Upon arrival in Charles De Gaulle International Airport (about 11am), there was a bit of a wait in getting our luggage but good thing was CDG has a free 30minute free WiFi use! During that time I was able to download a good Metro route app. After getting the luggage and a few mis-turns we finally were able to find the tourist information center and ask for transport options to get to the city center and our hotel. One option was using the Roissybus (€10/ea) and Metro/subway (1.70 euro) which I got from my initial internet search but the tourist info lady suggested another option by using the RER B train and the Metro (subway) which is faster and a little bit cheaper (€9.50/ea) than our initial option (which was actually the same thing that the app recommended. yey!).
Or more uncommonly known as Régie Autonome des Transports Parisiens is the Paris railway system. During our trip, we were able to ride three modes: RER (intra-city train), Metro (subway) and SNCF (inter-city train). Both of us were a bit overwhelmed when we initially saw the map (below). Even though you can change lanes without leaving the network, there are times wherein it would take us more than 10minutes, walking underground and several flights of stairs, to go to the other lane . But thanks to the app (promote!) we were able to traverse through their system with only a little hitch. Good thing as well that the map is posted almost everywhere since we think even the locals cannot memorize this diverse of a map. My busted foot really was no help, especially when it comes to the stairs, but I guess it would have been worst if we need to go out the street to change lanes. One thing that really amazed me was that RATP was established in 1948 and it has managed to linked up station from the airport to the outer city to the inner city with enough stations for both tourist and locals to utilize. (/wink /wink Philippines)
Forest Hill Hotel
The Forrest Hill Hotel was actually right at the side of the Porte de la Villette station which was very convenient for us as we have been traveling several hours by now. It was a bit outside of the city center with only the Paris Science museum as the only close attraction (Cite de Sciences) but to bad we didn't have enough time to go there! Good thing as well that we still had time to freshen up since our tour group had not arrived yet. Since the time difference between Tucson and Paris was quite significant, we preferred to get some rest instead of lunch. Good thing our travel snacks helped as well so we won't starve with the tour that happened after an hour or two. The hotel room was ok, but was very small... I kept bumping into stuff and I'm not even that big! In fairness, out of all the hotels in Europe where we stayed, they provided the most toiletries. :))
Driving Tour of Paris
We started doing the coach tour around Paris around 5:00PM which we thought was a bit late. Good thing for late sunsets as we were able to see several spots that we later used to select where to go during our free day. The map shows much better where Michel our coach driver, took us, which was a lot! Point A being the hotel was really far from the city center but we still made good with time and was able to see several different sites.
|A. Forest Hill Hotel||B. Opéra national de Paris|
|C. The Louvre||D. Cathédrale Notre Dame|
|E. Plaza Vendôme||F. Place de la Concorde|
|G. Arc de Triomphe||H. Trocadéro|
|I. Eiffel Tower||J. La Basilique du Sacré Coeur|
Place de la Concorde
Nina tracing our current tour route
Plaza Vendôme candle-like
This was the first stop of two during the couch tour and the rain decided to join along as we got out of the bus. I never thought though that it would be this windy and was ill prepared. :)) Fortunately the drizzle stopped and we were able to take some snaps. One thing I liked in Paris was that most, if not all, of the tourist spots have Metro stations in front or just a few stride away from them. Case in point, Eiffel tower and Trocadero. Once you've gone out of the Trocadero Metro you can see the most famous icon of Paris, France.
All I remember about the place was the flight of stairs that was ahead of us. I didn't really mind the steep 255+ steps but my bum foot keep on reminding me that something was wrong. :)) Once you are at the top, you can see a very nice city view of Paris.
Au Cadet de Gascogne
We walked from Sacre Coeur to Au Cadet de Gascogne for dinner. Earlier we were asked by Gayle our tour guide with what we want to eat and pre-ordered them for us. The meal included steak, fries (authentic french fries since we are in France!), salad, softdrink and flan. Some comments on the food: It took long to arrive considering we arrived late and it was pre-ordered. The steak was smaller and was a bit bland and overcooked than expected and Nina's was missing the dressing for the salad. Good thing though we were already so hungry and it was included in the tour package.
From Au Cadet, we started heading back to the Hotel via Metro. In front of the Metro was the Moulin Rouge as well. We were supposed to go and see the show the following day but due to mixed internet reviews we decided to opt out of it and spend our money elsewhere (i.e. Jungfraujoch... worth it!)
