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Old 02-05-2012, 09:11 PM   #1
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Trip Report! DIS Exclusive Knights & Lights/Disneyland Paris, Part 6 - LOTS OF PICS!

Day 4 - Off to Paris!!

The next morning we once again had breakfast at the Hotel buffet, and then congregated to say farewell to the lovely Chancery Court Hotel, and board our motorcoach for St. Pancras station.

The doorman at the Chancery Court Hotel, getting ready to bid us adieu!



St. Pancras will look familiar to Harry Potter fans who have seen the last HP movie. The exterior of St. Pancras was shown, even though Platform 9 3/4 is in King's Cross station. It turns out the 2 stations are right next to each other, but the exterior of St. Pancras is much prettier!





After we were dropped off at St. Pancras, Landon told us he was going to walk those who wanted to over to King's Cross station for a bit of a photo opportunity. King's Cross had installed a luggage trolley to look as though it was passing through the wall of the station, just like in the Harry Potter movies. Since King's Cross was currently under renovation, they'd moved the Platform 9 3/4 photo op to an area outside the station. Landon's "short walk" was not terribly short (in fact, it was quite a schlep!) but it *was* a fun photo op, and I'm glad we did it!





Wait for me, Harry! :-)



Once we were all done getting our photos taken, we headed back to St. Pancras, where we were to catch the Eurostar train and travel First Class through the Chunnel to Paris! We all made one last stop at Pret a Manger, where we selected sandwiches and such for our "box lunch" on the train (it was covered by ABD).





Me and Landon



Once we all were congregated near the train, boarding was already in progress, so we headed to our First Class car. Here it turns out that the European definition of First Class is very different from the US definition of First Class. Whereas many of us had images of the luxury of First Class that we see on airplanes, it turns out that First Class in Europe is really more like what we would deem a low-end Business Class, and their Premier Business Class is more of what we had in mind as First Class. Pete, among others, was not amused. Mostly because it was mis-represented, not because it was a bad mode of transportation. (This disparity also explained why the First Class train ticket I'd bought from Winchester to London had been so relatively inexpensive, and had relatively few amenities.) But we all settled in. After all, whatever the class, we *were* on a train to PARIS!



While it was a comfortable, pleasant way to travel (*SO* much better than flying!!!) it was not quite as "romantic" as I'd imagined. For most of the trip, we were either traveling through "ditches", or traveling through the pitch-black Chunnel, etc. So we really didn't get to see much "countryside" until we were well into France. But again, it was not a bad trip, just not quite what I'd romanticized it out to be. I think several people on the trip agreed with this.

After a mere two and a half hours, we arrived in Paris! We emerged from our train into Gare du Nord train station.



As we emerged into the bright sunlight of a Paris afternoon, we could see just how beautiful the charming exterior of the Gare du Nord was.



OMG, we were in Paris!

We were whisked off to our motorcoach, where we were joined by one of our Paris Step-on Guides, Cecile, who gave us a running commentary about Paris as we drove around on a mini-tour of the city, while working our way to our hotel.

I think this is the Harrod's of Paris...



The Paris Opera





Whoever had the concession on wrought iron in Paris must have made a fortune! It seemed that *EVERY* building had at least *some* wrought iron on it! And a lot of them had an extensive amount of it!



Our first glimpse...



The Avenue des Champs-Elysees!







It's the Arc de Triomphe!!!!



As we drove around, seeing such iconic places as the Champs-Elysees, and the Arc de Triomphe, we would get tantalizing little glimpses of the Eiffel Tower. But then, we were taken up to the Trocadero for our first *real* view of the "Tour Eiffel" (Eiffel Tower)!!! What a gorgeous vantage point!! Magnificent!



At this point, everyone was running around, taking photos, getting their photos taken, and just absorbing the fact that we really were, indeed, looking at the Eiffel Tower in Paris!!! I was seriously surprised that it was just so *there*. I mean, there is nothing else around it even vaguely as tall. It's just sitting there, all by itself, towering over this amazingly flat area. You can literally see the Eiffel Tower from all over the city. I just never realized it was so *different* from everything around it! This was just the perfect, perfect way to get our first official view of the Eiffel Tower!



It was really, really windy up on the Trocadero. I mean, like, fighting not to be knocked over at times windy! For me, it added to the giddiness of the realization that I was actually in Paris, looking at the Eiffel Tower. I saw all sorts of reactions, from giggles and laughter to tears, as everyone absorbed what it meant to them to be there.

