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deladane

Detailed Photo Review of Paris and London Trip in June 2019

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1 hour ago, angelbear911 said:

Perfect can't wait for more info. We are doing 4 days Paris/3 days London before we hop on our British Isles cruise. 🙂

 

Oh wow, very similar to our itinerary so hopefully I can help you with some of your planning!  Let me know if you have any questions 🙂 

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Hi deladane, glad I found your Paris and London trip been waiting for this since your last review which was so fantastic you put so much time and effort in all your reviews and I get a lot of tips from you especially the new Orleans stay , this will be my bed time read for the next few weeks and keep me going to my next cruise in 7 weeks time to Norway 

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7 hours ago, deladane said:

 

It's funny you say that because as I was writing up those posts, I did realize that it was a big block of text all at once.  I try to split my paragraphs in logical places, not in the middle of a thought, but in the planning part of my review, there is just a lot to say on each topic.  Once I get into the rest of the review, I will break up the text with photos so hopefully you will find it easier to read! 🙂

 

thanks

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Following.  We are spending 3 days in London before our British Isles cruise and we got our Capitol One credit cards switched to contactless.  Both the bank and the Oyster email assured me that they will work.  Hope they are accurate.

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8 hours ago, Purdey16 said:

Hi deladane, glad I found your Paris and London trip been waiting for this since your last review which was so fantastic you put so much time and effort in all your reviews and I get a lot of tips from you especially the new Orleans stay , this will be my bed time read for the next few weeks and keep me going to my next cruise in 7 weeks time to Norway 

 

So glad you found my review!  You must be getting so excited for your upcoming cruise 🙂  You should write a review of your own when you return!

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2 hours ago, EllieinNJ said:

Following.  We are spending 3 days in London before our British Isles cruise and we got our Capitol One credit cards switched to contactless.  Both the bank and the Oyster email assured me that they will work.  Hope they are accurate.

 

I was able to use my Costco Visa contactless card to pay for everything (stores, restaurants, tickets, etc.), but I was paranoid about using it on the transit system because I didn't want to risk a pickpocket seeing me return my credit card to my wallet after going through the turnstiles and then he would know where I kept it and possibly steal it.  I'm sure that was unnecessary paranoia, but it made me feel more comfortable to use a dedicated transit card so if it was lost/stolen, I would only be out a small amount of money.  Try using the contactless system to pay for things at home before you leave the States.  I've read that it may not work abroad if you never used that feature in the States because the security system assumes your card was stolen.  Not sure how valid that is, but I figured I was better safe than sorry!

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I forgot to include this in my planning posts so I'll just add it in now... Once all of my planning was complete, I created this calendar to hang on the wall in our hotels to keep track of our daily agenda.  Of course, things did get moved around a bit, but we mostly stuck with the original plan:

 

 

9Hh9SC4.jpg

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23 hours ago, deladane said:

I forgot to include this in my planning posts so I'll just add it in now... Once all of my planning was complete, I created this calendar to hang on the wall in our hotels to keep track of our daily agenda.  Of course, things did get moved around a bit, but we mostly stuck with the original plan:

 

 

9Hh9SC4.jpg

This calendar is so cool.  What app did you use to make this?  We leave for London on 8/12, then do 12 day British Isles Cruise and then take Eurostar to Paris for 3 days.  I have made a day by day itinerary using Word, but this calendar is so much easier to use.

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26 minutes ago, cherylakers said:

This calendar is so cool.  What app did you use to make this?  We leave for London on 8/12, then do 12 day British Isles Cruise and then take Eurostar to Paris for 3 days.  I have made a day by day itinerary using Word, but this calendar is so much easier to use.

 

Thanks!  I made it using Google Drawing.  I made it for my past 3 cruises too, which is much easier because we don't do as much on one single day so I just had to write the name of that day's excursion haha  

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Posted (edited)

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Thursday, June 20, 2019 ~ Fly to Paris

 

After 8 months of waiting, and after thousands of hours of planning, the day finally arrived… we’re going to Europe! 

