Notre-Dame

‘It was the bells that made me do it’…honestly😳 lol ok that phrase has probably been used to death but it does go through your head as you walk towards this beautiful church.

My trip:

I got out of Cite train station and was lost…no signs to direct me to Notre-Dame, so i turned right and wow!!! I was faced with the Palace of Justice (the place Marie Antoinette stayed and was executed) this is a very beautiful building. I kept walking in that direction and turned right in front of the palace.

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Turning right took me across the River Seine (look down the river and you can see the Eiffel Tower) towards the Place de la Bastille, this is the place where the famous Bastille prison used to be (the place that was stormed in 1789 in the French Revolution). There isnt a lot there now, a column at the junction of roads, but worth going to.

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Behind the Place de la Bastille you can see the gargoyles on top of the Tour Saint-Jacques. There once used to be a gothic church here, but all that is left is this detailed tower. It is 52m tall and was built around the 16th century.

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After walking around this tower and it’s garden, i decided that it was time to actually look at google maps and get directions to Notre-Dame. Turns out that had i turned left at the train station i would have bumped into Notre-Dame around the corner 😳 ahhh well lol, the walk was good exercise.

Notre-Dame is widely known for it’s gargoyles and the film The Hunchback of Notre-Dame but it has a lot to it other than that. This church is a functioning church, so please abide by the signs that say ‘silence’ when you go in, there will either be people praying in there and/or a service happening. When i arrived the queue to get in went as far back as the road, but i didnt have anywhere else to go so thought i would join it and wait (and also, as a Brit, queuing is one of the things we do SOOO well lol). To my surprise i was in the church within 15 mins (the queue moves along very quickly), note: it is free to enter the church. Once in you are inside you are faced with a magnificently built church with wonderful stained glass windows and archways. There is a walkway around the inside edge of the church taking you past paintings, prayer points, statues of saints, sculptures etc. While there a service started so i got to hear the organ and choir playing…very beautiful.

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If you want to go up to the lookout (said to be the best view in Paris) then turn right, after coming out of the church, and queue up beside the church (there is a cost to go up to the lookout) i didn’t go up today because it was raining heavily, but i plan to go up in a few days…i’ll post the pics then πŸ™‚

After coming out of Notre-Dame i wandered around and found myself on Rue de Rivoli, heaps of shops (if that is your thing πŸ™‚ )

Well, heading to a graveyeard now lol…will post later

Shopping in Paris

If you are a shopper who loves top range gear then Galeries Lafayette is the department store you want to go to. This is where you can buy Gucci etc. when you enter you will notice two things 1) the number of security guards at the door and 2) The beautiful center of the store which has a doomed stained glass roof and decorative balconies (worth going to see this alone, even if you don’t want to buy anything there).

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Another thing to note, while shopping, is the toilets (yep i am going to mention toilets lol) in The main centres you will need to pay to go in (approx 1€). This isn’t unusual in Europe and is also done in the UK (though i remember as a kid when it used to be just a penny, hence the phrase ‘spending a penny’…inflation has a lot to answer for lol).

When you go grocery shopping, don’t forget to take bags with you or you will be charged for bags (even for the thin plastic ones) at the check out. I have got into the habit of always carrying a bag in my small backpack.

Another interesting thing was the cars plugged into electricity as they were parked, not something I have seen in Australia πŸ™‚

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I haven’t mentioned this yet, but I have been using Goggle Translate while here and i cant rave about it enough. Yes you will need wifi to use it but it is a really handy app. It allows you to type a word and it will translate, you can place you phone between yourself and someone and turn the app on and it will translate the conversation from both people, you can take a picture of the text (ie a food label) while out and it will translate the words in the scan/picture. This is definitely an app you need for travelling…love it!!!!

Basilique du Sacre-Coeur and Pigalle

Walking up the steps to the Basilique du Sacre-Coeur today made me realise I am getting fitter. I managed to get to the top without looking like someone who should be offered an oxygen mask lol (ok the other day I was recovering from a bad virus I had brought with me from the USA…well that’s my excuse and I am sticking to it πŸ˜‰ )

Today the Basilique du Sacre-Coeur was a lot busier. I heard mainly French and other European accents. There were still guys trying to give you a tread bracelet and again I said ‘Non!’ But this time one of them grabbed my arm (fortunately for him I just pulled it sharply away, my self defence training would say grab his fingers and bend 😳). I read up about what these guys are doing. It seems it used to be kids that did this in the past, and once you took the bracelet they then demanded payment :-/

Later I walked towards Pigalle to try to find a place that sold a large mug (a girl needs a large cup of tea in the morning). Once i got to Pigalle station the shops changed from places with the normal tourist souvenirs to sex shops. The area past Pigalle is the sex trade area and also where you find the Moulin Rouge. What surprised me, was that this change in shops didn’t happen gradually it just suddenly changed and yet there were still couples and families walking down the road past all this. As a friend said to me today…this is all part of the French culture.

