Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Paris When it Sizzles - Paris, France

After Beauvoir, we head to Paris. Of all the cities we will see, this is one of the ones I'm looking forward to the most.

Where we will sleep

Camping International de Maisons-Lafitte (Campsite)
How long? 6 nights
How much? €25.17 per night (2 adults, small tent, 1 motorbike)
Check in? 12am? I think they might mean noon. We'll be on our way from Beauvoir, 3.5 hours away. 
Check out? Again, 12am. I think we can safely assume they mean noon. We'll be aiming to leave around 8am to get to Bordeaux, 5.5 hours away, by 4pm.
Why we chose it? Located close to both Paris and Versaille, has a laundry, web access, on the banks of the river Seine. Biggest pull was location.

What we want to see

As with London, in Paris we have a lot to see and little time to see it in, so we have a plan based on what’s close to what. If the plan doesn’t go like we thought it would – not a problem. It’s just an idea to make sure we have the opportunity to see everything we have our eye on.


G) is our campground, B) is the Eiffel Tower.
F) is Disneyland for Wednesday and D) is Versaille for Thursday.

Eiffel Tower – We arrive in the afternoon and this is the only thing I want to see. Follow it up with a walk along the Seine and it should be the perfect start to the week!
€4.70 to take the stairs to the 2nd floor, €8.20 for the lift to the 2nd floor and €13.40 to take the lift to the top.
Opening Hours 9am-12.45am over Summer. Last admission for the stairs at midnight and the lift to the top at 11pm.


A) is Marche d'Aligre, B) is Place des Vosges. C) is the Catacombs, D) is Jardin Luxembourg,
E) is the Pantheon. F) is Place St-Michel and G) is Notre Dame.
Marche d'Aligre – Market with quirky flea market stalls. Across the road from Marche Beauvau which sells fresh food.
€0 Admission
Opening Hours 9am-1pm and 4pm -7.30pm Tue-Fri, 9am-1pm and 3.30-7.30pm Sat and 9am-1.30pm Sun. Closed Mondays.

Place des Vosges – The oldest planned square in Paris, the perfect people-watching location to eat our brunch from the market
€0 Admission
Opening Hours – N/A

The Catacombs of Paris - Famous underground ossuary holding the remains of 6 million people. It would make sense to make this our last stop for the day but we don't want to miss out if we take awhile to get there, so we're going to drive to the Catacombs and work our way back towards the Louvre.
€4 each for youth up to 26 years old, €8 for adults.
Opening Hours 10am-5pm Tue-Sun, last admission 4pm.

Luxembourg Gardens - coming very highly recommended by people who have been.

Pantheon – Temple to the Gods of Ancient Rome, commissioned by Marcus Agrippa and rebuilt by Emperor Hadrianin 126CE.
€7 adults, €4.50 youth up to 25 years old
Opening Hours 10am-6pm, last admission 5.15pm

Place Saint-Michel – The heart of St Michel with a fountain depicting St Michel killing a demon.
€0 admission
Opening Hours – N/A

Notre Dame – The famous cathedral
€0 admission
Opening Hours 8am-6.45pm 


Disneyland Paris - We booked online for convenience and to make sure we didn't miss out - when I travelled through America the money I had set aside for Disneyland was stolen a few days before I was due to go.
€51 for a 1 day/1 park adult ticket.
Opening Hours subject to change but currently listed as 10am-10pm throughout the Summer months.


Palace of Versaille – Residence of the former Kings of France and estate of Marie Antoinette. We booked online to avoid the queues that are apparently massive in the Summer. The booking process was not the easiest - Soul Buddy gave up - but we got there in the end.
€18 admission, reduced to €10 if you only want to see Marie Antoinette's Estate.
Opening times vary. We've heard it's super crowded on Tuesdays.


A) is Arc de Triomphe, B) is Champ Elysees, C) is Place de la Concorde.
D) is Jardin des Tuileries, E) is Palais-Royale and F) is the Louvre.
G) is Moulin Rouge and H) is the Sacre Coeur.
Arc de Triomphe - Apparently the view from the top is just as good as the view from the 2nd floor of the Eiffel Tower so we will probably only do one.
€9.50 each
Opening Hours 10am-11pm in Summer, last admission 10.30pm.

