Tuesday, 24 July 2018

Paris in July - memories of Paris

The Meme Paris in July brought to mind my visits to Paris.
I first visited Paris with my husband in the July of 1984 shortly after we had moved to Braunschweig in northern Germany, where my husband worked on a railway project.

About three months after our move we booked a 6 day bus tour to Paris, and were surprised  to see that we were the only youngsters and also the only non-German speaking passengers on the bus.  Anyway that was actually to our advantage as everyone was quite curious about us and very helpful during our trip.
We stayed at the 3 star Hotel Ordener at 131 Ordener st, on the 17th arrondissement, now known as Hôtel Les Jardins de Montmartre.  The decor looks so much better now...
Our days were mostly free to roam around at our pleasure and we would get together for dinner with the other passengers, as dinner was included in the ticket.

In front of the Church of Sacre Coeur and Eiffel Tower
What I mostly remember about our first visit was that we were quite impressed with the fabulous and grandiose monuments, with the space around the monuments that left plenty of space to photograph them in full and with the very large avenues.
The other highlights were a visit to a show at the Moulin Rouge, a bit naughty to our young and naive minds and a visit to the beautiful gardens and Palace of Versailles.

My husband and I at Versailles

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In November 2011, en route to Lisbon I returned to Paris, landing at Charles de Gaulle airport on a very cold  -5C  (23F) day, to meet up with my daughter Karina who was living and working in Paris at the time.
After finishing her Chemical engineering degree in Lisbon, Karina had gone to Nangis, about 80km south west of Paris to work for 6 months on a graduate program with Shell.
After those 6 months she went to Paris to do a specialty course and lived in a tiny 30sqm (322sqf) 6th floor apartment on Rue La Fayette, 10th arrondissement, not far from Gare du Nord. 

Because Karina went to college during the day I did most of the sightseeing on my own, catching the underground at either of the two stations near the apartment - Louis Blanc or Jaures - to the areas I wanted to visit.
I revisited a few of the monuments I already knew, and others that I didn't, such as the Musée Rodin  and the Musée D'Orsay.

The Musée D'Orsay, on the Seine's left bank is housed in the former Gare D'Orsay railway station that was built between 1898 and 1900.
It's an imposing building, no photos were allowed inside the museum, but I saw a lot of people taking photos of the big clock/window on one of the side towers of the building and also sneaked a photo.

The D'Orsay Museum with an elephant statue facing it
The famous window/clock also photographed from inside and other statue a

The Musée Rodin was housed in the former Hotel Biron, that was at some stage put up for sale, but several artists including Auguste Rodin took up residence there until the build was sold to the French Government in 1911.. 
Rodin negotiated to live in the building for the rest of his life and in exchange donated all his works - statues, drawings and antiquities to the State. He died in 1917 and as per his wishes the hotel was opened to the public as a Museum in 1919.
The manicured gardens with lots of rose bushes are also very special and a few of his well known works of art such as "The Thinker" are displayed in the gardens.

Les Invalides to the left and the Eiffel tower in the far end, with the Thinker in the middle of the cone bushes
The Thinker and I, The Kiss (white statue) and Rodin Museum and gardens

And here are the other monuments I visited during my 5 day stay in Paris:

The Louvre, where I was in awe of the talented artists that painted all those masterpieces, and the sizes of some of the paintings.

The Louvre and the glass Pyramid
Ceilings, paintings and sculptures at the Louvre
I visited the Cathedral of Notre Dame de Paris, climbed over 300 steps to reach the Basilica du Sacre Coeur, stood under the Arc de Triomphe at the Place Charles de Gaulle from where 12 avenues radiate from, with mind boggling traffic flowing by...

Notre Dame Cathedral (top photos), Sacre Coeur Basilica and Arc de Triomphe
Crossing from the Louvre Museum to the other margin I walked across the pedestrian Pont des Arts and still saw the thousands of love locks that tourists would attach to its railings. Due to their weight that was unfortunately ruining the bridge structure, they were removed in 2015.

The Louvre and the Pont des Arts, love locks at the bridge, the Hôtel de Ville (Paris Municipality ofices), Arc du Triomph du Carrousel

On my first visit we didn't climb the Eiffel Tower, but this time I couldn't pass the opportunity, and my daughter and I went up and even though it was hazy, I enjoyed the experience.

A cold winter's day with the tower in the background

Located just a 30 min walk to my daughter's apartment, the Galeries Lafayette, an upmarket department store,  deserved an evening visit when we went in to buy macaroons.  I had never seen so many spices like they had at the spice bar, and the macaroon bar was a paradise for anyone with a sweet tooth, with macaroons in every colour.
The store was all set up for Christmas with a giant tree and all the levels decorated and the outside of the building was covered up in lights.