 

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DH and I both worked today, but luckily I was able to shift my schedule a few hours earlier so I could get off at 3pm.  I wanted to call our Uber at 3:30pm in case we had trouble with Uber drivers canceling on us once they found out we were going all the way up to Oakland.  The last thing we wanted was to spend a ton of time finding a driver willing to take us to the airport, and then getting stuck in lots of traffic, and possibly missing our flight!  As luck would have it, I requested the Uber at 3:30pm, and he pulled up to our house a few minutes later driving a brand new SUV and more than happy to drive us to Oakland!  Somehow, we were very lucky today because we didn’t hit any traffic, despite driving during rush hour, and we arrived at Oakland Airport at 4:30pm.  Winning! 

 

Back in December, Norwegian changed their policy regarding access to the priority lounge so that it is only included in the ticket price of the refundable seats in the premium section.  Those tickets are much more expensive than the nonrefundable premium seats we purchased, but luckily, since this policy change occurred after we bought our tickets, they grandfathered us in to the amenities associated with our tickets at the time we bought them.  Anyone who purchased nonrefundable premium seats on our flight after the mid-December policy change would not have access to the lounge, so it paid off that we bought our tickets so far in advance back in October!

 

When we got to the airport, we quickly found the priority check in line for passengers in the premium seats.  There was one group ahead of us, but it was a short wait for our turn.  The lady checking us in gave us paper passes to access the lounge and stamped our boarding passes so we could use the expedited security line.  With the strict luggage weight restrictions, we packed in two 22” rolling bags which we would check in under the plane for the Norwegian flights, and carry onto the plane for the Jetblue flight.  We also had one slightly larger 25” rolling bag which would be checked in for all 3 flights.  The lady had us weigh our 3 checked bags, but did not ask to weigh our carry on back packs.  Since the bags weren’t that big, I knew they would all be under the 44 pound weight limit for checked bags, and they were.  When we got to the security line, there was no one there so we zipped through within minutes and continued through the airport to find the premium lounge.

 

OAK is a fairly small airport and only has one terminal, so the premium lounge is shared by everyone flying through that airport.  When we got there around 5pm, it was very crowded and we got the last available table.  After we arrived, we saw multiple parties be turned away because the lounge was full and they had to wait for people to leave before they could enter, so it worked out great that we arrived at the airport so early for our flight.  We wasted no time and immediately took advantage of the free snacks and open bar in the lounge.

 

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The black pot in that photo contained mac and cheese, and they also had little sandwiches, soup, and cookies for dessert.  We spent about 2 hours in the lounge, so it was a nice place to pass the time as opposed to sitting in the crowded area near the gate.  Norwegian starts boarding their planes an hour prior to departure, so we went to our gate around 7:15pm.  They boarded “priority” passengers first, which was people who paid for that service and were mostly seated in the coach section, and then they boarded us with the “premium” passengers. 

 

Walking down the jet bridge to the plane…

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Our home for the next 10 hours:

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Edited by deladane

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I was very happy with the amount of leg room in our seats.  With my feet flat on the floor, there was more than enough space, even when the person in front of me had the seat reclined.  With the seat in front of me straight up, I could fully extend my legs and still not touch that seat!

 

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While we waited for the coach section to board and get settled, our flight attendant came around with a tray of water, orange juice, and apple juice.  I wish I could remember his name because he was the best flight attendant I’ve ever had!  He was so much fun the whole flight, and always there to give me whatever I needed, be it ear phones, something to eat, or a refill of my complimentary glass of wine!

 

The plane pulled away from the gate right on time at 8:20pm, and soon we were in the air with a beautiful view of the sunset over San Francisco.

