Leaving For London in One Week

It’s that time of year again where Christopher Law goes on another adventure somewhere in the world.  This time it is back to London.  Unfortunately last time I went to the UK I didn’t really get a chance to post all my photos here.  You can still check them out on my Google+ page.  I will be dishing out a fresh new set of photos that I do plan on posting here.  I will try and post something everyday, so look out for that.  If you’re looking for food photos though I’ll be doing that on my other site munchonthese.com.  It’s currently loaded with snapshots of some foods, but I’ll do a little more in-depth reviews when I’m in London.

I do plan on visiting some other towns around UK.  However, I want to really chill out in the city and get used it to it.  I did hook myself up with some Meet Up groups, so I’ll be joining some hiking groups and such that do walks around the more trek type areas.  Might make a short trip to Paris for the French open.  Although, it might be too late for even grounds tickets.  I’m also thinking of going to the town of Bath.  It’s a resort city in the UK.  They have the Sunrise Festival around this time of year.  I actually have no idea what it is, but it seems like a huge event where people gather every year.  The only thing I actually have planned is this orchestra concert I’m attending; Final Symphony.  It’s a Final Fantasy concert; gamers will know what it is.  But, Nobuo is going to be there! Autographs.  If anyone has any ideas of what I must absolutely do in London shoot away in the comment section below.

I will be making another post before I leave.  Going to show off how I’ve packed this time.  I managed to fit enough for three weeks in two pieces of carry-on.  I do have a method for bring back stuff though.  Anyway, make sure to follow this blog and my other one for the full report on my travels! And thanks to everyone who’s helped support my blog!

Winter Tour: Paris Revisited, Another Side

A grand return to the city that I absolutely dread returning.  I’ll be honest.  Paris really isn’t my favourite city to visit in France.  I’d much rather go to the country side and visit some cheese farms and drink wine out of kegs.  But alas, I’ve returned.  There’s still plenty for me to see though.  The last time I was there I didn’t really get to see everything.

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Paris: How to Visit Museums in Paris

Before Visiting the Museums

Purchasing tickets for museums always seems like a hassle when you first arrive in Paris.  The situation only looks even worst when you see the ENORMOUS line up at the Louvre. However, what a lot of tourist don’t know is that, you have 2 options.

The first option, and probably my favourite is to buy the Carte Louvre Jeunes and then buy individual tickets for most other museums.  This card only costs 15€ if you’re between the ages of 18 to 26 or 30€ for ages 27 to 30.  This gives you unlimited access for one year to the Louvre, but even after using it once you’ve made your money’s worth!  But, most importantly, this card allows you to skip the line.  The downside is that, this card is only sold inside the Louvre so you’ll have to wait in line the first time.  If you have time in Paris definitely pick this option.

The second option which works better for short stays is the Paris Museum Pass.  It comes in 2, 4, and 6 day passes and costs 30€, 45€, and 65€ respectively.  The 2 day pass is already a pretty good deal.  If you go to the Louvre twice you’ve almost made your moneys worth, but you’ll probably do more than that.  At the very least, it’ll cost about the same as getting individual tickets, but you can skip the line with this pass too.  Helps with skipping ticket lines as well in some other locations.  The Paris Museum Pass can be bought at the Airport at the Tourist Information Desk.  So make sure to pick it up before you hop on a taxi or bus.

Now that you know what to do, let’s discuss a few museums.

Le Louvre

Le Louvre was by far my favourite museum.  It has everything you could ever imagine.  Everything from Roman and Greek times, art from the middle ages, statues and paintings, and on Friday nights it’s open late and has concerts playing.  For me I went there about 3 times on 3 separate days.  It’s really HUGE and if you really want to take the time to absorb everything, really take your time.  Inside the museum there are places to sit through out building, so take some time to rest every couple hours.

In the lobby, you have the option to rent a electronic guide.  Almost all the museums have these.  They’re basically headphones with a keypad.  When you go up to a statue or piece of art, on its description there’ll be a number.  Punch in that number and you can hear a recording that explains it to you.  For me it didn’t really make sense to get it since I could read the French. However, it might be something worth investing if you’re really into the art.  Otherwise, I think merely observing the art is good enough.  You can always wiki the names if you’re really interested in the actual history of the piece.

If you want to eat food I have 2 recommendations.  The first option is, if you don’t want to go too far, try the cafeteria in the Richelieu Pavilion.  Make sure it’s the one on the upper levels.  You can eat on the roof top there and get a beautiful view of the outside of the museum.  The second idea is, if you have the Paris Museum Pass, you can simply leave and head south to the quartier latin and grab some food in that area.  There’s much more choice and the food is much cheaper as well.

