France 2015: Paris

July 19

At 2:20 p.m. we took off from Malaga airport bound for Paris, where we landed around 4:45 p.m. at Orly airport. We took the Orlyval light rail to Antony RER station where we boarded RER line B to Châtelet – Les Halles station.

The combined ticket cost us €12 per person. From there we took the metro to the Malesherbes station, which was about 5 minutes from the hotel.

If you don’t want to complicate your life, you can always hire a transfer service.

The chosen hotel is the Romance Malasherbes, a small, very simple and relatively cheap 3-star hotel: €89 per night. The downside is that it was a bit far from the center.

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We left our bags at the hotel and went to have a first contact with the city. We went to Trocadero, for this we had to take metro line 3 to the Havre – Caumartin station where we changed to line 9 to Trocadero. In total about 25 minutes of travel.

The Palais de Chaillot is located on the Trocadero square and was built for the 1937 Universal Exhibition by the architects Léon Azéma, Jacques Carlu and Louis-Hippolyte Boileau, instead of the square of the old Trocadero Palace. But the best thing about the palace is the impressive view from its esplanade of the Eiffel Tower.

Eiffel Tower from Trocadero.

Going down the stairs are the Trocadero gardens and the spectacular Fontaine du Trocadéro, also built in 1937. Here you will see many people lying on the lawn around the fountain resting and even having picnics.

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Eiffel tower from trocadero gardens.

We crossed the Pont d’Iéna to get to the base of the tower and took a tour of the surroundings and the Champs de Mars which, with its 24.5 hectares, the Champ-de-Mars is one of the largest green spaces in Paris. In the 16th century, the landscape of this vast esplanade consisted mainly of vineyards and orchards. Since 1790 it has been used for all major commemorations.

From here we went for a walk towards the Arc de Triomphe contemplating the Eiffel Tower from different perspectives.

Eiffel Tower from Debilly Footbridge.

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Walking and walking we reached the Palais de Tokyo. Built for the 1937 International Exhibition, the building called “Palais de Tokyo” takes its name from “quai de Tokio” (now New York avenue) and is a museum of modern art.

Palais de Tokyo.

A little further on, by the northern end of the Pont de l’Alma, is the Flamme de la Liberté. Erected in 1987 to celebrate the centenary of the founding of the International Herald Tribune newspaper. In 1989 it was donated by him during the United State of America bicentennial, to symbolize the friendship between France and United States.

In it you will see photos and memories of Diana of Wales since her admirers have transformed it into a commemorative wake. The Alma tunnel begins here, which was where the traffic accident in which she died took place.

From here we went straight to the Arc de Triomphe. Desired by Napoleon I in 1806, the Arc de Triomphe was inaugurated in 1836 by the French King Louis-Philippe, who dedicated it to the armies of the Revolution and the Empire. The Unknown Soldier was buried in the median in 1921. The flame of memory is rekindled every day at 6:30 p.m. You can go up to admire the views from the panoramic terrace for €13 ($15.40) per person.

Arc de Triomphe.

From here we went down the avenue des Champs-Élysées where we had dinner at a hamburger restaurant called Quick. A fast food chain where the hamburger looked nauseating but didn’t taste bad. But come on, we were not going to repeat it.

After dinner we got into the subway to go to the hotel to rest.

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July 20

We got up early and go to the Sainte Chapelle. It is a Gothic temple on the Ile de la Cité.

The Ile de la Cité is an island located in the Seine, in the heart of Paris. It is considered the ancient cradle of the city of Paris.

The Sainte Chapelle was built between 1241 and 1248 at the request of King Louis IX to house the Holy Crown of Thorns, a piece of the True Cross, as well as several other Passion relics he had acquired since 1239. Designed as a sanctuary almost entirely glazed, stands out for its impressive and famous stained glass windows.

Along with the Conciergerie, the Sainte-Chapelle is one of the remnants of the City Palace, encompassing the site covered by the current courthouse.

