From Manila to Paris…how stark of a difference can you get?
A side note (you will see many): my new favourite airlines is Etihad Airways – “Fly with the Best” and they truly air (exceptional service, the latest planes and many digital entertainment options plus the uniforms are quite stylish as well).
We landed at the Charles De Gaulle airport in the early afternoon – wide-eyed, frisky, marvelled, relieved for cooler weather, and ready for another adventure. Hopping onto the RER, we made our way towards the city. While gazing out the window and hoping for signs of an early spring, we were suddenly serenaded by French accordion music from down the train car. It was at that moment that we really knew we were in Paris.
After bulldozing our baggage the Metro turn-styles, stumbling through my French with the locals, and eventually figuring out how to use my compass, we finally made it to our Marais accommodation. With the evening still in it’s infancy, we checked out our digs and then quickly headed out to the supermarket for, what my better half has proclaimed as one of the best reasons to France, some bread, wine, and cheese!
The following Friday, 9pm local time, we were able to watch the Olympic Ice Hockey Gold Medal Game. But unlike our friends and family back home, we watched the game on Canal+ channel 5 in French (not “Quebecois” French, but “France” French.
Oh la la, LuONG-GOOO….LOOOUUUUUUU!
Prongure!!! Ryan Miellaarr! Oh Crois-beee!! CROISBEE!!!
The France sports commentators were great and made our hockey game experience memorable…
(Oh I can imagine what the reaction at home would be like)
Packing it all in
6 days in Paris is certainly not enough time and we did our best to pack a lot in without burning ourselves out (including our wallets).
Impressive and quite grand is all I can say about the massive collection of the Museé du Louvre but I was pleasantly surprised that I enjoyed the Museé d’Orsay much more (sometimes smaller is better). Here, I finally saw works by Edgar Degas (whose style I followed in high school) and found new admiration for Alfred Sisley and Camille Pissarro’s landscapes work.
Courbet’s “The Origin of the World”, c’est tres avant-garde, n’est pas?
One full day included doing the Montmartre Walking Tour (I never knew Moulin Rouge was real) and the view from Basilique du Sacré Coeur was spectacular. It wasn’t until we got our second wind while subtle dancing in front of Abbesses metro station with the Jason Kingsley Trio playing in the background that we decided to power through and visit the Eifel Tower to end our day.
I am content enough to say that I saw the Arc de Triomphe at a distance.
Glorious was Notre Dame.
Some traveler’s notes…
After getting over the shock of the Euro/Canadian dollar conversion, we had to slightly change our plans of dining out every other night (or like not ever). The Monoprix (and Mono P’) stores was our saviour as we were able to buy groceries for breakfast, lunch, and dinner for the price of a single meal out. G20 super marche was our back-up store.
Do yourself a favour, jot some notes down and then leave the big LP France at home (very bulky and cumbersome to lug around). Luckily, we borrowed the condense LP Paris guide from our accommodation which was all we ever really needed (for street maps, Metro lines, and summaries for sights and areas) AND there were lots of tourist maps and local guides available. For good English road maps for the next legs of our trip, we found everything we needed at W.H. Smith and got a really good Europe road map at the Institut Géographique National – Espace IGN, just off the Franklin D. Roosevelt metro station.
The Metro and RER in Paris was great – easy, efficient and you can pretty much get to every popular sight in Metro Paris. A book of 20 tickets was a great deal (and especially convenient for spontaneous trips). I remember getting into the RER from the airport and being serenaded by an local accordionist.
Finally, we picked up our Clio just on the outside the fringe of the city. The Renault dealership was just minutes away from the Porte de St-Cloud metro station. We quickly got familiarized with our 5-speed, diesel-vehicle and we were on our way to our next destination (thanks to Kathy).