 

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Looking out to the Golden Gate Bridge

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The in-flight entertainment (IFE) system is pretty impressive. In the coach seats, the screen is mounted on the back of the seat in front of you.  In the premium seats, the seat in front of you reclines so far down that you wouldn’t be able to see your screen if it was on the back of that seat.  Instead, the monitors pop up out of the arm rests.  These screens are interactive so you can use them to order food and drinks during the flight, pick from about 30 different movies and TV shows to watch, or observe the flight map from a few different angles. 

 

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Knowing how the screens were designed, I brought some rubber bands in my carry on bag so I could mount my iPad to the IFE screen.  It worked perfectly and was much more comfortable than having my iPad propped up on the tray table for the whole flight.  The IFE screen also has a USB port so I could keep my iPad plugged in while I watched my movies.  There was also an outlet under the seat so I used an adapter to keep my phone plugged in too.

 

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Sitting in the premium seats meant we had 2 meals and free wine and beer served throughout the flight.  I had a choice of chicken, salmon, or a veggie dish so I picked the chicken.  It was served in a little box, which was cute for presentation but not very practical for eating.  It would have worked better if they served the food on a tray.

 

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Inside the box was a piece of bread, a salad with prosciutto, an entrée with chicken, mashed potatoes, green beans, and some kind of red sauce, and a little container with dessert.  The food was edible, but honestly not very good.  This was supposed to be a “premium” meal.  I don’t know what kind of food was served in coach, but I can’t imagine it was lower quality than this because this food was mediocre at best.  I didn’t expect a fine dining experience on an airplane, but I guess I was hoping for something a little better than what we got.

 

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After they cleared our dinner boxes, the flight attendants dimmed the cabin lights so we could get some sleep.  I’ve never been able to sleep on airplanes, but as I was watching movies on my iPad, I felt my eyes get heavy and I started drifting in and out of sleep.  I didn’t get quality sleep, but I did get a few rounds of 30 minute naps, so I took that as a win as compared to most redeyes when I am awake for the entire flight.  I will end this post here and pick up again on Friday when breakfast was served an hour before landing in Paris!

 

Fitbit Daily Summary… Steps: 5,605,  Miles: 2.71,  Flights of Stairs: 2

 

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I found your review! I am so happy you decided to post on CC. Yes, your review will a huge help to everyone visiting ports or extending stays.  I am a very happy camper and following along. 

 

First, where in the world do you search for all of your pre-trip information?  I want to go to London in a bad way, but I am very intimidated.  I have never been to Europe.  I love TA, but I feel like they don't have enough specifics like passes, transportation, etc.  Where do you look?  I feel like you are a lot like me in terms of being a compulsive planner.  I am not happy unless I have every single bit of info and options.  

 

Glad you found Norwegian Airlines.  I have never heard much about them.  How did you book a 3rd seat on the flight back?  Don't you have to have an actual person's name attached to the seat?  I am sorry, but that meal looked really unappetizing.  Whew, "premium" food? 

 

I am here an following along and cannot wait to see all of your pics. I have a dream cruise in about 3-4 years which would end in London.  Again, I am so glad you are posting!

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Yay; I was hoping you’d post a review of this land based trip as I just finished your Dream one! Thank you for the hours you pour in to entertaining us with your awesome vacations! 😀

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Posted (edited)
6 hours ago, Walt fan said:

First, where in the world do you search for all of your pre-trip information?  

 

Well, this board is not a bad place to start! 

 

6 hours ago, Walt fan said:

Glad you found Norwegian Airlines.  I have never heard much about them.  How did you book a 3rd seat on the flight back?  Don't you have to have an actual person's name attached to the seat?  I am sorry, but that meal looked really unappetizing.  Whew, "premium" food? 

 

Norwegian is a budget carrier, as ‘deladane’ said. Best to think of their premium product as a Premium Economy cabin with the best legroom, but budget airline approach to food! 

 

As we we have discussed several times on this board, Norwegian continues to lose money and has not been in great financial health. They raised money a few months ago  to continue operating over the summer, and appointed a new CEO just recently. I’m not suggesting they are going to go bust necessarily, but there is a risk to their continuing operations. 

