Bonjour. It has taken me long enough to start writing about the Paris trip.
The fact that this trip happened at all was a miracle. A junior college friend was aware about Jovie’s makeup profession, and her wedding photographer, Derrick happened to be looking for a makeup artist for overseas pre-wedding shoots in Paris. After some contacts and negotiations, emails and phone calls, the deal was sealed.
It was too good of an opportunity to miss, and I was in the middle of transition to a new job. Euro was dropping, and having some free time to spare in between, I decided to tag along. And just about two weeks before our departure came the news of the Icelandic volcanic ash that disrupted flights in and out of the UK and several other European countries. Thankfully, on the last day of April, we managed to arrived safely in Paris after a long flight via KLM Royal Dutch Airlines with a mad rush during the transit in Amsterdam.
From Paris-Charles de Gaulle Airport, we took the RER, a rapid transit system, and arrived at Gare du Nord station. That the station has a second name of Paris Nord almost made us miss the station.
We checked into Hotel de Bruxelles et du Nord, a 2 star hotel that costs 75 Euros per night. The hotel has a small lift that fit at most 3 people, and the room has a toilet with shower-cubicle which you can hardly turn around. Not exactly spacious, but it’s clean. Breakfast not included though. And the area did not seem to be particularly safe at night, as we came to learn later.
One of the first things we purchased was the Paris metro pass. A 5-day 3-zone ticket costed 28.90 Euro at that time and it provided us with unlimited free rides on the transport that includes the Metro, RER (regional express trains) and bus. And it is valid starting on the day you first use it, not from the date of purchase or delivery, for the specified number of consecutive days. Zones 1 to 3 include Paris and the nearby suburbs (La Défense, Saint-Denis Basilique, Le Bourget).
From Gare du Nord station, we headed Champs-Élysées – Clemenceau station. To the south are the Grand Palais and the Petit Palais two very imposing architectures that are mainly used for exhibitions these days.
After his greatest victory, the Battle of Austerlitz in 1805, Napoleon promised his men, “You shall go home beneath triumphal arches”. Speaking of big fat year end bonus! Standing at 50m high, the Arc de Triomphe is now the customary starting point for celebration and parades.
The entrance ticket to the viewing platform on top costs 7 Euro per pax. And of course, it offers one of the best views in Paris, overlooking the grand Champs-Élysées.
And so we wandered around. Bustling with restaurants, cafes, hotels and designer boutiques, Avenue Montaigne is noticeably one of Paris’s most fashionable streets. We also managed to walk drag ourselves all the way to Boulevard Haussmann where department stores Galeries Lafayette and Au Printemps are sited. But as it was holiday eve (as we found out later), and the shops closed earlier than usual. Jet lag was creeping in, and we hurriedly settled for a less than ideal dinner in a cafe at Rue Saint-Lazare, before heading back to hotel and hitting the sack.