Arrival in Paris

My train arrived at 8:45 at a different station than I thought. So, I had to call Coralie to let her know the different station to come pick me up. Unfortunately, Coralie’s cell phone cuts out every 1 minute, and I had to call almost 8 times before I got the point across of where I was. Anyhow, we met up and I went back to her brother’s apartment to clean up and get ready for a day on the town in Paris. We had an awesome lunch, home made by Coralie herself, and we then went out to find me a duffel bag to put my stuff in to make it easier for me to go to Sweden. We found one for $26, that had wheels, so I figured I should take it then than to risk not having one at all. After that I also found some nice old ads in French that will look nice framed for wall hangings. We then went to the train station to pick up another girl from Knoxville, who had spent her year abroad in Angers, France. She was nice, and we then headed back to the apartment to wait for Matt to come in. I went to get Matt from the station, and headed back for Coralie’s to meet up with her brother Emmanuel for dinner at a Greek Restaurant. The food was really good, and the setting was nice. Unfortunately, I felt trapped in smoke =( We then headed back to Emmanuel’s to put our baggage up. After that, we went to Champs Elysees for a night stroll, and of course pictures of the Arc de Triomphe. BUSY DAY!

Train to Paris

I got up this morning and left my crazy-nice roommates for Paris. I had lunch before I went to the station to catch my train. Waiting waiting waiting, I finally hear an announcement that my train is delayed. So, it was 40 minutes late making me miss my TGV connection to Paris. Not only were the trains not air conditioned, but also I was trying to figure out different routes the entire time, so there was no relaxation. My Italian improved with this dilemma. Anyhow, I reach Torino, Italy and have to book a night train due to the delay of my train, and have a good 7 hours before it is time to board. So I buy a phone card, and call as many people as I remembered numbers. I got onto the train finally at 11:55 and went to my compartment, which had to Arab speaking passengers, and then I went to the top bunk and got my bed ready.. That night I slept pretty well, considering I didn’t feel the trip took long, and I remember sleeping.

Beautiful Mont St. Michel

After spending the night in Caen, we were off to see the incredible Mont. St. Michel, a castle built on a little island surrounded by the sea when the tide is up. Between morning and evening, you are able to cross out to the castle, but if you wait to late, you’ll be stuck on the island because of the water. Unfortunately, when we ordered our tickets, there was a confusion on what stop we were actually to get off. Once we missed it, the next stop was a good 30 minutes away. Thinking that this was a modern country, I thought that another train would take us back to the stop we missed. Surprisingly, there were no buses, trains, airplanes, ships, submarines, rickshaws, hovercrafts, mule-carts, or any type of public transport back to that stop. How strange is that? So, frustrated, we had to pay for a personal taxi to drive us almost an hour to the castle. The driver was a really nice man who spoke not one word of English. During our drive there though, on his radio station came the song “Georgia”. With my limited, VERY LIMITED French, I explained that we were from the US (obviously) and that my parents were from Georgia. Anyhow, we made it to the castle, and it was a great stop.

After walking around the castle grounds for a while, we headed back to a bus that would take us to the train station back to Paris. While we were waiting, we saw some punk kids making fun of the Japanese tourists. Yelling Konnichiwa and stuff like that. Well, the Japanese didn’t really understand what was going on, until they started hindering their way and such, so I spoke out in fluent Japanese (yes, I speak Japanese) and said, “Don’t mind those idiots, just pass by them.” Well, everyone was shocked, the punk kids looked, and the Japanese were thrilled that I could speak so well. So, I started a conversation with the Japanese tourists. It was really quite funny.

Arriving in Paris again, we went to our hotel, to pack and get ready for our flight home. We also went back to the Arc de Triomphe one last time for the great view of the Champs-Elysées. Sad to say goodbye to Paris, we left the next morning back for the US. I definitely would like to travel back to Paris. It truly is a magical city, and as one of my friends called it, “it is a city full of doll houses.”