If you have one day to visit Paris.  I’d say Le Louvre is the only place you should have to visit in Paris! Definitely my favourite site.

Château de Versailles & Eiffel Tower

To enter the castle you’ll of course need a ticket or the Museum Pass.  However, I personally didn’t find the interior all that exciting.  But it’s still a must see.  The really exciting part of this museum is the outside.  The garden in the back is actually free to enter so try to get there early and beat the crowd!  Make sure to take lots of photos, probably one of the nicest if not the nicest garden in all of Paris.

Like Louvre, you can get a electronic guide. So grab that if you’re really interested.  The entire castle will probably take you an hour and a half, assuming certain section aren’t under renovation.  But, definitely try to spend an hour or more in the garden.  It’s just a really nice place to hang out.  Make sure you bring lots of water though.  At most grocery markets in Paris, you can buy a 1.5L of Evian for 80 cents.  Don’t get scammed and buy a 500mL bottle for 2€ or sometimes they’ll charge 5€.

After you’re done with Versailles, take the RER train back to Paris.  Don’t forget you’ll need to purchase a ticket back to Paris, which can be bought for 3,05€ at the station.  Once there, hop on the train and take the train to Champ de Mars / Tour Eiffel station. Here you can visit the Eiffel tower on the way back to central Paris.  I’d suggest ordering your ticket online if you can at http://ticket.toureiffel.fr/ and then present the email through your Smartphone or have it printed at your hotel or at print it at a library or internet cafe.  That way you won’t have to wait in line.

Eiffel tower is definitely the best at night.  It’s the must-see situation for this kind of monument! Remember the Paris Museum Pass doesn’t work for this site so make sure to buy the ticket in advance.

Le Panthéon de Paris

You can get into this one with the Museum Pass.  I’ve heard this one isn’t as grand as the one in Rome but still a must see.  It has a pretty cool clock in the middle of the building.  I have a photo of it here.  There’s a podium inside the building that plays a video in English, French, and Germany that explains the history and how it works.  Walking around the first floor is pretty quick, but make sure you take the time to sit down and look up; the ceiling is beautiful.  In the left wing there’s a miniature version of the Pantheon which isn’t too miniature.

After you’re done with the top, head on down to the crypt.  If you’re a fan of famous French people, you’re in for a treat.  The crypt holds tombs for many famous French people.  Like Alexandre Dumas, and Victor Hugo.  It’s really dark down there, even with the light, so bring a tripod for your camera if you can.  Even if it is a point and shoot.  It’ll help a lot.

Coming out of the Pantheon, take a seat in front of the building on the steps.  You can get a beautiful view of the Eiffel Tower.  If you have a long enough zoom lens you can even take a really good photo of it.  But it’s view you’ll rarely see.

Cimetiere du Père Lachaise

This is a must see. It’s a cemetery with a lot more famous dead people than the Pantheon’s crypt.  At the cemetery you can pay money to get a English tour guide.  Definitely do it, because the cemetery is really big.  Not much else to say here but, definitely worth the visit.

Going to Other Museums

Most of the other sites you don’t really need a pass to get the view you want.  Like Arc de Triomphe, my favourite view is from the bridge late at night when all the lights are up. Notre-Dame Cathedral you can get inside for free and there’s a small section you can pay for that a few extra things to see.  You could use your Museum Pass to go up the belfries of the cathedral, but you can’t skip the line at this one.

I did go to a few other museums that I won’t mention but it’s because most of the stuff in other museums can be experience through the Louvre.  Although, if you have time it’s not a bad idea to visit them.  Most of the smaller ones never have lines so no need to worry about going early.  If you want a list of all the other museums you can check the Paris Museum Pass website here.  You can click on museum & monuments and there’ll be a huge list of places to visit.  And it gives enough detail to know where it is.  Just check on the MTR map where the station is and when you exit the station there’s enough signs that’ll help you find your way.

Hopeful this helps whoever reads this! Bon voyage!

Paris: Transportation Options

Getting Around & Transportation

In Paris there are a few modes of transportation, here’s a small list:

  • RER Train
  • Metro (Subway)
  • Bus
  • L’Open Tour

Paris itself is broken into six zones of transportation:

Paris Transportation Zones

Looking at the map at first it can seem rather complicated.  But, really it’s not at all.  When visiting Paris as a tourist, you only have to really worry about zone 1 and 2.  All the museums and areas you’ll want to visit are in those 2 zones, save for Château de Versailles, but I’ll explain that later.  Here’s a map of metro.  The metro itself is only in zone 1 and 2.

Paris Metro Map

Now that you have an idea of the transportation system in Paris I’ll explain some of the options that have probably the best value for your wallet and time.