I had noticed on our way to the Trocadero that my camera battery was running low. I went to switch to my spare battery, and realized I had forgotten to recharge it! I think I still managed to get some great photos (although the angle of the sun made it hard to get any clear photos). I guess the good thing is, it kept me from taking 1000 pictures just standing there on the Trocadero!





Continued in next post
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Last edited by sayhello; 08-06-2012 at 12:43 PM.
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Old 02-05-2012, 09:12 PM   #2
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Eventually, after an orgy of picture-taking, and posing, and gazing, we were rounded up again and returned to our motorcoach. We were then driven over to the entrance to the Jardin des Tuileries. Those who wanted to could stroll through the park to the Louvre Museum, which was at the other end of the park. The rest would ride the motorcoach to the Louvre. I chose to stroll. It was a beautiful park, with fountains, and statuary, and gardens. And a gorgeous, gorgeous afternoon!

The obelisk at the entrance to the Gardens.









This mini-Arc de Triomphe was in front of the Louvre. Group shot!



Closeup of the top of the mini-arch.



Our second Step-on Guide, Alec, took some of us around, and those who wanted to avoid staircases went with Cecile.

Looking up at the main building of the Louvre from inside the glass pyramid in front of the Louvre.



Ancient walls of the original palace that the Louvre was built over. Some said the walls were re-created. I'm not sure whether that's correct or not. Alec didn't specify, that I remember.



The Louvre was originally the Palace, but eventually became a museum.

A hallway at the Louvre.



And that would be where my camera battery crapped out on me. :-( So no photos of the Venus de Milo. Or of the Winged Victory. Or of the Mona Lisa. (Although, honestly, I have to say the Mona Lisa was a bit of a letdown. It's way smaller than I thought, behind several layers of glass, behind a rope barrier, and beyond a sea of teaming human bodies. I managed to get reasonably close to it to get a glimpse, but the setting just was not conducive to actually enjoying the painting. When I saw the Pieta, it was crowded, and I had to work a bit to get up to the front. But I was awe-struck. The Mona Lisa? Not so much. I really expected to be wowed, but I just wasn't. *shrug* If that's the worst disappointment I have on this trip, I'm doing FABULOUS!)

We didn't have NEARLY enough time in the Louvre. We really only got to see a hand full of the highlights. But what we saw, for the most part, was seriously impressive. You could spend DAYS at the Louvre and still not see it all.

After we finished at the Louvre, we headed back to our motorcoach, and off to our hotel in Paris, the Hilton Arc de Triomphe. The outside of the hotel looks like a generic 70's hotel. But the inside was a lovely Art Deco dream.



I had a King room, and found the size very nice (especially for Europe, where the norm is much smaller than we're used to).

The bathroom area was actually spectacular, with dark woods and marble and etched glass.



There was both a tub *and* a walk-in shower. It was nice to not have to climb in and out of a tub!



The furnishings were really nice, too.





My room overlooked a very pretty courtyard (and the window opened!)



Pete on his balcony, also overlooking the courtyard. (No, we didn't all get balconies! Pete has said he thought they gave him the balcony room because he was so upset over the "First Class" train ride gaffe).



The lobby of the Hilton Arc de Triomphe



The only curious thing was, you'd think a Hotel called the Hilton Arc de Triomphe would have a view of the Arc de Triomphe. Well, it didn't. It was within walking distance of the Arc, but not close enough for a view.

For our welcome to Paris dinner that night, the Hotel set up a wonderful buffet, and we ate at tables they'd set up in the lovely courtyard. It was really a beautiful night, a great buffet, and just a lovely dinner.













Continued in next post
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Old 02-05-2012, 09:13 PM   #3
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After dinner, a few of us decided to take a walk to the Arc de Triomphe. The weather was still spectacular, and they light up the Arc at night.







The Arc de Triomphe is surrounded by a humongous traffic circle. You would have to be insane to try and cross it, so there are walkways under the circle to allow you get to the Arc.

The Arc was beauteous, and amazing and oh so impressive! We walked around taking tons of photos from all sorts of angles.









We'd arrived too late to climb up to the top of the Arc (the view is supposed to be excellent) but given what was coming the next day, that was probably a good thing.



I then realized you could see the top of the Eiffel Tower, lit up in the distance. I spent quite a while trying to get a zoomed shot of it.







