Friday, June 16, 2017

Europe 2016 Day 6: Bonjour Paris!

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Europe 2016 Day 6: Bonjour Paris!
9th September 2016 - Paris
We say goodbye to London and took a train to Paris.
Bonjour Paris!
It's the City of Lights and Love.... and we will be celebrating our annivesary with a cruise down the Seine!

This is page 6 of a 14-page blog, Click Here To Go To Title Page.
 Go to Day 5 London       |         Go to Other Days         |            Go to Day 7 Paris >

But before I go further, here are some Paris Travelling Tips for the day:
1. Staying Connected
Other than using locally available wi-fi, we stayed connected using a pocket wifi which we got from Travel Recommends., and picked up at KLIA2.
2. We travelled from London to Paris via the Eurostar, fare was €60 per adult pax, keep your tickets as it could entitle one for discount on entry tickets to some sites, eg. the . Book tickets earlier for cheaper fares (fare can be as low as £29), reservations can be made as eary as 180 days prior to the travel date (... click here for early reservation conditions).
Be at the station at least forty-five minutes prior to departure time.

2. Accommodations
In Paris we stayed at the Agora Saint Germain (GPS: 48.84873, 2.34957) at €90 for per night which included breakfast); they are suitably located near the Notre Dame Cathedral. Click here for their location & contact.
3. Guided Tours
    - We followed the Sandemans Montemarte District Walking Tour. It's a two-hours tour around the Montmarte artsy district at €14 pax (at time of our travels).
    - Later we took the "Get Your Guide Paris Illuminations Night Cruise", it's a night cruise along the River Seine at USD17-19 per pax.
4. Places of interest:
- the Eiffel Tower (GPS: 48.85837, 2.29448) the grand old lady of Paris, it's most recognisable landmark.
- the Montemarte District, a district steeped in history of the Belle Époque art period. Below are some of the relevant places within the district.
    - Autour du Moulin (GPS: 48.88729, 2.3362) for a nice drink, perhaps some good food, and a great view of Paris.
    - Statue Bust of Dalida (GPS: 48.88638, 2.33245), Dalida was one of France famous singers.
    - La Maison Rose (GPS: 48.88797, 2.33967), Vincent van Gogh favourite bar in Paris.
    - Lapin Agile (GPS: 48.88863, 2.33999), where Picasso paid for his meals by giving the owner the now renown painting Au Lapin Agile. Not knowing that the artist would later be world renown, the owner Frede sold it off for a mere $20.
    - Clos Montmartre Vineyard (GPS: 48.88824, 2.33992), an small, operating vineyard in tucked into a corner of the district.
    - Sacré-Cœur Basilica, the Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Paris (GPS: 48.8867, 2.3431); . There is also a great view of Paris from a viewing platform here
5. Food
    - Breakfast was a heavy eat-all-you-can buffet at our hotel in London, the Travelodge King's Cross Royal Scot (GPS: 51.5293, -0.11541).
    - Lunch was on-the-go sandwiches which we took-away from Salisbury in London.
    - Dinner was at the Le Bar du Palais (GPS: 48.84861, 2.3499), a quaint restaurant-cafe serving nice French fare in Saint Germain.

Yesterday, I had half a free day as I left Lynne and her sister to their own plans while I went on a cycling tour with the Cycle Tours of London - Sights of London Tour. It was an interesting cycling route that took me to the lesser known streets of London. Today we say goodbye to England and boarded a Eurostar train to head for France.... and it's hello Paris.

Tour map of Paris - above is a map showing locations of the various places of interests and nearby stations to access them from.

As it would be a long day of travelling ahead, we had a heavy buffet breakfast at our London hotel, the Travelodge King's Cross Royal Scot. The hotel is also suitably located near the St. Pancras Railway Station, even with us dragging our luggage along, we were at the station withing twenty minute.

As per the service advise, we arrived at the station more than 45 minutes early, said our goodbyes to Lynn's sister and went in to the waiting room.
The train left on time and soon we were zooming through the English countryside and some distance from the coast entered the Chunnel. As the train zoomed through the eerily quiet tunnel, I was hoping to catch sight of land once it was out on the French side .... but the silence lulled me to doze off, Haha!

Arriving at Gare Du Nord, we transferred over to the adjoining RER Station, here part of the local culture has caught up with us - nice wall murals!

