Paris for my birthday
Trip Start Apr 20, 2007
30Trip End Sep 14, 2007
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Where I stayed
After exploring the many strange and wonderful parts of London I made the journey across the channel to Paris via the Eurostar (underground/under-ocean train for those who are unfamiliar). It turned out to be a fabulous idea to travel this way. Not only is it much easier to get to Waterloo Train Station; but you only need to be there 30-45mins before you are due to depart. This saves major travelling time and money. The cost of travel on the Eurostar is also quite competitive with the cheap flights available with budget airlines. By the time you catch a train to Heathrow and pay the flights and taxes; it works out pretty much the same. But the convenience is far better on the Eurostar.
My first day in Paris consisted of a hell of a lot of walking. In the end I calculated about 7km to be precise. Many of the major features I had managed to at least walk by and take some lovely photos of. Notre Dame Cathedral, Seine River, Eiffel Tower, Arc de Triomphe, Champs Elysee, The Louvre, Glass pyramids, Tuilleries Gardens, Cleopatras Pin & the Bastille monument were amongst them.
I had again been my stingy self and opted for cheapo accommodation to allow for more money spent on site-seeing and purchases along the way. My choice was the Auberge Internationale des Jeunes (not far from Bastille monument). For €15/night including breakfast (baguette with butter and jam & coffee/tea/hot chocolate). I was fairly impressed; especially for Paris. The place is extremely basic but the location is pretty good and the price is right. The only down side is that they lock you out between 10am and 3pm each day. But if you are in Paris to see the place then that's not a huge drama anyway. They are also in the process of renovating part of the ajoining building to make another hostel. The new hostel is meant to have rooms with private bathrooms and be of a slightly higher standard, so I'd probably check it out when I go back next time
After my first day of an epic distance and my continued flu which just wouldn't go away, I decided to take the next morning a little easier; before my cousin Shelley was due to arrive. I spent the morning taking photos of the beautiful Luxembourg Gardens and sat and relaxed in the sun for a few hours. In the afternoon I caught up with my gorgeous girls under the Eiffel Tower. So the four of us (Me, Carmen, Beth & her mum) lined up and made our way up to the top to check out the view. It is stunning up there. I love heights; so the higher we went and the better the view got; the more I was impressed. It's currently €11.50 to take the elevator all the way to the top; stopping at the 2nd floor to see the scenery and change elevators. Cheaper of course if you choose to walk the stairs; but you can only go as far as the 2nd floor via the stairs. We were not completely lazy however; and did walk the stairs all the way back down from the 2nd floor when we were done.
Did you know? The Eiffel Tower is 16,962km from Sydney, Australia.
We later tried some French cuisine at a nearby restaurant and catch our first glimpse of the Eiffel Tower by night
The next day we checked out Musee d'Orsay; the museum set inside an old train station. The building is gorgeous and there are many fabulous artworks within its walls. Plenty of Monet, Van Gogh, Renoir. I say it's well worth the visit if you like art; and you should allow plenty of time because although the building is not huge, there are a number of levels and rooms to explore and it takes a while.
After checking out some more of the sites we all returned to our rooms to get ready for dinner. It was time for our joint birthday celebrations; since it was to be mine and also Beth's mums birthday on Monday 30th. We met again at the restaurant (Market Restaurant) just off Champs Elysee and had a lovely dinner. The price is fairly high but the meals (especially the entrees) were delicious and the service wonderful. It was a lovely night. Such a shame I was having a coughing fit throughout most of it.
But anyway, I recouped and met Miss Carmenelli the next morning (while Shelley & Beth sat for Brunch) and we checked out Notre Dame from the interior
I was most upset for Miss Carmenelli to be then leaving bound for London again, but we bid her farewell and of course yelled our farewells while she walked across the Pont (bridge) to the other side. Shelley, Beth and myself were then on a mission to tour the illustrious Paris Sewers (Des Egouts de Paris). The suggestion had been made to me before leaving Australia to do this tour and until now I didn't think it would have happened; but why on earth not I say. It certainly stunk, and it was stuffy down there but it was interesting all the same. There is a lot of history of Paris and its water networks detailed throughout the tour and there is even a gift shop. We had first made a joke about there being a gift shop in a sewer, but by the time we reached the end of the tunnels; there it was. And Miss Beth was most excited to see; yes you could even buy sewer postcards!
