As a child who grew up in a third world country, continents apart, my only exposure to anything France and French are:
1) the french bread,
2) the croissants (both thanks to French Baker my mother used to hoard as items go on sale during closing hours in SM),
3) the term RSVP (répondez s’il vous plaît, meaning “Please respond“) I often see on invitations, the meaning of which I learned out of juvenile curiosity from my highly cultured sister,
4) and the greetings “Bonjour mademoiselle/monsieur” which I grew up hearing from Sarah Ang Munting Prinsesa and Cedie on ABSCBN.
Of course in time, my French horizon widened with movies, TV shows, and people’s stories, among many other French history and culture resources.

 

From a little (but growing) archipelago of the Philippines to one of the most influential cities in the world, to land a foot in its streets is truly a bucket list item checked, a surreality, or more aptly a God’s work and plans in action.

 

So enjoy the Paris leg of my travelthon and hope you learn a thing or two about this side of the world! : j

 

 

Charles de Gaulle (Charles André Joseph Marie de Gaulle) [his parents must have a stock of baby names in hand!] was a war General who led the French troops in World War II, later became the President of the 5th French Republic.

The Batcave

Hotel Glasgow-Monceau, rue de la Felicite, Paris, France

The Experience

 
Paris L’Open Hop-on Hop-off Tour Bus is a blessing for tourists with only a couple of days to spare. It tours you around the city stopping at major tourist destinations. You may hop off at every stop as desired or finish the whole round with an overview of the city first, noting where to hop off the next round.

 

We prioritized the places that we want to see and concentrated on them instead of running around like a headless chicken and ending like a battered one. It was a good price at 32 Euros (for 2 days. 29/day. Dec 2011) instead of hailing a cab every time.

Cafes Everywhere

The Parisian cafe culture

Looked like there is a little cafe in every corner of Paris!

 

One Oprah episode (The Secret French Diet) once highlighted the French’s passion for dining and food. It aimed to encourage all to eat like the French–slowly, rolling each portion around the crevices of the mouth, pleasurably indulging so as to experience every bit flavor the taste buds can sense. This, instead of dieting, I remember the show imparted to me. (The slower you eat, the faster the stomach feels full, the lesser food intake!)

 

True enough, they really dine in (not take away to eat with work!) and I saw but a few heavy weight French!

 

Moving company! Aha!
So this is how they move houses– from a balcony instead of trying to fit in furniture and boxes in the elevator and out to the door! Made a lot of sense!
Balcony galore!

The balcony must have been an architectural requirement in this country. I’m inspired!

Military marching in unison (I assume) in protest

The Ride

Paris Metro– the railway system works because I (first timer, geographically-challenged) understood it
Paris L’Open Tour Hop-on Hop-off bus
Air France Airport Shuttle (do we have a PAL shuttle bus? Good to have, yes?)
RoissyBus Airport Shuttle (or a Victory Liner Airport shuttle! : ])
Velib 24/7 bicycle rental- the green and bicycling cultures are alive!

Paris-transportation

From Charles de Gaulle airport, there are 4 means to get to Paris:

1) Metro trains – RER (Regional Railway). Several line transfers depending on your hotel location. Not advisable for first timers with tons of luggage to drag in between train lines on to flights of stairs
2) Air France Airport Shuttle – Advisable for comfort and luggage assistance. A little more expensive at 12 Euros (Dec 2011)
3) RoissyBus Airport Shuttle – A little cheaper than Air France but without luggage assistance at 9.50 Euros (Dec 2011)
4) Cab – Easiest but most expensive. May cost 40-50+ Euros. If you have Euros to burn, go for it! Only allows 3 people max per cab, though and 2 suitcases. Extra fee for anything extra.

 

We were to take Air France because it has an Arc de Triomphe stop which is quite near our hotel already. BUT! it was on strike!(it’s not a perfect city after all! : ]) So plan B it is with RoissyBus stopping at the Opera. A longer walk but it was alright, the walk is a tour in itself. Paris is a visual feast anyway.

THE PLACES

Arc de Triomphe (Arc of Triumph)

Avenue-Champs-Elysees
Arc de Triomphe was installed in commemoration of the victories of Napoleon Bonaparte. Engraved on the arc are the names of the French generals who led the French troops.

This is the nearest landmark to our hotel so this was our first stop. In this avenue (des Champs-Elysees) are the most expensive retail brands! Peugeot is not an empty car showroom, people flocked in as if it was H&M on sale! Then I had to spot Louis Vuitton and saw that it’s a whole building on its own! (photo above).

