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Old 30th May 2013, 22:51   #1
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Default Journey to the land of Beauty & Fashion - Paris

I had an opportunity to travel to Paris this May last week for a conference. Here is my travelogue and photos with my Nikon D7000.

Preparation and Journey:

Had to attend a personal interview at French consulate at Bangalore to obtain a Visa which got approved in 2 days. Money was carried as US dollars, Euros in cash and also Euros loaded to the Thomas Cook borderless prepaid card.
I left Bangalore airport by Air-France flight which leaves at 01:50 and reaches Paris at 08:35 (local time). My travel agent had taken the liberty of booking a pure veg Hindu cuisine in the flight. So I could not enjoy the French food. Flight reached Paris CDG airport at right time. I noticed the chill air and drizzling once I emerged from the airport to stand in queue for taxi. I was happy to notice that plenty Skoda Octavias (I have a Laura) around being used as taxis besides Mercedes, Toyota, Renault and Citroens. I had to show the written address to the driver to reach the hotel as most donít speak fluent English. Airport to Hilton La defense (La defense area is reportedly the biggest business district in Europe) came at 53 Euros. Will not elaborate on Hotel stay which was a standard five star affair.




Local travel and attractions.

I attended the conference daily mornings for next 4 days and went around in afternoons. I had decided to use the Metro and RER trains for my local travel which is very efficient and fast and much cheaper than Taxis. Paris city is divided into zones and most of the attractions are in Zone 1-3. Airports I think are in Zone 5. Metro and RER (fewer stops than metro, express trains) trains run mostly underground. One can obtain tickets as a single ticket/ pack of tens / unlimited (paris visite) for 1/3/5 days. Tickets are easier to obtain from automatic vending machines rather than at windows. But you have to use cash or a micro chip enabled credit cards at these machines. I obtained a 3 +1 day unlimited Zone 1-3 ticket on first day itself. I just had to descend two floors of my hotel for La defense metro station which was very convenient. Tickets are with magnetic strip and you have to insert them into slots at the metro entrance to enter inside. Trains were quite frequent, automatic without drivers, clean and fast. Next coming stations are announced and also shown on a screen so that even if you donít speak French, you donít have any trouble in travelling around. Traffic from airport to hotel had lots of congestion but they donít drive bumper to bumper as we do in Bangalore at least. All the drivers seemed to be driving sensibly.

Here are some places I visited. But first of all a sample of some of the beautiful buildings which are seen all around the city.

Journey to the land of Beauty & Fashion - Paris-building-1.jpg

Journey to the land of Beauty & Fashion - Paris-buildings.jpg

Journey to the land of Beauty & Fashion - Paris-another-parisien-building.jpg

Journey to the land of Beauty & Fashion - Paris-many-more-buildings.jpg
  • The Louvre museum
Probably the biggest art museum in the world. This itself needs more than a day to see everything. 5 hours I spent here is an injustice but I couldnít afford more. I had a museum pass which is quite expensive but avoids the long queues. Its an amazing collection and paintings are mesmerizing. There were so many going crazy about Mona Lisa but I found many other more appealing paintings than this one. I think its more hype about Mona Lisa. But there were probably so many visitors who just wanted to see Mona Lisa before seeing anything else. Equally well presented Islamic art/ Middle East art collections are also there.

This is what the crowd around the famed Monna Lisa / La Joconde was like. Also note the sign alerting to the presence of pic pockets. Also note the special glass enclosure and relatively small size of the painting. I had tough time to get a frontal snap of this pic pushing my way through into the crowd.

Journey to the land of Beauty & Fashion - Paris-crowd-around-monna-lisa.jpg

Then this is the painting itself. No doubt it is beautiful.

Journey to the land of Beauty & Fashion - Paris-monna-lisa-la-joconde.jpg


But isn't this more appealing to a layman?
Journey to the land of Beauty & Fashion - Paris-painting-louvre.jpg

I saw a lady busy painting a duplicate of a famed pic on the wall. Good Effort ! She had cotton plugs in ears to prevent distraction.
Journey to the land of Beauty & Fashion - Paris-good-effort.jpg

This is what a typical hall in Louvre looks like. All along the walls are paintings. Photography is allowed without flash.
Journey to the land of Beauty & Fashion - Paris-typical-hall-louvre.jpg
  • Musee díOrsay.
This is walk able distance from the Louvre. You have to cross the river Seine. This has many impressionist paintings from famous artists like Renoir, Monet etc. Surprisingly photography which is allowed inside Louvre is not allowed here. I have only the pic of the building.
Journey to the land of Beauty & Fashion - Paris-musee-dorsay-across-seine.-.jpg
  • Notre Dame Church.
I was in a hurry as it was already 2 pm and sky was looking angry. I just joined a queue outside this church on the footpath. The queue moved very slowly. Once I entered the church premises, I came to know that this was the queue to climb to the top of the church. The climb took my breath away. Itís a very steep climb in a narrow passage which is wide enough for a single person, windows are infrequent and by the time you reach the first stage, you are already gasping for breath. There is a good view of Paris from the first stage and you can go further up to the top which takes again same amount of physical effort. But the view from the top is amazing.