I didn't know, but the Eiffel Tower "twinkles" every night. Laurie asked one of the guards there, and they told us when it was going to happen, and Laurie & I both wanted to wait until it happened before we headed back to the hotel. It was definitely worth the wait!

Click the pic for a video





We passed this very impressive car as we were walking back towards our hotel.



We started walking down the Champs-Elysees, heading towards our hotel.

But we came to a general consensus that what we *really* wanted to do was find a little cafe on the sidewalks of the Champs-Elysees, and sit and have a drink, and talk and people watch. Which is exactly what we did!



We came across the Cafe George V, and took over several small tables.











The night was lovely, the conversation great, the people-watching fun. It was a picture-perfect end to our first day in Paris!

Continued in Part 7.
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Now posting my Greek Odyssey Trip Report (2013)

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Old 02-05-2012, 10:13 PM   #4
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Thanks again for sharing and posting! The train ride through the Chunnel was probably one of my faves during that trip. Makes me want to go back to Paris!
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Old 02-06-2012, 11:02 AM   #5
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Thanks again for sharing and posting! The train ride through the Chunnel was probably one of my faves during that trip. Makes me want to go back to Paris!
You're welcome, tufbuf! Glad you're still enjoying. I do love train travel. So much more civilized! And 2 1/2 hours from London to Paris! Amazing!

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Old 02-07-2012, 07:47 AM   #6
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I'm glad to see more trip report!

The Eurostar for me was so strange. I was really looking forward to it. I had also thought it was going to be very cool, but was kind of bummed out about the ditch-like quality it had. Plus, for some reason after I got off the train in Paris I was a little dizzy for awhile which is how I get after a long flight. Guess my inner ear just isn't up for the speed!

When we went through the Louve with our guide he told us the walls were the real Norman walls where the original castle was that the Louve was later built over. He showed us the masons' marks on some of the bricks. Seeing those walls was a real trip highlight for me. It was so moving to see something so old that people built with their hands and then marked with their symbol so that they could get paid at the end of the day. If you ever find out they are not real, please don't tell me! I can't believe you all got so little time there. The Louve for us was at the start of the day and after the official tour we were left on our own. We spent HOURS in there and even had lunch in there at the food court.

It's funny how they move things around on these trips. I guess it's important with all of our super planners around here to remember not to count on an exact schedule. If I had had only a little bit of time in there and I was expecting a full day I would have been a little bummed out. Something to keep in mind while I'm reading the older Italy trip reports. Spots still available!
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Old 02-07-2012, 08:48 AM   #7
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SayHello, thanks for continuing with this great trip report! This installment especially sent me combing back through my Paris pics. So wonderful!
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Old 02-07-2012, 09:07 AM   #8
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I'm glad to see more trip report!

The Eurostar for me was so strange. I was really looking forward to it. I had also thought it was going to be very cool, but was kind of bummed out about the ditch-like quality it had. Plus, for some reason after I got off the train in Paris I was a little dizzy for awhile which is how I get after a long flight. Guess my inner ear just isn't up for the speed!

When we went through the Louve with our guide he told us the walls were the real Norman walls where the original castle was that the Louve was later built over. He showed us the masons' marks on some of the bricks. Seeing those walls was a real trip highlight for me. It was so moving to see something so old that people built with their hands and then marked with their symbol so that they could get paid at the end of the day. If you ever find out they are not real, please don't tell me! I can't believe you all got so little time there. The Louve for us was at the start of the day and after the official tour we were left on our own. We spent HOURS in there and even had lunch in there at the food court.

It's funny how they move things around on these trips. I guess it's important with all of our super planners around here to remember not to count on an exact schedule. If I had had only a little bit of time in there and I was expecting a full day I would have been a little bummed out. Something to keep in mind while I'm reading the older Italy trip reports. Spots still available!
Lauren, I'm so glad you told me that about the walls. I also was really impressed and moved by them, and was, at the time, under the impression they were real. I think I'm going to ignore those who are saying they're fake, and go with what your guide told you!

I really do wish we'd had more time at the Louvre. There was a huge Egyptian exhibit there that I would have loved to have explored. I think some of the stuff got switched around because Notre Dame changed its hours, or something like that; I guess the key is, you have to be flexible, because they usually do it to make the overall experience better. I guess I'm just going to have to go back some time!

You guys are going to have such a great time in Italy! I can't wait to read your reports!

