TO THE AIRPORT WE GO....
The first stop on our Interrail Trip. We were so excited about our trip and in particular this destination. Our flight to Paris from Dublin was at 6:50am. We spent the evening before getting organised with Kate acting as packing police removing all my necessities. I had tried to add a few extra bits and bobs but Kate discovered all..."do you really need 6 Mac lipsticks!?". I had a justified reason for every nude but unfortunately I only got to bring two (she still hasn't spotted the one in my backpack). After a very heated debate on whether I was allowed setting spray and several pairs of sunglasses we set off. We tried to book the airport car park but it was booked out online. We arrived at the car park (with our fingers crossed) and thankfully there were spaces still available. Travelling in the middle of the night meant no sleep but when heading off on an adventure of a lifetime... who cares?
FLYING TO CHARLES DE GAULLE
A quick flight and we arrived at the Charles De Gaulle Airport. We caught the train from the Airport to the main station which is called Garde de Nord (€7 each). This is a huge station which offers trains to many locations, including London (EuroStar).
GARDE DE NORD
When we arrived at the station we decided to book our tickets for our next locations; Amsterdam, Berlin... etc. We couldn't believe the Queue for this service.... it was jammed with travellers. We got in to the queue while the boys sat with the bags. The queue was very slow moving as there was only 5 members of staff available and it seemed that everyone was spending 15minutes at each kiosk. Our moods alternated, one moment Kate was full of energy while I slumped on the floor and the next moment I was picking Kate off the floor whilst face timing mum. I could see other travellers laughing at our conversations.
When we finally got to the top of the queue, we were devastated to find that there were no tickets left for Amsterdam. This interfered with the schedule we had set and all of our accommodation reservations. We had tried to book trains in advance but when we went to book them it was outside of the 7 day policy. This is worth noting to anyone thinking of going interrailing. You need to book your tickets for them before the 7 day rule. This is to allow time for them to be posted out to you. If not you should book them when you first arrive at your first station to ensure you get a good departure time and the quickest route. The route from Paris to Amsterdam should only take 3 hours 30 minutes but because there was no availability we had to take 3 trains which would take 4 hours 30mins plus change over time. We decided to book every train we could. Some people may not know this but you still have a reservation fee to pay with the interrail pass. We waited in the queue for an excruciating 1.5hours but we managed to get every train booked, except one.
IBIS HOTEL PORTE DE MONTRIEUL
It was finally time to go to our Hotel. We had planned to use the Metro as we knew it was the cheapest form of transport and we knew the nearest metro to our hotel was Porte de Montrieul. I would advise anyone who is going to Paris and planning on using the metro service to avail of the 10 tickets for €14.50, otherwise they're €1.90 per ticket. We should have done this but we weren't sure how the system worked. It's a fantastic system and I would highly recommend using the metro. It leaves you on the door step of every key location and skips all the crazy traffic in the city. Okay the HOTEL IBIS. We booked this hotel simply because of the fantastic price. It was £65 each for 3 nights which is fabulous for Paris. The hotel is basic and the rooms are quite small. The bathroom and room sizes are slightly bigger than a typical caravan. We had everything we needed and the Hotel was conveniently located beside a large super marker (CarreFour), Mc Donald's and Sephora. The hotel was around 20 minutes from the city using the Metro. The area we were staying in was definitely not the safest. There were very few tourists and lots of random people lurking on the streets. We did hold our bum bags a little tighter on the walk to the Metro. We ate in Doms Pizzeria beside the Hotel because we knew that food would be much cheaper in this area compared to city centre. We had booked the Hop on and Hop Off bus tour for our first day but we cancelled it because of our late arrival.
We took the metro to the Palais de Chaillot (Trocedero) and viewed the Eiffel Tower. We turned the corner and there it was. We didn't expected to be amazed because we had seen so many pictures of the tower before but... the truth is the view is spectacular! We would highly recommend viewing the tower from the steps at Palace De Chaillot because you get all the best pictures here. We couldn't believe the number of girls going beyond steel barriers to stand on massive heights to get the best pictures. It's safe to say we didn't take that risk. You have to be extremely careful in this area as it is well known for pick pockets and extortionately priced merchandise and food. It was so hot we did pay €4 for a bottle of water (please don't tell our dad).
You can take a river cruise from this area. The river cruises start at €16. Some boats offer a candle lit meal which certainly looks romantic but like everything in Paris it comes with a big price tag. We walked until our feet could take us no further and decided to call it a day. We had no sleep the night before, the weather and walking had tired us out.
