Tag - paris

The Tight Squeeze


small-elevatorI was a guest in a small hotel in Paris France. We had just arrived earlier that day from England, and after getting dinner and drinks with a friend I went back to the hotel to get much-needed sleep and sober up. After I had been sleeping a couple of hours I was awakened by someone from the front desk with frantic knocking on the door. Barley aware of where I was, I glanced at the clock; it was around 2 a.m, so I tried to orient myself to my surroundings.

He continued to knock on the door so hard it felt like someone was banging my head into the wall. I dragged myself out of bed praying I could get to the door before my head exploded. I opened the door and attempted to give the young  clerk the best evil eye I could muster; he looked confused and panicked. He tried to explain to me, in broken English, that I needed to change the room; it was an emergency but he did his best to sweeten the deal with the promise of a nicer room on the 5th floor. After what seemed like hours of begging, I finally gave up and agreed to change rooms.

As I was packing my bags I demanded to know what was going on. He had explained that the woman who had booked the nicer room  had to check in late. When she arrived the clerk quickly realized that the woman was “incredibly large”.  She was so big he feared she might not fit into the elevator. It was an old hotel with the original elevator. Not wanting to be rude he avoided asking her weight;  instead he spent nearly 30 minutes helping her squeeze her body into the small space, only to find out after she was in the elevator that it wasn’t going up.  After explaining to her that the elevator was not going to move with her in it, he pulled her out. He then suggested the stairs, but after just three steps he quickly realized she was never going to make it up the small spiral stairs either. Exhausted he gave up and came up with the idea of moving her into one of the larger rooms on the first floor my room.

After realizing the situation I began to laugh so hard I thought I was going to wet my pants.  Trying to gain my composure I quickly grabbed my bags as I  headed out the door. As I stepped out, I saw the woman standing in the lobby; she looked as if she had been through hell. She began to apologize for the inconvenience. It was then that I really got to look at the situation; my guess was she weighted over 700 lbs and the clerk could not have been any bigger then 120 lbs. I told her not to worry about it as I was excited to have the view from the 5th floor. As I continued on my way, waiting for the elevator, I watched the clerk assist the large woman as she literally squeezed sideways down the hall to her new room.

I woke up late the next morning; all the drinking and the move made it difficult to wake up early. Dragging myself downstairs I figured it was too late for breakfast but was hoping they had been kind enough to save me some coffee. To my surprise not only had they saved me coffee but breakfast as well.  The owner greeted me and told me he would compensate me for my troubles. I sat at the table feeling on top of the world. I had a better room, for a great price;  it felt like a great holiday already. I then saw the woman from the night before leaving the hotel with her bags in tow.  I stopped the front desk clerk to ask why she was leaving. Apparently the hotel’s bathrooms are small as well, so she was unable to fit through the door. She was being forced to check into a more modern not to mention much more expensive hotel that could accommodate her size.  I guess the lesson learned here is, if you are traveling to Europe it’s a good idea to make sure the hotel can accommodate all your needs.

 Location: Paris- France

Visiting Eiffel Tower

Eiffel tower, cr-aparisguide.com

Eiffel tower, cr-aparisguide.com

Today, The Eiffel Tower has become the most recognized icon in Paris which was built for the world expo of 1889, located on the Champs de mars beside the Seine river in the 7th district of Paris. It is named after the engineer Gustave Eiffel. It is the tallest structure of France  after the Viaduc de Millau.

One can visit the Tower anytime of the day. It’s a must-see if you travel to Paris. There is something magical about the tower if you get a chance to visit at night or at dusk. When you are looking out  over the streets of Paris, you will know why we call Paris, “The City of Light”. It’s easy to get to the top during the evening than the day time, especially if you climb it during the winter days. There will be always a line  and the Eiffel tower is the most visited monument in the world.

How to get there:

It’s easy ton get there. Paris is equipped with a great public transportation system. The best way to get there is always the “ Metro”. There are several lines deserve the Tower. take the line 9 in direction “Porte de sevres and get off of Trocadero. you can walk up the stairs of palais de Caillot which houses several museums. you will see the stunning view of The Eiffel tower right across the Seine river. while you are walking, you can admire the stunning view of the fountains in the Trocadero gardens.

