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November 16, 2019 - Day 5 - Sightseeing in Downtown Paris

Started my morning off with breakfast in the Compass Club then caught a bus to the train station and an RER A train toward the city. Transferred at Nation to the M2 line to Anvers where we walked a couple blocks up the hill toward Sacre-Coeur. We took the Funiculaire de Montmartre up the hill to Sacre-Coeur. Walked around the basilica and took in some of the sights from the grounds. Then back on the Funiculaire and retraced our steps to Anvers. Took the M2 only one stop to Barbes Rochechouart and transferred to the M4 line which we took to Saint-Michel Notre-Dame. Walked along the Seine River to get a better view of Notre Dame then backtracked and crossed to the island and made our way to Sainte Chapelle. The line was short and moved quickly to get through security. Bought our tickets and walked into the chapel. Took a look around at the stained glass windows and other displays then headed back out and continued across the Seine. Found the M1 Metro and took it to Palais Royal Musee du Louvre where we disembarked to take a look around. Last visit to Paris we explored the Louvre but did not see the gardens and area around it so the plan was to see that and walk through the Jardin des Tuileries (Tuileries Garden) to the Champs-Elysees. Along the way walked through a winter carnival. Then encountered closures. Due to the ongoing protest the area around Jardins des Champs-Elysees was all blocked off by police and you could not get in. So we decided to try the Metro. Well that was closed too. So we had to walk several blocks around the closure then come back to the Champs-Elysees. Stopped by the Disney Store then grabbed some lunch at McDonalds since it was close and we knew what we would get. Tried to get on the M1 again and all stations we encountered were closed and the police did not know which ones were open. So we jut kept walking up to the Arc de Triomphe. It was closed so we walked around it and kept going (basically following the M1 path but walking. Ended up finally finding an open RER C line at Neuilly Porte Maillot so boarded there. Took that to Gare D'Avenue du Pdt Kennedy as we had originally planned and disembarked. Walked out to an island in the Seine that has the Statue of Liberty Paris (Statue de la Liberté Paris) on it. Took a couple pictures and then strolled back to catch the train to our next destination. We walked up to the platform and they said it was closed the direction we wanted to go. So we ended up hiking up to the M9 line as a plan B. That was going ok until the train went as far as Trocadero and then stopped and they kicked everyone off. The stations were getting really full at this point with people trying to figure out what was open and how to navigate around. We decided to call it a day at this point and cancelled our evening plans and instead set out to find a police officer that could tell us what was open. We did and ended up taking the M6 line to Montparnasse and transferring to the M4 line to Les Halles and then finally the RER A that would take us back to Disney. Made it back to Disney just after 6pm. Decided to head to the Walt Disney Studios Park to see Surprise Mickey. Then walked around the park to see it after dark before returning to see the Christmas Surprise Mickey at 8:00pm. After the show decided to head back to the hotel and call it a night after a full day of sightseeing and tomorrow a planned early wake up call to try and stream the USC football game.