Train to Normandy and D Day Beaches

The next two days we planned for a trip outside Paris, into Normandy and Brittany. We wanted to see the Normandy D-Day Beaches, and Mont St. Michel near St. Malo. So after a train ride, we made it to Caen, which is a town near the D-Day beaches. We traveled on a tour (which is really the best way ever to see these types of things) with a young lady who is a native of Brittany, and whose masters degree was in Normandy History. So, as the story unfolded of the history, I felt totally consumed by her words, and seeing the actual places we were talking about during the stories was the most educational tour I had ever participated in.

Tour Eiffel

france_003Today we slept in and decided to finally see the Tour Eiffel, hoping for blue skies. Fortunately, we did get a good few hours to see great views from atop the tower, and around on the ground. We chose to walk up the tower for the best experience, to truly appreciate the magnificence of such a structure. Not only was it great exercise, but the views were worth every step.

We also went to the Sacre Coeur Church. Here is where in the movie Amelie, she goes to meet her guy. It was still pretty dreary, but you could see far out into the big landmarks of the city from the hill.

Train to Versailles!

The next day we bought a train ticket to Versailles, to see the palace. Unfortunately, it poured down rain the entire day, and the palace gardens were under a major reconstruction. Seeing the King’s apartments, and other places in Versailles was fascinating. After seeing these places, you really feel like you traveled back in time to see them. Truly amazing.

Despite the frigid air, we had a great lunch of ravioli before we headed back to Paris. Once we got back into the city, we went to try to see the Catacombs, but they were closed for renovations :(. So we left there, and headed to the Rodin Museum that has ‘The Thinker’

Mona Lisa!


The next day we planned for the Louvre. Finding the entrance to this museum was even difficult, much less finding the works of art we had a particular interest in >> Venus De Milo, Mona Lisa and others.. Anyhow, this was a great experience to see how many treasures we do still have preserved today. We saw great Van Gogh paintings and went all around the place just trying to even take a bite of the works in. It’s impossible. I mean, c’est ne possible pas. :)

We went to the Pompidou Centre as well, and then to the Pantheon, which was closed. Cruising around the city we went to the famous Hotel de Ville and enjoyed people watching.

Musée d’Orsay


The next day, we made our way over to the Musée d’Orsay. This was my favorite museum, not only for its great works of art and sculpture, but the way it had high ceilings and didn’t overwhelm us like the Louvre. The inside of this museum looked like a train station to me. We spent the rest of the day just walking around. Paris is great to just explore on foot.


I also wanted to get a drawing of myself by one of the artists that are always around the street. So, I found one, sat down and posed for the artist. Traci kept laughing and such, and he had great ‘previous’ works he had done before, so I thought he’d be ok.. plus he offered for me not to pay if I was dissatisfied. After a while, I looked at the drawing and I was so disappointed–I didn’t know what to do. I felt horrible not paying, but I couldn’t believe what a crappy job it was. Anyhow, it was funny and we got a good laugh.

We went by Notre Dame, the Opera Bastille, and that evening, we went to the Arc de Triomphe on our way home. Believe it or not, but it’s practically at our doorstep!

We stopped at Hippo on our way home for dinner and had a nice meal while enjoying the people watching.

Off to Paris!

Today, we departed Atlanta on a long flight to Stuttgart, Germany. Yes, we flew right over Paris on our way, but that was the route for the ticket we bought. At least when we were in Germany, I was able to get Milka*!

After arriving in Paris, we took a bus to the Arc de Triomphe to find our hotel. Luckily, with Traci’s connections, we were able to get a great deal on a hotel on the Champs-Elysées. This 4-star hotel was a great way to see Paris’ luxurious offerings.

Once we settled in our room, exhausted, we took a nap, then a walk down the beautiful promenade of Champs-Elysées. We had a dinner at a restaurant and proceeded to make plans for our week in Paris.