a Affordable Yet Memorable Travels: 2011

Friday, June 3, 2011

Tips and Tricks in Getting Inside the Louvre Museum Faster, No Long Queues Needed!

Louvre Museum is not not simple. It is a museum so huge in value, in sze, in contents and in queue to get in! If one does not know how to get through quicker, a big part of the day would be really wasted only in waiting in queue to enter or purchase the ticket! In fact,one day is already so insufficient in exploring the Louvre museum and if one wastes more time queing, then that's just worse! Entering the Louvre Museum in Paris or the musée du Louvre in Parigi, or in Parijs can bereally annoyingif you take the major entrance passing the pyramid. We were very lucky to have discovered a hassle-free, faster way and quicker means of entering the Louvre museum in Paris. How? Never pass the main entrance which passes by the pyramid. Then how? Enter through other entrances! Palais-Royal–Musée du Louvre station is one of the means to enter without problem. From there, people can walk directly to the reception and buy tickets from ticket vending machines just nearby the Louvre museum information / reception desks. Below is a series of photos to guide you to enter the Louvre museum more conveniently and at the same time,explains what possibly may happen to you if you do not discover this trick: wasting time and suffering from heat/cold awaiting your turn to enter in thelong queue.

As you see, there are various ways. In our case, we entered through the Metro station: no lines, no hassle, just plain comfort and ease. We did not do what the people in the photo below did. Can you imagine how long they waited? This photo was actually when we were leaving, which means almost the end of the day and yet, they were still waiting there in long queue!

Here's yours truly buying our tickets at ease and with fun! No queues behind me so I was really having fun and just purchased my ticket in a relaxed manner. Look at the flags as well, possibly ypu speak at least one of the available languages that the Louvre museum ticket-vending machines offer
There is a very approachable information desk and if it looks too full, there are always official information guides that walks around and more than willing to help.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Promenade or Stroll Along the Seine River in Paris

It was nice weather and walking along the Seine River was not a bad experience. It was also a good way to look around the city in slow motion, see the crusing ships passing and try to guess along which part the Princess of Wales,Lady Diana really died. It was fun! Actually, we were from the Notre Dame du Paris treading our way to reach the Musée del'Armée. I don't remember exactly the route we took but being new to the city, everything I saw was interesting. Below are someof the selected views while strolling along the River Seine in Paris.

Before that, some trivia first. I learned that the name "Seine" (la sen), which is the name of the river came from the Latin word "Seuana" which construed to mean "sacred river". Many contested this origin of the river's name though. River Seine expands itself to 776 kilometers or 486 miles, yes, that's thelenthsof the Seine River in Paris.  Within Paris, there are 37 rivers and a dozen or so outside the capital.

The other side is packed with those heavy-set buildings...

Whose head is this? It's sculpted in one of the many bridges of Seine and we were thinking it's Bacchus' 
head but I cannot confirm it. Anybody who knows whose head is this in a bridge of Seine, please
let us know as well. Thanks in advance. And why is it there? Very interesting...

Alittle graffiti behind... I think it says, "Wild"...

If you look closely, aside from he scenery behind, the bridge has letter "N" in it. Does it mean "Napolean" or something? Any idea? The bridge scultures are actually puzzling me all the time!

Here you see the letter "N" emphasized. Who has the idea what does this letter N means in oneof the 
bridges of river Seine? Please impart your knowledge and educate the world... :=) Thank you...

Resting a bit.... whew... Pont Neuf now...

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Notre Dame de Paris Experience

After admiring the Hôtel de Ville, we continued our walk to the Notre Dame de Paris or the Notre Dame Cathedral of Paris. If translated in English, Notre (Our) Dame (Lady) of Paris. Still, it is in the 4th arrondissement so just nearby the Hotel de Ville. The Notre Dame Cathedral houses the Archbishop of Paris.
What attracted me, physically, inside the church are its stained glasses. They are magnificent! I took photos of some of them. The Notre Dame de Paris or the Notre Dame Cathedral is also widely considered one of the “finest examples of French Gothic architecture” (Wikipedia 2011) in the country (France) and also the rest of the continent (Europe), naturally aside from the awesome stained glasses I previously mentioned.

This is from the right side of the Cathedral's entrance. Look around up and see the design...

Since this group of policement on horses were passing as I crossed the street to the Cathedral, I just have them posted here... :)

The iron works behind me and the sculptures are admirable...

WIth my fave...Joan of Arc... the quality is really bad but I did not want to use flash inside the Cathedral (respect)...

Bass relief (?) depicting Christ's sufferings...

Notre Dame de Paris in one glass... this is the miniature version inside the glass...

Also the miniature version of the labor force that made this church, Notre Dame de Paris successfully erected...

Below are a few samples of the many beautifully crafted stained glass inside the Cathedral. Beautiful work...