Here are some of the views of the roof of the church and of the Paris City beneath.
Journey to the land of Beauty & Fashion - Paris-view-notre-dame-top.jpg
Journey to the land of Beauty & Fashion - Paris-angels-demons.jpg
Journey to the land of Beauty & Fashion - Paris-notre-dame-church.jpg
Journey to the land of Beauty & Fashion - Paris-paris-top-notre-dame.jpg


After I descended, I noticed another queue to enter the church.
And a typical painted glass window inside the church
Journey to the land of Beauty & Fashion - Paris-painted-glass-window-notre-dame.jpg
  • Eiffel tower.
Got to Bir-Hakim metro stop and then walked to the tower. A light drizzle started and temperature dropped. I was in double minds whether to go to top or return from the base. But the weather improved for some time and there was a long queue for the elevator which takes you to the top for 14.5Euros. First elevator takes you to 2nd stage where you have to get out and join another queue for the vertical elevator taking you to the top. It was here where a long queue was there and exposed to open skies. The drizzle started again and weather became freezing cold. Without proper dress it is a torture. I did have a jacket and a cashmere scarf but no gloves or cap which was a mistake. By the time I reached top, I could not stand it and after spending 5 min there (here the view is through a closed chamber window glass which was blurred with rain drops), I joined the queue to descend.

This is what it looks like from the bottom
Journey to the land of Beauty & Fashion - Paris-eiffel-tower.jpg

A view from the top of Eiffel tower
Journey to the land of Beauty & Fashion - Paris-view-top-eiffel-tower.jpg
  • Versailles Palace
This is another place away from Paris you have to see. I wanted to travel by RER train but I decided to take an audio guided package tour by bus which costs about 45 Euros. We began the tour at their office at Rue Rivoli at 08:30. Journey by road was quite pleasant with good roads and lots of greenery on either side. Reached Versailles by 09.30 and a long queue was already in place with an angry looking sky above. Palace is quite grand and the audio aid they provide works very well and you actually donít need a guiding person as such. The gardens outside are equally famous and occupies kilometers of gardens and canals, ponds, fountains. A whole day may be sufficient to discover everything but I had only 4 hours here in freezing weather and drizzle. Returned to Paris by 12:30pm.

Some of the photos of exterior, interior and the gardens outside. There are ponds and beautiful statues at the corners. Also note the dark clouds.

Journey to the land of Beauty & Fashion - Paris-inside-room-versailles-palace.jpg
Journey to the land of Beauty & Fashion - Paris-outside-versailles-palace-2.jpg
Journey to the land of Beauty & Fashion - Paris-outside-versailles-palace-3.jpg
Journey to the land of Beauty & Fashion - Paris-versailles-palace-1.jpg
Journey to the land of Beauty & Fashion - Paris-versailles-palace-2.jpg
Journey to the land of Beauty & Fashion - Paris-versailles-palace-3.jpg
Journey to the land of Beauty & Fashion - Paris-versailles-palace-pond.jpg
Journey to the land of Beauty & Fashion - Paris-versailles-palace-statue-1.jpg





Had some time to walk around Arch de triomphe and do some actual shopping at Rue Haussman. Champs Elysees is good for walking around and window shopping where everything is expensive. Some other things I missed Ė Visist to Montparnasse tower where again I believe you can have a birdís eye view of Paris, climbing to top of Arch de triomphe, visit to Lido cabaret etc.
Also the Opera which I could not enter due to lack of time but had to be content with a pic of exteiror.
Journey to the land of Beauty & Fashion - Paris-opera-house.jpg

But I had only 4 days to see things. Hope I will have longer time to explore Paris next time.

Here is a view of Arch de Triomphe from Champs Elysees
Journey to the land of Beauty & Fashion - Paris-arche-de-triomphe.jpg

Finally this is me with some building at background before starting guided tour to Versailles. I had half an hour to walk around. So I thought I would try to photograph myself.
Journey to the land of Beauty & Fashion - Paris-me-near-louvre.jpg


The Thomas cook currency card worked without hassle.
Returned to Bangalore after 4 days by Air France. Travel was hassle free. There are lot of people cursing CDG airport for its complexity, confusing sign boards etc. I had absolutely no trouble going around. May be a thing of past.
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Old 31st May 2013, 09:24   #2
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Default re: Journey to the land of Beauty & Fashion - Paris

I saw you missed out on the Sacre Coeur. Very old and excellent.