There are few other ways to get to the Tower. The line 6 in direction Porte Daupine, get off of Bir- Hakeim and walk to The Eiffel tower. This may sound a little far away but you would be able to admire the fantastic view of the area. The RER line C has the same stop if you happen to take it.

Bus: there are several buses reach The Eiffel Tower. take line number 72, 42, 69, 87 or 82 which stops right by. During the summer time buses are crowded but metro are overcrowded.

Cab: You would find taxi cabs anywhere in Paris to take you to The Tower. You can find cabs near Quai Branly, Pilier West

Opening Hours:

Tower: 9.00- 9.30 a.m to 11.00 p.m

Elevator: 9.00-  9.30 a.m to 11.45 p.m- 12.30 a.m

Stairs: 9.30 a.m to 6.30 p.m (until 12.30 a.m. during summer)

Where to get tickets:

If you are staying in a hotel. They usually sell tickets to The Eiffel Tower. They keep a commission by selling the tickets. If you are smart, ask them if you can buy tickets cheaper from them. Otherwise, you need to buy the tickets.   if you buy your tickets at the gate. Get there in advance, there will always be a line but if you get there by an agency such as CityRama; they will bypass the lines.

The 1st stage level – 4.50€

The Second stage – 7.80€

The Top level –  11.50€

The second level gives you the best views of Paris. If you decide to go to the top. You can buy tickets on the 2nd level as well. It’s not uncommon to wait a little longer to take the elevator to the top. Sometimes, it might take up to 3h.

The Tower has 2 restaurants. the first called Altitude 95 is on the 1st floor with its large bar area overlooking the seine river and the streets of Paris. Dinner is possible but it’s “first come- first served” basis. The prices are reasonable. The 2nd restaurant is called the Jules Verne which is an expensive gastronomical restaurant with it’s own private elevator. This is a great place to have a romantic dinner.

It is recommended to bring some worm cloths if you are planing on going there during the winter time and spring. You would appreciate the extra clothing, a hat and some gloves while you are waiting to go up or go down the Eiffel Tower.

Walk up the Tower:

if the waiting line is long. The best way to get there is to take the stairs. There are about 700 steps and if you are in good health; you would be able to do it in less than 5mn. It will save you up to 5€. Then you will be able to buy the second level tickets to go to the top.   Walking up the stairs would save you 3h of waiting in line and save your precious time to do something else in Paris. While you are on the second floor. go to the La Poste, the post office to send some cards to friends and family  and buy some souvenirs from the gift shop.

you would find so many vendors selling souvenirs near The Eiffel Tower and sometimes, they are pushy. If you want to buy something, negotiate hard. They will finally give up. If you desire a cafe after the visit. There are several great cafes around the Eiffel tour area. They are very reasonable and it feels good to have a cafe au lait after a rough couple hours of visiting the tower. Ps: There might be a small admission free if you take the stairs  up to the second level ( about 1,652 stairs) and you should abstain climbing if you are suffering from vertigo.

The Pantheon of Paris: A Place to Honour French Heroes

The Pantheon

The Pantheon

Though not as famous as the Eiffel Tower or the Louvre, a visit to Paris is not complete without a trip to see the stunning Panthéon Paris. This tourist attraction weaves a tale rich in historical value and national pride. One cannot fully understand the true essence of French culture without immersing themselves in everything that this spectacular monument has to offer. From its structural beauty to its scientific wonders, from its proud heritage to its honoured celebrities, the best of France is housed in one magnificent building.

Fit for a Saint

From the Greek word meaning “every god”, the beautiful Panthéon was built by Louis XV when he vowed in 1744 that, should he recover from an illness, he would have a building constructed as a tribute to Sainte-Geneviève, the patron saint of Paris. Construction began in 1758, but due to financial difficulties, was not completed until 1789, and its architect, Jacques-Germain Soufflot, passed away before the completion of his masterpiece. Originally intended to be a church, it has become a final resting place since the French Revolution for such heroes as Voltaire, Rousseau, Victor Hugo, and the Curies.

