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SATURDAY, JULY 16, 2011:

Flying time from Washington D.C. to Paris was about seven hours. It was a smooth and pleasant flight.
It was a comfortable flight as I was able to get a first class seat using my frequent flyer miles.
Although the first class section of this Boeing 777 was old and in desperate need of refurbishing.
We had an on time landing at Paris' Charles de Gaulle Airport at 7:00am.


All of the images below are thumbnails and can be clicked on for a larger image.

I got to my hotel around 8:30. It was too early to get into my room so I dropped the bags and headed out.
My hotel, the Pullman Tour Eifel (lower left picture), was directly across from the Eiffel Tower.
I was pretty tired since as I was only able to get a very short nap on the plane overnight and wasn't in the
mood for a lot of walking. I decided to hop on one of the double deck tourist buses and get the lay of the land
and pick the places I wanted to explore more thoroughly during my 5 days in Paris.
The middle picture below was taken from the top of the open-top bus of a bridge crossing the Seine River near Notre Dame.
The open-top bus was a good plan up until about 11:00 when it started to rain.
I only had my small umbrella with me and that was of no use in the wind of the open-top bus.
So I got off the bus at Arc de Triomphe. The lower right picture is the Arc de Triomphe in the rain.
Very tired and wet at this point I made my way back to the hotel on the subway.
The subway was easy to use and not being able to speak a word of French wasn't a problem.
I was able to get into my room at the hotel and took a much needed nap.
When I awoke later in the afternoon the weather had gotten even worse and was raining quite steady.
I decided to give up on today and rest up for hopefully better weather on Sunday.
Pullman Paris Tour Eiffel Bridge over Seine River near Notre Dame The Arc de Triomphe


The video below is three minutes long and is a hotel report on my Paris accommodations.

MY DAILY EMAIL SENT ON JULY 16, 2011
Bonjour,

It was a seven hour flight from DC to Paris. It was a smooth and pleasant flight. I was able to get a free first class seat with my frequent flyer miles. It was nice not flying in cattle class. I landed in Paris this morning right on schedule just before 7:00am. I got to my hotel around 8:30. It was too early to get into my room so I dropped the bags and headed out. My hotel is directly across from the Eiffel Tower. I was pretty tired since I was only able to get a very short nap on the plane overnight and wasn't in the mood for a lot of walking. I decided to hop on one of the double deck tourist buses and get the lay of the land and pick the places I wanted to explore more thoroughly during my 5 days here in Paris. The picture below was taken from the top of the open-top bus of a bridge crossing the Seine River near Notre Dame.

Bridge over Seine River near Notre Dame

The open-top bus was a good plan up until about 11:00 when it started to rain. I only had my small umbrella and that was of no use in the wind of the open-top bus. So I got off and figured out how to use the Paris subway. The subway was easy to use and not being able to speak a word of French wasn't a problem. I made my way over to the Arc de Triomphe.

The Arc de Triomphe

Tired and wet by this point I made my way back to the hotel. I was able to get in my room and took a much needed nap. When I awoke later in the afternoon the weather had gotten even worse and was raining quite steady. I decided to give up on today and rest up for hopefully better weather tomorrow. Although the forecast is calling for rain for the remaining 4 days that I am here. So it looks like I am going to get wet, because come hell or high water I'm heading out in the morning. It rained the last time I was here too. I was only here for a few hours the last time. I took Eurostar here from London and returned to London that evening.

Until tomorrow,

Tim





SUNDAY, JULY 17, 2011:

After breakfast at the hotel I took the subway to the Arc de Triomphe.
Weather was much better this morning than yesterday and I was able to get some better pictures.
Traffic was light early Sunday morning and I was able to stand in the middle of the Champs-Elysees.
The Arc de Triomphe The Arc de Triomphe Av Des Champs-Elysees

Next on my agenda for Sunday was the Louvre. The direct subway line to the Louvre was closed for maintenance
so I had to take an alternate route. I arrived in time for my "skip the line" tour of the Louvre.
The Louvre The Louvre The Louvre

The museum was very crowded around the famous works of art like the Mona Lisa and Venus de Milo.
But was almost deserted in the beautiful section of the apartment of Napoleon III.
The Mona Lisa The Venus de Milo The Apartment of Napoleon III

The video below is eleven minutes long and covers my visit to the Louvre.