Also, while the Louvre is great the WInter Palace aka Hermitage in St Petersburg (Leningrad / Petrograd) knocks is cold. When we were going to the then USSR 1n 1990 a frend remarked that once you see the Winter Palace the Louvre looks like $hit. Having seen it I believe him. 1132 rooms with art from floor to ceiling. Also, if you go there make a trip to Petrodvorets. You will love it.
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Old 31st May 2013, 10:45   #3
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Default re: Journey to the land of Beauty & Fashion - Paris

Nice pictures dezrskb, brought back memories of my trip to Paris last year in June.
Taxi's charge a bomb as CDG airport is an hour drive from main city, hence its best to buy the "Paris Visite Pass" from the airport itself depending on the number of days you would be staying. It allows one to travel to and fro by Roissy Bus which is a airport shuttle till city, plus the unlimited metro and RER trains rides.
I was suggested to take the RER to Trocedero station and as as soon as you come out of the subway it had the most amazing view of the Eiffel Tower. Also, lot of couples are to be seen doing the tango dance at Trocedero. Only pictures could justify what I'm saying.
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Old 31st May 2013, 11:17   #4
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Default re: Journey to the land of Beauty & Fashion - Paris

I was in Paris this February and enjoyed most place you have mentioned and more. CDG Airport is more like Palam of the old and one of the worst kept airports in the world I have seen, especially for such a developed nation like France. Our International terminal beats it hands down any day, though its totally a different matter all together once you are out of it.

My biggest scoop in Paris came in the way of touching the new Octavia rather than anything else, lolz. Had some nice shots of Leonardo's Mona Lisa along with mine, which will remain etched in memory forever especially since they were taken on our 20th Valentine's day together...

Nice photos btw. Need to get a new SLR asap.

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Old 31st May 2013, 11:28   #5
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Thanks for the small nice and crisp travelogue.
Just curious to know whether it was heavily raining there? I can see the river brown in color and even the football field is full of water! It's something that we can compare to Mumbai rains Don't they have a good sewage system ?
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Old 31st May 2013, 11:49   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sha09mel View Post
Nice pictures dezrskb, brought back memories of my trip to Paris last year in June.
Taxi's charge a bomb as CDG airport is an hour drive from main city, hence its best to buy the "Paris Visite Pass" from the airport itself ..
I was suggested to take the RER to Trocedero station and as as soon as you come out of the subway it had the most amazing view of the Eiffel Tower. .
Thanks Sha09mel, Yes, I too considered taking a metro from airport itself. But as I had luggage and as this was my first time in Paris and I dont speak any french, I thought I would take easier though expensive option to Hotel first and then explore Paris on Metro. Surely it will be Metro / RER for all travelling if I visit again.

I too was suggested to get down and Trocedero station for a best view of Eiffel and to cross the river. But as I had no umbrella and it was about to rain, it looked by Google maps as if it is a shorter distance from Bir-Hakim station to walk to Eiffel, hence I took this option.

Quote:
Originally Posted by sajusherief View Post
Thanks for the small nice and crisp travelogue.
Just curious to know whether it was heavily raining there? I can see the river brown in color and even the football field is full of water! It's something that we can compare to Mumbai rains Don't they have a good sewage system ?
Thanks sajusherief.
yes, it was raining intermittently though it was not as torrential pour as it does here in costal Karnataka. River had very brisk water flow (must be raining in the catchment areas) and was indeed brownish / greenish. But I think I had to make the photos bit brighter by post processing as it was cloudy and all the photos were looking desaturated and dull, so the river color also must be looking slightly more brownish / greenish in photos than it was at that time.
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Old 31st May 2013, 14:32   #7
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Default Re: Journey to the land of Beauty & Fashion - Paris

It is a beautiful city, no?
Proper thoroughfares running through something out of the 17-18th century.
Good shot from the top of the tower. We had one day in paris, and it turned out to Bastille's...
So, thanks for that!
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Old 2nd June 2013, 02:58   #8
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Simply superb shots. Looks like a great trip to the City of Love. Cheers.
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Old 2nd June 2013, 09:09   #9
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Simply superb shots. Looks like a great trip to the City of Love. Cheers.
Thanks VLOCT
Ya. Slowly I am trying to pick up few tricks in photography. But you know, it takes some motivation and effort to pack a heavy DSLR and couple of lenses and also to lug them around in a backpack and trying to wipe it dry in drizzle. But in the end if 50% of photos come out as you intended them to, its worth it. Surely all those people who have put up stunning photos in this forum would agree.
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Old 3rd June 2013, 06:50   #10
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Default Re: Journey to the land of Beauty & Fashion - Paris

Excellent travelogue.

Beautiful photographs & great composition. Which Camera have you used?
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Old 3rd June 2013, 08:20   #11
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Excellent travelogue.

Beautiful photographs & great composition. Which Camera have you used?
Nikon D7000. Most of the photos are with the kit lens 18-105.
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