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Waiting for my flight home - weekend trip report

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Manchester, United...
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Waiting for my flight home - weekend trip report

So I'm currently sat in the airport waiting for my flight home. I only got here Friday afternoon but I've squeezed so much in since then that it feels like forever ago! I planned this solo trip around 2 months ago after buying a new camera and realising I wanted something beautiful and interesting to photograph - Paris seemed like the perfect place.

I landed at 3pm on Friday and after the longest taxi to the gate ever I was let loose in Paris. I found my way onto the RER easy enough but when I reached Gare du Nord, the signs confused me so much I eventually gave up trying to make sense of it and just found the nearest exit. This was my first mistake. It took me a good while to get my bearings and find my way en route to my hotel in the 9th, add to that the temperature and I was feeling extremely flustered when I did reach my destination - Hotel France Albion on Rue Notre-Dame de Lorette. The hotel was great, nothing fancy but clean and nicely decorated and the staff were very nice and accommodating.

After settling in I set off to cover some ground. I took the metro from Peletier to Cite, passed Notre-Dame and ducked into Subway for something quick to eat (having not eaten since 10am I needed an energy boost). I popped in to Shakespeare & Co. and made my first purchase of the trip - a book called 'The Vagenda' about how women are portrayed in the media. It had been on my list for a while so it was lovely to buy it from such a beautiful bookstore. I journeyed south and slowly started ticking off places on my list - Rue Galande, St. Etienne du Mont and Rue Mouffetard.

By the time I'd reached this last street the sun was starting to go down and I was eager to get up to Sacre Coeur for the sunset. I journeyed back north, planning on getting back on the metro at Cite, but as I crossed the Pont des Arts I was stopped by a young French man who had jumped up and followed me to tell me how beautiful I looked! I was a little blown away. We got talking and we ended up walking together all the way back to my hotel. It was like having my own personal tour guide. After exchanging details with my new French friend I said bon soir and popped up to my room to freshen up before taking the metro from Saint-Georges to Abesses.

Now can I just say, there should be a warning about the stairs at the Abesses stop. I was blissfully unaware of what awaited me when I began to climb, and then I hit the 7th lot of stairs and I was panting and hating myself for taking the healthy option over the lift. When I finally reached the top, my legs already aching from exploring the 5th and walking a good two hours to my hotel, I then foolishly climbed the mammoth flights of stairs up to the top of Montmartre. I have to say when I've read about these stairs on this forum, I didn't think I'd have a problem, being young and agile but I was very very wrong. Once at the top I walked around to the front of Sacre Coeur to see the basilica lit up and the beautiful view of the city. I hung around and snapped some photos, watched the tower sparkle at 11 and then began my descent back to my cosy bed to rest my legs for a few hours before doing it all again the next day!

I'll post about Saturday and Sunday when I get home tonight, and will add a link to my photos when they're edited and ready to be viewed. I hope this is somewhat interesting to read!

New York City, New...
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1. Re: Waiting for my flight home - weekend trip report

If you had read a bit more here and elsewhere you would have heard about those stairs! Just think of it this way...calories burned are calories earned....to spend on all the wonderful food!

Would love to hear more...and more about the hotel room..and of course the French man!

San Diego...
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2. Re: Waiting for my flight home - weekend trip report

Nice report. Looking forward to the rest. Glad you met a nice guy.

Calgary, Canada
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3. Re: Waiting for my flight home - weekend trip report

Awesome report.

I walked Abbesses stairs, but spiraling down- loved the décor !

Can't wait for photos.

Tucson, Arizona
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4. Re: Waiting for my flight home - weekend trip report

Looking forward to the next installment. Perhaps that French man will appear again!

Manchester, United...
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5. Re: Waiting for my flight home - weekend trip report

Geordy - maybe I did read that somewhere, I've been silently lurking on here for months, but it just slipped my mind! Guess I should have used my initiative and followed the people heading to the lift..

You shall all have to wait and see if the French man appears again!

Manchester, United...
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6. Re: Waiting for my flight home - weekend trip report

On Saturday morning I had my alarm set for 6am so I could be out bright and early. It was hard to drag myself away from my wonderfully comfortable bed but it was worth it because I was off to explore the streets of Montmartre! Once again I took the metro from Saint-Georges to Abesses, only this time round I'd learnt my lesson and hopped in the lift. I decided to head straight for Sacre Coeur to avoid crowds and I made the right call - there was only a handful of people around, rightly so since it was around 7:30am. I got some beautiful shots of the basilica and of the lovely morning view, some including a couple having wedding pictures taken on the steps. (Seems a little strange to me, do they have the photos taken before the wedding? So the groom would see the bride in her wedding dress..?)

I then had a couple of streets I wanted to see while it was quiet so I wandered behind Sacre Coeur, through the Place du Tertre and onto Rue Lepic. I love the typical "Parisian" streets with the little cafés, bakeries and flower baskets at the windows! I also explored Rue Norvins and took some photos of the beautiful Le Consulat cafe with the basilica in the background.

I have to say if you're interested in photography, early morning is perfect - crowds of tourists make it a little difficult to get even a semi decent shot..

