Saturday, November 15, 2014

Europe 2014: Paris, France

Eiffel Tower, Paris - 14 June 2014

I took so long to draft my Paris post because I just realized we took more than 1,000 photos just for Paris alone and that's excluding our trip to Disneyland Paris.
Really had a difficult time sorting out the photos and such. :)

Ok, now let's continue with my Europe Trip blog update.
This is Paris, the City of Love, finally!


ACCOMODATION
We stayed  4 nights in Paris in this cozy little apartment via Airbnb. The host, Eric was gracious and the location was perfect. It was located near the metro and it was just walking distance to Eiffel Tower.
This is the road of our apartment and the door leading us up to the apartment.
 

It has a working lift, which we were thankful for, so we didn't need to lug our luggage up these stairs.

This was the cozy apartment as soon as we walked through the hallway.

  
   

This was the view when we stared out the apartment window. Lovely.
Totally recommended apartment and host in Airbnb.


TRAIN STRIKE AND ENCOUNTER WITH PICPOCKETS
We encountered some problems when we flew into Paris from Barcelona.
There was a train strike in Paris on the day of our arrival.
We emailed the host prior for some updates on that and Eric was kind to advise us alternative travels just in case.

But we still decided to took the train from the airport to the city, and then change to the metro.
But because of the train strike, there were only about 4 trains operating (unlike the usual 10 trains) and thus we expected the trains to be really crowded.
And real crowded it was. We were totally sandwiched and couldn't move at all. It was not easy as we still needed to take care of a luggage each and our backpacks which we already put in front of us.

And that was when we witnessed before our eyes some con men (actually girls!) trying to hit on us.
She first targeted hubby who was standing nearest to her. She tried to open the front zip of hubby's backpack which he was carrying in front of him.

Although hubby couldn't see her did that as she used her own bag to cover up hubby's bag, but hubby could feel the vibration of the zip when she tried to open it.
Hubby then tried pulling his bag up (it was really crowded and very difficult to do so!) and she started asking hubby 'do you have a problem?'. Hubby ignored her. But she stopped doing it as she realized that hubby knew her intention.
And then she started to walk towards my sis and tried to target her. But because we were all looking at her and her friend, she couldn't really do anything.

And when we reached our station and we managed to squeeze ourselves off the train (which was extremely difficult because of so many people!), hubby saw that his backpack's front zip was in fact opened, but he was not too worried because he kept nothing there except for some loose coins in which she didn't even manage to get. *good job hubby!*


ALL ABOUT THE EIFFEL TOWER

And because we stayed just minutes walk away from the Eiffel Tower, we took the opportunity to go a few times during our 3 nights stay in Paris.
First day in Paris was leisure. We checked in and then walked straight to the Eiffel Tower with food brought along the way.
The plan was to have a picnic brunch and just relax on the soft soft grass, while munching on berries and desert. It was a lovely, lovely way to spend the day away.

 



But anyhow, the queue to go up the Eiffel Tower was freaking long. There were queues on both sides and each queue seemed snake-long, about 500 people in each queue, I kid you not.
We tried buying the tickets online months ago and even that we couldn't secure the tickets, so we had no choice but to join the snake-long queue.

Luckily we had lotsa time to queue. In fact, so much time that we queued twice!
Well, let me tell you why.

We initially wanted to queue to buy the tickets to watch the sunset from the summit. But after 1 1/2 hours of queue, when we reached our turn, we were told that once we got our tickets, we need to go up there and then. And that was only like 5pm or so. And sunset would be about 9-10pm.
And so we let go our turn and decided to queue again later in the evening.

We actually took a risk because they limit the number of people on the summit. Once it is full, they would stop selling summit tickets until the number of people up there became lesser and they would open the tickets for sale again. So we prayed that when we started to queue for the second time at about 7.45pm, summit tickets would still be available.

We were lucky and we got our tickets and we got up the summit to watch the view and sunset from the summit of the Eiffel Tower.
We watched the sun went down.
 

And the sky grew dark and the lights went on.
 

To tel the truth, going up there was nothing really fantastic. The view was great but not like super great, and it was freaking windy and cold up there.
But we still spent about I think 2 hours up there waiting for the sun to set and the lights to come out.
But I must say it was a good experience, and to really step foot on Eiffel Tower and touching it.

The next morning, we met up with Seow Wei and Yit Fung (who were also on their own Europe trip tour).
Life was certainly much happier with more people and we went to the Eiffel Tower again with them.
And because of YF's selfie stick, we even got to take many wefie-s!