Champ Elysees – The most famous street in Paris. Cafés, high class shopping and Maple Trees as far as the eye can see.
€0 admission
Opening hours differ between businesses

Place de la Concorde – One of the major public squares in Paris, at the end of Champ Elysees.
€0 admission
Opening hours – N/A

Jardin des Tuileries – One of Paris’ most visited gardens.
€0 admission
Opening hours – N/A

Palais-Royale – a palace and its gardens. It is stunning. Today it houses the Conseil d'État, the Constitutional Council, and the Ministry of Culture.
€0 admission
Opening hours – N/A

Louvre – I know it’s busy and I know Mona Lisa is tiny. I don’t care!
€10 admission but it's FREE on the first Sunday of every month and for under-26 year olds on Friday evenings from 6-10pm. Hence we’re going on a Friday.
Opening Hours Mon, Thu, Sat-Sun 9am-6pm, Wed and Fri 9am-10pm. Closed Tuesdays.

Moulin Rouge - I'm not fussed about the show, but I want to see the windmill. We’re going to check it out on the way home from the Louvre.
€80 admission for the show only with no frills and no food or drink. Up to €180 with full service.
Show times on the Moulin Rouge website.

Sacre Coeur - The Basilique Sacre Coeur is a beautiful Roman Catholic church located on the highest point of the city. It’s right by Moulin Rouge so we’ll check it out at night when it is all lit up and if we have time later in the week we’ll go inside.
€0 Admission to the Basilica, €5 for the Dome and Crypt
Opening Hours for the Basilica are 6am-11pm, Opening Hours for the Dome and Crypt are 9am-6pm.


We have absolutely nothing planned for our last day in Paris. There are a couple of options though.

The FREE walking tour by New Paris Tours. Their parent company, New Europe Tours, offers tours throughout many European countries, including 13 walking tours through major cities, which are completely free. The tours are apparently very good, as the guides are paid nothing but the tips they receive on the day, so they work for their supper, and they do it well. The Paris tour is 3.5 hours long and departs from the fountain on Place St Michel at 11am and 1pm. See the website for a full list of the sites you see! I used the list to plan our own itinerary.

Opera Garnier – We tried to get tickets to see an Opera but everything was sold out. We have searched for Operas in Barcelona, London, Prague and Rome as well with no luck. The building of the Opera Garnier though looks incredible so we might check it out.

Rue Montorguiel – another trendy street, one with famous restaurants, bakeries and… what do you know… a market, which begins at Rue Rambuteau 1a.

Pere-Lachaise Cemetery - How many cemeteries have a virtual tour online? Very weird. But this, the largest cemetery in Paris, is not just any resting place for the dead. It's elite clientele include Chopin, Victor Hugo, Delacroix, Oscar Wilde, Gertrude Stein, Edith Piaf and the one and only Jim Morrison. It's also one of the most beautiful cemeteries in the world with rolling hills, huge trees and winding paths with street names. The cemetery is 39 minutes from our accommodation in Maison-Lafitte or 22 minutes from the Eiffel Tower for some perspective. The closest we get to it is our visit to Marche d'Aligre, 8 minutes away.
€0 admission or €6 with a guided tour.
Opening hours - 7.30am-6pm Mon-Fri, 8.30am-6pm Saturday and 9am-5.30pm Sunday and public holidays. Opening hours are shorter in Winter.

What we are expecting

I have seen far too many episodes of Gossip Girl and have a skewed idea of what Paris will be like I’m sure. It will be sunny, the leaves on the trees will flutter, people will stroll the streets and river banks looking madly in love and everyone will be elegant and beautiful. The patrons in the cafes we visit will have their noses up, be disinterested and rude but only because they have better things to do with their fancy Parisian lives. Fellow tourists will all be happy. I imagine beautiful squares and lots of open areas, lots of space. Wide avenues, spacious greens. That’s the main thing I imagine, lots of space, everything breezy and open and warm. Oh, and I’ve been told gypsies will beg and then try and steal from me. In my imagination, they stay in a corner and don’t mess up the imagery.