a Affordable Yet Memorable Travels: April 2011

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.

Eurolines Trip Experience from Amsterdam, The Hague, Rotterdam, Breda to Paris: The Trip Itself

As noted here, thispost will beall about the trip itself on board eurolinesbus from Amsterdam, passing The Hague, Rotterdam, Breda bound to Paris (Galienibus station). As indicated, yours truly had to start from the Hague. There were already alot of passengers from Amsterdam. We were around 15 from the Hague but we almost filled each seat of the bus. Below is the timeline for the trip I took and might besimilar to those who're taking the same trip:

10:35 PM or 22:35 - the eurolnes bus bound to Paris (Galieni) arrived in the Hague (from Amsterdam already with passengers)

10:47 PM or 22:47 - the eurolnes bus bound to Paris (Galieni) departed, with 2 minutes delay (excusable)

11:08 PM or 23:08 - the eurolnes bus bound to Paris (Galieni) stopped in Rotterdam Central to pick more passengers up. After a few passengers got up the bus, the driverlooked for 2 unpresented tickets from passengers from the Hague. Thiscause delay of around 10 minutes. Thus, don't forget to give your ticket(s) to the driver.

11:26 PM or 23:26 -the eurolnes bus bound to Paris (Galieni) departed from Rotterdam Central Station

12:13 AM or 00:13 - the eurolnes bus bound to Paris (Galieni) stopped to pick more passengers up (a couple of them) in Breda-

12:16 AM or 00:16 - the eurolnes bus bound to Paris (Galieni) departed from Breda.

12:40 AM or 00:40 - the eurolnes bus bound to Paris (Galieni) stopped at a TOTAL service station somewhere in Belgium for a 20-minute break. Here we could either buy refreshments or go to toilet. The pause stops are very helpful andalso healthy!

01:00 AM or 01:00 - the eurolnes bus bound to Paris (Galieni) departed after the driver checked that everyone's on board the bus again.

01:58 AM - the eurolnes bus bound to Paris (Galieni) stopped for another 20-minute break in another TOTAL service station for either smoking, refreshment or toilet moments for the passengers.

02:25 AM - the eurolnes bus bound to Paris (Galieni) continued the trip, always after the driver checks the completeness of his passengers.

04:35 AM until 04:56- the eurolnes bus bound to Paris (Galieni) had another pause stop, this time in an Agip service station somewhere in France.

05:47 AM - the eurolnes bus bound to Paris (Galieni) actually reached the Galieni international bus station. At this hour, the station was still closed, thus the bus had to wait. There were a couple of other busses/vehicles ahead waiting.

06:00 AM - sharply, the station was opened, the bus we were in got in and there was a thorough police check (normal for busses coming from the Netherlands where drugs are legally used).

06:16 AM  - the checks were done and we took our luggage and went our way. Not that bad with the schedule considering the stops and the unexpected unavailability of the station and the "quite long" police checks.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

The Hague (Central Station) to Paris (Galieni) Eurolines Trip: Waiting for the Bus at the Hague CS

It's the trip starting at night: at 22:45 or 10:45PM from The Hague (Centraal Station) to Paris (Galieni Parc de Bagnolet bus station). Tre trip was estimated to last for about 7 hours including all pick-up stops and pause stops along the way. The ticket for this one-way trip costed only Eur 39 but including insurance and other fees, the total is Eur 47... stillnot bad. This post will lay out what one can expect during the waiting period and the next post will be about the trip itself and it might be helpful, especially for this eurolines trip experience from The Hague to Paris. The bus passing The Hague, I assume, started from Amsterdam and thus, the same information in the succeeding post(s) apply for those passengers.You will see the following numbered points.

1. Since this was a night travel, the check-in desk wasalready closed. The ticket itself (no boarding pass)was enough for the driver. Make sure that you printed the page of eticket (not the receipt page) for presentation. Sample is shown below.

2. Where to wait? The stop for eurolines busses is not in theplace where thelocal busses stop. It is behind the eurolines office, and when you wait you can see the bike shed of the central station (CS). The stop is not labelled so be careful. See some of the pointsof view when one is waiting for the eurolines bus.
The CS bike shed
Really near this trash can

Not the eurolines bus, just wait for eurlolines bus... there might be a bus parked in the waiting area
There is also a waiting area with chairs and tables if you would like to stay 
there, especially if you wish to eat and/or sit/rest

 3. At around 22:05 or at 10:05 PM, a eurolines bus bound for Amsterdam passed by. It was NOT thebus for Paris, just wait for the bus. It will aeeive just around "on time" although passengers are advised to be present 30 minutes before the trip.

4. The bus arrived at 22:35 or 10:35PM and we were around 15 passengers who hopped on. The baggage packing, the arrangement and everything lasted for around 10 minutes. At 22:47 or 10:47 PM we departed. 2 minutes late, not bad at all!

Don't forget to give your ticket to the driver to prevent delays. You will know why in the next post.