We took some fanstatic morning photos of the Eiffel, when there were less crowd thus that makes nicer photos.
Fantastic blue skies with the world's most recognized building, amongst greenery - perfect backdrop. 

I love these couple shots. 

 

A cheesy photo of hubby & me - only made possible without kids bombing our photo. haha. 

After that off we all went, all 5 of us to explore Paris on foot. 
Let me tell you this. That day turned out to be the most tired day of all in my whole Europe trip. Lotsa walking and climbing hills and such.
Our Subway tickets. 

First we took the metro to Luxembourg Gardens (Jardin du Luxembourg ).
Very very nice landscaping, with beautiful buildings inside.  I think these photos says it all. Awesome, right?
And there are many people strolling in the gardens.





Pantheon in Paris was a disappointment, because there was some construction going on at the roof-part. Boo hoo.



We then visited the Notre Dame, which I guessed made famous by the cartoon Hunchback of Notre Dame.  I love this too, despite many churches I've seen in Europe.
 
 


The carvings were pretty awesome.

Entrance into it is free, just need to follow the long queue. But fret not, the queue move fast!
Loved the stained glass interior.
So intricately delicate. Breathtaking.
 


Me being a book lover got into this famous Shakespeare and Company bookstore, which was just nearby the Notre Dame.

And this was another random quirky bookstore we found when we were searching for a place to lunch.
 


Then to Pont des Arts (Love lock / Lover's bridge), which was actually nearby but still quite a walk away. 
Erm, this one is already famous but made even more famous after the TVB drama Triumph In The Sky II. 
Surprisingly, I love this place but is mainly because the weather there was really nice with dreamy-like skies in the hot afternoon sun. 

Ok, DON'T look at us kissing, but look at the background. Isn't this super dreamy-like, with blue skies and puffy white clouds with boat cruising the Seine River?

No, none of us put a lock there. We just kissed in front of the locks, no need to purchase overpriced locks to put among them. lol 

Another we-fie of us 5 - Only in Paris we got to do that!

The number of locks in any given area was really sooo many, or should I say 'much' because it was really impossible to count them. 
Let me zoom in for you all to see. And this is just like a small area. 
There were locks on top of locks on top of locks on top of locks. Get it?
And I used my hand to lift them up, it was really heavy. So no wonder part of the bridge got broken off as we read in the news a few days before we reached Paris.
But I heard that every year, the maintainance people would remove a significant amount of locks to make way for new locks. 
 

This was the broken down bridge fence - just a small part of it. You can see in the photo below the newly joint bridge fence, where there were noticeably less locks on it. And this was just erected like a few days before we were there!

Next to the Louvre.
The Musée du Louvre —in English, the Louvre Museum or simply The Louvre—is one of the world's largest museums, and a historic monument.
And when they say it is large, it is really large. I wouldn't dream of going in there because I think I would doze off while walking the long halls. Nope, not even Mona Lisa would wake me up. haha.
This is the stretch of Louvre while we were looking at the entrance to it.
 

Found the entrance to the famous glass pyramid, surrounded by the walls of the museum. It was choke-ful of tourists like us and it was impossible to take photos without hordes of people.






As we were walking back opposite the direction of the glass pyramid, the gardens and museum halls lined the path and it was beautiful. Many people were sunbathing on the grass itself, soaking in the sun. We Asians on the other hand were holding umbrellas and wearing sunhats. :)



Next we walked pass to the Palais Garnier - is a 1,979-seat opera house, which was built from 1861 to 1875 for the Paris Opera.
Nothing much as we did not go in.


After that it was another 20 minutes walk to see the Moulin Rouge Theatre, The last part of the walk was uphill. 
I was not very appreciative of the movie Moulin Rouge we did not opt to see the night show. 


Then we adjourned to La Fayette, the famous shopping district for the branded stuff.
SW and YF shopped for some bags while we just waited nearby. There were so many China tourists there buying bags by the dozen, I kid you not!

And the last Itinerary on that day was to Basilica of the Sacré Cœur.
The Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Paris, commonly known as Sacré-Cœur Basilica, is a Roman Catholic church and minor basilica, dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

We knew that it would be on top of a hill because it is famous for sunset watching. And sunset watching places are usually high up right.
But what we didn't really prepared for was that we were so damn tired after a long day of walking, and walking up the hill to get to the basilica was really so tiring.
And the number of stairs going up...arghhh....i hate stairs!
My sis nearly fainted that initially she didn't even want to take photos when she reached there, and that was really rare.
The hilly roads and the damn stairs, many flights of those damn stairs!
   