Built in the Latin Quarter, the Panthéon was created in the style of Neoclassicism, with a façade and large Corinthian columns modelled after the great Roman Pantheon. Sitting proudly on top of the Montagne Sainte-Geneviève, it overlooks the entire city of Paris. The ground floor is in the shape of a Greek cross layout, with a length of 110 m (352 ft) and a width of 85 m (272 ft). In the centre is a dome, reminiscent of The Tempietto in Rome, with a height of 85 m (272 ft). It was this dome that inspired Leon Foucault to attempt his first experiments to demonstrate the rotation of the earth on an axis. Therefore, it is fitting that there is now a Foucault pendulum hanging over the centre of the Panthéon floor; though it appears to be swinging, it is in fact immobile and the earth’s rotation is giving it the illusion of movement.

Around the corner from the Foucault pendulum is a plaque in honour of Antoine de Saint Exupéry, famous author of Le Petit Prince and aviator who disappeared during a reconnaissance flight over the Mediterranean in July of 1944. Though parts of Saint-Exupéry’s flight suit and plane have been recovered, there is currently no confirmation on the events that led to the tragic conclusion of his final flight.

Hall of Heroes

Perhaps one of the strongest reasons for visiting the Panthéon, however, is not located in the edifice itself but beneath it. In the large crypt below, visitors can pay their respects to some of the most wondrous minds to have ever graced the country, or even the planet. Without the influence of the people who now reside beneath the floors of the former church, many advances in science, medicine, art and literature would not have ever been made.

Upon entering the crypt, there is an inscription that can be read over the entrance: AUX GRANDS HOMMES LA PATRIE RECONNAISSANTE (“For great men the grateful nation”). Among the first graves encountered, proudly facing each other, are monuments to notable writers and philosophers Voltaire and Jean-Jacques Rousseau, both of whom were pivotal in the development of French literature and culture in the eighteenth century.

Further inside the crypt, sharing a vault are some of France’s greatest nineteenth century French authors: Victor Hugo (who brought us the incomparable Les Misérables and Notre Dame de Paris), Émile Zola (father of the Naturalist movement and creator of the Rougon-Macquart), and Alexandre Dumas (author of The Three Musketeers), who was brought to the crypt in 2002. Inventor Louis Braille, chemist Louis Pasteur and mathematician René Descartes, as well as the Panthéon’s own architect Soufflot, have also been honoured with a place among France’s most extraordinary citizens.

In 1995, Marie Sklodowska Curie became the first woman laid to rest at the Panthéon, where she now remains alongside her husband, Pierre.

It is impossible not to be moved when faced with such a tremendous gathering of brilliant and influential minds. Only the most deserving are honoured with a home in the Panthéon, and after a single visit, anyone can see why these residents have been so honoured. These phenomenal heroes all played a significant role in shaping our world into what it is today, and for this, we owe them our respect and gratitude.

The Panthéon is located at the Place du Panthéon, 5e arrondissement. It is open daily from 10am until 6pm and admission is 7€ for adults, 4.50€ for ages 18-25, and free for children 17 and under. The nearest stop on the Métro is the Cardinal Lemoine and on the RER is the Luxembourg. The Panthéon can be reached by phone by calling 01-44-32-18-00.

Daugherty, Christi. Frommer’s Paris Day by Day 1st Edition. New Jersey: Wiley Publishing, 2006.

Paris, Je T’aime

Paris france-cr-eurostar.com

Paris france-cr-eurostar.com

Visiting Paris in the Summer Time

If you are a Paris lover and if you’ve visited Paris during summer time, you’ll feel that the city isn’t exactly in its normal state. Most locals abandon Paris for the beautiful but crowded beaches of the Cote d’Azur, Nice or the Atlantic Coast, and Paris falls under the reign of visitors from around the globe. Laid-back, festive, and eerily stripped of its metropolitan stress levels, the city of light is temporary taken under control by the tourists around the world. The enthusiasm of visitors tends to be infectious, and Parisians, reputed for their gloomy dispositions, welcome the change of ambiance. If you are really looking for a typical Parisian life style, you might be disappointed by it. Summer in Paris belongs to tourists, they become locals temporarily. The best time to see the Parisians is when they return from vacation during late August. They call it “ C’est la rentree”