Friday, April 22, 2011

Hôtel de Ville Paris at 4th Arrondissement

Where is 4th arrondissement?
I did not have any intention to have any transaction at the municipality of Paris, commonly known as Hôtel de Ville but I was already at its vicinity by around 09:30 on a Thursday morning. This is still part of the earlier walk around the city of Paris, from one arrondissement to another.  The building itself is attractive. Architechts Théodore Ballu and Edouard Deperthes rebuilt this lovely-looking edifice, the Hotel de Ville “from the outside” (Wikipedia, 2011). These two talented architects rebuilt the building as an imitation of the 16th century French Renaissance that stood before 1871. The the new interior however was based on an entirely new design, with ceremonial rooms lavishly decorated in the 1880s style (Wikipedia, 2011)
yours truly in front of Hôtel de Ville at around 09:30 AM, Thursday, 14 April 2011
"Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité", the national motto of the country (France) is clearly indicated in the lovely facade design of Hôtel de Ville architecture and sculptural designs

This is the view across the Hotel de Ville

Photo Source: Wikipedia         Hôtel de Ville Paris breathtaking night aura...

The Hotel de Ville is the administrative office of Paris City local government lead by its mayor starting 1357 and can be accessed from the Metro station named after this building, the Metro(politan) station “Hôtel de Ville”.

Near the Place du Châtelet's Saint-Jacques Tower at 4th Arrondissement, Paris

Where is 4th arrondissement?
Continuing the early Thursday morning walk around the city of Paris, more attractions are to be enjoyed... mostly of course are monuments... A very interesting structure along the way when we were planning to reach the "Hotel de Ville" caught my attention. Curious as I am, I naturally took photos but it was a thin structure yet tall and it was very tricky to capture it all. I thought it was the "Place du Châtelet" but I later learned that it was actually the "Tour Saint-Jacques" of the "Saint Jacques Tower". What's Interesting? The structure and the way it invites the passers or the interested to view it.

The first image below, I tried my best to capture the whole edifice but with its height and the road traffic intrusion, this was the best I could do...:-(.
Saint-Jacques Tower or locally called the “Tour Saint-Jacques” is a monument located in the 4th arrondissement of Paris, in France. This slender structure measures 52 metres in height (171 ft). Wikipedia described it as a “Flamboyant Gothic tower” the not much remains of the former 16th century Church of Saint-Jacques-de-la-Boucherie or "Saint James of the butchery" in Englis which was leveled abruptly after the French Revolution.
The Pinnacle sculpture of the Structure... Lovely design/art/architecture/sculpture, right?

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Around Paris Early Morning Attractions: No tickets needed!

By 7:15 AM, we have secured our luggage at the Gare du Nord Paris Automatic Locker Service (Consignes Automatiques). We decided to walk around the vicinity just to see how it is, how the locals live and to see the generality of the place. Also, to see the views around that do not require entrance fees as it was too early for anything to be open. Some of the interesting views are shown below or in the next postand some are to be shown in the succeeding posts..
The Church of Saint-Laurent or locally called l’ Église Saint-Laurent is a church in the 10th arrondissement of Paris as previously laid out by the Romans in the course of the mid 1st century BC. The church has a lovely façade.

L'Eglise Saint-Laurent, at 10th arrondissement

The Porte Saint-Denis (or others name and call it Ludovico Magno Arc because of its label) is a monument located in the10th arrondissement of Paris at the site of one of the gates of the Wall of Charles the Fifth, one of the now-destroyed fortifications of the city (Paris). The arc can be found at the crossing of Rue Saint-Denis and extends to Rue du Faubourg Saint-Denis, with the Boulevard de Bonne-Nouvelle and the Boulevard Saint-Denis. Porte Saint-Denis or commonly known as Ludovico Magno Arc replaced a medieval gate in the city walls built by Charles the Fifth in the 14th century. 

(Ludovico Magno Arc) La Port Saint-Denis 
at  the10th arrondissement

The National Centre for Art and Culture Georges Pompidou is born out of the desire of President Georges Pompidou in the heart of Paris to create an original cultural institution devoted entirely to modern and contemporary art where the side is with theater, music, movies, books, activities of speech, etc.
Centre Pompidou brings together in one place one of the largest museums in the world with the first collection of modern and contemporary art in Europe, a large library of public libraries with general documentation on the art of the twentieth century, movie theaters and shows, a music research institute, educational activity areas, bookshops, a restaurant and a cafe.

One thing that attracted me within this museum is the Brancusi Atelier as the name itself, "Brancusi Atelier" appeares at the label of the museum in the entrance area. I later learned about Constantin Brancusi. Brancusi was born in Romania in 1876, where he received traditional training at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Bucharest. He arrived in Paris in 1904 and occupied from 1916 workshops located at 8 and then successively, from 1928, to 11 Ronsin, the deadlock in the fifteenth arrondissement of Pris. It is in these workshops he created until his death in 1957 most of his work.

In 1956, Brancusi bequeathed to the French state all of his studio with all its contents (finished works, sketches, furniture, tools, library, disco ...) subject to the National Museum of Modern Art is committed to reconstitute it as it will appear the day of his death.

