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Old 09-11-2012, 09:29 PM   #1
tmmalave
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Barefoot at the Louvre-- Tips for those of you going to France ABD or pre-post days

Hello everybody. This is NOT about an ABD, but I am posting because I think some of the information may be useful for people going on the ABDs to France, or adding pre or post trip days. This forum really helped us with our trip, our first time in Europe, for which I am really grateful. Hopefully sooner rather than later I will be able to go on an ABD. Here goes.

Since this is not an ABD, I will not do a trip report. I will list the things we did, in case anybody has any questions, feel free to ask or PM me.

We went to France because my dh has conference in the Giens peninsula, between Marseille and Nice. We decided to fly to Paris, then travel via train to Nice. I flew home by myself, and he stayed on for the conference. We did this totally on our own, with the help of this forum, and Rick Steve's books.

Our flights: We chose flights that left at 11 am, and arrived in Paris at 6:45 am. The airline changed our flights so that we ended up leaving at 8am. This meant a super early morning (I only slept three hours that night), and six hours at JFK. I mention this because if you do not have elite status with an airline, but do have a master card, you can go to the master card lounge where there are comfy sofas, free WiFi and even a kids area with movies.

Arrived in CDG and there we went to a tourist information center where we bought tickets for the Rossy Bus (took us to the Opera directly from the airport), a pack of 10 metro tickets (we ended up using 2 over the course of 4 days) and the Paris Museum Pass. From the Opera you can take many metro lines to different areas of the city. We are glad we did this because the Opera is a beautiful building we would have not seen otherwise.

A note about the Paris Metro. Very efficient, mostly clean and very easy to use. Two flaws, many metro stations are not clearly marked as such from the outside. And not prepared for disabled people. Many stairs, and lots of times the escalators were only for going up. This makes it a bit challenging if you have a lot of luggage, which we did not. Also not many places have people selling tickets, and the automated machines will only take cash or chip and pin cards. So at the Opera station, where there was an attendant, we purchased the tickets to go to Stade de France, and Versailles, which are more expensive because they are farther away.

Our hotel in Paris was the Les Jardins du Tour Eiffel. I chose it based on Rick Steves recommendation, and the location close to Rue Cler. The hotel was great and we loved the location. It is not a luxury hotel, but it was quite nice. The room was tiny though. We were very happy with our choice. BTW, the hotel cost around 1000k for the four nights, to give you an idea.

Places we visited in Paris:

Day 1
Notre Dame Cathedral
Concergerie
St. Chapelle
Concordia Plaza
Invalides
Stade de France (we went here to see a Coldplay concert, one of our favorite bands, which have never been to where we live for a concert)

Day 2
Louvre
Arc du Triumph (we went up all 285 steps, although later we were told there is an elevator, not sure if for everyone)
A bit of Champs Elysse
Orsay Museum
Eiffel Tower Summit (with previously purchased tickets and a reserved time)
Trocadero
Champs de Mars
Napoleons Tomb

Day 3
Orangerie Museum
Versailles (Chateu, Gardens and Trianons)
Pantheon (only from the outside)
Luxemburg gardens (only from the outside)

Now for the shoe debacle: I brought a two pairs of shoes. Some flat sandals, and a pair of Privo Clark flats that I purchased specifically for the trip. We were a bit late for the concert, because that was the day we arrived, and we didn't realize that the metro stop was about a 20 minute walk from the stadium. So I hurt my right foot trying to walk fast. Mainly I injured my heel, my foot only bothered me if I tried to put weight on it. The next day, at the Louvre it started getting worse. As a result of putting my weigh differently on the two different feet, and that I think my feet got a bit swollen, I could not tolerate my feel. It didn't help that I spent seven, yes 7 hours at the Louvre. As result, everytime dh stopped to admire something, I would take my shoes off. I could not believe I was barefoot at the Louvre. All because I wanted prettier shoes than my Keens. In hindsight, I should have bought 1/2 size larger. Upon leaving the Louvre we went to Rue Rivoli to get me shoes. Lucky for me, the Adidas store, which would have been perfect, was closed for remodeling . Because shops were nearing closing time, we ended up at Aldo, were I bought leather sandals (similar to flip flops), as I really wanted to free my toes! Little did I know that for the next two days I would be constantly walking on sand/gravel, at the many parks in Paris and Versailles. The sand was rubbing beneath my sandal against my skin, and I ended up with blisters. After Paris I spent the rest of my time in the other sandals I had brought.