We disembarked at the Saint Michel Notre-Dame station and took a slow stroll over to our hotel. This is the St. Germain neighbourhood, a quiet and charming area that got us to take a slow walk and observe the local life. Our hotel, the Agora Saint Germain, is located at a quite side street with buildings boasting their French balconies. At the far end of the street is the Panthéon and just round the corner is the an old church, the Saint-Nicolas du Chardonnet.
Our hotel, like many of the buildings here has a narrow foyer and our bedroom windows cosily opens up into a small airwell.
Yes, this is going to be a nice neighbourhood to stay in.

After a short rest, it was out again.... on the Métro over to the Montmarte district. Here we joined a walking tour by Sandemans. Our guide... er ... was not a French, but an Italian lady called Roberta. She's a spunky lady, full of life and also an aspiring actress who got attracted to this artsy district.

We first passed by the iconic red windmill of the Moulin Rouge, stopped a while where Roberta gave us a lively run down of the place accompanied by a short dance. Great! This isn't just going to be a walking tour; Roberta was very knowledgable about the area and our tour was going to be a history lesson of sorts.

Along the way there were several wall murals, this one is of Charlie Chaplin brought up to date with a skateboard.

At Autour du Moulin , another short stop for some pointers of this specific location. Roberta was in a music mood, play acting playing a guitar while swinging around a bit. But why are we sitting on those steps?

Well, looking down Rue Tholozé, this restaurant have a very good view of Paris. Many come here to dine, or at least have a drink to enjoy the view. My apologies, my camera could not capture the view while capturing the patrons; nevermind I will have a better Paris view to show later on.

At a park, there was a bust of a beautiful lady. This is Dalida, who was a well known and well liked French singer. She was of French, Italian and Egyptian descent and as such is renown in all these countries. This park is called Place Dalida, in honour of her.

La Maison Rose, one of Van Gogh's favourite haunt to get imbibe and creative.

Another stop at the Lapin Agile, this is the restaurant which is famous for its rabbit stew. Picasso frequently dined here and often he paid for his meals with his paintings and sketches. Unbeknown to the owner that these would later become valuable, he sold them off very cheaply!
It was the artist's painting, Au Lapin Agile, that made this place world famous.

We were surprised to find a small vineyard tucked into a corner of the district. This is the Clos Montmartre Vineyard which is still an operating vineyard that with labels for the wine designed by local artists.

Our last destination for the tour, Sacré-Cœur Basilica - the Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Paris. This cathedral is a Roman Catholic church and minor basilica, dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

The cathedrea is of Romano-Byzantine design and was built in  of travertine stone making it having a whitish look. Construction began in 1875 and was finished in 1914. It was consecrated after the end of World War I in 1919.

At the viewing platform on the south side of the building is one of the best view of Paris, this point is one of the natural highest point of the city.

The walking tour ended at the Le Bateau-Lavoir "The Boat Wash-house", its an art gallery and was the residence and meeting place for a group of outstanding early 20th-century artists.
It was a good two-hour brisk walk that gave us much back-round into the history and the colour of the place. As we walked down the narrow streets lined with cafes and art shops, the artsy feeling lingered on in us.

These days many still come here for inspiration, as a place-muse to resucrrect their artistic capabilities.

We took a Métro down to the city centre again and as we alit, the glorious sight of a golden Effiel Tower brightly lit up greeted us. But we won't be going up to it's towering heights...

... but instead took a walk down to the boat piers and boarded a boat. We are going for a night cruise along the Seine!

As the boat wend down the river, we enjoyed the cold night air. Unlike our previous year's cruise down the Danube in Budapest, most of the buildings on both banks a not brightly lit up, and we had some difficulty trying to identify them.

But there was no mistake in recognising the Notre Dame, it's towers loomed eeriy and we half-expected to see the Hunchback swinging from the top.

The Parisians love this place and many came out to let their soul out. At on spot there were three amphitheatres crowded with people, within each were a diiferent crowd - one had people waltzing away, another had them doing modern dances.

We ended our day with a late supper at the Le Palais Restaurant, just round the corner from our hotel. The food cooked by an Algerian French was quiet good, but what we enjoyed was the company of some cheerful locals. Elvington, a petite, blond French girl and her friend were a zany lot and soon we were laughing away with them, closing our first day in France with a simple but lasting memory.

Bonne nuit!

(For more photos of the day Click Here)

This is page 6 of a 14-page blog, Click Here To Go To Title Page.
 Go to Day 5 London       |         Go to Other Days         |            Go to Day 7 Paris >

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