Trip through Paris in May of the 2012
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@ Photos and travel story sent by Maruxaina and her backpack, you can know more about her on her blog.
We only had one weekend and the weather was great in May, so we decided to organize ourselves to see the city on foot and discard the museums for a future trip. There were so many places to visit ...
First day, we arrived on a Friday.
There are several airports in Paris: the most important one is Charles de Gaulle (approx. 23 km); Orly is about 14 kilometers away and Beauvais, where low cost companies operate ( Ryanair and Wizzair) and it was where we landed.
The airport is small but has a tourist information booth and a bus service to Porte Maillot, in the center of Paris (the journey takes about 80 minutes and costs about 15 euros). Other somewhat more expensive options are taxi or shuttles ("Shuttles"). The train is not very advisable as there is no direct service and it is necessary to go by taxi to Beauvais and from there take the train to Paris.
Our option was the bus, the stop is in Porte Maillot, right where is the Palacio de Congresos and the Hotel Lafayette. There begins the Metro Line 1 from which we move to the hotel.
We had booked online a few days before, guided by the location and favorable comments, the Hotel "Le Faubourg", turned out to be a small building of 3 plants in a neighborhood with many shops and businesses, has no luxuries but was perfect to move by the city.
Saturday, second day of our trip.
Saturday dawned very good day, we went down early to breakfast and we walked to the Arch of Triumph, the large avenues make it quite easy to navigate with the street. "Boulevards" such as Voltaire or Sevastopol were designed by order of Napoleon III who wanted a more clean and orderly city, to avoid the recurrence of past riots (it was easier to set up barricades in the narrow streets of old neighborhoods that were destroyed) .Hausmann, Prefect baron of the Seine, he was chosen, taking care of public lighting, improving the sewage system ... Today, the boulevard that bears his name is considered by some as a shopping mecca, with department stores and commercial galleries like Lafayette.
Construction of the Arc de Triomphe, located on the Place de l'Étoile, began in 1806 to celebrate Napoleon's victory at Austerlitz, but it took longer than expected and it will not be completed until 30 years later. In fact, during the entry into the city, the Empress María Luisa (1810) painted curtains to give the impression that it was finished.
It stands out for its dimensions: 50 meters high by 45 wide, (the largest arch in the world) and for its sculptures that represent great facts of the Napoleonic empire. On its internal faces are inscribed the names of generals of the empire and from 1923 the "Flame of remembrance" on the grave of an unidentified soldier (every evening at 18: 30 a ceremony is held in which the flame is revived).
La entrance is paid (almost 10 eur), but the 1º Sunday of every month is free; open at 10 am and close 22,30 - 23hs.You can climb (there is both an elevator and stairs) and appreciate some beautiful views or visit a small museum that displays documents and memories of the construction of the Arch.
From there we headed towards the Basilica of Sacré Couer , half way we stopped at the beautiful Monceau Park (Bvd de Courcelles, open from the 7 am). Anglochino style, fashionable in the eighteenth century, had buildings of all times and styles as a temple Roman, Dutch mills or a pagoda since the Duke of Chartres wanted a unique place ... .Currently it is very frequented by families, runners and skaters, so many who are thinking about limiting their entrance.
We arrive at the Basilica of S.Coeur (1919), one of the most touristic places in Paris, located in the district of Montmartre, you can get on the funicular but it is a nice walk from where the city can be seen.
It is at the top of a hill, and stands out for its Roman - Byzantine architecture and its mosaic of 475 square meters, one of the largest in the world and representing the crucified Christ. Those who dare can climb the 300 steps to reach the dome and get a view of 360º of Paris (both the dome and the crypt have paid entry).
The surroundings of Sacré Coeur are full of souvenir shops (cheaper than in other areas) and places to eat or drink. We take this opportunity to take a break and get the strength to walk for a while in this beautiful neighborhood.
Montmartre was an independent town until 1860 when it became yet another district of Paris. It had a bad reputation for cabarets (among which the mythical “Moulin Rouge") And brothels at the end of the 19th century until the artists turned it into the" neighborhood of painters ".
We returned to the hotel to leave some nonsense that we had bought and after a restorative shower we went out again. This time we went to the Opera building, the Garnier, which inspired the play "The Phantom of the Opera". It was dusk and it was illuminated, which made it even more beautiful, it is a building that showed the luxury and wealth of the past: a great white marble staircase, hallways decorated with mosaics, or a green and red marble balustrade ...
Napoleon III chose Charles Garnier among more than 170 projects presented and in his construction participated more than 70 sculptors and 15 painters ...
The entrance is paid and is open from the 10 in the morning.
We chose a nice Italian restaurant for dinner and walking around we returned to the hotel. We did not go to bed very late as a Sunday market was waiting for us and that required regain strength !!!
