I visited Paris about 20 years ago and did not come away with a good impression. I was hoping that this visit would change my mind about the city. I got off to a rough start this time as well. We arrived at Gare Du Nord and I needed two things: a restroom and a transit pass. Both proved difficult. We had no Euros yet and the restroom at the station was a pay restroom. I am irritated by pay restrooms all the time, but am especially irritated by pay restrooms at a major travel hub(and when I need to pee and have no money). The transit passes proved difficult as well. The ones we needed were not sold in the vending machines, but the information kiosk person kept pointing us to the machines. When we finally found the place to buy them there was a shift change and the person helping us just abruptly stood up and walked away. Luckily, eventually, another employee showed up and sold us the passes and we were able to head to the hotel. It was dinner time when we arrived so we walked around to find food and settled on a crepe place. My wife said she had 50 euro so we were good even of they didn’t take credit cards. Turns out she only had 20 euro, the food cost 30 and the credit card machine was broken. The guy actually told us to just pay 20 and come back the next day to pay the rest. A positive Paris experience!
Now, on to the tours. Day one was busy. We started at the Pantheon because it was closest to the hotel. We had more issues with broken credit card machines and had to go a second time to an ATM to get money for our museum passes, but we made it in. We left the Pantheon and headed off to our lunch cruise on the river for my son’s birthday. Good food and a chance to see the sights without walking – my kind of tour! We left the boat and headed toward Notre Dame. We stopped first at the Conciegerie and then to the cathedral. We were unaware that even with a museum pass we needed timed tickets for the tower. There was an online app to use to get them so we downloaded it, but it wouldn’t work. We asked the woman at the line for help and she said she could let 2 of us go on in. I said the kids could go since I had been there before. She felt bad and let us all go. Another positive Paris experience! We made the long climb up the towers, saw the view and the bells and then back down and in to the crypt. We then toured Saint Chapelle and headed off to walk to the Arc de Triumph(another climb), walk Champs Elysses and Place De Le Concorde. We then walked over to get an up close view of the Eiffel Tower and then back to rest up for another big day.
Walking stats: 27,763 steps. 65 floors climbed. 9.8 miles
Only two tours today, but both very big. We started the day at Versailles. We followed Rick Steves’ advice and arrived right at opening and got in pretty quick. It is a huge place. It took most of the day to tour the palace, the gardens and the domain of Marie Antoinette. We did eventually see it all and found our way back to the train to get to the hotel. We stopped in at the hotel, went to a local place for dinner and then headed over to the Louvre. The Louvre is open until 9:30pm on Wednesdays. We arrived around 7:30 and by this time there was no line. We walked right in. There was a still a big, annoying crowd around the Mona Lisa, but I will say that evening is a perfect time to see the museum, as long as you are OK with hitting the biggest things and moving on. We stayed until close and then headed back to the hotel. This was the end of our Paris trip.
The next day we had breakfast and then to the airport for home. Charles De Gaulle was a surprisingly easy airport with hardly any lines. It was a great trip and I’m sad that I’m now back to work. I’m ready to retire and travel all the time.
Walking stats: 34, 699 steps. 36 floors. 12.4 miles.