Why to Love Paris in the summer time:

Briefly, the city is yours. Traffic nearly grinds to a halt on the streets, and activities like biking or rollerblading around the city are rarely more pleasant. Metros may be over packed and sweltering, but stressed commuters have been replaced with cheerful packs of vacationers. The mood is perhaps less  Parisian than at other times of the year. This might not be exactly what you would like. Paris became one of the top destinations in the world and it comes with a price. Please be careful with your belongs while you are traveling in the subway. Most big cities are filled with pickpockets and you do not want to lose your stuff while vacationing. Sometimes, you can blend in as a local but come summer times, it’s hard to find one.

August in Paris is also an ideal time for experiencing a cruise on the Seine river, taking a CityRama bus ride around the city, visit the Sorbonne, visit a park such as Jardin des Tulliers, park Monceau, Jardin des Luxambourg. Paris is hot during summer days and you would enjoy a nice breeze if you are outside enjoying.If you like to enjoy the people walking along the streets, sit down outside a café and enjoy a nice croc monsieur and a cafe. You would see tourists from all over the world. The new trend in Paris is the Chinese with larger groups enjoying every place and occupying every area possible. Having a relaxed meal while gliding along the water can be to memorable effect. So, Go for a nice walk along the Seine river where you would enjoy seeing artists paintings and some stalls where people trying to sell souvenirs and art work to the tourists passing by.During the summer times, you would enjoy some events typically for summer. Mainly during the month of August, The Paris plages is an event, turning the Seine river’s busy side walks into a beach, an ideal relaxing and picnic areas for tourists and for the Parisians who stayed behind. You would enjoy tourists sun bathing, sometimes naked. After all It’s Paris. In the evenings, free live music and drink-sipping on outdoor terraces along the Seine will lure the relaxed tourists.

If you are a fan of Open-air film festival, go to the Parc de la Villette. It’s a must see places while you are in Paris. It’s dedicated to science and you would be amazed to discover what it has to offer. The movies are shown at no cost on a giant outdoor screen. You would feel the love in the air.

How to Prepare for the trip:

Summer in Paris is generally hot and muggy, with average temperatures at around 75F. But in recent years, however, major heat waves have been known to strike in August, and temperatures have sometimes climbed to the high 90’s. In 2003, a two-week heat wave hit Paris in early August and caused significant deaths among elderly. I remembered that. I was working in a hotel without no AC and it got empty and most tourists cancelled coming to Paris because of that. Elderly, visitors with medical conditions, and parents with infants and small kids should remain especially alert to possible spikes in temperature, and take necessary precautions. Reserving a hotel room with air conditioning is one of them. Make sure to ask when you make reservations. Some hotels do not simply have air-conditioned rooms. Making sure to keep plenty of water with you if you are out. There are few water fountains for tourist if you need water.

Summers can be surprisingly rainy, and erratic thunderstorms and heavy showers are common. Pack a reliable umbrella in case one of these takes you off guard you during a stroll or picnic.

Bring a comfortable pair of walking shoes, especially since visits to Paris usually involve lots of strolling, not to mention those maddening metro tunnels and stairs.

What to visit while you are in Paris
  1. Tour Eiffel:

This is a must see. It might be crowded during this time but try to get there early if you want to avoid big lines. If you make dinner reservations, you can do that via tour guides. They will by pass the lines and get you there in time. Same way, if you make reservations by CityRama. You would by pass the lines. Its something you need to keep it mind. It might be a little pricy but in the end. It’s worth it.  Nighttime would be beautiful and you can see the city of light as you imagine it would look like.

2. Louvre Museum:

Maybe the world’s most famous museum. It would take days to visit it. You should choose carefully what you would like to see. Before you go, research it, make sure what you want to see, visit the highlights first. If you want to see Mona Lisa, make a quick visit to Sully Wing. Buy a museum guide for 8 euros that would help you immensely.

I recommend you start with the ground floor, the Richelieu floor, which contains sculpture. Then proceed to the 1st floor of the Sully that contains Egyptian, Etruscan, Middle Eastern and Greek and Roman antiques. The Sully wing also encompasses painting and medieval art.