Whilst wandering I nipped in a bakery and bought a pain au chocolat for my breakfast which I ate sitting underneath a tree. And while I was eating a Frenchman in a van drove past and shouted "Bon appetit!" out of the window at me - literally a perfect morning!

Manchester, United...
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7. Re: Waiting for my flight home - weekend trip report

After my quick breakfast, I carried on wandering, back up around Sacre Coeur and down some steep stairs on the right side. I had planned on strolling down Rue de Steinkerque but by this point, the only pair of shoes I'd brought with me (worn-in and reliable) were starting to rub me the wrong way - I think it must have been the heat.

So I continued round to the foot of the Sacre Coeur steps and sat on a bench next to the carousel for a little rest, before walking back to Abesses to catch the metro back to my hotel. At this point I'd decided enough was enough. I had a lot of walking to do in the afternoon and I couldn't do what I wanted to do hobbling around in the shoes I was wearing. So I armed myself with some cash and set off for the Champs Elysees to grab a cheap, comfy pair of shoes.

I took the metro to concorde and attempted to walk to the famous shopping street - I say attemped because I ended up walking the wrong direction and not realising until 15 minutes later, a horrific mistake to make when you're already struggling to walk. After realising my mistake and consulting a street map, I soldiered on until I found something familiar that let me know I'd made it - a Zadig & Voltaire shop that I remember spotting the first time I approached the Champs Elysees last year.

Five minutes down the street and I'd found H&M. I picked H&M because since I work at one of their English stores, I knew it would be the best place to find a comfy pair of shoes that wouldn't cost me a bomb. I had a nice chat with the cashier, used my staff discount and with a soft pair of pumps on my feet I was on my way.

It seemed ridiculous that it had taken me an hour to locate the store and then I spent but five minutes in it but oh well! It was worth it to be able to walk in comfort again. I took a quick shot of the Arc de Triomphe on my way to the Franklin D. Roosevelt metro stop, which was a lot easier to locate, and quickly got back to my hotel to drop off my old shoes and freshen up before walking to my next destination - Galeries Lafayette.

I wasn't planning on making any purchases, (my budget didn't allow for it) just to see the dome and admire the view from the rooftop terrace. As I approached the shopping centre, I noticed there was an increase in the number of Chinese tourists lining the pavements.

I'm not here to perpetuate any stereotypes but a large number of them seemed to have zero spacial awareness and were more focused on taking as many pictures and videos on their iPads as possible, at the same time ignoring any excusez-moi's I threw their way. I'd say the large majority of people being Chinese is because the Chinese seem to love a guided tour and travelling in large groups.

Once I entered the building it was much the same, if not worse. I'm not big on crowded places and this was like hell. People blocking walkways, walking as slow as humanly possible, shoving into me. I got a quick look at the dome and rushed to climb the escalators to the roof. I found the view to be pleasant, but not as breath-taking as from Sacre Coeur. I took a couple of snaps of the back of the opera house and the Eiffel Tower in the distance and got out of there as fast as possible.

Next on my list was the Palais Garnier. I approached it from round the left hand side and ended up at the entrance with the statue of Garnier (I think?). I found myself a seat on the curved steps and got some great shots of the beautiful architecture.

Whilst sitting here I noticed a woman approach a man - a tourist - and begin talking to him animatedly. I couldn't make out what she was saying to him but not much sooner another woman - also a tourist - told the man to walk away, as the woman was trying to scam him.

The scammer obviously wasn't pleased with the woman alerting the man to this, as she spat in the woman's face before walking away! I've read thread after thread about scams and pickpockets on this forum but it's another thing seeing a human behave like it in person.

Now my original plan didn't involve going in the opera house (I have no idea why, as I'm a huge fan of The Phantom of the Opera, it just never occured to me to go inside), but after sitting in the baking hot sun for a while, I made a spontaneous decision to go in. Six euros later and I was in the refreshingly cool, dimly lit opera house. Deciding to explore inside was probably the best decision I made the whole weekend. It ended up being one of the highlights of my trip.

I just loved everything about it - the marble stairs, the gold statues and candles everywhere; the little balconies and alcoves overlooking the grand staircase; the beautiful ornate chandeliers. I took an unbelievable amount of photographs and enjoyed my time wandering from room to room, sitting down every now and then to take it all in. I don't want to run the risk of sounding a little over the top but the beauty of it all almost brought me to tears. Six euros definitely well spent.

Manchester, United...
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8. Re: Waiting for my flight home - weekend trip report

bumping because I'd love some feedback before I update :)

Paris, France
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9. Re: Waiting for my flight home - weekend trip report

LOL! Everyone must be waiting to hear about the French man.

Groves, Texas
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10. Re: Waiting for my flight home - weekend trip report

Reading your report in anticipation of our next trip in March. We are considering adding a day or 2 in London as we have never been. We just returned from New York and had the same experience with tour groups taking massive selfies with any piece if art they could. My husband photo bombed a few. Oh well. I sometimes wonder if people are truly looking at the art.

We love Paris and cannot wait to return. You are so lucky to be so close.

Lisa