Thoughts & Observations
  • Today was our sightseeing day. Our idea was to go on a Saturday to avoid the crowds at the park and the commuting traffic in the city. Also the weather lined up with a non rainy day forecasted. We knew there were ongoing protests but news stories we had seen recently made it seem localized and minimal impacts. What I did not take into account was this was the anniversary weekend marking a year since they started.
  • The RER and Metro trains we took into the city had no problems and were not crowded. Everything was going as planned. The route I had planned worked and we found ourselves at Sacre-Coeur as planned ahead of schedule.
  • Sacre-Coeur is a catholic basilica that overlooks the city. To get there you have the choice of a funiculaire or a lot of steps. Even on the overcast/cloudy day the view was impressive. To tour the church is free. From the area around the church you can get some great views overlooking the city. If you want the better view with less obstructions you can opt to pay and go up to the dome. I choose not to pay to save the steps because the weather was not the best and the view from ground level was enough. As with just about everywhere there was a security line to enter the church grounds and that moved slowly. This helped to space out the crowd once you got inside and it did not feel busy. There was a line to go up to the dome but since I did not visit, not sure how it moved.
  • The Funiculaire was a two cable car system that went up and down the hill. It is part of the transportation system so our Navigo cards worked (same card as the RER and Metros). So we opted to ride both up and down the hill. There were no lines or waits either so our timing was perfect.
  • As we were walking back to the metro we noticed a number of police cars on the street and some yellow vest people. Looked like they were setting up to protest. We did not see them doing anything except standing around and talking to each other and the police. We were leaving the area and thought nothing of it.
  • Next stop for us was Notre-Dame. We stopped across the Seine and walked down to take a look at it. The building looks different without the a large section of the roof. They have put up some temporary supports and roofing. The area around the cathedral is off limits with construction and security fences out quite a ways. The best views were from across the river. Hopefully they are able to rebuild/restore in a timely fashion and once again allow guests to visit this impressive site.
  • Sainte Chapelle was next on our list and is only a couple block walk from Notre Dame. Sainte Chapelle is a Gothic style church in the Palais de la Cite. Inside it has 15 windows with over 1,000 stained glass scenes from the old and new testaments. To reach the church you have to go through a security checkpoint then walk to it in the middle of the complex where you can purchase a ticket if needed and then enter the first floor that has a gift shop and some displays. You then have to walk up a narrow staircase to the main church. You are free to roam around at your own pace. There is some limited seating along the sides. I thought the stained glass work was incredible to see. There is a lot of restoration work ongoing. The ten Euro price seemed a little steep but we assumed this was to go toward the restoration work.
  • Last visit our sight seeing day was tight as we wanted to visit many of the top locations. One compromise we made was we visited the Louvre but entered from below and left and did not spend any time outside or in the gardens. So this visit we took the Metro and disembarked at ground level and walked around the area of the Pyramide du Louvre then out by the Arc de Triopmhpe du Carrousel and through the Jardin des Tuileries (Tuileries Garden). It was nice to spend some time walking around and get a feel for this area of the city that we missed last time.
  • It was not overly cold or miserable so we kept walking toward the Place de la Concorde. We encountered barriers and signs saying the park was closed ahead and we would not be able to exit. So instead we walked through a winter carnival area and then the plan was to get on the Metro at the Concorde station. That failed as we ran into police barriers as the area between where we were and leading to the Jardins des Champs-Elysees were all blocked off due to protests. We saw nothing except wide open spaces and police barriers and did not think anything of it. We followed the police instructions and shifted a few blocks away and kept walking to the next Metro station. Once we arrived we found the gates closed and locked. No signs.. this seemed odd and many others were just as confused. So we kept walking to the next one. There were police of various types at every corner and at many of the store fronts and other businesses we passed. There were plenty of tourists like ourselves walking and looking lost so we just kept going.. basically walking above/parallel to the M1 Metro line that we had wanted to ride. We eventually worked our way back to the Champs-Elysees and were able to walk up it. All Metro stations in the area were closed.
  • We stopped by the Disney Store on the Champs-Elysees. Interesting to note there was a security check to enter the store. It was rather small but had a couple nice displays and spanned two stories. I was disappointed they did not really have anything too unique to Paris or the store. Just a small display of generic Paris type merchandise.
  • We were not overly hungry but saw a sign for McDonalds so stopped there to eat. It was busy and had slow moving lines (we could not use the automated kiosks.. it did not like our credit cards). We lucked out with a seat and had a decent meal before setting off again.
  • The original plan was to get on the metro and take it up to the Arc de Tropmphe then to our next destination after that. Due to the closed metro stations we kept encountering we ended up walking up the Champs-Elysees to the Arc de Triomphe. The area had police everywhere and most of it was blocked off. We spoke to some of the police and military officers trying to find out what was going on and what was open. They said it had to do with protests and most stations in the area were closed. They thought maybe the Argentine station was open.. so we kept walking. It was closed so we kept walking... the Neuilly Porte Maillot station for the RER C was open! We had walked close to 3.5 miles from the Louvre to here.
  • These detours and long walk were much more than we had planned but it did allow us to take in the sights of the city. We never saw any protestors or problems. Just a lot of police and military and their vehicles. Also a lot of tourists and others enjoying the moderate day.
  • Our next destination was the Statue de la Liberte Paris (Statue of Liberty Paris). This is a nearly 40 ft replica of the Statue of Liberty in New York. It was unveiled back in 1889 and sits on the point of an island in the Seine. We took the metro to a stop just across the river and walked the short distance out to the island to see it. From here you could also get some nice views of the Eiffel Tower.
  • Out plan after this was to take the RER and metro back across the city to see some Christmas lights and tour a little little longer. We tried to board a train at the station we arrived at shortly before and platform police told us the line is now closed. So we had to make a choice on where to go. Looking at the map we decided to walk about 1/2 mile to the Ranelagh station. This was open and we took this line and as we pulled into the Trocadero station the train shut down and they said the line was closed at this point. So we set off trying to find a solution to reach our destination. I found a police officer that spoke English and talked to him. He said many metro stations were closed. At this point I decided I was done with this game and asked how to get to the RER A toward Disney with the closures. He said all the close connections were closed and we would have to circle south of the and then come back up on the other side of the city. He gave me the line numbers and I thanked him as we set off. The trains were all very crowded due to all the closures and a large number of uncertain people. The directions worked perfectly and we eventually made our way to the RER A and were heading toward Disneyland Paris and away from the city.
  • Our sightseeing day turned into a lot more walking and uncertainty than planned but in the end we made most of the stops.. just cut our final stop out. The metros being closed and no information on what was closed and best alternatives was a bit annoying. I found a news article saying 23 stations were closed.. I think I wanted to use several of them! We ended up doing a lot more walking than planned. We logged over 14 miles today.
  • Once back in the room I found a couple news stories talking about what happened --