Although the weather was much nicer than yesterday, there was still some occasional very light rain.
The lower left photo was taken from the Louvre of the Eiffel Tower and the Arc de Triomphe de Carrousel.
After spending about three hours in the Louvre I had about 90 minutes to kill before my next tour
so I took the subway over to the Cathedral of Notre Dame.
The Eiffel Tower & The Arc de Triomphe de Carrousel Notre Dame Cathedral Notre Dame Cathedral & The Seine River

At 2:00 I took a tour out to the Palace of Versailles which is about 20 kilometers southwest of Paris.
The court of Versailles was the centre of political power in France from 1682, when Louis XIV moved from Paris,
until the royal family was forced to return to the capital in October 1789 after the beginning of the French Revolution.
The Palace of Versailles The Palace of Versailles The Palace of Versailles

Before going inside the Palace we spent about an hour walking through the spectacular gardens.
There are dozens of beautiful fountains throughout the gardens. Unfortunately not all of them were
working at the time of my visit because of water conservation due to a drought in the area.
The gardens of the Palace of Versailles The gardens of the Palace of Versailles The gardens of the Palace of Versailles

It was very crowed inside the palace, you could hardly move. It was very difficult to take pictures.
I was able to get a few poor quality snaps.
The principal feature of the hall of mirrors is the seventeen mirror-clad
arches that reflect the seventeen arcaded windows that overlook the gardens.
We also visited the King and Queen's bed chambers.
The Hall of Mirrors at the Palace of Versailles The King's Bed Chamber at the Palace of Versailles The Queen's Bed Chamber at the Palace of Versailles

The video below is eleven minutes long and covers my visit to the Palace of Versailles.

MY DAILY EMAIL SENT ON JULY 17, 2011
I had a very busy day. I left the hotel before 8:00 this morning to goto the Louvre. I had to change trains at the Arc de Triomph so I popped above ground to take some better pictures than the ones I took yesterday in the rain.

The Arc de Triomphe

It was early on Sunday morning so there wasn't much traffic. The picture below is looking down the Champs-Élysées from the Arc de Triomph.

Av Des Champs-Elysees

Below is me at the Louvre. I booked an early tour of the Louvre to avoid the huge crowds.

The Louvre

You probably could spend a month here and still not see everything. But I did see some of the most famous works of art, like the Mona Lisa.

The Mona Lisa

And Venus de Milo.

The Venus de Milo

The apartment of Napoleon III.

The Apartment of Napoleon III

Below is a picture as I was leaving the Louvre. A lot more people waiting in line now.

The Louvre

I had a couple hours to kill until my afternoon excursion, so I made my way over to Notre Dame.

Notre Dame Cathedral

This afternoon I visited Versailles. Our tour didn't have to wait in any of these lines.

The Palace of Versailles

The gardens and fountains at Versailles were spectacular.

The gardens of the Palace of Versailles

We had to dodge some rain on our hour long walk through the gardens.

The Palace of Versailles

The inside of the castle was not a very pleasant experience. Thousands of people crammed in every room. It was very hard to see anything. Below is the Hall of Heroes. One of the few place inside where you weren't crammed in like sardines.

The Hall of Mirrors at the Palace of Versailles

Below is the Queens bedroom.

The Queen's Bed Chamber at the Palace of Versailles

The sun was actually peaking through the clouds when I got back to the hotel. So I walked across the street to get some pictures of the Eiffel Tower.

The Eiffel Tower

Below is a picture of where I am staying here in Paris.

My hotel next to the Eiffel Tower

Tim






MONDAY, JULY 18, 2011:

Today I took a day-trip to Mont Saint-Michel, 225 miles west of Paris, click HERE for the details.



