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Old 02-10-2013, 08:28 PM   #1
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Trip Report! DIS Exclusive Knights & Lights/Disneyland Paris, Part 7 - LOTS OF PICS!

Yes, believe it or not, I am finally finishing up this Trip Report! I don't know why I haven't yet, but I realized I really need to finish it before I go to Greece in May, so that I'm free to do that Trip Report when I return! So here you go, the next installment!

Day 5 - Versailles and the Sacre-Coeur!

We last left our intrepid vacationers visiting the Arc de Triomphe in Paris, stopping at a small cafe for drinks and people watching on the way back to our Hotel.

The next morning, after an early buffet breakfast at the hotel, we set out for the Palace of Versailles. As we drove through Paris, we went past some of the areas we'd walked the night before, which included actually driving through the traffic circle that surrounds the Arc de Triomphe. I really could not believe the total circus that is that traffic circle. It has to be at least 5 lanes wide, with no markings whatsoever. People drive in, people drive out, and they all seem to miss each other. I've read that the cars entering the circle have the right of way (unlike here, where once you enter a circle, you have the right of way.) And all accidents at the Arc de Triomphe are no-fault. The insurance companies just split the cost. I have NO idea how all this chaos works, but it seems to. I was just really, REALLY glad that *I* didn't have to drive it!!!!



After about an hour, we arrived at Versailles. It was still kind of early, which made it gloomy and just a tad chilly.





This is the only time that we ended up waiting quite a bit of time for our entrance. I think we just plain got there early (we had a timed entrance), plus there were a couple other tour groups ahead of us. Of course, this was nothing compared to the humongous line of people sans tour group that was beginning to queue up at the front gate. We were given some free time to hit the little shops nearby and get some coffee and use the bathrooms. And then we just waited for our turn.



Even from the outside, Versailles was extravagantly opulent, including the gold-leafed recreations of the *actual* golden gates that were torn down during the French Revolution.



A glimpse of the Palace of Versailles.





Once we made it inside of the Palace, it was obvious that the golden gates were only a small part of the extravagance that was Versailles. Marble halls, gilded moldings, fabulously painted ceilings, it all just went on and on. It was all incredibly impressive. And amazingly over-done. It really helps you understand the excesses that went on prior to the French Revolution.







I love the casual cheekiness of the figure in the blue cloak.



Outside the windows, you could see some edges of the extensive gardens.







The famous Hall of Mirrors (although it was hard to tell with all the people! It just looked like the Hall of Chandeliers).



As you can possibly tell from the picture above, we had Whisper systems, little receivers about the size of a pack of cards that hang around your neck, with a one-ear headphone. Our local tour guide here was Alec, and he had a microphone tuned to our Whispers, so we could hear his commentary without having to be right next to him, and without him having to shout. They worked quite well.

Perhaps you can also tell from this picture that I was "glowing". :-) (You know, sweating!) Even though it was not warm outside, it was oppressively hot inside the palace. The combination of the crowds and the lack of air conditioning made it somewhat unbearable inside (sorry for the TMI, but I could literally feel the sweat dripping down my back!) I really enjoyed seeing Versailles, but it was not a place you could linger for long. What was really scary was Adam telling me that this was actually a very *light* crowd for Versailles! I'd really hate to be there on a heavy crowd day!!!

You can see more of the mirrors here, between the waves of people.





Matchy-matchy. Like the material? You'd better if this is your room!



Looking straight up at a chandelier.









Another glimpse of the gardens.



Once we had finished looking through the palace (and spent some time in the Gift Shop) we gathered in the courtyard.



Continued in next post
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Old 02-10-2013, 08:28 PM   #2
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We were led over to a tram for a ride to lunch.





La Flotille was a lovely little restaurant out on the grounds of Versailles, on the edge of the gardens.











Our local guides, Cecile and Alec, joined us for lunch.





We had a choice of a few different entrees, and I had the chicken. It was incredibly moist and tasty. Some folks had a beef dish (it may have been stroganoff) but I don't think a lot of people were happy with it.



After a nice, relaxing lunch, the group split up into those who wanted to bike the gardens, and those who wanted to drive little golf carts around. (A few went off on their own to walk the gardens.) It turned out I was the only one who actually wanted a guided walking tour of the gardens, so Cecile took me off on my own private tour!



The gardens are compartmentalized into little groves, hidden by these tall, manicured trees and hedges. So you had privacy for -- whatever you wanted to do!



One of the hidden pavilions.





Unfortunately, the fountains weren't on (they only turn them on for the weekends during the "low season"). But they were still quite lovely.



Cecile took me around to several of the groves and explained the symbolism of the fountains. It was really a spectacular way to see the gardens.





