs for dinner (it was quickly becoming our staple diet in France) and retired for the evening, as we were still quite tired from our ordeal in London and our first two grueling days of the trip.



While we ate dinner & watched TV, Jason came up with a brilliant plan. Go to sleep early (no clubbing) and wake up around 6am, and head straight to Notre Dame Cathedral, which was relatively easy to get to from our hotel. Then, take the train from Notre Dame and get to the Hotel les Invalides at 9am when it opened, explore it for two and a half hours, then hop on the subway to Paris du Nord train station to catch our noon train to Caen.



It sounded like as good a plan as any and I agreed. I set up a wake up call and then we both crashed.

Hangouts:
Statue of Charlemagne outside of Notre Dame
Statue of Charlemagne outside of Notre Dame
We got up as planned, grabbed a quick breakfast from the hotel lobby and headed out to see Notre Dame. The trip was easy, although the trains were very crowded. Along the way, we got to walk on the banks of the Seine and take pictures of some really interesting sculptures.



I’m sure Notre Dame cathedral was considered a marvel when it was built, but after seeing the Cathedral of our Lady (Onze-Lieve-Vrouwekathedraa) in Antwerp, I wasn’t all that impressed. Still, it was a pleasant surprise to find a statue of Charlemagne out front. Then we walked back along the Seine to the subway and went to the Hotel les Invalides.



The Hotel les Invalides was a very nice military museum, offering artifacts from a wide variety of time periods, including medieval France, both world wars, the Napoleonic Wars, and a spate of other conflicts and time periods. My buddy was most interested in seeing Napoleon’s remains, but I find such things creepy, just like walking in cemeteries. After what seemed like only 10 minutes, our time was up and we had to hoof it to the train station. We got to Paris du Nord with almost 20 minutes to spare, so we stopped at a café and grabbed ourselves some lunch for the train ride.

Restaurants:
One of the many interesting statues along the Seine
One of the many interesting statues along the Seine
Before we knew it, our time in Paris was over. We didn’t get to see a lot of things, but we did get to see everything we had hoped for. Still, I definitely know another trip to Paris is necessary to see things like Versailles, the Latin Quarter, and maybe even the Louvre, if someone can drag me there!





Other recommendations:
Mont St. Michel
Mont St. Michel
There are dozens of worthwhile day trips one can take from Paris. One spectacular trip is to see the glory of Louis XVI at Versailles. The palace there is world famous for its lavish (some might say garish) display of wealth and opulence.

A quick trip on the TGV and you can be in London, quaffing pints and snapping pics of Big Ben.

Another popular destination is Mont St. Michel. Bus tours can be taken from a number of operators. The trip is by bus and takes the entire day. However, if you have been to Mont St. Michel, you’ll know it is well worth it. It is second only to EuroDisneyland as the most popular tourist spot in France.

Published on Thursday April 8th, 2010


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Fri, Apr 30 2010 - 06:13 PM rating by jorgesanchez

Beautiful pictures and good report

Fri, Apr 23 2010 - 07:21 PM rating by eirekay

Thanks for bringing back some great memories! Terrific report!

Thu, Apr 15 2010 - 09:22 AM rating by mistybleu

A nice personal account; thanks for sharing your experiences in Paris.

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