MY DAILY EMAIL SENT ON JULY 18, 2011
Today I took a road trip over to Normandy. It wasn't a short trip. It took close to five hours each way. I got up early and took the subway to the tour office. At least the subway line I needed to use wasn't closed today like it was yesterday. We hit the road at 7:00am. Weather was gloomy as usual with a little light rain. We made a rest stop about half way there in this picturesque little French village, Beuvron-en-Auge, pictured below.

The village of Beuvron-en-Auge, France

After leaving the village the skies really opened up and it poured for quite a while. I was really having my doubts that this long road trip was going to be worth the effort. Normandy is a wind-swept, rainy region where it rains over 200 days per year. But luckily just before our arrival the rain stopped for the rest of the day and we even got a couple of peaks of sun.

Now if you thought I was going to see the Battlefields, you would be wrong. What I came to see was Mont-Saint-Michel, described as one of the wonders of the western world.

Mont Saint-Michel

Most of the people on the bus were doing the guided tour. They were dropped at a restaurant for lunch while me and a few others went directly to the Abbey. We only had four hours to spend here and they wasted half their time in a restaurant. There were plenty of places to get food here anyway. The narrow walkways up to the abbey are lined with shops.

The shops at Mont Saint-Michel

There were more than a few steps to climb to get to the abbey on top.

Looking up at the abbey of Mont Saint-Michel

The interior of the abbey itself, built in the year 1000, wasn't all that spectacular. Kind of plain and barren. Most of the rooms were empty void of any furnishings.

The walk back down was a little easier than the walk up. Below you can see the grave yard under the abbey.

The graveyard under the abbey of Mont Saint-Michel

A lot more shops and things to see on the way down. I really enjoyed my visit here.

Businesses at Mont Saint-Michel

After I got back down I took a walk into the sea.

Mont Saint-Michel

At high tides Mont-Saint-Michel appears to be an island. Below is a picture of me while I was standing in the sea under the abbey.

Me @ Mont Saint-Michel

The long drive back to Paris was made even longer due to an accident on the motorway. When we finally passed the accident there was one car in the right lane completely upside down. But except for the fact that all four wheel were sticking straight up in the air, the car looked in remarkably good shape. And there wasn't another thing anywhere near it. I can't figure how it got in that position. I finally got back to my hotel just after 10:00 this evening. I can sleep in tomorrow, I don't have any tours booked, I can come and go when I please. I couldn't even eat my free breakfast at the hotel this morning, the restaurant doesn't open until 6:30 and that's when I had to leave. Until tomorrow I will close with one more picture of beautiful Mont-Saint-Michel.

Mont Saint-Michel

Tim






TUESDAY, JULY 19, 2011:

I was plagued with less than ideal weather for my entire five-day stay in Paris.
Most days there was only occasional light rain, but on Tuesday it was pretty bleak most of the day.
I took the subway over to Sacré-Cœur in the afternoon.
The basilica is located at the summit of the butte Montmartre, the highest point in the city.
When it's not pouring rain there is a breathtaking view of the city from here.
Basilique du Sacré-Cœur Basilique du Sacré-Cœur View from the Basilique du Sacré-Cœur

In the early evening there was a little bit of clearing
so I walked across the street from my hotel and began my accent up the tower.
The Eiffel Tower The Eiffel Tower The Eiffel Tower

When I got to the second level of the Eiffel Tower it was still raining lightly.
View from the second level of the Eiffel Tower View from the second level of the Eiffel Tower View from the second level of the Eiffel Tower

The wait for the elevator to the top was about an hour.
By the time I got up to the top the rain had stopped and there was a pretty decent view of the city.
View from the top of the Eiffel Tower View from the top of the Eiffel Tower View from the top of the Eiffel Tower

The Eiffel Tower stands 1063 feet tall, about the same height as an 81-story building.
View from the top of the Eiffel Tower View from the top of the Eiffel Tower View from the top of the Eiffel Tower

It was a two minute walk back to the hotel after descending the tower.
View from the second level of the Eiffel Tower

The video below is twelve minutes long and covers my visit to the Eiffel Tower.