I really wish I could have seen this fountain flowing with water!



The same opulence that was exhibited in the Palaces was also in evidence in the gardens.



We stopped for a while to watch these fountains that danced to music. It was rather windy, but still impressive!



Me and the Palace.



Looking back towards the "Grand Canal" from the Palace.



Cecile had to leave to take care of some things, so she pointed me in the direction of a couple of last groves, and told me to then head back to the meeting place near La Flotille.

The folks on the bikes & golf carts couldn't get to these areas...



Continued in next post
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Old 02-10-2013, 08:30 PM   #3
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I was really quite taken by this statue. Cecile said that this statue is of a Giant who fell and created a mountain range. I just love how *dramatic* it is!





I spent an inordinate amount of time in this grove, taking pictures of this sculpture.

It was then time to head back to La Flotille, although there was still a lot of beauty between me and there.





I don't think I've ever seen a statue of a man holding a baby before or since. There's just something about it.



We eventually all met up, and headed back to our motorcoach.

Leaving Versailles.



The Eiffel Tower, off in the distance as we rode beside the river Seine.



Paris's smaller sister of the Statue of Liberty that they gifted to us.



Once we returned to our Hotel, we had the rest of the day on our own. Adam & Landon had suggestions of places to visit. I didn't really have any plans, so I asked them to suggest something. They described a few things, and the Basilica du Sacre Coeur sounded interesting to me. Adam & Landon gave me a map and detailed instructions on how to get to the Metro and take it to the Sacre Coeur.

So off I went (with plans to meet several people back at the Hotel for dinner).

These gates were to a public park just up the road from our hotel in Paris. I quite liked walking past them multiple times.



I followed their instructions, and easily found the Metro station. However, they didn't warn me that the ticket machines were all in French! No English to be found anywhere! I tried a few times to buy a ticket, but was unsuccessful. There was an attendant there, but he could not sell me a ticket (I don't remember why; I may have needed to use a credit card). But he managed to explain the machine to me enough that I finally got a round-trip ticket, and off I went!

When I got off the Metro, and emerged from the station, I didn't see anything that looked like a Basilica. The area was quite touristy, and, honestly, rather tacky touristy.



I walked around for a bit, and finally noticed people coming down one of the steep roads. I asked a couple, and they told me that yes, the Basilica was up at the top of the hill. So off I went.

Finally catching a glimpse.



The Basilica du Sacre Coeur.





There was a magnificent view of Paris from the top of the hill.



The magnificent doors of the Sacre Coeur.



Once again (*sigh*) no photos were allowed inside. Yet again, it was quite lovely.

But I think the exterior is really the best feature of the Basilica.





I then walked back down the hill. There was a funicular you could take, but I didn't want to wait in line, and it was a pretty walk, down a side of the hill that I had not climbed up.





There were people doing some sort of extreme exercising on the stairway down (doing massive numbers of pushups facing downhill, etc.) No thanks, walking down the stairs was enough for me, thanks!

Once I got down, I tried to find an area that Adam and Landon had marked for me to check out, with nice coffee shops, but I never did find it. And since I'd come down a different side of the hill, I wasn't 100% sure the best way to get back to the Metro station. (The map wasn't too helpful).



I knew the general direction to go, so I just started walking. I must admit, I felt a bit unsettled walking through this area of Paris. I don't know if there was really any basis for it; it may have been that it was getting towards sunset, and I wasn't totally sure how far I had to walk, but I was very happy to get through it, and to the main thoroughfare. In retrospect, I probably missed out on a charming area, but I just didn't want to take any chances while alone.



I must admit, even though I was pretty certain I knew where I was going, I was quite relieved to arrive at the Metro station I'd arrived at.



And then back at the familiar neighborhood of the Hotel.





Continued in next post.
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Old 02-10-2013, 08:30 PM   #4
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The Hilton Arc de Triomphe. As I said, generic '70's hotel on the outside.



But lovely Art Deco on the inside. This is the hallway to my room at the Hilton Arc de Triomphe.





Back at the hotel, I went and changed and then met up with Lori, Cynthia, Michael, DeAnna and Mike to walk to dinner. They had gotten a recommendation from Adam and Landon of a nice restaurant, so off we went. Unfortunately, the directions were a little ambiguous, and it was further than we thought, but after a few mis-turns we finally made it to the restaurant. Lori talked me into trying escargot, and I did like them. I also ordered a side of very tasty spiced green beans, and a lovely cheese platter (although a couple of the cheeses were a little strong!)







It was quite a pleasant dinner, and a good time with great company!