Third day of our trip, on Sunday.
Despite knowing that we would "take" a long time, we could not stop going to the "Marché aux puces" of Saint Ouen ("Flea market"), It was sunny and a very pleasant temperature to wander and browse through the great trail.
After spending a more than pleasant morning, we ate something and decided to go to another place that we did not want to miss ... Cemetery of Père Lachaise.
It is the largest in Paris, known and very visited for hosting many celebrities.
In fact, the best thing is to get a plan so as not to get lost among the 70.000 thousand tombs (since 1804 there have been several extensions). Its name is due to the confessor of Louis XiV, François d'Aix de La Chaise, at first it was not very well accepted by Parisians because it is located on the outskirts, until the transfer of the remains of Moliére or La Fontaine and the appearance of the cemetery in Balzac's novel (“Le pére Gariot, 1835) made it popular.
Personally it was one of the places I liked most in Paris, and I will return without a doubt, it has graves that are authentic monuments and is perfect for a Tim Burton movie !!!
We did not see all the graves, but Oscar Wilde's, very painted with messages from "admirers", Edith Piaf, A.Comte, Chopin and of course, Jim Morrison, who found it hard to find because he was quite hidden.
We left because it was time to close (17.30 -18.00) and strolling through a bar that announced attractive cocktails, which later turned out to be a birria.
After a brief passage through the hotel, we went out to dinner and to see the Torre Eiffel , how not! We had the good fortune that just when we got there, it started to light up and the show was great. There were many people taking photos from any possible angle, the queue to climb was huge so we decided not to wait and enjoy the tourist symbol par excellence of Paris.
It was created in record time (1887-89) for the Universal Exhibition that coincided with the centenary of the French Revolution.
You can go up to the different levels, on foot (there are just over 1600 steps) or by elevator, tickets can be bought online and it is open from 1am in the morning. In its surroundings there are many small stalls that sell souvenirs and some fast food. It can be reached without problem by metro (lines 6,8,9) and once there visit the Campo de Marte (“Champs de Mars"), The Wall of Peace and crossing the Seine, the Trocadero Gardens.
Really attractive places to get away from the hustle and bustle that is always under the Tower.
In that same area, you can visit The Invalids, former palace residence for retired soldiers and place where the tomb of Napoleon is located. We did not go for lack of time but it is considered one of the main monuments of Paris. Admission is paid and opens at 10 in the morning and closes at 1 in the afternoon.
Monday, the end of our trip.
On Monday we had half a day to take advantage of before catching the return flight. We took it easy, we went along the river until we reached the Pont Neuf , the longest and oldest in the city. It was the 1st to be built in stone and to cross the Seine in its entire width. And the good thing about wandering around is that you find places like Voltaire's birth house, right in front of the river.
We arrived until Our Lady (1163-1245), one of the oldest Gothic cathedrals in the world, recognized for its two towers almost 70 meters high, it was the place chosen by Napoleon for his coronation and also the scene of the beatification of Joan of Arc. the organ, the details of each gargoyle and the bell tower where the mythical Hunchback of Victor Hugo lived. Admission is free except to climb the towers or enter the crypt, and there are free guided tours in Spanish.
Crossing the Pont D'Arcole, the next stop was at the Hotel de Ville, a magnificent neo-Renaissance building that houses the Paris City Hall. It underwent several reforms, the last due to the great fire of 1871 that reduced it to ashes. In its wide square, once a place of executions, you can find an exhibition, a merry-go-round, a skating rink ... When we were there, we were able to enjoy a country fair and taste Moroccan, Hindu or Japanese products. It is advisable to take a walk around the building, contemplate its more than 100 statues of famous people and its glass tower.
For the most curious, tell you that in front of this building the famous black and white photograph of Robert Doisneau, "The Kiss", was taken.
And following the Rue de Rivoli, we arrive at the Place du Carrousel, where the Louvre Museum is located. On this trip we had decided not to enter the museums but we also approached this area where we could see the Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel, also of Napoleón, this one characteristic for having a bronze quarry on top (the horses were part of one of his booties, this time from the Plaza San Marcos in Venice…
El Louvre Palace It was originally a castle (1870th century) and was attached to the Tuileries Palace until it was destroyed in 1. It was opened for the first time in 1793 to all citizens as a museum (unlike the Uffizi Gallery or the Prado , where only educated public could access).
Taking a walk outside is going through history with more than 70 sculptures by painters, architects, poets ... or philosophers like Montesquieu and Rousseau.
In the '80s the building was modernized and the well-known Crystal Pyramid was added as a new form of access to the museum for visitors.
And so, our intense weekend in Paris ended, surrounded by a massive excursion waiting to enter the museum, we said goodbye to a city to which we will return for sure.
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