From Paris we went to Nice via a TGV train in first class. We purchased tickets Paris to Marseille directly through the SCNF website, and they were e tickets. For the Marseille Nice portion, I bought through Rail Europe (more expensive and they tack on fees), because for this part e ticket was not available. Even through Rail Europe I had to go the attendant to print them. This train ride through Provence was lovely! We left our luggage at the Marseille station in lockers and spent the day in Marseille. From there we went on to Nice in the evening. At the Nice station, getting a cab was chaotic and expensive, but it was late, so our only option.


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Old 09-11-2012, 09:30 PM   #2
tmmalave
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Continued

In Nice we went to a Segway tour, Marc Chagall Museum, Hop On Hop Off bus. The next day we went to Monaco via bus and came back by train. We saw the Exotic Garden, including a cave with +230 steps up and down, the Casino and the Royal Palace.

The food: At Paris we ate mainly at Cafes and Patisseries. These were pretty good, but most had almost the same menu. At the Louvre we had lunch at Angelina, very good! In Marseille, we needed to have an early dinner, and most places were closed between lunch and dinner. In Nice, the Segway guide recommended a couple of places. We went to one that was excellent, and the price even better. True, house wine was cheaper than Coca Cola or juices. The day we went to Versailles we had a picnic lunch (baguette, some Camembert, and a couple of different deli meats, bought in three different shops in Rue Cler), which was excellent.

The other issue was the plug adaptor. We bought one that would adapt and convert in Europe. Only it did not fit in the outlets in France. At the first hotel, were given one on loan. In Nice, we bought one at the Virgin Super Store. So beware!

In Nice we stayed at the Royal Hotel. Larger than our Paris hotel, but not as nice. Toiletries were not replenished, not as clean, not so nice towels and linens. It did have a nice safe that fit our iPads and a bunch of other things. In Paris, the safe did not fit our iPads.


To get to the airport in Nice, I took a bus that passed right in front of the hotel for 4 Euros, very convenient (a taxi would have been 35).

All in all we had a lovely time and did lots. If you have any questions about the things we did, feel free to ask either here or PM me.

Thanks for reading, and happy travels to France!


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Old 09-12-2012, 08:37 AM   #3
flagfred
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Thank You!

We are planning a ABD trip at the end of July (Viva Italia) and another Diser suggested flying into Paris because the airfare might be cheaper....Just gotta love the boards....and in checking it is WAY cheaper, so Paris it is. We are thinking of staying 2 full days and three nights. Your report is perfect since we won't have the mouse helping us get to and from the airport.

Did you do any tours while you were in Paris? I am thinking it might be fun to do a bike tour or something... Also, there are four of us DH, DDs 16 and 13 and myself...I am having a difficult time finding hotel rooms for 4. I am thinking we might have to get 2 rooms.

Thanks again for posting!
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Old 09-12-2012, 09:05 AM   #4
tmmalave
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Flagfred,

If you are coming from the US, and you spend three nights, you will most likely spend three days as well, as most flights arrive early in the morning.

We did not do any organized tours because there are so many things to do in Paris, that are easily done on your own. Had we done something organized, it probably have been the Hop on Hop off, or a Seine River cruise.

I highly recommend you reserve a time and buy tickets to go to the Eiffel Tower summit the view is spectacular, and it was 14 Euros pp. Also, for many museums, children under 18 are free. Rick Steves guide book was really good in pointing out what the best things to do were.

Are you taking a night train to Italy?

You might have to book two rooms. We were really happy with our hotel, although like I said, it is not five stars.

Happy planning.

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Old 09-12-2012, 09:07 AM   #5
RSM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by flagfred View Post
We are planning a ABD trip at the end of July (Viva Italia) and another Diser suggested flying into Paris because the airfare might be cheaper....Just gotta love the boards....and in checking it is WAY cheaper, so Paris it is. We are thinking of staying 2 full days and three nights. Your report is perfect since we won't have the mouse helping us get to and from the airport.