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From here we approach the Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Paris. Construction began in the year 1163 after the laying of the first stone by Bishop Maurice de Sully, it underwent numerous modifications and reconstructions until its completion almost two centuries later in the year 1345. It is one of the most emblematic monuments of Paris and a Catholic place of worship, seat of the Archdiocese of Paris, dedicated to the Virgin Mary.

The line was huge so we decided not to go in at the moment, we would visit it later.

We were walking around the area, such as Place Jean XXIII, where the Fontaine de la Vierge is located. The fountain was created by Alphonse Vigoureux in 1845, to equip Place Jean-XXIII, created the year before.

Place Jean XXIII.

Next to the square is the Pont de l’Archevêché, where there were hundreds of thousands of “love” padlocks… destroying the bridge and further polluting the river with the lucky thrown keys. The truth is that it seems to me an absurd custom, but hey, it’s my opinion.

Pont de l’Archevêché.

From here we went for a walk to the Place de la Bastille, a symbolic place of the French Revolution, where the old Bastille fortress was destroyed between July 14, 1789 and July 14, 1790.

In the square is also the Opera Bastille which was designed by Carlos Ott and inaugurated in 1989 during the celebrations of the bicentennial of the Revolution as part of the main works of Paris. It is with the Opera Garnier one of the two rooms that constitute the Paris Opera.

From the square we walked towards the Centre Pompidou. But first we passed by the Hôtel de Ville, the city hall of Paris. The Hôtel de Ville was rebuilt in the Neo-Renaissance style to replace the old building from 1357 that was devoured by fire during the Commune de Paris in 1871.

Hôtel de Ville.

Nearby is the aforementioned Georges-Pompidou National Center for Art and Culture. Inaugurated in 1977, it is a building with an architecture… let’s say peculiar. The truth is that it is to be seen. If you are in Paris, come and see it.

Here we rested for a while and then we went to the Louvre. We pass through the Nelson Mandela Garden, in the heart of the new district of Halles. In it we can find the Bourse de Commerce — Pinault Collection building. The Stock Exchange is the new venue for the presentation of the Pinault Collection. This historical building has been completely restored and transformed into a museum by the great Japanese architect Tadao Ando.

Bourse de Commerce — Pinault Collection building.

Next to the gardens is the Eglise Saint-Eustache (Church of Saint Eustquio), built between 1532 and 1633 in a Gothic style, although with some Renaissance touches.

After stopping for something light to eat, we arrived at the Musée du Louvre. Originally built as a castle by King Philippe Auguste in 1190, in 1546 King François I began the transformation of the fortress into a residence. In 1793, during the French Revolution, it went from being a royal residence to a museum. It houses works of art from the 7th millennium B.C. until 1850. The admission price is €13.60 ($15.50) and it is said that you can spend a week and not see it in its entirety. Since we didn’t have much time, we dedicated ourselves to going through it from the outside and taking the obligatory photo of ourselves fooling around in the pyramid and others. Now we have an excuse to go back to Paris.

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Opposite is the Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel which was built in the Corinthian style between 1806 and 1808 to commemorate Napoleon’s military victories the previous year.

After the arch we arrive at the Jardin des Tuileries. The Tuileries Garden takes its name from the tile factories that were located in the place where Queen Catherine de’ Medici built the late Tuileries Palace in 1564. The famous gardener of the king, André Le Nôtre, gave it its name in 1664. Current look of a French garden.

Eiffel Tower from Jardin des Tuileries

At the end of the gardens we reach the Place de la Concorde. It is located at the foot of the Avenue des Champs-Élysées and in it is the Obelisk of Luxor (3,300 years old). There are also two monumental fountains: the fountain of the seas and the fountain of the rivers. Created in 1772, the Place de la Concorde was one of the places of execution during the French Revolution. Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette (among others) were guillotined there. Between 1836 and 1846, the architect Jacques-Ignace Hittorf gave the square the appearance we see today.

Obélisque de Louxor from Jardin des Tuileries.
Fontaine des Mers.