And as we reached the top of the hill, only then we saw that there was actually a small tram that takes people up the hill. A really short journey though. Bah, we didn't know that. 

But once we were up there, the view was fantastic, overlooking the whole Paris. 






This is the Basilica of the Sacré Cœur.
Yes, more stairs to reach the Basilica. Our poor legs.

Standing below the stairs.
  

As we got nearer, the 3 domes got hidden behind this facade.
We did not wait for the sunset because when we reached it was only about 7pm, and sunset won't be until at least 9-10pm. And we were dead tired by then. So we took the metro back to our apartment.
 


And for the next day, we went to Palace of Versailles, which we already bought tickets in advance.
The Palace of Versailles, or simply Versailles, is a royal château in Versailles in the Île-de-France region of France. In French it is the Château de Versailles.

We took the metro there because it is not situated in the city.
Let me first tell you that this palace is not worth going at all, in my humble opinion. Nothing special unless you are a palace buff, though I just found out that it is one of Unesco's World Heritage Site. Gulp. 

This was us in the palace grounds and behind is part of of the palace, with many parts adorned with gold. 

The only room worth mentioning in the castle is its famous Hall of the Mirrors.
Overlooking Versailles Park, the Hall of Mirrors is the biggest room in the palace. It owes its name to the seventeen mirror arches facing seventeen windows overlooking the Park. Each arch contains twenty-one mirrors with a total of 357 in the spectacular Hall of Mirrors.
(Photo source: http://www.parisdigest.com/monument/galeriedesglaces.html)


The other rooms in the castle was just the normal grand looking bed, wardrobes, chairs, 1001 paintings, etc. Boring. 

The Park was definitely more interesting.

Its park is the perfect example of classical French gardens where nature is ordered geometrically. Spread with many beautiful statues and fountains, the park and its Grand Canal were the setting of splendid royal parties until the 1789 revolution. 
   
 
 

But the park was so big it was so tiring to walk the whole park. There were Segway-like for rent but it was expensive, so we replied on our legs. 
Too tired and we ate a pizza on the way to Mary-Antoinette's estate, which was included into our ticket price. Was a shame if we didn't go and see what was it, but it was such a long way at the other end of the Grand Canal.
 

At one of the fountains along the way.

The long way to Mary-Antoinette's estate. Loved the greenery and the vast land. Laid down on the grass for a minute to rest our legs.



Ok, totally regretted walking all the way there. The Mary-Antoinette's estate basically just looked like some smaller scale palace, and looked more run-down. Period.
  

The park was smaller scale too but impeccably kept.


We then rushed all the way back as there was supposed to be a fountain show starting soon. We thought it would be something special because all the guides we met in the palace reminded us to get outside the park as not to miss the fountain show.

Rushed back and was also disappointed to see the fountain show actually meant that all the small fountains in the park was turned on and some water was being splashed out. No music or anything. Just water.
Really disappointed after the magnificent Fountain show in Barcelona. LOL.
 

The palace looking small behind in the vast park!

After we left the palace we went to the famous Champs-Élysées stretch. 
The Avenue des Champs-Élysées is a street in Paris, France. With its cinemas, cafés, luxury specialty shops and clipped horse-chestnut trees, the Champs-Élysées is arguably the most famous street – and one of the most expensive strips of real estate – in the world.
So naturally we didn't get anything from there.

And we got into the divider of the road to catch a photo with the Arche de Triomphe.
The Arc de Triomphe de l'Étoile is one of the most famous monuments in Paris. It stands in the centre of the Place Charles de Gaulle, at the western end of the Champs-Élysées.
 



After mentioning all the places we visited in Paris, I forgot to mention the FOOD we had in Paris.
Paris is one of our favourite place because of the delicious deserts and food we had. And all the small cafe that sells snacks and stuff, totally our palette! 
Time to feast your eyes.
  
  
   
   
 
  
  
  


And the final day in Paris was spent on the Happiest Place On Earth - Paris Disneyland!
Ok, I think I will just end with a photo of us in Disneyland, where we spent more than 12 hours there and we got back to our apartment at 2am!
But it was a day well spent. I would go there all over again!



Ok, Goodbye Paris! It took me 5 midnights to finally get this post up!


p/s - Read more on my Europe trip here

2 comments:

Elly Leong said...

Thanks for sharing this. I feel like I'm in Paris.

shu-yin tan said...

Typing this blog post made me feel like I am in Paris all over again, really reliving my days in Paris!

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