Did you do any tours while you were in Paris? I am thinking it might be fun to do a bike tour or something... Also, there are four of us DH, DDs 16 and 13 and myself...I am having a difficult time finding hotel rooms for 4. I am thinking we might have to get 2 rooms.

Thanks again for posting!
Hi Flagred-when we were in Paris 2 years ago, we did a bike tour to Versailles with Fat Tire Bike Tours. It was alot of fun. You meet in Paris, bike to the train station, take your bike on the train to Versailles, bike through the city of Versailles to a market and get a lunch, then bike to the palace and grounds. It is a guided tour, although you are on your own inside the palace. Long day, but alot of fun. They also have day and evening bike tours of Paris itself. Anyways, just wanted to provide you an option to check out.
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Old 09-13-2012, 08:53 AM   #6
flagfred
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Great minds

RSM

That is the bike tour we were looking at - my sweet darling baby girl (12 yr old) thought that it was a brewery tour....guess she has noticed the beer of choice when dining out

We might do the train to italy or a flight - it looks like they will be about the same price according to the travel sites....
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Old 09-15-2012, 08:16 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by RSM View Post
Hi Flagred-when we were in Paris 2 years ago, we did a bike tour to Versailles with Fat Tire Bike Tours. It was alot of fun. You meet in Paris, bike to the train station, take your bike on the train to Versailles, bike through the city of Versailles to a market and get a lunch, then bike to the palace and grounds. It is a guided tour, although you are on your own inside the palace. Long day, but alot of fun. They also have day and evening bike tours of Paris itself. Anyways, just wanted to provide you an option to check out.
I did both of these tours - the day one on my first day in Paris and the evening one on my last evening. I highly recommend both of them.
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Old 09-17-2012, 10:19 AM   #8
icehawkmom
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We did some days on our own in Paris after our Italy Adventure. Did two tours I would recommend. The first was a behind the scene tour of the Eiffel Tower. The tour wasn't very expensive and got you "fast passes" on the elevator. That was worth way more than we paid for the tour since the line ups were hours long! The tour itself was informative. We saw the underground communication bunker and the mechanics to the elevators. We also hired a private guide from Paris Muse for a children's tour of the Louve. My daughter loved it. It involved a kind of treasure hunt where she solved clues and then got a "treasure". This company also does adult tours of various Paris Museums lead by art students. These tours were very expensive but I wouldn't hesitate to use this company again. They were very educational and having a knowledgable guide was so much better than wandering around the museum on our own.
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Old 09-17-2012, 01:19 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by icehawkmom
We did some days on our own in Paris after our Italy Adventure. Did two tours I would recommend. The first was a behind the scene tour of the Eiffel Tower. The tour wasn't very expensive and got you "fast passes" on the elevator. That was worth way more than we paid for the tour since the line ups were hours long! The tour itself was informative. We saw the underground communication bunker and the mechanics to the elevators. We also hired a private guide from Paris Muse for a children's tour of the Louve. My daughter loved it. It involved a kind of treasure hunt where she solved clues and then got a "treasure". This company also does adult tours of various Paris Museums lead by art students. These tours were very expensive but I wouldn't hesitate to use this company again. They were very educational and having a knowledgable guide was so much better than wandering around the museum on our own.
Do you recommend doing extra days before or after your abd tour? We could do either -
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Old 09-17-2012, 06:36 PM   #10
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...We also hired a private guide from Paris Muse for a children's tour of the Louve...
We also did a Paris Muse tour - to Notre Dame - and I completely agree. My 7 yo son loved it. We would definitely do it again.

Spent 2 days in Paris prior to our Esprit de France ABD this summer. That was perfect as we had another day in Paris at the end of the adventure. 3 days for us, with a young child, was ideal.
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Old 09-17-2012, 07:31 PM   #11
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I would also recommend Paris Muse. We did the scavenger hunt in the Louvre with our almost 8 y/o at the time. Our guide, Maria, managed to keep him engaged and interested for almost 2.5 hours. I know your kids are older, but they have other tours and could probably tailor something specific.
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Old 11-11-2012, 07:40 AM   #12
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The audio guide at Louvre uses Nintendo DS 3D which is a great option for kids (and adults).
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