We began our final leg Tuesday, Sept 1 at 10:13 travelling from Biarritz to Paris in approximately 6 hours by SNFC TGV high speed train.
When we arrived at Paris – Montparnasse train station, we were almost trampled by everyone trying to get off. One woman literally pushed Gerda into a child who was stepping off the train. Ahhh the french culture again, everything is an adventure. With us having so little working french language, we can’t even swear properly – so we “laugh” it off while clenching our teeth. Then you find out that this station handles 50 million passengers and realize why the passengers want to get out of there ……… that’s alot of people for a train station built in 1840.
We debated taking a bus or the subway but with so many people and the luggage getting heavier we opted to take a taxi. It turned out to be not much more cost than the subway fare.
Our hotel is the Derby Alma on rue Rapp and is very nice.
The room is actually quite large and we even have bathrobes and slippers!
The entry to the hotel is right on the corner and if you look up the street the Eiffel Tower is right there!
Obviously Gerda has been to Paris too many times as she knows the neighborhood quite well!
Gerda found a nice lampshade for the grandkids – Taylan & Harlow – she hopes they like it …. but can’t fit it into her luggage to bring home – so a picture will have to do. Here’s what the lampshade looks like when lit up. It does provide a lot of light on a dark night!
Wandering the neighborhood brings back great memories of the times we’ve spent here before. The french adventure is always enhanced by the Paris experience!
We’re off to meet Gerda’s Dutch relatives who have driven down today from Holland just to visit …… always a great time when we get together!
Much to our surprise, they drove a camper vehicle like a small Winnebago and have parked it in a large campground in Paris called “Indigo!” in the large park area ‘Bois de Boulogne’ ……. a new page to add to our library of the Paris.
After lots of conversation and too many beer, we made it back to the hotel, inspite of our encounter with an incompetent cabbie – three extremely close near misses and assorted jesters with profanity. At times I wonder how we have managed to survive the french adventure!
The tour of Paris sites using the “hop-on-hop-off” bus service ……. was very interesting and cool – the temperature had dropped to 19C. Not only did we get to see and hear about many of Paris’s historic sites on the 2 hour tour, but we also got to see a farmers strike – where 1500 tractors descended on Paris. The streets and bridges were lined with as many police vehicles to direct traffic and keep the peace.
On Friday we spent the morning finding the pickup point for our unlimited tour passes. These would alllow us to travel anywhere in Paris and visit most monuments / museums without having to wait in line.
So what did we do – we promptly got lost after picking up our passes. We finally ended up at the “Lafayette Galleries” – 7 floors of top of the line clothing and accessories by the likes of Armani, Christian Dior, Prada, etc.
After our late dinner, we strolled to see the Eiffel Tower “twinkle”. At 11:00 pm we recorded the following video showing off the 5 million lights. The light show runs for 10 minutes, every hour on the hour, from sunset until 1:00am.
Saturday, Sept 5, our last entry of this phase of the “Pursuing-Dreams” adventure finds us doing one last tour – of the Montparnasse Tower. The subway in Paris is very extensive with lots of switch points. In other words, great for getting lost and waisting time – which we are very good at lately. But when we finally made it to the top of the tower, the view was spectacular! Here are a few of the sights from the 56th floor:
Well – it’s official – definitely time to return home ….. both of us have run out of shampoo
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A final note about our flight home:
Leaving Paris proved more difficult than we had anticipated. The taxi ride took 45 minute – 25 of which were at a speed of less than 10 kmph. When we got into the terminal we had to go to the far end of the terminal to register and then back to the original end to go through border customs to validate our passports. There were approximately 200 people lined up before us. It took over 45 minutes and some frustration to get through this process, followed by 10 minutes for security. Finally it took another 15 minutes to get to the departure gate. It’s a good thing we left our hotel early otherwise we could have been in trouble connecting with the plane.
We were scheduled to leave Paris at 12:25 with boarding to start at 11:45. Normally it takes 20 minutes with 1st class and those needing assistance going first, etc. So we decided to have a coffee and bite to eat, thinking 30 minutes would be sufficient. Well at 11:50 Gerda heard the “last call” call for boarding. Needless to say we grabbed everything and ran to the gate. They were now calling our’s and a few others names to come to the gate. We rushed through the passage and were ushered down the stairs and ……… on to a bus – where we waited another 20 minutes before it drove us and the other passengers to the plane! Get off the bus walk across the tarmac, up the stairs and get seated.
That’s Rome and now Paris where we had to go on the tarmac. Guess Air Canada must not be paying their “docking” fees to get a direct walkway access.
The plane did take off on time.
This is the final shot of our journey – Paris, through the clouds, from a thousand feet ………
On the middle right you can see a dark triangle – yes the Eiffel Tower. In the midle a dark rectangle, the Montparnasse Tower and in the middle bottom, the Seine River flowing around the island “Île de la Cité” where Notre Dame stands.
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We hope you have enjoyed following our journey as much as we enjoyed sharing!
Below is a quick & dirty comparison of some of the Best & Worst we have experienced. We will update it after we return home, when we can be more precise with the table (tables do not work well on a tablet).
Regards ……. Brian & Gerda