Edited by Cotswold Eagle

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18 hours ago, Walt fan said:

I found your review! I am so happy you decided to post on CC. Yes, your review will a huge help to everyone visiting ports or extending stays.  I am a very happy camper and following along. 

 

First, where in the world do you search for all of your pre-trip information?  I want to go to London in a bad way, but I am very intimidated.  I have never been to Europe.  I love TA, but I feel like they don't have enough specifics like passes, transportation, etc.  Where do you look?  I feel like you are a lot like me in terms of being a compulsive planner.  I am not happy unless I have every single bit of info and options.  

 

Glad you found Norwegian Airlines.  I have never heard much about them.  How did you book a 3rd seat on the flight back?  Don't you have to have an actual person's name attached to the seat?  I am sorry, but that meal looked really unappetizing.  Whew, "premium" food? 

 

I am here an following along and cannot wait to see all of your pics. I have a dream cruise in about 3-4 years which would end in London.  Again, I am so glad you are posting!

 

Hi!  So glad you found my review!!  Do you know that TA has forums just like CC?  It is kind of buried in the menus, but I did a lot of research there.  You can ask questions and search for key words just like on CC.  The reviews part of TA was also helpful, plus I did a lot of searching on Google for the best things to do in each city.  

 

Perhaps I was not clear about the seats for our flights on Norwegian.  We did seriously consider buying 3 seats, but decided not to do that and just get the premium seats for both flights.  Had we wanted to buy the third seat, I'm not exactly sure how the logistics would work, but I do know it is possible to buy an extra seat under your name.  I have heard of brides doing that for destination weddings so they had a seat for their dress because they had no other way to get the dress to the wedding haha  There are also people who require extra space and need to buy two seats, so I know that it is possible.  You would probably just say you want to buy three seats, and when it asks for the passenger info, put in your name for two of the seats and your partner's name for the third seat.  Or maybe it is something that needs to be done over the phone?  Hope that helps!

 

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14 hours ago, cruisequeen4ever said:

Yay; I was hoping you’d post a review of this land based trip as I just finished your Dream one! Thank you for the hours you pour in to entertaining us with your awesome vacations! 😀

 

Thank you for reading!

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12 hours ago, Cotswold Eagle said:

 

Well, this board is not a bad place to start! 

 

 

Norwegian is a budget carrier, as ‘deladane’ said. Best to think of their premium product as a Premium Economy cabin with the best legroom, but budget airline approach to food! 

 

As we we have discussed several times on this board, Norwegian continues to lose money and has not been in great financial health. They raised money a few months ago  to continue operating over the summer, and appointed a new CEO just recently. I’m not suggesting they are going to go bust necessarily, but there is a risk to their continuing operations. 

 

Funny you say that about Norwegian.  I heard they were having financial issues (that's why they stopped giving free lounge access to the premium seats), and I did a few searches online in the months leading up to our trip just to make sure they were still in business.  I would agree that the premium seats are really premium economy as opposed to first class, and that food is not their forte!  

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OoDUkval.jpg

 

Friday, June 21, 2019 ~ Arrive in Paris and explore Montmarte

 

After 8 hours on the plane and not nearly enough sleep, I wasn’t complaining when the cabin lights turned on and the flight attendants came around to serve breakfast.  I was kind of expecting eggs or pancakes or something, but the chefs at Norwegian thought cheese and salami made for a better breakfast.  To be fair, it was now 2pm in Paris, so if we were trying to adjust to Paris timing, this did make for a good lunch.  We got a small container of fruit, a small salad, and cheese and salami.  After I took the photo, they served the same rolls we had for dinner so I made a little sandwich with the cheese and salami.

 

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The windows on the 787 Dreamliner are huge and offered great views as we approached the coast of Ireland.

