The train from Verona to Paris arrived 80 minutes late. On board we had a “cabin” – a small step up from a “couchette”. This gave us a duvet each, a small bottle of prosecco each, and a basin. The beds were already set up, three levels high. The space was very cramped though, with pretty much no space on the floor with our small bags there. We went to bed since there was no space to do anything but, and listened to music before nodding off. The train belted down the track, and it wasn’t nearly as smooth a ride as the Freccia trains. At times I wondered how the train didn’t come off the tracks. A few times I woke as the train lurched around, but all up I slept okay.
Although we left Verona 80 minutes late the train arrived in Paris only 10 minutes late. Looking like tourists with our bags we went to the Metro to work out how to use it to get to our hotel. I knew the best value for us would be to by a carnet of 10 tickets. While waiting in line a lady with an “ID” approached us and asked if we needed help. Mina and I both suspected this was a scan, but I wasn’t 100% (maybe only 99%). She led us to a different machine which was odd, but I couldn’t quite work out how she was going to scam me. She worked away at the ticket vending machine, first in French, but I insisted she do it in English. She was trying to get me to by a “tourist ticket” which was not what I wanted, and it appeared the machine wouldn’t sell a carnet. Eventually I just wandered off, still not sure how the scam was going to work – I figured either watch for a PIN, or find out where I kept my money to pickpocket me later.
I bought my carnet at the ticket office in the end, and made our way through the dodgy Metro system to St Michael station nearest our hotel. The person at Hotel Esmeralda was very friendly and as it was still early we left our bags there and set off for the day’s activities.
Our first stop was across the bridge to the Sainte-Chapelle. Here we bought our Paris Museum passes (Jess, as an under 18, got in everywhere free anyway), and went inside. I knew it was famous for the stained glass windows, though I didn’t realise how many there actually were.
Following this went paid a quick visit to the Conciergerie to admire the arches.
We then wandered up the road to the Louvre. The day was now getting hot, around 29C, and apparently everyone recommended entering via the “secret” entrance in the mall below the pyramid, rather than through the pyramid itself which was famous for the long lines. We couldn’t find the entrance to the mall however and it turned out the line at the pyramid was short as it was only for ticket holders – our Paris Museum Pass counted. So after a very short line for security we were in.
The problem with the Louvre is that it is too vast. Unless you have some sort of guide most of the exhibits are meaningless. There’s very little in the way of labels explaining each piece. We walked around and particularly admired the statues, stopped by the Winged Victory of Samothrace then made our way over to the inevitable Mona Lisa. Having see it before it was no less underwhelming this time.
We left the Louvre and headed by the Tuileries Garden to Musée de l’Orangerie to see the large Monet paintings of the water lilies.
From there we caught the Metro back to St Michael, and had our first lesson in why not to use the RER lines – a half hour wait before the train finally left.
We checked into Hotel Esmeralda, a charming and somewhat famous hotel that unfortunately in the heat had neither air-conditioning or a fridge.
Hotel Esmeralda is located about as centrally as you can get – immediately across the river from Notre Dame.
After a rest we headed out for dinner to les Trublions and had a very enjoyable dinner.
After eating we made a quick stop back at the hotel before catching the metro to Arc de Triumph and arrived just as it closed. So much for catching the evening view from the top. So we took the metro to Bir-Hakeim for the Eiffel Tower at night – stopping to pose on the bridge in the movie Inception.
There were massive crowds at the Eiffel Tower, it being a warm Saturday night. On the hour the lighting would sparkle.
By now it was well after midnight, and Jess especially was feeling tired. So on the way back to the hotel she had a pick-me-up ice-cream that seemed to help.