When you stand outside the Arc D’Triumph and watch the rays of the rising sun light up the marble, you know you are in Paris. There is no mistaking that feeling. You want to reach out and touch everything around you. You want to pinch yourself and confirm the fact that it is true, that you are not dreaming the entire thing up.
The sun rises slowly, at times, too slowly. The Arc begins to glow a shade of golden white, if that color were ever possible and all you can do is stand and marvel at the sight.
Yes, I was standing at the Champs Elysees. But this is getting ahead of the story.
Getting to Paris from anywhere is Europe is a pretty simple affair. The fastest and most comfortable method is to use the Thalys. It is one of Europe’s fastest train and a ticket to Paris costs about Euro 120.
The preferred method of most budget travelers is to use the Eurolines buses. There buses operate to and from most major cities in Europe. The buses are cheap and apex fares are available depending on when you book the seats. So if you book 15 days before your travel you save some money. If you book in group of more that four persons, there is an additional discount. Put all these together and the cost of travel is easily about 50% less than the fare on the Thalys.
Don’t expect the luxury offered by the Volvo buses run by the tour operators in India. The buses are pretty cramped, but the journey isn’t too bad. Amsterdam to Paris takes about six and half hours. The journey wasn’t tiring in anyway.
Accommodation arrangements in Paris are pretty easy on the pocket, unless you want to stay in the heart of the city.
We stayed at Gallieni, which is where the Eurolines bus dumps us. There are a lot of good budget hotels in the vicinity. The Etap hotel gives you a room with three beds for Euro 46 a day. The point to remember is that Paris hotel charge from noon to noon. So if you check in before noon, even 10 minutes, it is considered a day. What we did was reserve the room from the noon of the day of our arrival. We freshened up in the common toilet at the hotel. The hotel will also have lockers which can be rented, so dump the luggage in there. It will cost you about Euro 3 to do that. Then hit the roads or the rails as you chose.
My suggestion is the rails. Paris has a very efficient and useful metro system. Walked down to the Gallieni metro station, pick up the tourist ticket for 1/2/3 days as is the length of your stay. Once you have this in your hand, you don’t have to worry about travel in the city anymore. Jump in and off metros, buses and trains as you feel like it. The freedom this offers is tremendous.
Figuring out the metro system is simple enough. Every metro track runs from some point A to some point B. At certain stations two tracks will pass close to each other. So all you need to do is hop off one and jump on to the next. The system is very simple and very efficient.
During the weekend, we visited, the Arc D’Triumph, Concorde, The Madeline Church, The Catacombs, The Rodin Museum, The Royal Palace, The Invalides, and The Eiffel Tower. On day two, Sunday, we spent the better part of the day at the Louvre, then moved on to The Garden of Antiques, The Museum of Modern Art at Pompidou, then returned to the Garden of Antiques to see the famous monuments by night.
Over the next few days I will try and share with you some of the moments from these places.
Let me end with the question everybody wants answered.
Yes, Paris does have more beautiful women packed in per square yard than any other place I have ever seen.