3.Jardin des Tulleries:

The Jardin des Tuilleries is one of Paris’s most visited gardens thanks to its central location between the Louvre and Place de la Concorde. As such the Tuilleries are part of a grand central axis leading from the Louvre all the way to La Défense, the city’s business district. Just go enjoy and relax during the hot summer days. You would be able to spot the Place de la Concorde, La Madeleine, the exact replicate of the Parliament which is located little further from the church.

4. Notre dame de Paris

Located in the 4th district near Sorbonne and St Micheal. This is a must see. It’s one of the most visited Cathedrals in France. It’s easy to visit and less crowed during the summer time. You don’t need to rush to see it.

5. The Champs Elysées

It is a magnet for romantics and one of the most visited streets in Paris. It is the world’s most famous avenue. In addition to the signature Arc de Triomphe and Champs Elysées, this section of Paris includes the Palais de l’Elysées, the Grand Palais, and the Petit Palais, two stately buildings located near the Seine. Take the subway to Charles de Gaulle on line one and you would be able to walk from there or take the exit Champs Elysee. The side walks are always busy with tourists and just enjoy walking down the most famous avenue. If you like lights. Come back during Christmas. You will be amazed.

6. Montmartre

Tourists visit Montmartre to see the panoramic view of  Paris from the church of Sacré Coeur, mix with the numerous artists at the Place du Tertre and for the show at  the Moulin Rouge. It’s breath taking and it’s the highest point in Paris. This is also a must see.

How to get there:

take the Metro to Abesses   and walk to the bottom of hill topped by Sacré Coeur.  If you are strapped for time or plan to ascend to the top of the dome of Sacré Coeur, take the funicular to the top. By the way, if you are a De Niro fan and the movie Ronin, this is the location of  the café.

7. Les Invalides and the Musée D’Orsay:

Famous art and artists, Napoleon’s Tomb and a different character make the Invalides another of the popular areas in Paris. Our guide to the best places to visit in the Invalides and Surrounding Areas includes: the Musée D’Orsay (Impressionist art), the Musée Rodin (sculpture) and Saint Louis des Invalides, a beautiful church that houses Napoleon’s impressive tomb.

How to get there: take the subway to Invalides on line 1 or you can go to Musée d’Orsay exit and walk back to Invalides. You can just sit on the beautiful green grass and just enjoy a hot summer day in Paris.

8. Visit the Latin quarter:

This is a must see area of Paris. Admire La Sorbonne, Le Pantheon, les Jardin et Le Palais du Luxembourg, St-Germain-des -Prés, Delacroix museum. You would be amazed by the beauty of the area. Since this is located near the colleges. You might encounter students from all over the world. You would be able to walk la rue des Ecoles de medicine just to see the medical faculty. Have a cup of coffee facing the Notre dame and just enjoy by being there.

Take the subway to St Micheal Notre dame and follow the exit. You can also take the RER B line.

9. Visit the Maris

It’s the peaceful neighborhood of the Place des Vosges, Les Halles, the Pompidou Center, the Hotel de Ville, the Picasso Museum, the Carnavalet Museum, and the Place de la Bastille, The Bastille area reputedly offers some of the best nightlife in Paris, so you may want to visit later in the evening.

You would find numerous restaurants around here, while you are at Les Halles, go visit la bibliotheque de Pompidou, go to the top and enjoy the view with a cup of coffee.

10. La Pere Lachaise Cemetery

Père Lachaise is the final resting place of Marcel Proust, Oscar Wilde, Edith Piaf, Maria Callas Frederic Chopin, Sarah Bernhardt, Gertrude Stein, Honoré de Balzac, George Bizet, Maria Callas, Eugene Delacroix, Jim Morrison, Yves Montand, Simon Signoret and numerous, world-famous personalities, many whose popularity has increased after their death.

Take the metro to Pere Lachaise or Gambetta and follow the signs and you would be there in no time. It’s beautiful to see and open daily.

There are other places you could visit such as Catacoumbs, La Pigalle with the Moulin rouge shows, the sex museum, L’Opera de Paris,