Using the metro we started back to the Hotel. We went to Carre Four supermarket to pick up some treats and anything we would need for the next day. Kate loves foreign supermarkets... she spend ages in aisles looking at all of the food that we can't get at home... like HUGE Nutella jars. We went back to the Hotel, had a snack and orgaisned our things for the next day.
DAY 2 - Disney Land. (Separate Blog Post) Read it here
HOP ON BUS
We got up early and stopped in a bakery for our breakfast. Kate absolutely loves Pain au Chocolate and was excited to try this in France. We went to pick up our tickets for the Big bus company and La Louvre at the Main office. We arrived before the office opened and were first in the queue. We booked this company as we had used them before and knew they were reliable and efficient. The two routes they offer, stop at all the main sites and offer audio headphones to tell you about each location. There's also wifi on board as well as a poncho incase you get wet.
We went straight to the Louvre which was within walking distance. I had read all about the queues for the museum and was worried that we would be standing for a considerable amount of time, we weren't. I would recommend going very early to avoid queues. La louvre has lots of art work and is mainly known for Mona Lisa and Michale Angelo's slave sculpture. Our visit was speedy and we're glad we saw the Mona Lisa. Would we recommend it? I would say if you're interested in art work, yes but if not a view from the outside is suffice. They had a large locker area where you could place your belongings and this was very useful and also free.
After our trip to the museum we hopped on the red route of the big bus tour which allowed us to see many of the major sites.
* Ecole Militaire
* Champ de Mars
* Pyramide du Louvre
* We hopped off here to get the iconic picture and see the Mona Lisa.
* Institute du France
* Palais Bourbon
* Place de la Concorde
* Arc de Triomphe *Ideally we would have liked to hop off here but time just didn't allow it.
* Place de la Madeleine
* Norte Dame * A fantastic stop even if you don't do the tour. The street entertainment is great, we saw a dance act and a group on roller Blades. A great place to soak up the Parisian atmosphere.
* Palais Royal
* Opera Garnier
* Musee du Lourve
* Hotel Des Invalides
* Petit Palais
* Palais du Luxembourg
* Grand Palais
* Trocadero *The best location to get off for the iconic Eiffel Tower pictures.
* Tour Eiffel
We didn't get off at any of these sites but with the open top bus we were able to have a great view of them. We stopped and had lunch near central station. At this point we decided to start the blue route of the big bus tour. We walked around for over an hour searching for the correct stop to hop on at . This is one of the greatest disadvantages of the bus tour. Many of the stops do not have signs and they can be difficult to locate. We were certainly grateful for Google Maps. The blue route offers transportation to the following sites:
* Central Station - Gare du Nord
* Grand Rex
* Musee Grevin
* Jardin des Tuileries
* Galeries Lafayette
* Moulin Rouge - We stopped to see this area and were quite surprised. The area is filled with shops selling lingerie and inappropriate items. We have never been to the red light district but we thought this place would give it a good run for its money.
* Sacre Coeur - Honestly this was one of the highlights for us. A quaint and culture filled area. Cobbled steers, striped awning and buzzing with people. The steps up to the Basilica were stunning and the views from the top breathtaking! I would highly recommend everyone to go to this amazing landmark in Paris.
In the evening we decided to go to see the light show at the Eiffel Tower. The weather was awful. We sat in plastic ponchos on the steps as the thunder roared and the lightning struck violently across the sky. The rain was relentless and it seemed like we were the only people left so we decided to head back to the Hotel. The light show didn't feature that night because of the weather and we were glad to be tucked up in bed by 11pm.
Some Top Tips for Paris
* If booking a hop on hop off bus, book L'Open Tour it is a more frequent service with more routes.
* Buy metro tickets in packs of 10 for €14 rather than individually.
* Go up and down side streets to find more affordable food prices. We had crepes on a side streets and cut the cost in half
* The weather is very changeable so bring a rain coat or buy a poncho
* Try to use their language or learn some key phrases as they will be much more likely to respond.
* Be careful with your belongings. Paris is well known for pick pockets. We would highly recommend the bum bags as they're small and light.
* Comfortable shoes are a necessity for travelling around the city.
* Don't buy the first souvenirs you see... shop around and get the best price.
* Try to use the free toilets because in most places you have to pay up to €1.
* Plan your days around the weather forecast if you can.
A highlight for us was the Sacre Coeur, Disney Land and the Eiffel Tower.
Paris is always a good idea ❤️
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