Sunday, August 3, 2008

Paris trip - part one

We're back! Three nights in Paris with plenty of sightseeing is just about enough for us. We abandoned our leisurely pace that we've used in London this summer for a whirlwind of monuments, museums, cafes, and subway trains. We're exhausted, but we had fun. I took so many pictures that it will take a few days to show you what we've been up to.

The Eurostar train is wonderful. It runs straight from the middle of London to the middle of Paris. You even go through passport control before leaving London, so you get to Paris and just walk off the train and start your vacation. The train is super fast - over 180 miles per hour - so it's only a little over 2 hours between cities.

We arrived at our hotel and found a nice room on the top floor, complete with sloping walls and ceilings. With no air conditioning, the rooftop location was perfect, as we had windows on both sides of the room and were able to get a great breeze with the help of the fan provided. We scored a room with a double and two twin beds, and still enough room to walk around. The hotel is Hotel Le Regent Montmartre. I definitely recommend it if you're looking for a place in Paris.

With our London Underground experience, we decided to purchase five-day passes, called Paris Visite, for the Paris Metro. There is no four-day pass, but the five-day is discounted to the price that four days would cost, so it was perfect for us. We found the Paris Metro to be fairly easy to navigate. The lines are more tangled up than London's, so we had to consult our map more often. And of course, the names of the stops are all in French and more difficult for us to remember from one moment to the next. Overall, though, it was a great way for us to get around the city.

We arrived in Paris on Thursday afternoon, and got right to work with our sightseeing. First stop was the Arc de Triomphe.

As this has become our "summer of climbing tall things", we took the 284 stairs to the top of the arch. The views are wonderful. We took lots of photos from the viewing platform. I was struck by how densely the apartments are packed into the city. This is the view everywhere you look. Check out the trees along the street, with their canopies all cut into square shapes. You see this in many places around Paris.
After the arch, we headed to the Eiffel Tower. We wanted to see it before the weekend crowds arrived. Here is a view of the Seine from one of the many bridges.

And here is the famous tower. It is awesome to see from a distance, but walking right up under it is just jaw-dropping. I think I took at least 100 photos of the tower from every possible angle! There are three viewing platforms, and it costs more the higher you go. We decided to go for the top, of course. Chances like this don't come along every day! The admission price for the four of us was about 36 euro (about $54). It is possible to climb the stairs up to the second level, but we'd had enough stair climbing for one day, so we took the elevators. The elevator to the first and second level is actually an inclinator, traveling diagonally up the leg of the tower. After that, you take a different elevator straight up to the top. The views are magnificent! The photos were not that great, though, as it was approaching dusk.

As we descended from the top of the tower, night was falling, and the tower's lights came on. It's lit with blue lights at night. I've been learning more about my camera, and was able to adjust the shutter speed so that I could capture the tower at night. I love this picture!

We were exhausted after our first day. It was about 90 degrees during the day, and we were just beat after all of the walking and climbing. We had dinner at about 10 p.m. and then fell into bed.

On Friday, we visited the Louvre. We had purchased Paris museum passes on Thursday, which cover admission to lots of museums and other attractions for four days. We found them to be very useful, as we just breezed into most places without standing in the ticket lines. Here are Darrell and Katrina outside the entrance. Inside the pyramid is an entrance plaza, one level below ground. Admission is there, plus easy access to the various wings of the enormous museum.

We didn't even try to see the entire museum, as it would take weeks. We followed the crowds and the directional signs to the Mona Lisa. It's a small painting and well-separated from the crowds, but it's a must-see. We also found the Venus de Milo. I found the ceilings to be just as fabulous as the ones in the London museums. If I ran the world, there would be a special tour available where someone wheeled you around on a gurney flat on your back, just to see the ceilings! See what I mean?

The girls had fun looking for animals in the museum. They are always searching for dogs and cats. Sometimes they strike gold, like with this tiger painting.

That's not all of our Friday adventures, but I'll save some for the next post!

1 comment:

denise:) said...

Lovely photos! Esp that blue lit Eiffel Tower! Thanks for all the great info- my husband and i will be there in about a month! :D