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September 30, 2015 - Day 4 - Paris Sightseeing

Started off my morning with a 6:15am wakeup call.  Got ready and stopped by the Golden Forest Lounge for breakfast at 7am when it opened.  After breakfast boarded a bus to the train station and took the RER into Downtown Paris.  Took the RER C to the M6 Metro.  First destination the Eiffel Tower.  We arrived at Trocadero and approved the Tower from there.  We arrived just before the 9:30am opening and waited in line to head up.  Walked around the 3rd floor then waited in line to head up to the summit.  After wandering around and exploring the two floors at the top then the 3rd floor some more took the elevators down and took a cruise on the Seine River.   It was an hour and departed at noon.  Once back grabbed lunch at a small stand along the river with the tower in the background as we ate.   After lunch walked along the Seine and boarded the RER C train to Notre Dame.  Walked through the Cathedral then I decided to hike the 422 steps to get some pictures and see the sights and the others found a cool spot to wait for me.  After the work out we headed for the M1 Metro and took it to the Louvre.   Went on a self guided walking tour using the Masterpieces plan from their website (Remnants of the moats dug by Philip Augustus and Charles V, Great Sphinx of Tanis, Aphrodite, Winged Victory of Samothrace, The Oath of the Horatii, The Coronation of the Emperor Napoleon I, Odalisque, The Wedding Feast at Cana, Portrait of Lisa Gherardini, The Raft of the Medusa, and The Slave).  The directions were a bit vague at times but we found everything on the list and quite a few other pieces too of course as we roamed around the massive complex.   We were getting hungry by this time and there is a shopping complex with a food court attached to the Louvre so headed there for dinner.. I ate at McDonalds.   After dinner boarded the M1 Metro and took it to the Arc de Triomphe and took a look around.  Our original plan was to go up the arc for sunset but decided we were done with big stair cases so went back to and took the M6 metro back to Trocadero to watch the Eiffel Tower light show from on top of the hill.  After the shop took the M6 Metro back to Charles de Gaulle-Etoile and transferred to the RER A for the 50 minute ride back to Disney.  Boarded a bus back to the hotel and called it a night.