 

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These windows were actually really unique.  Instead of a shade that you can pull down to block the light, they have a button to dim the window.  In theory, you can control the brightness of your own window, but the flight attendants took control of the windows during the overnight part of the flight so everyone’s window was on the dimmest setting.  You could still see out the window, but it was very dark and hard to really see anything.

 

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Soon enough, we passed England and were flying over the English Channel.  I am not sure exactly what we were seeing along the shore… it was either a huge beach, or the White Cliffs of Dover!

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I loved the effect of the dark shadows below the white fluffy clouds…

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Looking back at the IFE map, we have come a long way!

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Flying over the French countryside as we approached CDG airport…

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Our flight landed at 3:45pm, Paris time.  Being in the premium section meant we were first off the plane which meant we were among the first people to go through passport control.  Several planes arrived at the same time as us so there were about 100 people online ahead of us.  There were a few agents working so the line moved quickly, but while DH waited in line, I ran over to the ATM machine to withdraw $100 in Euros.  I considered buying Euros from my bank at home but decided to just wait until we arrived in Paris in hopes of getting a better exchange rate.  I use a Charles Schwab ATM card that reimburses all ATM fees so I was able to use the first machine I found, and luckily it had a button to translate everything into English.  Mission accomplished, I rejoined DH in the passport control line, and about 20 minutes later, we had new stamps in our passports and could proceed to collect our luggage. 

 

I had read online that there was a tourism information desk near gate 4 on the arrivals level of the airport, and I planned to buy our museum pass from that desk.  The problem was, CDG had a major lack of signage so I had no idea where this mystery “gate 4” was located!  DH waited by the baggage carousel for our luggage while I went to ask someone where the tourist desk was located, hoping to multitask a bit.  After asking 2 or 3 people, I finally learned that we had to first collect our luggage, and then exit that part of the airport to the lobby area where people wait to pick you up.  After passing all the private drivers holding signs for their pick ups, we kept walking and finally spotted the desk.  There were 3 or 4 parties already on line (all of them were in the premium section on our plane, so I imagine the line would get much longer as the passengers in coach arrived), and there was only 1 person working, so it was about a 20 minute wait for our turn.  My original plan was to buy 2 carnets for the metro since I wasn’t sure if my credit card would work in the ticket machines at the metro stations.  Surprisingly, the tourism desk charges an extra €2 per carnet so I decided to wait until we got to the metro station to buy our carnets.  The 4-day museum pass cost €62 each, as expected, so I bought 2 of them on my credit card, and then we were free to head into Central Paris and get this vacation started!

 

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There are several ways to get from CDG airport into Central Paris, which I will review below from least to most expensive:

 

1)     The local buses 350 and 351 cost €6, take 60-90 minutes depending on traffic and time of day, and run every 15-30 minutes.  They make frequent stops and are just regular city buses (ie: no place to store your luggage and uncomfortable seats).  If you are looking to save every penny, then this may be a good option for you, but after getting off a redeye flight, it sounded like a nightmare to me.  No thanks!

 

2)     The RER B train costs €10.30 and takes approximately 30 minutes to reach Paris.  The best part of this option was timing as the train runs on a schedule and avoids traffic on the roads.  We would be traveling during Friday afternoon rush hour, so the train was likely to be very crowded, and it is notorious for pick pockets who prey on exhausted and disoriented tourists.  The closest RER B station to our hotel was Gare du Nord, so it would have involved many flights of stairs and transferring to two different metro lines to reach our hotel.  Had we taken the train, I considered taking a taxi from Gare du Nord to our hotel because while it is a little over a mile away, there is no direct metro line to get us there.  Not ideal, and again, probably not a fun start to our time in Europe, so I eliminated this option.