Option 1 – Navigo Découverte

Navigo Découverte This card will entitle you to unlimited travel with the metro, bus, trams, and even the RER trains.  Like I said above, you only need it for zone 1 and 2.  It costs 18€ for a weeks worth of unlimited travel and an additional 5€ for the card.  The card itself can be purchased at any metro station.  Just ask for a billet de semaine pour Paris. On the card there’s a place to put your photo.  You can find a photo  booth at almost all metro stations and costs about 4€.  But, honestly they never even check for your photo.  Getting on a bus you simply swipe it and it beeps and okay sound.  And the metro, no one is even looking.  So save yourself the 4€.

This is by far my favourite option if you really want to get around Paris and do more in a day.  But, this only works if you meet certain conditions.  First off, this card starts on Monday, so if you’re arriving on Sunday, you can buy the pass and start travelling all over Paris for a week starting Monday until the next Sunday.  The latest day you can buy the pass is Wednesday.  Granted I easily made it worth it within a few days.  Individual tickets are 1,70€ or 10 for 12€, in a normal day most people see about 2 to 3 sites.  You can easily go through about 4 to 5 tickets in a day.

Bottom line is, if you think you can make the pass worth it, go for it. Granted you have to plan out what sites you want to see but it isn’t too hard if you visit an information booth.  Another good way to find out where you want to go is to get a “Paris Museum Pass”; I’ll explain this in another post.  Anyway, if it doesn’t work out for you there are other options.

Another tip using the Navigo, always try to take the metro or bus to wherever you’re going.  Don’t bother taking the RER.  RER within the city is much slower and not as frequent as the metro or bus.  RER is only really useful when going outside of Paris.

Option 2 – L’Open Tour

Personally I didn’t do this during my stay, as it was much more expensive.  But, I can see why this option could be good for some people.  If you really HATE planning and you’re short on time in Paris but you still want to see all the sties in Paris, L’Open Tour can help you with this.

This bus is basically a private bus line that goes all around Paris.  It costs 32€ for the 2 day pass, the one day isn’t worth it at all costing 29€.  All over Paris there are specific L’Open Tour bus stops.  They’re easy to recognize and they’ll give you a map after you purchase the ticket.  All you have to do is wait at the first stop, get on and show your ticket, then get off at the next stop.  The next stop will be another major site in Paris.  When you’re done, you simply wait for the next bus, hop on and off to the next site.  There are about 50 stops, so you might not get to all of them in 2 days but you’ll definitely hit a lot of places in one day.

This option is more expensive then the Navigo option but its definitely a time saver and brain saver.

Sites Outside of Zone 1-2

There actually aren’t too many sites you’ll visit outside of zones 1 and 2.  The most popular one that is outside is Château de Versailles.  Your Navigo pass for zones 1 and 2 won’t get you there.  Just buy an extra ticket for 1,70€ to get there and take the RER all the way there.  When coming back however, you will need to buy a ticket that takes you back in to Paris at the RER station.  This ticket is different then the ones you buy inside of Paris.  These ones cost 3,05€.  There will be automatic ticket booths that sell them.  There’s always a long line up so you can’t miss it really.

Day 10: My Bagnolet, Point & Shoot

My last day here in Paris.  Tomorrow, I’ll wake up early and go to the train station to catch my train headed towards Cologne, Germany!  Before I leave, I wanted to take a few photos of my neighbourhood.  But, I didn’t want to walk around my neighbourhood with my dSLR, so I took my point & shoot Sony T90.  Obviously they won’t look as good as my dSLR, but with a little magic I can make it look a tiny bit better! CHALLENGE accepted. So, besides my neighbourhood took a few others of central Paris as well when I was out getting my lunch.

Besides my point & shoot challenge, I had another challenge today.  Where can you find a convenient store that’s open on a Sunday?! Seriously, when it comes to Sunday, the French are the laziest people alive.  This happens in Quebec too!  I did end up finding a store that was open though! And what do you know, it’s a Chinese person who’s open on a Sunday. It wasn’t all that serious but I thought I’d say it here.  Saturday and Sunday are probably the worst days to go to museums, especially Louvre and Versailles.  They’re way too packed to even enjoy them.  Markets Actually, even the local area here in Bagnolet gets pretty packed on weekends.  On weekends a bunch of street vendors come out to sell really random stuff.

For now, I’ll leave you all with these pictures and I’ll make another post tomorrow while on the train.  I’ll make posts of tips and things to look out for while in Paris.  It’ll be my overview of my 10 days here and what I’ve learned from this little part of my 3 month voyage! Until tomorrow!

My little neighbourhood: Bagnolet!

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Other Photos with Point & Shoot:

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