Thoughts & Observations
  • This morning set an alarm to make sure I was up and ready to go.  We wanted to get downtown close to the opening time for the Eiffel Tower so we had a 6:15am wake up call.   It is still very awkward that there is no clock in the room at all.  Luckily between the wakeup call, our travel alarm clocks and cell phone we were more than covered.
  • This morning at 7am the Golden Forest Lounge had a much large crowd than previous days.  Not sure if it was the warmer weather or if the hotel was more crowded. 
  • We took the bus to the train and then the RER A into central Paris.  This was my first experience on the Paris mass transit system and it went as planned with no hiccups.  The train ride into the city was a good 40 minutes because Disneyland is literally at the end of the line.  The signage in the stations for transfers and exits was fairly clear.  Note the stations are mostly stairs on the Metro so the retired geek had a long day with his new knee as we used the Metro as our primary mode of transportation.  On a positive note the crowds were nothing like what we saw in Asia.    
  • Note we purchased a weekly pass that included unlimited use of all  RER Trains, Metro, and buses.  It was called a Navigo Discovery and was 21.25 euros for the week plus 5 euros for the card that was good for all 5 travel zones meaning Disney all the way to central Paris and out to Versailles too.  We supplied our own picture.   This worked perfect for us since it was good Monday through Sunday and our sightseeing days were Wed, Thurs & Sat.    The pass worked perfectly but the RFID was a bit touchy in a couple stations and we had to go see a station attendant twice over the three days because one of us got stuck going through a gate.
  • We exited the metro a stop early and approached the Eiffel Tower from the hill by the Palais de Chaillot which made for a more dramatic first impression of the Tower.. but I forgot to take into account the morning sun rising just behind and to the left of the tower so the pictures were not really that good.. oops.
  • We first saw the Tower around 9am and made our way down to the line for the 9:30am opening.  It took us about half an hour to work through the security line, buy our tickets and board an elevator.  We were on our way to the 3rd level by 10am which I did not view as bad.  We opted not to pre-purchase our tickets because we were not sure exactly which day we wanted to visit.  We did not want to be tied down in case of bad weather.   The ticket/security line inched along and was a bit odd how the ticket windows were sort of a bypass in the middle of the queue.  On a cool/sunny Fall morning it was not bad at all.  But I could not image doing it in the heat or with a huge crowd. 
  • Since it was a very clear day we opted to purchase a ticket to go to the very top.   The first stop was the 2nd floor which is where the base ticket gets you.  We circled the floor and looked around briefly then got in the queue to go to the top.  This took a little time but was not too bad.  They had several elevators out of service which added to the wait. 
  • The view from summit was great.  There was an enclosed level then you could go up to an outside one.  Outside it was windy but not miserable.  
  • My next stop of the day was a cruise on the Seine River.  A 1 hour tour departed from the docks near the Eiffel Tower so that is where we headed once we were done.  We arrived early (or late depending on how you looked at it) and had to wait a while for the next boat.  Purchasing our tickets and getting in line were a simple process.  The cruise itself was a nice tour of central Paris.  Sitting inside the glass enclosed seats was a great view but miserable for pictures so I ended up standing out back which meant inhaling engine fumes for half the trip or so.. not the most pleasant but the pictures were substantially better out there.  I was impressed that our guide delivered the spiel in three languages as we went.
  • Once back on shore it was lunch time.  We were very hungry by this point and not feeling adventurous so  we opted to eat at a kiosk along the river near the boat dock.  The advantage to this is one direction we looked at the Seine and the other up at the Eiffel tower.. not a bad location for lunch.
  • After lunch we walked along the Seine for a few blocks then hopped on an RER train for a few stops to get to Notre Dame.  
  • The Cathedral was impressive to see.  First we walked around outside for a bit then through the interior (this is free, donations accepted).  Was surprised no photo restrictions except for flash photography and I think tripods.  Then I waited in line to do the tower hike.  The rest of the group opted to relax in the courtyard and wait for me.    The hike is billed as 422 steps which are small, narrow, and spiral a lot.  It was a great workout to lug myself and camera bag up them all.  The view from the top was impressive and worth it but I was done with stairs by the time I reached the ground.     Interesting note as I was walking a nearby couple happened to also be from California  (unfortunately a Bruin and Bear fan/alumni.. but still nice to talk to them).
  • We crossed the Seine and took the Metro a few stops to the Louvre.  Today it was open late so we had plenty of time to explore.  We entered from the lower level through a shopping mall and there was no wait at all. It meant no picture of the glass pyramid but also meant no delays.  Inside.  I am not really a museum or art person.  I have better odds of spotting something Frank Thomas or Marc Davis did than Leonardo da Vinci but I am a disneygeek not an artgeek…  and I knew I had to at least visit the Louvre and take in the masterpieces.  I found a tour/plan on their website of a dozen masterpieces and did some reading on them and then used it as my guide.    The Louvre is a giant complex and you could roam the halls and floors for days probably if you do not have a game plan.   
  • As dinner time approached we were hungry and had nothing planned.   Since we did not know exactly where we would be and are not really big food people we had nothing on the itinerary and the plan was to find nearby food whenever we got hungry.  We walked back to the food court in the mall that was attached to the Louvre and opted to go with something in my wheelhouse.. McDonalds.  Since I had been eating so much beef at Disney I went for the nuggets and can confirm the French McNuggets and Fries taste the same as their US counterparts.. at least to my poor pallet.
  • After eating it was off to the Arc de Triomphe by Metro.  We came out right on the Champs-Elysees and had a great view of the Arc as the sun was setting.  We observed the traffic for a while then I hiked out to the Arc to take pictures looking back.  The original gameplan for the day was to go up in the Arc and take pictures as the sun set and the lights came on.   Then we could easily board an RER train back to Disney from here.. no transfers.
  • I had it timed perfectly but the rest of the group did not want to do stairs and I had my fill so instead we called an audible and returned to where we first saw the Eiffel Tower from an adjacent hill.  So it was back on the Metro and out to that location.
  • The view was perfect but much more crowded than the morning.   We watched the sun set and then waited for the light show.  While waiting spotted an odd person nearby.  He was just kind of watching the crowd.. not the sights and had no one with him.  He inched along behind the crowd stopping near us.  I turned and kind of stared at him for a while then he melted back into the crowd and moved on.  Not sure if it was an odd person or something else..  there were plenty of signs indicating to watch out for pick pockets and this was the only time I felt like I really needed to watch my bags and pocket the entire trip.
  • Another interesting note.  There was construction going on and barriers around us.  As we waited a group of nearby girls let out a scream.  Seems some of Remy’s cousins were running around.  They were staying close to the wall and a couple feet from us but still a handful of mice/rats running around was not the best image to have as you tried to watch the lights.
  • The light show came on and we watched.  I was expecting more.  It was nice to see but nothing over the top in my mind.  Not sure what I was expecting but something more.  It was worth staying around to see but I would not plan my day around it.
  • After the lighting returned to normal we headed back to the Metro then transferred to the RER and returned to Disney to end the day  It took just under an hour to get back.  The parks were closed by the time I returned so it was a good excuse to get to bet a little earlier than past nights.. plus tomorrow was a full day Versailles.

Pedometer Stats
Miles 8.1
Steps 21,483
Moderate Steps 12,624
Moderate Steps/Time 114

Part I: Eiffel Tower Part I: Eiffel Tower

Started my morning off with a train ride into Downtown Paris. First stop the Eiffel Tower on a very clear morning.


Part II: Seine River Cruise Part II: Seine River Cruise

Took a one hour cruise on the Seine River to take in the sights of central Paris from waterlevel.

Part III: Notre Dame Cathedral Part III: Notre Dame Cathedral

After lunch visited Notre Dame. Walked through the interior then did the climb to the bell tower.

Part IV: Louvre Part IV: Louvre
Spent some time in the Louvre taking in the highlights before dinner.


Part V: Arc de Triomphe & Eiffel Tower @ Sunset Part V: Arc de Triomphe & Eiffel Tower @ Sunset

Closer out my day by visiting the Arc de Triomphe then deciding to skip the steps and instead took the Metro to a hill to see the Eiffel Tower lights before returning to Disney.

Related Links From This Trip

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