 

3)     The Roissy Bus is an air conditioned shuttle that runs between Central Paris and CDG for €12 per person, with a travel time of 60 to 75 minutes (likely closer to 75 for us as we would be sitting in rush hour traffic).  The seats are padded, there is free WiFi on the bus, and they have a luggage storage rack.  There is only one drop off location in Central Paris, so after picking passengers up at all the terminals in CDG, it is an express ride straight to the city.  The drop off spot at the Opera is about a 10 minute walk to our hotel (again, no easy way to get there via metro), so we could probably manage that walk with our luggage, even knowing the sidewalks would be crowded with the Friday afternoon rush.  This bus was a strong contender until I read a lot of negative reviews on TripAdvisor stating that people waited a long time for the next bus to come (it is supposed to depart every 15 to 20 minutes, but perhaps their schedule isn’t as reliable as the train?).  It also occurred to me that the fare is paid per person, so the bus would cost the two of us €24.  That led me to consider other options…

 

4)     Private car services offer to drive you and your luggage from CDG to your hotel for a wide range of prices.  The idea of door to door service was very appealing, and not needing to schlep our luggage on public transit sounded great.  Most of these car services require advance payment at the time of booking, and that’s where trouble starts.  There are countless reviews stating that these car services do not follow through and pick you up at the airport as arranged.  Once they have your money, they have zero motivation to complete the service you paid for (since apparently getting bad reviews on the internet is not a motivator!), and you have little recourse besides fighting it out with your credit card company.  Even though I could find some good prices for car services online, this sounded like too much risk and it was probably not worth the hassle.

 

5)     The final option is to take a taxi.  Paris regulates the taxi fares such that it is a flat rate for up to 4 passengers and their luggage to ride from CDG to their hotel on the right bank for €50, or on the left bank for €55.  Lucky for us, we were staying on the right bank.  It is not customary to tip taxi drivers (or anyone else, for that matter!) in Paris, so there should be no question about how much money we owe when we get in our taxi.  The language barrier did scare me a bit, but I could always write out the name and address of our hotel and “€50” on a piece of paper to hand the driver and it should work out okay.  Most taxis take credit card so we wouldn’t need to worry about finding an ATM before leaving the airport (unlike the public transit options where US credit cards often do not work).  The taxi would cost us double what the Roissy Bus costs, but it would drop us off right in front of our hotel, and we wouldn’t need to wait as long for a taxi at the taxi stand as we might need to wait for the bus to arrive.  For an extra €26, we decided to treat ourselves to a taxi and start our vacation off on the right foot!

 

Noting how poor the signage was thus far in the airport, we asked the lady at the tourism desk to point us towards the official taxi stand.  When we got there, there was only 1 party ahead of us, and 5 or 6 taxis parked and waiting for passengers.  The dispatcher asked where we were going, so I told him Hotel Chopin on the right bank and he confirmed the price of €50 and pointed us towards the first taxi.  I handed the driver a piece of paper where I had written down the name and address of our hotel to make sure he knew where it was located, and we reconfirmed the €50 price with him.  He said we could pay with credit card which sounded like a good idea to save the cash for other purchases, so we loaded our bags in his trunk and set off for the ride into Paris. 

 

I honestly think this was the most terrifying taxi ride of my entire life.  I lived in Manhattan for 6 years, so I have been in my fair share of scary taxi rides but this was on a completely different level!  Being around 5pm on a Friday afternoon, we hit a predictable amount of traffic, but this driver had his own method of dealing with it.  He would speed down the exit lane to bypass all the traffic, and then quickly cut off a car at the last minute to merge back onto the highway… at every single exit!  At one point, he was so quick to hop back into the exit lane that he narrowly missed getting hit by a huge truck who was safely changing into that lane because he legitimately wanted to use that exit.  After we got off the highway and onto the surface roads in the city, I literally had to close my eyes because I was so afraid he was going to hit a car or bicyclist.  My heart rate is elevated right now as I type this just thinking about that car ride!  It took close to an hour to reach our hotel from CDG.  I have never been so happy to get out of a car in my life!  On the bright side, he charged us the €50 we were quoted, so I paid with credit card and got as far away from his car as I could before he drove away!