Galeries Lafayette ready for Christmas, the spice bar and the macaroon bar

And I still had time for a quick photo in front of the Moulin Rouge, no naughty visit this time .😇

The famous Moulin Rouge and my daughter's cat Cusca (a 3 legged cat who died in 2015) who used to sit inside the suitcase whenever she packed

The visit didn't end on a high note though...
On my last day in Paris, I was to meet my daughter at an underground station after her class in the late afternoon, where we would catch a bus to Orly Airport  for a flight to Lisbon.
Armed with my suitcase I caught the underground having to descend stairs with it as old stations don't have modern facilities.
Halfway there the train stops and stays there for a while and I can see everyone is wondering what is happening. A few minutes later something is announced over the speakers. At the best of times I don't even understand what they say over those loudspeakers in English, so you can imagine I didn't understand a single word that was said in French!!

The doors open and everyone starts rushing out and I'm there wondering what is going on.
I get out and stop a young man who I though might speak English and ask what is happening. He tells me someone threw themselves on the line further down and the train can't carry on, so the other alternative is the bus. I tell him I have to get to a specific station and he tells me to follow him across the road and onto the bus.
The bus is now crowded and he's inching forward and I stay at the back as my suitcase doesn't really allow me to move much. I keep on looking at him to see if he signals me where I should get off. Eventually he makes a sign I should get off the next stop.

Phew, I'm out the bus, but I can't see any station on that corner. I go inside a restaurant and ask where the station is, and they indicate that it's across the roundabout.
I reach the station, I'm late already and look all over, indoors and outdoors, but I can't find my daughter. I'm in a panic by now and I imagine she's too as we have no way of communicating.
After walking up and down for 10 minutes I approach a lady at the bus kiosk where I see buses departing to Orly. I must be in the right place I thought!!
I ask her if she could call my daughter on her French mobile, she's a bit reluctant at first, but I'm almost crying by now and I think she realizes it's important.

She rings Karina and when I speak to her she says she's at the station. I'm also at the station with the same name, so I come we haven't seen each other?
All of a sudden she figures she's at the Underground/subway station where I was supposed to come out of , while I'm at the RER (regional trains) station of the same name!!
Puzzle solved, she rushed to where I was which was just across the roundabout and we caught the bus to Orly.
Of course we arrived just a few minutes after check in ended and had to pay a penalty to fly on the next flight 2 hours later.
Karina then contacted my brother in law who was meant to pick us up from the airport in Lisbon to tell him we would be arriving 2 hours later and to tell the family not to wait for us to have dinner either as we would be arriving at 11pm!

Of course I was unimpressed that neither at the restaurant nor at the station where I had asked a couple of people if that was the correct station, no one bother to mention that there were 2 stations with the same name just 300mt from each other!!

Thanks for joining me for Paris in July. Visit Tamara from Thyme for Tea for more Paris and French-themed posts!

Hope you've enjoyed my memories of Paris and haven't had a similar misadventure like I had in Paris.
Enjoy the rest of the week.


  1. How stressful that end of visit must have been! We never had a really bad experience like that, but Les Halles and Chatelet-Les Halles will forever be in my memory, because I wanted to get out on the first one and got out on the last one, once, and we walked more than we wanted, already really tired.
    Seeing Paris is always wonderful, for me!
    (according to our friend MR that has been going to Paris for a number of years, the parisiens are nicer now, in 2011 not so much for what I can read in your post)

    1. Thanks Paula. I hope they are nice now, in the Louvre all the attendants were sour faced and on the streets no one bothered to help tourists looking at their maps, while standing on street corners trying to find where they were. I actually can't remember what station I was meant to be in, will have to ask Karina if she still remembers.

  2. You really saw the famous monuments of Paris!

    best... mae at

    1. Oh yes, all the main things everyone goes for, lol. Thanks Mae.

  3. You gave us a great account of your visit! I visited all the places you have except the Moulin Rouge.I went to Paris with a friend. She insisted she wanted to take a picture of the clock at D'Orsay. I told her: if they come after you, I don't know you. :)) She did. She was not caught. I have that pic as well.

    I can only imagine the stress you felt waiting for your daughter. I found people very friendly. They would approach us when they saw us looking at the map. We saw also an info desk at all the subway stations.

    Thanks for sharing,Sami. I really enjoyed reading your experiences in fabulous Paris.

    1. Probably the only picture they let you take at the D'Orsay must be the clock window, lol. Glad to find you found the people friendly, I had the opposite experience standing looking at my map and no one asked a thing, and I wasn't the only one...