MY DAILY EMAIL SENT ON JULY 19, 2011
I am beginning to think that the sun never shines in Paris. There was a steady rain almost all day. I slept late today since I was up quite late last night. I slept as long as I could and not miss my free breakfast. Well, it's not free but it's included in the room rate. After breakfast I waited around a little while hoping the rain would let up, but it never did. So I finally left the hotel and went to see the Basilica of Sacre-Coeur. It's a beautiful domed church sitting on top of a hill which can be seen from all of Paris. There is a subway stop very near there and you can take a funicular up the hill.

Basilique du Sacré-Cœur

You can walk to the top of the dome for what is said to be the best view of Paris. It seemed rather pointless to do that today as viability was about two feet. I had a trip all planned for today to take the subway all around the city stopping at a lot of the city's monuments, churches, and famous buildings. But it was so gloomy and depressing and I was already wet after just one stop, I gave up. I know there are about a million museums and art galleries I could have visited. But that's not my cup of tea, so I headed back to the hotel to wait out the weather. It's hard to believe that most of the fountains in this city are turned off or run very little due to a drought.

Around 6:00 the rain got lighter and it cleared a little so I decided to walk across the street and go up the Eiffel Tower. This would be my last chance as I have other plans for all day tomorrow. Since it was raining the line was only about 5 minutes compared to it's usual two hours. You take one elevator to the second level of the tower and then catch another to the top. It took about an hour in line to get to the top. In that hour the rain stopped and it got much clearer. So I was able to get some nice views from the top. Not perfect, but much better than I expected. First view is looking down the Seine River. That is my hotel on the extreme lower left.

View from the top of the Eiffel Tower

Below is Champs de Mars.

View from the top of the Eiffel Tower

Below is the Seine again looking the other direction.

View from the top of the Eiffel Tower

Looking toward the city skyline below.

View from the second level of the Eiffel Tower

And finally the Arc de Triomph below.

View from the top of the Eiffel Tower

I have to get up early tomorrow for another day trip. I won't tell you where I am going, but it is supposed to be sunny there tomorrow. YAHOO!

Tim






WEDNESDAY, JULY 20, 2011:

Today I took a day-trip to Bruges, Belgium, 185 miles north of Paris, click HERE for the details.



MY DAILY EMAIL SENT ON JULY 20, 2011
Hello again folks,

First of all, thanks to everyone that sent birthday greetings. I had a great birthday. Today I journeyed out of Paris again. This time about 180 miles north of the city. I was able to knock another country off my bucket list as I spent the afternoon in Bruges (Brugge in Dutch), Belgium.

Market Square

That's Market Square pictured above. Bruges is a beautiful city often referred to as the Venice of the North because of the canals that run through the city.

View from Rozenhoedkaai

The historic city center has been declared an UNESCO World Heritage Site. That's the bell tower of the Church of Our Lady above. One of the world's tallest brick towers.

Market Square

I enjoyed walking all around this city where horse-drawn carriages and bicycles out number the cars.

The Belfry rising above the streets of Bruges

Bruges' most famous landmark is its 13th-century belfry pictured above.

Old St. John's Hospital

Above is old St. John's hospital, now a museum.

Shopping area of Bruges

I didn't buy any famous Belgium chocolates from the many shops all around the city.

Bruges boat cruise

I took a canal cruise around the city during my visit.

View from Rozenhoedkaai

It was a nice tour. The guide gave us a brief orientation walk to the center of town but from there we were able to explore on our own.

The Belfry

It was an all day thing as we didn't get back to Paris until 9:00 this evening. Weather wasn't the sunny day the Internet said it was going to be. It rained off and on both coming and going. But luckily the weather was mostly nice while we were in Bruges. A few drops of rain just as we were leaving.

This is my final night in Paris. I will be flying onward tomorrow afternoon.

Tim

The video below is forty minutes long and covers my entire five-day visit to Paris.

This was my second visit to Paris, I was also here back in 2005.


Click on the arrow above to continue to the next adventure, Budapest, Hungary!

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