    Paris 'under control' after violence on yellow vest anniversary

    Protesters clash with police in Paris as Yellow Vest protests get underway
  • Since we arrived back at Disney earlier than planned and the parks were open later than usual since it was a Saturday I decided to make my way to the Walt Disney Studios Park and see it after dark plus take in a showing of the Surprise Mickey and Surprise Mickey Christmas Special. Both started this weekend for the Christmas season. The Surprise Mickey show was from last year to celebrate Mickey's 90th Birthday. The show's premise is Minnie Mouse is planning a surprise party for Mickey Mouse with the help of her friends including Donald Duck, Daisy Duck, Pluto and Goofy. She calls for help and they end up recruiting cast members and guests for the party. Mickey arrives and they all celebrate with the big Get Your Ears on Finale number. After sunset this includes projections on the Tower of Terror which really add to the show. For the Christmas Special a Christmas finale is added to the show. This was happening only the last show of the day each day I was there. It featured more projections, lasers and fireworks. I thought the standard show was ok. I do not understand why it was added for the holiday season. It had nothing to do with the season. The Christmas finale was entertaining and a great plus. Seems every show should have it.

Pedometer Stats
Miles 14.5
Steps 30,728
Moderate Steps 21,507
Moderate Steps/Time 197

Part I: Eiffel Tower Morning Sightseeing in Paris

My morning consisted of visits to Sacré-Cœur Basilica, Notre Dame and Sainte-Chapelle


Part I: Eiffel Tower Afternoon Sightseeing in Paris

The afternoon was spent in the area near the Louvre - Jardin des Tuileries then we walked a large portion of the Champs-Elysees including a visit to the Disney Store. We then visited the Statue of Liberty Paris before deciding to call it a day because of transportation issues.


Part I: Eiffel Tower Walt Disney Studios Park

Once back at Disneyland Paris spent a couple hours in the Walt Disney Studios Park after including my first viewings of Surprise Mickey and the Christmas Special addition.


Related Links From This Trip

2019 Disneyland Paris Trip Summary

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