 

One of the things I liked about Hotel Chopin was that it was located within Passage Jouffroy.  In the first half of the 19th century, glass-ceiling covered pedestrian passages were built around Paris as shopping arcades.  By the 1850s, there were nearly 150 passages containing small shops and restaurants, and used as a way to walk between two side streets without going outside.  Many of these passages were removed during Haussmann’s renovations of Paris, but Passage Jouffroy is one of the 20 that still remain.  Here is the description of Passage Jouffroy from the Paris tourism website:

 

Since it was built in 1836, Passage Jouffroy has been one of the most visited covered arcades in the capital. Situated on the Grands Boulevards and in the continuation of Passage des Panoramas, it owes its charm to its beautiful iron and glass architecture (the ogive glass roof immediately catches the eye) and its marble paving, renovated in 1987. The other asset to the Passage Jouffroy is the variety and originality of the establishments which it houses. The children and adults visiting the Musée Grévin and its famous waxwork models. The Salon des Miroirs is a former 19th century brasserie which, today, is only used for private hire and transforms into a club on Saturday nights. The Hôtel Chopin is an original place to spend the night. Some of the most original shops add a special touch to the visit: old canes and walking sticks, old books, paper specialists and many others. It's worth a visit for the window displays alone! Gourmets can take a break at Valentin, the unmissable tea room.

 

Our crazy taxi driver dropped us off at one of the entrances to the passage, so we had to walk through the passage towing our luggage.  It was such a quaint and charming way to approach our hotel!

 

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The receptionist easily found our booking reservation and checked us into the hotel.  She handed me a 4-inch-long heavy brass keychain with a key to our hotel room.  At the time, we laughed about it because it was the most ridiculous keychain and there was no chance we would carry that heavy thing around in my purse for the whole week!  We took it up to our room and removed the key from the keychain so I just kept the key on its own in my purse and we hoped for the best that I wouldn’t misplace it!  It wasn’t until several days later that we learned we aren’t intended to take that keychain out of the hotel.  There is someone at the front desk 24 hours a day, so we were supposed to leave the key with the front desk when we left each morning and they would return it to us each evening when we came back.  I’m not sure if this is common in French hotels, but no one explained it to us and we only figured it out when we saw someone else handing in their key one morning. 

 

We knew Hotel Chopin had an elevator when I booked it.  What they didn’t tell me was that you need to walk up 3 steps to enter the hotel lobby, then another 5 steps from the lobby to the main floor where they have a breakfast room and a few offices, then another 2 or 3 steps to the vestibule where the elevator is located.  It’s a good thing none of our suitcases were overly heavy!  We could have prepaid for breakfast at the hotel, but they charged €10 per person, per day, so we opted to skip their breakfast, knowing we would be happy eating fresh croissants from a bakery for a fraction of that price.  It looked like they served fresh orange juice for breakfast…

 

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I wish I thought to take a photo of the elevator as it was very quirky.  The elevator was so small that we had to stack our 2 smaller rolling bags on top of each other, then put the bigger bag on one side and I squeezed in on the other side with my backpack resting on top of the big bag.  DH had to walk up the 5 flights of stairs to our room because he could not fit in the elevator with me and the luggage!  He could have just waited for me to send the elevator back down to him after I unloaded everything, but you needed to hold a heavy door open while unloading the bags from the elevator, and that was a bit tricky to do all on my own so it worked better for him to meet me upstairs where one of us held the door open and the other rolled out all the bags.

 

Our room was located on the top floor, towards the back of the hotel.  It was a good size for the two of us, with a king sized bed, a desk, 2 chairs, a luggage rack, and a closet.  If you look closely, you can see the heavy keychain on the left side of the desk.

 

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The bathroom was clean and modern, but a bit small.  DH hit his head on the fixture in the shower on the first day of the trip (you can see the bruise on his forehead if you look closely at our photos for Saturday and Sunday!).  I did like that there were 2 drawers that pulled out from below the sink, providing lots of storage in a small space.