From here we went to rest for a while until dinner. We had time for 11:00 p.m. to visit the Eiffel Tower. Reading blogs and websites, they recommended getting a ticket for the tower at least 6 months before the visit, but better if it was a year before. We bought it on May 27 (almost two months before) and there was only a ticket for the last hour during all the days that we were going to be in Paris.

The entrance cost us 9€ per person and it was up to the second floor. If we wanted to go up to the top we had to go through the ticket office on the 2nd floor but at the time we had we were told that it would be complicated due to the time. Taking the online ticket you enter through another door different from the rest, without a queue and, seen what has been seen, better. The views from above, even at night, were impressive. There were like two billion people. We were unlucky and couldn’t climb to the top, but still worth it.

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Once the visit to the tower is over. Run back to the hotel before the subway finished and go to sleep.

July 21

We get up early and go to the catacombs, which was one of the reasons for the trip to Paris. Covering an area of ​​11,000 m² underground, this ossuary is called “catacombs”, referring to the catacombs of Rome and contains more than 6 million bones from different Parisian cemeteries.

We left the station right in front of the entrance. It seemed very strange to me that there were two queues… it will be one for the box office and another to enter. Well, no, the line went around and a half to the block. There could be a thousand people there. Bearing in mind that the shifts are 200 people every 45 minutes… needless to say, we don’t wait. We agreed that we would return at lunchtime to see how the queue was going.

Meanwhile we went to the viewpoint of the Montparnasse Tower. Built between 1969 and 1973 on the site of the old Montparnasse station and at 210 meters high, it was for almost 40 years the tallest building in France until the inauguration in 2011 of the First tower. During its construction and afterwards, the tower was heavily criticized. His detractors found him (and still find him) disturbing due to his disproportionate height compared to the rest of the city of Paris. The truth is that it is a horribly ugly tome that if it is true that it doesn’t even match the rest of the city.

Montparnasse Tower from Montmartre.

Despite its ugliness, it is unrivaled in terms of views. On the 56th floor, after going up in what they say is the fastest elevator in Europe (it only takes 38 seconds to go up) you find yourself with amazing views. The entrance cost us 13€.

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After the amazing views, we got on the subway and went to visit the Pantheon. At the Gare Montparnasse station we took the metro line 13 to the Duroc station where we changed to line 10 to the Cardinal Lemoine station.

The Pantheon is a neoclassical monument located in the heart of the Latin Quarter. Built between 1757 and 1790, it was intended to be a church that would house the reliquary of Saint Genevieve but, after the French revolution, it was dedicated to honoring the great historical figures of France, except the military, for whom the military pantheon is reserved of the Invalids.

Of course, some work had to touch us and it was the dome, which was covered by scaffolding. Inside, we can admire the impressive architecture of the building in addition to its works of art. In addition, we can visit the crypt in which illustrious figures such as Marie Curie, Voltaire or Alexandre Dumas are buried.

Leaving, as it was already early lunchtime in Europe, we ran back to the catacombs. When we arrived… THERE WAS THE SAME LINE! my god!!! We decided to go back early in the morning before opening time.

So we went back to Notre Dame Cathedral this time to get inside. There was less queue than the previous time so we stayed. The truth is that it was going quite fast.

The Cathedral of Notre Dame, like almost all the cathedrals we have visited, is quite spectacular, although I have to say that it is by no means the most beautiful one we have visited.

After visiting the cathedral we went to Montmartre. To get to the Sacré Cœur Basilica, we take line 4 from Saint Michel Notre Dame station to Barbès Rochechouart station. There we took a short walk to the Montmartre funicular stop. The journey up takes about 5 minutes and is very comfortable for travelers who are already exhausted after all day walking. It leaves you practically at the base of the basilica.

The Basilica of the Sacré Cœur, consecrated in 1919, is one of the most emblematic monuments of Paris. Located at the top of Montmartre, it offers, with its 130 meters of altitude, one of the most incredible panoramic views of the capital. Inside the building, the ceiling is decorated with the largest mosaic in all of France. You can also climb the Dome to admire 360º views of Paris. Although spectacular views can also be seen from the entrance esplanade.