Here’s some photos of the area around the Basilique du Sacre-Coeur:

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Walking around Paris – part 2

Having explained earlier…I like walking πŸ™‚ so this outing was going to be a long one. With water bottle in hand (Australia has had it’s impact on me, where we always travel with water lol) I started by getting the Metro from Anvers to Charles de Gaulle. As soon as you come out onto the street level you are faced with the Champs-Elysees running both directions and the Arc de Triamphe in front of you. To get to the Arc walk to the underpass and it will bring you up under the Arc where you can look around and also see the Arc in all it’s detail. This is definitely worth visiting. For a small charge you can also go into the Arc. I didn’t this time, but will later.

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From the Arc, I looked around the skyline and spotted the Eiffel Tower, so figured I could walk there. I didn’t have the SIM in my phone working yet which meant i didn’t have a map app to help me, so I just followed my nose and headed in the direction of the tower. After going down a number of side roads I came out to a bridge crossing the Seine river, the Eiffel Tower was on the other side (I have to admit I was pretty pleased with myself at having found it lol). Now, full confession time here (and I will probably offend a few people as well as all of the French people throughout the world :-/) I didnt find the Tower as big as I thought it would be. I had kinda imagined it to be this huge towering structure, but in fact it is quite small. Yes it is beautifully made with some wonderful details on it, but it was about a third to half the side I thought it would be 😳 Is it worth visiting? Yes, so that you can tick it off your list but in all honesty it isnt something I would be dying to go back and see. After taking the typical photos of it, I headed off back towards the river and walked along the Seine towards the Louvre.

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This was a really lovely walk, very peaceful but it does take some time. I crossed the Seine further down and walked through Tuileries. I can’t recommend this enough, very beautiful buildings and statues on each side and really worth the walk.

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I got to the Louvre, which was busy even in winter, and had a look around the outside. The buildings are really worth seeing. I also found out that you can enter the Louvre free on the first Sunday of every month, definitely worth noting if you are on a budget like me πŸ™‚ After arriving at the Musee du Louvre I headed north to get back to Anvers. This walk took me along a major shopping area and again past some beautiful buildings.

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Finally after approx 4 hours of walking I had done a loop from Anvers to Charles de Gaulle down to Tour Eiffel, along the Seine to Musee du Louvre and back up to Anvers. Was it worth walking rather than using the Metro all the way? Absolutely!! I saw some wonderful places that I would have missed if I had just used the Metro (and it’s good for the body πŸ˜‰ ). Now I have a list of places i want to re-visit.

The trip starts…

The flight with Delta, from PDX to Amsterdam was good, though I would highly recommend you don’t ask for vegetarian meals…yuk!!! Probably the worse airline meals I have ever had lol. The flight was on time for my connection to Paris with Air France. I have to say…both airlines have really friendly crew…I was very impressed by them πŸ™‚

Ok, so call me ignorant but…I thought that maybe Paris would have signs in more than French, like some other capital cities around the world. But, be warned, they do but not in English. I was glad i had my directions for the trains in french…made matching the words easy and yep i managed to negotiate 2 trains and the links πŸ˜‰ thank goodness for the French classes at school.

The people here are sooo friendly, but remember…it is polite to say bonjour before you ask questions and au revoir when you leave. I found people here went out of their way to help me. Strangers putting my suitcase on the trains and off again, people asking if I needed help (I must have one of those faces that says O.o I’m lost lol πŸ™‚

Shopping for groceries was a little intimidating as all packaging was in French. Unfortunately I eat gluten free bread (pans sans gluten), rice milk (boisson au riz) and am a vegetarian…so big learning curve. I found that the health food shops and big supermarkets had the food etc I needed..smaller ones don’t seem to cater that much for special diets.

My international adapter, that I bought from eBay, didn’t work here so it was back out to the shops to try to find one. I popped into a chemist, just on the off chance, and they had exactly what i needed πŸ™‚

One thing i noticed while out shopping; the French pedestrians don’t seem to obey traffic lights, and tell drivers off even when the driver has a green light πŸ™‚ bit crazy lol. Tomorrow I start walking around and looking at the sights here.

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