 

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Our windows opened out into a courtyard between the buildings, so it was very quiet at night.  We did not have air conditioning in our hotel so we slept with the windows open, but we never heard any noise from the busy Grands Boulevards nearby.

 

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Hello Dana, I just found your review by accident. I was looking for your Barcelona cruise for taking notes when we cruise on the Radiance next year. For some reason I thought this trip would be in August. Looking forward to reading more.

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37 minutes ago, bettyboop16 said:

Hello Dana, I just found your review by accident. I was looking for your Barcelona cruise for taking notes when we cruise on the Radiance next year. For some reason I thought this trip would be in August. Looking forward to reading more.

 

Oh how funny!  Glad you found this review too! 🙂  The best way to find my Barcelona cruise review is through the first link in my signature that has all my old cruise review links posted in one place (since we can only have 3 links in our signatures now, I had to create that page to list all the links for all the reviews)

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Having gotten limited sleep on our redeye flight last night, it was tempting to curl up in bed and take a nap.  However, we have enough travel experience to know that would be a huge mistake and we’d never adjust to the time difference if we gave into our fatigue.  Instead, we decided to wake a walk up to the Montmarte neighborhood to see a few sights and stay awake as long as possible.  Our first stop was to find the nearest metro station so we could buy our carnets of metro tickets.  This proved a little more complicated than I anticipated because I used the Citymapper app to find the Le Peletier metro station.  When we got to the spot where the app said the metro station was located, there was tons of constructions and we could not find where to enter the station!  After a bit of walking back and forth, we did finally find the stairs leading down into the station, but that was just a sign of things to come when dealing with the metro in Paris.  More on that later.  There was an agent at the booth in the station so we asked him to buy 2 carnets of metro tickets for €14.90 each.  I knew we would need the metro tickets for one of our stops this evening so it was important to buy the carnets first before continuing on our path. 

 

As a little side note… a carnet is really just a fancy name for a pack of 10 individual metro tickets.  In Paris, they call the metro tickets “t+”, so a carnet includes 10 of these t+ tickets.  They are loose and not bound together in anyway, so I brought a little pouch from home to keep these tickets together so none would get lost considering we now had 20 small t+ tickets to keep track of!  These tickets can demagnetize easily, so I kept that pouch in a separate pocket of my purse, far away from my wallet and phone to make sure it didn’t demagnetize.  Each time we approached a metro station, I took out one ticket for each of us, and we kept that ticket in our pocket after going through the turnstile.  Metro agents can ask for proof that you paid your fare at any time while you are in the station or on the metro, so make sure not to lose that little ticket.  If you can’t show your ticket or if your ticket demagnetized after you used it to enter the metro station, they will demand you pay a €50 fine on the spot!  I read several threads about this prior to arriving in Paris, so I was prepared, and we did encounter these agents one time during our week in Paris.  Luckily for us, we were ready for it and happily handed them our tickets to be scanned.  This is the t+ ticket:

 

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After about 20 minutes of walking, we found this huge tile mural which says “I Love You” in every language.

 

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As we walked around, we kept seeing live musicians performing in the streets.  Today was June 21, the Summer Solstice, and I later learned that there is a huge celebration in Paris on this date each year called Fete de la Musique.  Since 1982, music takes over the city's streets, with live bands, singers, amateur musicians, drummers, DJs and so on, scattered throughout the city, expressing themselves through music and inviting the crowd to enjoy themselves.  It definitely made for an exciting night for an evening stroll as we saw several singers, bands, and even a marching band!

 

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We continued walking until we came to a plaza with a carousel and a great view looking up at Sacre Coeur.  This was the first “take my breath away”/”OMG! I’m in Paris” moment of the vacation.  I had that moment several other times during the trip, but seeing Sacre Coeur was the first major landmark that I saw in person, and it made this vacation that I had been planning via internet research finally come alive!

 

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