Paris, France – Day 1 (June 27):
A slow relaxing start to the day and then it’s on to the train station – platform 15 … for 11:17am. The coach fills very fast, good thing we have pre-assigned seats. Scheduled arrival 2:35 ….. just over a 3 hour trip, hitting top speeds of 296 kmph …. 4 stops in between. Roughly 431.4km from Amsterdam to Paris. We drop in Gard du Nord (the north train station in Paris) ….. what a busy, chaotic place.
…. and of course there was a Metro strike going on for the route we would take, so we decided to cab-it. Well that was interesting to say the least, an approximate wait of 30 minutes. Taylan counted 107 taxis before we got one. We were in a cattle coral 4x 100ft, guess it was better than walking since the temperature was over 30°C …. quite the change from cold, wet Amsterdam.
Time to freshen up at our respective hotels. Big surprise at the le Derby Alma hotel …. we walk in and are given a choice of alcoholic or non-alcoholic beverage! Next big surprise, both rooms have cell phones with unlimited Wi-Fi, special apps for touring and unlimited local / international phone calls! Final gift was a welcoming note and macarons.
Well, after our rest we met at a half way point for dinner.
Italian, strangely enough, sounded right for Paris food. Restaurant Firmine provided ga great meal, entertaining service and great company. It was a hit (although not the Mafia).
Robah was the ultimate server, knowing just when we needed something and being there.
After our food break …… next stop ….. the Eiffel Tower – Brad and the grandkids have only seen ones in captivity – never one live, in the wild. They thought it was awesome!
The kids proceeded to haggle with the street vendors to get good deals on Eiffel souvenirs. Both got great deals …. and then back to the Paris digs, for sleep and to re-energize for day 2.
Gerda, Brad and Brian did a tour across the Seine river from the tower. Interesting entertainment on the steps …. they liked some, but not others (not necessarily the same ones).
Brad continued his own private tour, while Brian and Gerda went back to their room for much needed rest and to plan the attack on the tour schedule for tomorrow.
Paris, France – Day 2 (June 28):
Breakfast started on rue Cler in Brian and Gerda’ s favorite cafe …. going there at least once during each trip to Paris. Brad tagged along and got to practice his french.
We met with the Grads around 11:30 to take the “hop-on hop-off” bus tour. We started from the Eiffel Tower location. We stopped at site #4 to get paper copies (yes paper copies are still needed if you don’t have a cell phone). We also changed bus routes to go on the “blue line” cause it was going to ‘Sacre du Coure’. We got off early to feed Harlow & Taylan and then proceeded uphill to the church. After toùring the site we walked around the back and looked at the artist displays. Time for refreshments! While we waited, the ladies discussed having a picture done. Our waiter – Steven made arrangements.
The three ladies moved to sit together so Miro (our artist) could group them together.
Three beer and part way into the session, the police interrupted us, indicating Miro couldn’t seat outside the restaurant to do the picture.
The waiter moved everyone inside and let Milo and the ladies continue.
When he finished, they were excited by what he had created.
Since the tour buses would be closing soon, we decided to get a taxi or take the Metro (subway) back to our lodgings. In the end we decided to use the Metro, figuring it would be faster, during rush hour, then a taxi.
Another first for the grandkids – riding the Metro …. a great way to get from point A to point B, but it seems to always be crowded.
After arriving at our stop, we split again – everyone to their rooms to rest while Brian checked out the availability of going to the top of the Eiffel tower before our 9pm dinner. The quick answer was no – 30 minutes to get tickets, 30 to get the lift (no one was up to walking the 1700 steps) and that was being optimistic since it was already 7:30. We weren’t going to miss the 9:00pm dinner on the Eiffel tower ’58 Restaurant’.
At 8:10, freshener up we walked to the tower only to realize half way there we had forgotten the tickets – so Brian booted it back to the room … adding another 20 minutes to our already later arrival.
Not to worry, we slid right in and started the four course meal with two bottles of champagne.
Not shabby at all ……..
Second course … fois gras
Third course …. shallots
Fourth course ….. lamb
All followed by a fantastic light show ……
Paris, France – Day 3 (June 29):
Review, repeat and recycle.
After taking the Metro to the Louvre, we did an external tour of the site.
Christa thought the kids weren’t into touring art & statues. So we did the next best thing and visited the Lego store nearby. Afterwards, we had lunch in a nearby market place and split up to reconvene at Notre-Dame.
Brian and Gerda walked through the Marais district and found the “Vin, Pain, Fromage” restaurant- unfortunately it doesn’t open until 7:00pm. Such a shame, it seemed like a very interesting place, especially after the virtual tour.
Moving on to Notre-Dame, we cross one of the many bridges and checkout several of the street vendors, who sell books and assorted other fine junk. Brian bought the grandkids an old version of a hardcover French comic. Something they can show in their class next term.
The Grads wanted a picture of Notre-Dame for Marilyn. Hi Marilyn!
From there, we jumped the “Hop-on, Hop-off” bus to go back to the Eiffel Tower, where the Seine riverboat cruises start. There the kids wanted pictures in the fountain water, while Brad mulled taking a ride in a Lamborghini.
In the end, neither happened, so we went on to join the river cruise.
After the cruise, we wandered for almost an hour trying to decide where to eat, only to finally end up in at Restaurant Firmine, where Robah bent over backwards to seat us!
Great meal and once again great service.
Tomorrow is the final morning in Paris, so we haggled with Brad as to what he could take home for us. I think each of us dumped 10 pounds into the Grads old luggage and exchanged it for Brad’s smaller bag. (He arrived home safely with an extra thirty pounds and 90$ lighter due to the overweight luggage!) So now, both Gerda and Christa can shop and bring back more – and still pay overweight, maybe just a little less.
Paris, France – Day 4 (June 30):
Earliest packing so far on this trip – ready and loaded in to the taxis by 8:45 ….. Brad you “Charles de Gaulle” airport for his trip home at 1:30 PM, while Brian and Gerda head to “Orly” airport to go south to Marseille airport for their next leg. Orly is 4 times the size of Regina’s airport and Marseille is twice the size of Regina airport.
Grads have a little more time to prepare, as their train for Barcelona doesn’t leave until 2:00 PM (apparently it was late leaving and delayed on the way – details to follow)
The interesting things about Orly is you do everything …… self-service includes scanning your passport, printing your tickets and luggage tags (note: luggage is not free – you pay)….. then you take your luggage to another area to scan the tags, the luggage is weighted (you pay again if they are overweight) …… once it has all been processed and set through for loading, you can go through the entry gate by scanning your boarding pass ….. to the final step of security check. Now to wait for boarding and take off.
After all that, wouldn’t you know it, a delay …… apparently the flight was scheduled for 154 passengers, so several were not allowed on and the crew had to locate their luggage to remove it from the plane. Piece of cake after all that.