After admiring the views we decided to take a walk around the neighborhood to find something for dinner. We dined at a creperie called Le Tire-Bouchon, a pretty quaint and cheap place. We ate a menu that consisted of a savory and a sweet crepe. In total it cost us 24.40€. After dinner we walked back to the basilica and went back down in the funicular.

After reaching the bottom, finally before going to rest, we approached the Moulin Rouge, which was about a ten minute walk away, to take the obligatory photo in front of the front.

July 22

Today we get up early. We go to Versailles to see the famous palace. To do this, we took the metro to the Invalides station, where we changed to the RER C line. About 30 minutes later we arrived at the Gare de Versailles Chateau Rive Gauche station. From there, only about 5 minutes separate us from the Plaza de Armas, in front of the palace. As soon as you turn the corner you can already see the grandeur of the palace.

A lot of people.

The Palace of Versailles is a French castle and historic monument located in the city of Versailles, in the Yvelines. Construction started in 1623, it was the residence of the kings of France Louis XIV, Louis XV and Louis XVI. The king and court resided there permanently from May 6, 1682 to October 6, 1789, with the exception of the Regency years from 1715 to 1723. From 1789 it became the French History Museum.

The visit costs 15€ (2015). It includes an audio guide and you can visit both the most famous places in the Palace: the Hall of Mirrors, the Grand Apartments of the King and the Queen, the King’s bedroom, etc… as well as the temporary exhibitions.

Guided by friends who had already been there, they told us that the interior of the palace was very uncomfortable to see due to the number of people they brought in and that, if we had visited the Schönbrunn Palace in Vienna, which was very similar, we should not miss the weather. So we did so we bought the entrance to the gardens only on the web. Look where, after making the endless queue for access, it turned out that the gardens are free (2015) and what we had bought was the entrance to the Domains of Marie Antoinette. Well, since we had it, we entered.

Temple de l’Amour.

Marie Antoinette’s domains are made up of the Petit Trianon, the Queen’s gardens and the Aldea. It was opened to the public in 2006 to portray the life of Marie Antoinette, wife of Louis XVI, who liked to enjoy these places leading a simple country life in her own way, far from the luxuries of Versailles. Her domains were a gift from her husband Louis XVI to her in 1774 so that she would have privacy and be able to flee the court. In fact, it was a strict area that no one could access without being invited.

Tour de Marlborough.

The gardens are immense. It is impossible to see them in their entirety on foot. Most of the fountains were closed to the public and had to be seen from afar. After having spent the whole morning, the truth is that we felt as if we had lost the morning. They are very cool but I thought they would be much more spectacular. We still had too high expectations.

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On the way back from Versailles in the afternoon, we dedicated ourselves to walking around the city a bit, since it was already too late. We were again seeing the Arc de Triomphe with tranquility and observing the details.

Later we went back down the Champs Elysées until we reached the Grand Palais. This is one of the most emblematic monuments of Paris. It was built for the Universal Exhibition of 1900 and its most striking feature is the glass dome that crowns the French pavilion. The Grand Palais is divided into 3 different spaces: La Nef, the Galeries Nationales and the Palais de la Découverte. The Nef (ship) is used for large events of different types, such as horse riding, amusement parks, etc… the Galeries Nationales is used for large exhibitions on artists who have marked the history of art such as Picasso, Renoir, etc… And the Palais de la Découverte is a museum and cultural center dedicated to the sciences with permanent and temporary exhibitions. Of course the building is gorgeous.

Monument to Charles De Gaulle in front of the Grand Palais.
Grand Palais.

Directly opposite is the Petit Palais. Like the Grand Palais, it was built for the Universal Exhibition of 1900 and houses the Museum of Fine Arts of the Ville de Paris. The building, although smaller than the Grand Palais, is just as spectacular.

Petit Palais.

From here you can see the Hôtel des Invalides building in the distance, which we will visit tomorrow but even so we will approach the Pont Alexandre III, which was also inaugurated for the universal exhibition of 1900. Its ends are decorated with 4 monumental pylons 17 meters high. height, adorned with 4 gilded bronze winged horses that symbolize the success of the arts, sciences, commerce and industry.