Too early to buy a ticket and enter so we moved on...

Some nearby park, still at the 10th arrondisement

An old church along the way...

The expensive Parisian apartments...

Gare Du Nord Paris Automatic Locker Service (Consignes Automatiques)

Look for this sign to arrive at the luggage lockers
 We arrived in Paris early in themorning while the usual check-in timefor the hotel is at least from noontime. In fact, the Hotel we took has a check-in time that starts at 14:00 or 2:00 PM. We had however some luggage with us and at the same time, we did not want to waste 7 hours just by waiting for the chec-in. What we did was to look for a locker service in major train stations in Paris. We went to Gare du Nord just to be sure. Moving around the city was not a problem for us since we have Paris Visite Pass that enables us to move around the city without hassles and without additional fees.

Directly down this elevator, around 2 meters to the right are the lockers. 
As you see, it's near the car rental too, "Location  de Voitures".
At the Gare du Nord, the lockers "Consigne et Service" was not easy to be found. The label was not always present, we still had to look for it. It was at the further right wing of the building (to your left when you enter from the main entrance) if I remember good. Otherwise, just look forthe sign as this service surely exists at the Gare du Nord Paris.

The service cocts Eur 7,00 for a amaximum of 48 hours usage for small lockers and for bigger lockers, I don't remeber good whether it's Eur 9 something or Eur 11 for a 48 hours usage. We used the small locker for our stuff good for 5 days for 2 persons.

1. Be ready with cash because the machine does not return the change.
2. Remove all metallic items from your body before entering to avoid detectors (we were not admitted in until we were cleared)
3. We had to look for a place to change the money as we did not have cash, no possibility of changing cash inside, at least during the time we were there.
4. Lockers with "HORS SERVICE" indications are out of service, don't use it.

If you are interested to have a detailed view of the Gare du Nord Paris station, see this very helpful forum page on Gare du Nord from "Any Port in a Storm": CLICK HERE to see "Any Port in a Storm" discussion on Gare du Nord.

Below are somephoto aids in the locker area itself:

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Paris Visit Pass, the Most Dynamic Means Around Paris for (Especially for) Tourists

How many days are you staying in Paris? One convenient way to move around Paris is with the use of the Paris Visite Pass. Paris Visite is a travel card pass enabling users to access andmake use of all the public transport services. Personally, I find Paris Visite Pass one of the best ways to get around Paris and its region! It depends however on each one's inclination and plan. A ticket's single use cost around Eur 1,70, while a "carnet" of ten tickets is around Eur 12, so if you have to only go back and forth, Paris Visite Pass is not a smart choice. However, if you would like to move anywhere in the area freely, this pass is really good. The Paris Visite pass consists of a travelcard and its ticket. It provides unlimited rides (naturally within its validity period) on the transport system of the Île-de-France region: Metro, RER (express regional trains), bus, tramway, suburban Transilien SNCF trains, funiculaire de Montmartre, Montmartrobus, Noctambus, Optile bus system,within a given fare zone (from 1-3, 1-6). It is good from the first day of use (not from the date of purchase) until the last consecutive day. You may purchase the Paris Visite Pass in advance and save time avoiding last minute lines and this can be bought in Metro stations (ours we had it from the service booth) but I assume the ticket vending machines have this too.

Paris Visite Pass can be purchased in all Paris Metro, RER, Transilien SNCF stations, bus terminal ticket counters, RATP Boutiques, RATP sales desks at Orly and CDG airports and Paris tourist offices. One can also buy the pass in certain travel agencies and tour operators abroad.
Rates in euros for the Paris Visite Pass

1. Convenient for travelers
2. Prices are in package, the more days, the cheaper per day
3. Dynamic, can be used in many ways, trams, metro, RER, etc.
4. Practical and saves time: no need to buy individual ticket everytime

1. If the user plans to travel once or twice in one of the days, it's a lost day (you spent more than necessary)
2. In case of loss, you lost the entire amount you spent!
3. It counts the day, not the number of hours (1 day is 24 hours)
4. Mine expires at 10PM (not midnight) and I was blocked in the Metro for this!  Of course you can always complain to the service desk if they are still open.

Below is the specimen of my Paris Visite Pass from Paris
Basically, the card contains the necessary information about the Paris Visite Pass and its usage in five (5) different languages: English, French, Italian, Spanish and German. Isn't it very smart idea to have all these langauges? In fact, you can also write your name in one of the folds of the card of Paris Visite Pass. One part of the fold contains a mini-pocket where the more valuable part of the Paris Visite Pass can be inserted: the magnetic tape pass itself.
Below is the mini pocket-like fold of the Paris Visite Pass where the user of the PVP can insert the magnetic tape pass. I found it very useful because the card is thicker, bigger (easier to find inside one's purse or bag) and it also contains the information that's useful in case I forget in five different languages. It is very good for safe-keeping purposes also. The place holds the pass securely. 
The reverse side of the pass with the magnetic tape.This is what users use to enable the station doors to open.