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SayHello, thanks for continuing with this great trip report! This installment especially sent me combing back through my Paris pics. So wonderful!
kristilew, glad you're still enjoying my report! I feel bad it's taken me *so long* to get this posted! I'm glad people are still reading it! More Paris to come soon! It really was special.

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Old 02-07-2012, 09:46 AM   #9
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lov the update! cant wait for more....
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Old 02-07-2012, 01:50 PM   #10
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Of course I'm still reading!
It's all so dreamy
Thank you for sharing! Will continue to look forward to the next entry
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Old 02-07-2012, 07:38 PM   #11
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Reading this is torture, Tobi! It all seems like a dream. I so long to go back! Or go somewhere new!

Laurie
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Old 02-07-2012, 10:53 PM   #12
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I was on the Eurostar to Paris a few years ago and also thought it would be neat .... but then we went into the chunnel without any fanfare and emerged a few minutes later. And I thought, "Is that it?"....

We got a smoked salmon breakfast out of it at least.
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Old 02-08-2012, 09:54 AM   #13
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lov the update! cant wait for more....
Thanks, jessrose18! *Hoping* to have more up this weekend!

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Originally Posted by minniebeth View Post
Of course I'm still reading!
It's all so dreamy
Thank you for sharing! Will continue to look forward to the next entry
So glad you're still reading, minniebeth! More soon!

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Reading this is torture, Tobi! It all seems like a dream. I so long to go back! Or go somewhere new!

Laurie
Do it! Do it! Do it! I'm seriously planning on doing Greece next year. I really, really hope the DIS does it as one of their trips!

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I was on the Eurostar to Paris a few years ago and also thought it would be neat .... but then we went into the chunnel without any fanfare and emerged a few minutes later. And I thought, "Is that it?"....

We got a smoked salmon breakfast out of it at least.
Yep. The chunnel is not quite as spectacular as I thought it would be. Although, apparently some people thought you could see the water as you rode through!!! Nobody on *my* trip!!!

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Old 02-11-2012, 03:40 PM   #14
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Thanks so much for sharing! I started reading this thread when considering ABD K&L, and wondering if the price was worth it. Your posts helped convince me and we're signed up for July 16-23, 2012 (with 2 boys 7 and 10). I'm now reading your posts in a new light as I start planning! They've changed the itinerary a bit, and although I'm really excited about Stonehenge, I'm sad they've given up the Lion King, especially with the backstage tour! My 7 year old is in a small production of the show here this spring and I thought it would be really special to see it in London. We're considering booking tickets on our free night or on our pre-night, but I was wondering if there's a way to have Disney set it up for me (and if there's any way they could still arrange a backstage tour?) I wasn't sure if you would know something about this. In any case, keep writing!
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Old 02-11-2012, 04:54 PM   #15
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Thanks so much for sharing! I started reading this thread when considering ABD K&L, and wondering if the price was worth it. Your posts helped convince me and we're signed up for July 16-23, 2012 (with 2 boys 7 and 10). I'm now reading your posts in a new light as I start planning! They've changed the itinerary a bit, and although I'm really excited about Stonehenge, I'm sad they've given up the Lion King, especially with the backstage tour! My 7 year old is in a small production of the show here this spring and I thought it would be really special to see it in London. We're considering booking tickets on our free night or on our pre-night, but I was wondering if there's a way to have Disney set it up for me (and if there's any way they could still arrange a backstage tour?) I wasn't sure if you would know something about this. In any case, keep writing!
You are welcome, Jenncram! Congratulations on signing up for the trip! I think you'll really love this tour. Stonehenge sounds like a really lovely addition.

As far as the Lion King is concerned, I doubt it is something ABD could help you set up *ahead of time*. ABD really doesn't do much in that arena (helping you set up extra activities). *However*, the Guides will frequently help you set up stuff like that while you are on the tour. I don't know if they could set up a backstage tour just for you & your family, but it *never* hurts to ask! If they can do it, they will. It's up to you to decide if you want to risk waiting until you get on the tour or not to buy the tickets (I don't know if this show tends to sell out or not). You could buy tickets, then see if the Guides could arrange the tour in addition.

That said, it could never hurt to call ABD and see what they say. The worst that could happen is they say "We have no way of doing that". I just wanted to temper your expectations that that's likely what they will say.

I'm *hoping* to have Part 7 up tomorrow!

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NOW POSTING! My DIS Unplugged London/Paris/Disneyland Paris Trip Report! (2011)
Now posting my Greek Odyssey Trip Report (2013)
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