  4. I certainly enjoyed seeing all of your photos and hearing about your expierences. I have a lot of pics that look a lot like yours. I’ve heard some accounts of not helpful and being rude. Thanks for sharing, I always enjoy reading about travel:)

    1. Thanks for your visit French Hutch. Oh yes I think everyone has the same photos of the same monuments in Paris, lol.

  5. My dog knew suitcases meant a trip...without her.

    1. Poor thing, I think Cusca also worried when she saw a suitcase.

  6. Regressei de lá (mais uma vez!) há uma semana.
    Uma cidade com uma sedução única.

    1. Que bom Pedro, espero que tenha tido uma boa visita.

  7. Oh I think you are very brave. when I go and visit my daughter I stay close to her! I must have a look on your archives if you have a post on Barcleona as we will be going there in September.

    1. Hi Gill, I had to get around otherwise I would basically have to wait for late afternoon to do anything with my daughter. What I now always do is get an European Sim card for my mobile so that I'm contactable.
      I visited Barcelona in 2006 just before we moved to Perth, but I don't have anything on my blog as I didn't blog then. Enjoy your trip, careful with the pickpockets...

  8. A nice memoir. Thankfully we haven't had too many travel disaster incidents, maybe a lost inexpensive camera was the worst. I remember passing Galeries Lafayette. It is good to see Paris through your eyes.

    1. Thanks Andrew, we both had Paris memories.

  9. What an impressive post, Sami. I think this is incredible when you and your husband took a bus tour to Paris. I enjoyed those photos, but also the ones of the later trip you took. I suspect many people visit the same places you did while in Paris. Too bad the trip ended on a sad note. It certainly was beautiful until the end.

    I had never seen the inside of the pyramid before. Many people think it's an atrocity.

    1. Thanks Elizabeth, glad you enjoyed the trip with me :)

  10. The only time I visited Paris was 1986, we just missed each other, kinda ;-)
    Wow, you took the underground by yourself? I was so glad to have my French host with me as numbers were too difficult to understand in the noise/over speaker.
    Love that elephant!
    Oh, boy, what a story with the trains! Awful, why didn´t they tell?!

    1. I used to take the underground by myself to go visit everything I wanted. There were 2 stations near my daughter's apartment going in different directions, I had tickets, a map and knew where to get out. The problem was that ride that just stopped as otherwise I would have got out at the right station. I have difficulty hearing things over loudspeakers and not being fluent in French made it worse.

  11. Paris é uma cidade que me encanta e como é bom recordar tempos felizes nessa grande cidade.
    Um abraço e continuação de boa semana.

    Dedais de Francisco e Idalisa
    O prazer dos livros

    1. Uma cidade bonita realmente. Obrigada Francisco.

  12. I absolutely enjoyed your Paris trip Sami, so many memories. We went to the Moulin Rouge show too, it was so much fun. We did laugh, even though the young ladies were half naked quite a few of the men at the show were nodding off to sleep, was hilarious 😀

    1. Lol Grace, couldn't imagine the men sleeping through one of those shows.

    2. An Australian lass has just been accepted into the cast at Moulin Rouge.

    3. Hadn't heard of that, good on her! thanks Andrew

  13. Dearest Sami,
    Loved your first trip to Paris in 1984, that sounded like great fun and relaxed. But certainly not your second trip in 2011, too cold and oh my what an ordeal with that station. People don't realize that a foreigner, not speaking French, could really get lost with such a double name.
    So glad you made it out, be it with a penalty.
    But you sure got to see and visit a lot that second trip.
    We've been several times to Paris but never with days on hand for exploring on our own...
    Thanks for sharing your adventures.

    1. It's wouldn't have been my choice to go to Paris in winter as I'm not fond of the cold, but it couldn't be helped, I had to go to Portugal to take care of the sale of our apartment and decided on a Paris stopover as my daughter was there and then she was coming with me to Lisbon.
      The end wasn't so good, and I was so upset then that people weren't helpful to a foreigner, but now it's just an adventure.

    2. Those are the sacrifices that only immigrants make for seeing their loved ones! It is never like a vacation... And so much pressure always behind it, like the sale of the apartment and other legal things. LOVE Cusca inside the suitcase. Mauzie my dachshund would do the very same as to say, take me with you! 💗

  14. Now that's a memorable way to end a trip to France. Not the best memory but certainly one of the more remarkable ones. I'm glad you did find each other.

    Your photos are terrific and bring back good memories of my own trip as well, so thank you for that!

    1. Thanks Jeanie. All is well that ends well, or so they say :)

  15. I enjoyed reading your post and seeing all of your photographs.
    So pleased you and your daughter eventually found each other.

    All the best Jan

  16. It was nice to read your memories. It’s easy to forget how difficult it was when we couldn’t use mobiles abroad the same way we do today. Nowadays we can use maps to set up meeting locations and if we miss each other it’s easy to communicate.
    Your post reminded me that I should visit Paris again. I was there only once and there’s still a lot to see and do!

    1. Thanks Sara, things are easier now with communications.


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