The next day was Monday; and finally my birthday. Sadly Beth and her mum were due to leave this day so we made our farewells the afternoon before. I decided to climb the spiralling staircase of the Arc de Triomphe to see the lineal view of the streets of Paris. And my goodness I'm glad I did. It's amazing how everything spreads out from that one point. You can see the traffic all coming along the Champs Elysee, and the view across Paris to the Eiffel Tower. From here I headed back to the Picasso Museum; one of my favourite artists
Finally Monday night had arrived and it was time for my present to myself; Dinner in the Eiffel Tower and the Moulin Rouge show. Dinner was in the Altitude 95 Restaurant and was fabulous. It seems quite strange having dinner somewhere that you can still see so much outside light early in the evening but the meal was delicious and there was unlimited bottled water and wine provided in the deal we got. The Moulin Rouge show is currently 'Feerie' and was certainly an experience. You cannot take any cameras into the theatre and they will even search your bags and take it off you; you hand in your ticket to collect it after the show. It was very entertaining and certainly colourful; but to be completely honest was quite disappointing in terms of quality of dancing. But in saying that I can probably understand that it is difficult to find the best dancers in the world....that are willing to take there top off. I'm not disappointed that I went at all; the night was fantastic, albeit exhausting. I booked the dinner and show combination through viator.com for approximately $AUD240; which included coach transfers between dinner and the show and coach transfer back to your hotel if you are within central Paris. Also since there is time between dinner and the 11pm show they also send you on a night cruise on the Seine River. The 5 of us had done the Batoux Mouche cruise a few nights earlier, and this one was almost identical but I was happy to see Paris a second time by night; all lit up. It's quite cold onboard at night, so remember to take your jackets if you're planning it
After returning to the base of the Eiffel tower before the show we also got to see the Tower as it sparkles. This is incredible! Sent shivers through me, how beautiful it is at night. Shelley and I took a million photos each, hoping for the perfect one for our collections.
The next morning Shelley was to return to London so I set out to explore solo once again; and the first stop was the cemetaries where many famous artists, actors and musicians lie; including the legend Jim Morrison. This cemetary was bizarrely busy this morning with people everywhere going to visit various peoples graves. I however had only attended to see that of James Douglas Morrison (1943-1971) and was then on my way to see Moulin Rouge by day. I had not yet been through the Montmatre district so I thought I'd check it out. It's one of the few parts of central Paris that is actually hilly but nothing drastic. I walked around to see the other two windmills and past Van Gogh's old house. And then onto the Dali Museum. I'd say it might be a toss up between Salvador Dali & Pablo Picasso to be my most favourite artist so I was thrilled to see a museum dedicated to each of them during my trip to Paris. Salvador Dali was a strange, strange man but I am just mesmerized by his work
I had been most upset at the Picasso museum that they didn't have any shirts for sale in the gift shop; and the only ones at the Dali Museum were enormous t-shirts. I came to realise before leaving home that a t-shirt I bought with my mother while seeing a Paris exhibition years ago in Brisbane, is actually one of my favourite shirts. And since it is now almost 9yrs old (yes and its still going) it was time for an update. Luckily I had purchased a Van Gogh t-shirt at the Musee d'Orsay in fear of that exact fact.
From the Dali Museum I made the short journey around the hill to Sacre Coeur. Due to the masses of people lined up to go inside, I opted out on this occasion. But will most certainly check it out next time I'm in Paris. And the view of Paris from the top of the hill is fabulous. It's all at quite a distance but the sunsets from there must be amazing (many tourists sit on the stairs as the sun goes down).
For my final morning in Paris I decided to do a little retail therapy
Oh and by the way; for any travellers out there finding it difficult to fit Paris into their budget. It really doesn't have to be an expensive destination. Sure there are the entry costs to some of the main attractions, but there are hostels available at decent prices and I found a few shopping haunts with amazingly cheap prices. €5 for a top is pretty damn good in my book. Some bargains can be found in Galleries Lafayette (however most of it is top dollar) and in the streets around Chatelet Metro Station.
And that's another thing in Paris for those who have not been. I would highly recommend the Metro system. It's fast and frequent (every 2mins or so) and gets you just about everywhere you need to go. There are a lot; repeat, a lot of stairs in each station; so not for those with disabilities or those with bad legs. And it's not as clean as some countries, but it's definitely convenient. I bought a 5 day pass which provided unlimited use of the system within central Paris and saved a lot of money.