Then it was back to the Hotel, and bedtime. We had quite a day ahead of us for tomorrow!

To Be Continued in Part 8.
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Old 02-11-2013, 07:26 PM   #5
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You can change the metro ticket machines to English. Here is a YouTube video showing how:

http://m.youtube.com/#/watch?v=UnESf...%3DUnESfpkyC_Q

You have to be careful around the area of Sacre Coeur; it is a big gypsy hangout where they run a number of scams on unsuspecting tourists.
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Old 02-11-2013, 07:38 PM   #6
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I'm enjoying your tour of Paris! Thanks for posting.

TK
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Old 02-11-2013, 08:41 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by lost*in*cyberspace View Post
You can change the metro ticket machines to English. Here is a YouTube video showing how:

http://m.youtube.com/#/watch?v=UnESf...%3DUnESfpkyC_Q

You have to be careful around the area of Sacre Coeur; it is a big gypsy hangout where they run a number of scams on unsuspecting tourists.
Now you tell me!

So it wasn't just me feeling off near Sacre Coeur? I feel a bit better about that. I'm usually pretty conscious of scams, but I know no-one is immune!

Thanks,
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Old 02-11-2013, 08:42 PM   #8
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I'm enjoying your tour of Paris! Thanks for posting.

TK
You're welcome! I'm really, really hoping to have more up by next weekend!

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Old 02-12-2013, 10:58 AM   #9
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Sacre Coeur is probably my favourite hang out in Paris along with around the Pompidou Centre. Spent many an afternoon/all day just sitting drinking and people watching.

Thanks for sharing Paris is the element of this trip that most appealed to me
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Old 02-12-2013, 10:52 PM   #10
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Sacre Coeur is probably my favourite hang out in Paris along with around the Pompidou Centre. Spent many an afternoon/all day just sitting drinking and people watching.

Thanks for sharing Paris is the element of this trip that most appealed to me
You're welcome, Cyrano. I really liked that this trip included Paris, also. I'd never been there (and I speak virtually no French!) so it was nice to experience it with ABD. More Paris soon!

I guess I'll need to go back to Sacre Coeur some time!

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Old 02-13-2013, 07:26 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sayhello
You're welcome, Cyrano. I really liked that this trip included Paris, also. I'd never been there (and I speak virtually no French!) so it was nice to experience it with ABD. More Paris soon!

I guess I'll need to go back to Sacre Coeur some time!

Sayhello
Great to relive the trip through your pictures! One of my best memories is biking around the canal at Versailles and losing my pedal! Our guide Frankie and I laughed and talked as we walked the rest of the way, pushing our bikes !

We had a great meal there - they changed the beef dish in May. LOLOLOL

We must go back, since we missed Sacre Coeur. We used our free time in Paris to go to Saturday evening mass (mass in Paris - priest from Ireland, lector from England, congregation primarily Filipino and the hymnals the same ones we use in NJ ! Lol ) shopped on the Champs Élysées, and had the BEST meal at George V.

Ahh...memories..... :-)

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Old 02-15-2013, 12:26 AM   #12
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Yay! Glad to see part 7. Love it!
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Old 02-15-2013, 09:15 AM   #13
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Originally Posted by SingingMom View Post
Great to relive the trip through your pictures! One of my best memories is biking around the canal at Versailles and losing my pedal! Our guide Frankie and I laughed and talked as we walked the rest of the way, pushing our bikes !

We had a great meal there - they changed the beef dish in May. LOLOLOL

We must go back, since we missed Sacre Coeur. We used our free time in Paris to go to Saturday evening mass (mass in Paris - priest from Ireland, lector from England, congregation primarily Filipino and the hymnals the same ones we use in NJ ! Lol ) shopped on the Champs Élysées, and had the BEST meal at George V.

Ahh...memories..... :-)
Everyone who did the biking said they had a good time. I just can't ride a regular bike. Sounds like you had some extra excitement on your ride!

I did my shopping on the Champs Elysees the next day during some free time. Had to do it!

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Yay! Glad to see part 7. Love it!
Glad you enjoyed! Hoping to have Part 8 up soon!

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Old 02-16-2013, 10:26 AM   #14
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Wow, Tobi! While I loved the biking at Versailles, you got some amazing shots in the gardens. I wish I'd had more time to explore there.

Laurie
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Old 02-16-2013, 05:41 PM   #15
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Wow, Tobi! While I loved the biking at Versailles, you got some amazing shots in the gardens. I wish I'd had more time to explore there.

Laurie
Thanks, Laurie! I was sorry that I missed the fun you guys seemed to have biking, but there's just no way I can bike on a regular bike. And I think I had a really cool alternative!

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