Avenue des Champs-Elysees was like a Session Road or Ayala Avenue full of (branded, luxurious) stores! In short, it’s a window shopping strip! : ]

La Tour Eiffel (The Eiffel Tower)

Nicknamed La dame de fer, the iron lady

[Nickname? Personified? It kind of sound so gay! Kidding! : ]]

Located at Champs de Mars. Designed by the French engineer Gustave Eiffel

Located at Champs de Mars. Designed by the French engineer Gustave Eiffel

I don’t even have to say that this is the global icon for and the tallest building in Paris because everybody knows that by now (oopss just did!). What I can say though is that the tower was built as the entrance arch to the 1889 World’s Fair.

(It’s like Parisians say, we need an entrance? Let’s make it grand! Eiffel Tower grand, ta-dah! : ])

I wasn’t really in awe by the Eiffel per se. Let’s face it, it’s just a tower shaped as such and overexposed by the world. It’s not like it’s a natural wonder like Puerto Prinsesa Underground River or like something magnificent happens there.

What awestruck me, though is the surreal feeling that something you just dream has become a reality. It was an impossible that just instantly, at that moment, became possible. So I concur with Adidas that impossible is nothing (keep writing things on your bucket list and use The Secret! It’s real! : ]).

Plus, much raving aside, it really is a beautiful place. I imagine picnic and just down time with friends on a cool afternoon on a sunset. Ambiance is perfect, just like any place in Europe, perhaps.

Lovers in Paris

Lovers in Paris

Les Invalides / L’Hôtel national des Invalides

The National Residence of the Invalids [incapacitated by a chronic illness or disability]

Les Invalides

Les Invalides

Les Invalides is a complex of museums (Musée de l’Armée) and monuments all relating to the military history of France, a hospital and retirement home for the war veterans, and a burial site for some of France’s war heroes notably, Napoleon Bonaparte (credits)

We didn’t really hop off here. I’ve had enough of war remnants in Vietnam plus I was having a good time on the upper deck of the Hop-on Hop off bus, it wasn’t great enough to kill the fun! (Hence all photos taken from the top deck)

Seine River

Batobus

Batobus

I know it sounds odd in Filipino but that’s just the way they call that boat/ferry/shuttle on Seine River touring on 8 stops between the Eiffel and Jardin des Plantes. (Preferred the walk over this. Saving boating for Venice.)

Palais Royale (Royal Palace)

A palace then, a theater at present

A palace then, a theater at present

Cathédrale Notre Dame de Paris (Our Lady of Paris Cathedral)

This early Gothic (pointed arch, high walls) architecture might not have been resurrected after the revolution if not for Victor Hugo. In awe of its design and dismayed by its inglorious state, he drew inspiration from the cathedral and published The Hunchback of Notre Dame. Only then did the Parisians notice and realize it is worth reconstructing.
Notre Dame de Paris

Notre Dame de Paris

A Gothic masterpiece, the cathedral has remarkable stained-glass windows depicting scenes from the bible.

Interior Notre Dame Cathedral

Interior Notre Dame Cathedral

Musée du Louvre (Louvre Museum)

Louvre

The Louvre is the most visited museum in the world housing not only the famous confident yet uncertain smile of Mona Lisa by Da Vinci but also 35,000 other pieces to boast from the great arts men from prehistory to the 19th century. It has 4 levels (a basement and 3 floors), 3 wings, each (feels like) one Olympic oval long, so don’t even attempt to cover everything in a day. Make it a week or so.

Indifferent to history and classic art, I only heard of the Louvre from @kc_concepcion‘s blog and more over from Dan Brown’s Angels and Demons and The Da Vinci Code books and movies. I wasn’t dying to go but I wanna see it at least. But whoa! there’s a mall in it, a food court! It wasn’t the typical scary, grunge museum!

Never have I thought that I’d like a date inside a museum til I met Louvre. The old, boring, dark image of museums just got junked. I’m not a history or classic artwork freak but I can appreciate art, anything beautiful, actually. I saw the Louvre not only as a house of art but as an art in itself– the way pieces were put up, the illumination, the interior. The details would make you want those at your home!

Because there are just too many pictures to fit in a collage, the Louvre deserves a separate post for being awesome like that. So if you like more of the Louvre, it’s here!

The Streets of Paris

Velib: Line of bicycle for rent

Velib: Line of bicycle for rent

Crepe

Crepe

The Opera

The Opera

Movie house, Paris version

Movie house, Paris version

A very gay cafe

A very gay cafe

Souvenir stall

Souvenir stall

random choir performing in the street

random choir performing in the street

Seine river at dusk

Seine river at dusk

Paris, Je t'aime

Paris, Je t’aime

Au Revoir (Oh rev-wa) Paris! Til we meet again!

Merci beaucoup! (mer-si bu-cu)

You may want to see how it is in the Louvre, more pictures here!