And now was when we had to leave Paris.:-(. We got up comfortably and first packed our bags, which was wise.We then went and grabbed breakfast at the St Regis cafe down the street from our hotel, which was probably where we should have been going from the get go.Very nice.
Last Breakfast in Paris
We then checked out and got an Uber (yay, technology) to Gare du Nord as that’s where the Eurostar train leaves from.I was a bit nervous as to how that whole process works, and while it is a bit of security, it’s fairly painless.You do have to go through UK Customs there, which was somewhat overwhelming as there’s a form and everything. A Form!!! 🙂 Whatever, we got through, and then it was time to board.I had purchased tickets for Comfort Economy which was a nice way to do it, as the seats are comfy and you get served a meal and plenty of beverages.And that’s what we’ve been on while I’ve been typing this recap up of the Paris journey.We actually just emerged from the Chunnel which seemed to fly by.We’re in England! Continue reading Taking the Chunnel to London→
That next day, we did get to sleep in a bit.Not all day though, as we did want to do some stuff before heading off to our excursion at Versailles at 1pm.So we went to a cafe for breakfast across from the Notre Dame which ended up being our low point for food, as the service was awful and my omelette was the runniest thing I’d ever seen.Ah well, can’t all be winners.
After that, we walked back to the area by our hotel to find a bakery – happily there was one and we could get some croissants.We took the croissants back to the hotel’s little patio area, and got some cafe creme from the hotel.Nice way to spend the morning, and made things a bit better.
Morning in Paris
After some more relaxing at the hotel, we took the Metro over to Ecole Militaire, which was near our meeting point for the Versailles tour.We did take a walking detour from the Metro stop to walk through the Champ de Mars in order to get some good views of the Eiffel Tower during the day. It was also really effing hot that day too, so while it was a beautiful day, it was still really hot.Continue reading A Day at Versailles and a Night on the Seine→
So we weren’t able to sleep in too much as I had booked us on a champagne day trip in Reims, which is located smack dab in the middle of Champagne Country. But first we had to get to Reims on our own as the tour wasn’t a Paris-based one. Hence we were going to get our first experience with the SNCF trains, but even before that we had to get to Gare de L’est by taking the subway. After we got to the train station, we had enough time to grab a quick croissant at a vendor as we knew there was going to be lots of champagne ahead of us that day and it’s wise to not drink on an empty stomach. Larry even did the ordering and used the advice of adding ‘si vous plais’ when doing so, as it drastically helps in getting the French to be nice. The train ride there was very comfortable, as I had booked us in first class, and very smooth and VERY fast. Reims is quite a ways from Paris but via that train, it’s only 45 minutes. I love European trains.
Getting to Reims
I wanted to use this map to help give you a sense of how far away we were from Paris. By car, it takes nearly 1 3/4 hours, but our high speed train made quick work of that in 45 minutes. Nice!
Visiting our first champagne facility: G.H. Mumms
In Reims, we found our meeting point at the tourism office and after waiting in the line there briefly, I looked back to see that our minivan group was waiting and we didn’t need to wait in the line. Our seats were up in the front as we were the last to arrive and it was a crazy wide Mercedes minivan. Our host was a cute French/Brazilian guy who was not only our driver but also the tour guide for the day. We got a quick drive-through tour of the city of Reims first, before heading to the Mumms factory in the city. While waiting outside the facility for our tour to begin, we all got to meet each other. There were 3 couples in addition to us, making a total of 8 people.
Once inside Mumms, we first watched a movie of their history, but after that, we then started walking throughout the vast complex that exists underground. We learned about the various grapes used, the various bottle sizes, and just quite a bit of how champagne is made. Some of the things I remember, others not, but that link is helpful. Deeper underground, we got quite a cool tour of the workings, including walking around the huge underground city that is filled with endless rows of bottles and bottles. We got to really see in practice the part of the process in which bottles of champagne are kept stored at various inverted angles. Continue reading Visiting the Champagne Country + Moulin Rouge!→
Our flight got in without incident and we ended up getting a priority pass for Customs, which was good but probably not necessary for us as we got to customs first, but holy cow, after we had gotten into line, it seemed like EVERY flight arrived at the same time as that hall filled up fast. Soon enough we were through customs though, seeing our first French hotness, which there was plenty of during our time in Paris, and then it was time to get our pre-booked shuttle into town. That took a little bit of time, which was okay, as obviously we likely weren’t going to get our hotel room as we were arriving around 8am.
The shuttle was a nice drive into town, with a bit of rain, which was the only day when we experienced any bit of precipitation. The first drop-off was a hotel right near the Moulin Rouge which was of course going to be a destination for us shortly! It was also nice to be driving around early Sunday morning as there was minimal traffic to deal with.
Hotel du Jeu de Paume – Our Parisian HQ
We arrived at the hotel on the and it was just fantastic. A very very nice hotel but hidden away in a beautiful kind of gate and courtyard experience; it was also very modern, but in a comfortable and welcoming way. The concierge at the time checked us in and took our bags, but did say our room wasn’t going to be available until closer to 12pm. He got us both our first coffee cream (cafe latte) of our trips, after which we then headed out for some initial Parisian exploration.
Tiredness Level: Fluctuating, but energy levels were rising now that we had found our hotel and had some coffee.
Funkiness Level: Rising steadily, but still tolerable. Shower definitely needed soon though.
Exploring, Day 1 – Notre Dame, Rick Steves Historic Walk, St Chappele & Palais de Justice area and more breakfast
Our hotel was on Ile Saint-Louis, which is the island next to the island of Ile de Cite that Notre Dame sits on. So yeah, that was awesome, as when we walked down the street and crossed the bridge, excuse me, the Pont Saint-Louis, we were walking right up to the back of Notre Dame!
It was also very early on a Sunday morning, so we had quite a bit of the area to ourselves. We of course then went in and visited Notre Dame, which was awesome as it was also during a service, so it was quite an experience. Plenty of pictures and a bit of guidance from Rick Steves. Larry hadn’t actually visited Notre Dame in his previous visit, so this was a great way to check that box and enjoy some peace at a massive tourist attraction before the hordes of tourists arrived. And arrive they did, by the busloads. Ah, the bourgeoisie! Continue reading Our First Day in Paris→
I’ve been slacking on posting here and it’s all for good reasons, I swear! Big Brother stopped interesting me, that’s for sure. Getting over Jeopardy! was another. Plus, I just didn’t have much to write about. EXCEPT OF COURSE THAT LARRY & I ARE FINALLY GOING ON OUR HONEYMOON! Off to Paris & London first thing tomorrow morning!!! Stay tuned for more pictures as we progress through, obviously.