Seine River Cruise
The following day we rode the Seine River Cruise as one of the optional excursions (the other was go to a cabaret) that Expat Explore offers. Costing €10 for a 2hr ride was worth it. The ride was very touristy and is a good way to start the day since the port is just in front of the Eiffel tower.
Since we were on our honeymoon might as well do some kiss (french style. :)) ) for all the bridges that we've passed. (TMI ba? :)) )
We opted for the Paris L'OpenTour hop on - hop off bus instead of public transpo because of Pop's foot. We started at the Eiffel Tower, where it is nearest the Seine cruise port.
First stop: Opera. We also looked for lunch in the vicinity and ended up in Royal Vendome. Pop got a burger while he got me a salmon. On our way back to the hop-on hop-off bus stop, we passed by Place Vendome where some high-end shops are and in the center is a column made from actual cannons captured by Napoleon's army.
Second stop: Musee du Louvre/Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel. Initially we wanted to go in but when we saw the line and the bazillion people, we decided to take some shots and spend our limited time elsewhere. There was actually several entrances so if you really want to go in, I suggest finding another route than the pyramidy entrance Sorry Mona Lisa hope to meet you someday!
Third stop: Notre Dame Cathedral. We got married in a chapel named Notre Dame de Vie and that is nowhere close to this. Just wow! Plus, the surrounding area was also picturesque so we have a number of selfies using the monopod (attracted a lot of positive attention and some smiles) on this one. One of the pedicab-like drivers in front of it is also pinoy.
[caption id="attachment_637" align="aligncenter" width="300"] kabayan![/caption]
Fourth stop: Montparnasse Tower. This is the highest tower in Paris so opted for this instead of the Eiffel Tower for a city view of Paris. Entrance fee is €13.50/ea. Too bad the sun sets a bit late around this season so we did not had time to stay here. We did stay till 6:30PM which was not enough :(. One thing to note though is either go in early till noon or at night since afternoon the sun shines at the back of Eiffel. I really wanted to go there at night though!
Last stop: Place de la Concorde. Because we were a bit hungry and was a bit surprised the that tour bus service is finishing early, we decided to stop to the nearest area to Arc De Triomphe which was Place de la Concorde. Not really sure what happened why we do not have pictures of Place de la Concorde but I think it was because we were running to and fro to find the Metro to Arc De Triomphe.
City of Light at Night tour
Before embarking on this TripAdvisor recommended itinerary (from City Guides app), we went to Mcdo in Ave de Champs Elysee for a quick dinner. Their ordering system is automated so we can order in English but the claiming system is not so they still call the numbers in French. Good thing we still were able to get our order.
After camwhoring, we decided to call it a night as our tour guide previously advised us that subway stops at exactly 12mn (regardless of where it is currently in) and taxi is not cheap. The subway didn't stopped at 12AM though but because we were trying to get the last trip, I missed taking several more photos of the Eiffel Tower. :(
Following morning we were country bound to Switzerland.
Back to Paris
After the 12 day tour, we needed to separate from the tour group and go back to Paris. From Belgium we rode the SNCF from Bruges via Lille and arrived at Paris at about 5pm. We took the Metro to Timhotel, near Moulin Rouge. After check-in, we got dinner at Blanche, a local fastfood, and bought postcards, magnet and patch for souvenirs.
City of Light at Night Tour continuation
We were supposed to watch a cabaret show but continued this itinerary instead. We took the Metro to Pont Neuf and walked to Pont des Arts to put a lock. I had to go to a nearby shop (which also engraves locks) to get marker for the lock. Unfortunately, we weren't able to complete the itinerary and called it a day because of the rainy weather!!! :((
[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="750"] Pont des Arts[/caption]
Tim hotel Opera Blanche Fontaine
Being on our last night, this was the only hotel we stayed which was not booked for us by the tour so it was not a budget one. We chose this because it is near the Moulin Rouge. Likes: bed is big. Dislikes: stairs to get to the entrance (hassle sa luggage) and expensive breakfast. Unfortunately, we couldn't cancel the breakfast anymore because they are relying on commission when you book at booking.com so I just hoarded whatever I can.bwehehe! Note to self: when booking, if breakfast is not inclusive in the accommodation, don't take it and just eat somewhere else.
On our last day, we took the Metro/RER route to the airport again. We almost weren't able to mail postcards because we weren't able to buy stamps and post office nearest to the hotel was still closed before we left. Good thing they sell stamps and have a postal box it in the airport.