July 23

Last day of the first stage of Paris. Today we got up very early to visit the Hôtel des Invalides. We wanted to be at the gate by opening time before it got busted and we had to spend the morning queuing.

The Hôtel des Invalides was built by order of King Louis XIV between 1670 and 1679 to house the retired soldiers of his armies. Today it is still a hospital-hospice as well as housing the French defense ministry and the Saint-Louis des Invalides Church where the tomb of Napoleon I is located. It also houses several museums such as the musée de l’Armée (Armada), houses the musée des Plans-Reliefs (Plans-Reliefs) and the musée de l’Ordre de la Libération (Order of Liberation).

We arrived a little before 10 in the morning and we were surprised that no one was there yet. He surprised us more that a small group of about ten more people would join us. Bearing in mind that it is one of the most visited monuments in Paris… Upon leaving we would find out that we entered through the back door where there is much less queuing. Round business.

The entrance cost us 9€ (2015) and gave us the right to visit practically the entire site. We went in and bought our ticket. The first thing we came across was the Navy Museum, created in 1905 as a merger of the Artillery Museum (1796) and the Navy Historical Museum, created a hundred years later. It contains many paintings and many war objects used throughout history.

After a long tour of the endless museum we arrive at the Saint-Louis des Invalides Church which includes l’Eglise des Soldats and l’Eglise du Dôme. Built in 1676 at the request of the Minister of War, it houses the pantheon of governors in which several governors of the Invalides, marshals of France and great military leaders rest, including that of Napoleon the first.

Tomb of Napoleon I.

On the way out, we stopped by a supermarket and bought some sandwiches to eat. There was no time to lose.

One of the places that I absolutely had to visit the day I visited Paris was the Père-Lachaise cemetery, where Jim Morrison, singer of The Doors, one of my favorite groups, is buried. So after the invalids we took a leap.

The Père Lachaise cemetery is named after King Louis XIV’s confessor, Father François d’Aix de La Chaise. It is the most prestigious and most visited necropolis in Paris. It is really huge and contains more than 70,000 graves. Many illustrious people are buried here, such as Jim Morrison himself, Honoré de Balzac, Frédéric Chopin, Edith Piaf and another one I wanted to visit, Oscar Wilde.

Grave of James Douglas Morrison.

At the entrance, you have a plan of the gigantic cemetery with the tombs of those historical figures marked so that you try not to get lost.

Grave of Oscar Wild.

If you prefer to expand, you can hire a tour of the cemetery that tells you all the history and the famous people buried there:

After visiting the cemetery we ate something very late and went to the center. We got off the metro at the Opéra station. Right at the exit we find the Opera Garnier building, built by order of Napoleon III, on the occasion of the great renovation works of the capital that Baron Haussmann carried out under his orders, by Charles Garnier and inaugurated in 1875, it is the thirteenth opera house in Paris, after the foundation of this institution by Louis XIV in 1669.

We walked to the Galeries Lafayette Haussmann, a famous department store opened in 1894 by cousins Théophile Bader and Alphonse Kahn. With different departments with many stalls of luxury brands (cheap), it has a central patio with a spectacular dome in Art Nouveau style built in 1912.

Looking for some toilets, on the toy store floor there is a window in a corner from which you can see spectacular views of the Sacré Cœur basilica. I don’t know if we discovered a trick but the truth is that there was absolutely no one there.

Sacré Cœur from Galeries Lafayette.

It was getting to be dinner time, so we went to the Latin Quarter in search of somewhere good and not too expensive. We ate a menu at a place called Saveurs de Savoie. We ate really well for €18 ($20.40) per person.

From here we went on a fabulous walk through the center of Paris until we reached the Musée du Louvre which, as it was quite late, there were few people left around. We continue walking until we reach the cathedral to contemplate it at night.

And from here we approached the Champ de Mars, where there were a lot of people making “botellón” to see the night show of lights of the Tour Eiffel.


And from here to dinner something light and to sleep that the next day we left Paris.

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