|The Symbol of Paris|
|Strolling the left bank|
|Lots to see at Shakespeare & Co|
|Saying goodbye to the City of Lights|
No longer, as John Lennon wrote, do you have to be “Standing on the dock at Southampton, trying to get to Holland or France…” Now you can take a Day Trip to Paris by bullet train from London, or many other European locations, and be back at home that same night. It doesn’t have to be expensive, but like any good traveler, I dig for deals. A day trip to Paris can break the bank, or be no more expensive than a tank full of gas. Hold on! Maybe not THAT expensive.
We grabbed a train from the Kaiserslautern area at seven in the morning, stepped off the train in Paris two and a half hours later, spent the day, hopped another train from Paris at 7 that evening.
Even in Second Class seats, the ride is comfortable and FAST. Second Class gets you there just as fast as First Class and you’re not sitting on benches, or giving up your cup of coffee, and view of the pastoral French countryside. But, you have to look fast. That countryside whizzes by faster than you can yell Lamborghini. That’s 325 kilometers per hour, or a little over 200 miles per hour.
Trees sway and cattle panic, as you sip your coffee and plan your brief, but memorable Parisian vacation. In a couple of words, here’s your plan: Tour Bus. For 29 Euros (approx $38), depending on the time of year, you can see Paris’ major attractions in two hours. Even better, the tour buses are a hop-on, hop-off arrangement, with complimentary earphones that allow you to listen to a running commentary in English, or just about any other language. I didn’t hear Swahili, but I may not have been on the right channel.
We abandoned the bus near Les Deux Magots, made famous by it’s many artistic patrons, such as André Gide, Picasso, Hemingway, Sartre, Simone de Beauvoir, and Stroud. What does it cost to warm the seat these giants warmed? More than the cost of the train ride. For three continental breakfasts, we blew about $65. So, if money means more to you than ego and bragging rights, you can forgo the $12 cups of coffee and grab a cup for $3 (that comes with a croissant!) at quaint places Hollywood never found. Just in case you can’t resist, Les Deux Magots means the two figurines and they’re still there, high up on a wall. So how in heaven’s long list of names do you pronounce Les Deux Magots? Try this. Grab the tip of your tongue, tug it with some strength and say, Lay-do-ma-go. Now jump on one foot and whistle ‘La Marseillaise.’
Other stops included Napoleon’s tomb, the Army Museum, L’Arc de Triomphe, the Eiffel Tower, a few department stores, Notre Dame, several coffee shops, and other places that generously offered to empty my wallet. Too often I accepted their generosity.
Yes, dear hearts, Paris is expensive. Feel like swilling down some $15 beers? The ‘City of Lights’ is just the place. But, Paris does not have to drain all your deposits. After all, with a day trip you’ve saving the price of $200 hotel rooms. Also, Paris abounds in reasonably priced museums, the most famous of which is Le Louve. You know the one. Mona Lisa – “Gosh, I thought it would be bigger.” Winged Victory – “Momma, she ain’t got no HEAD!” Venus de Milo – “ Something’s missing here, but I just can’t get my arms around it.”
Browse this website for package deals on museums and such: http://parispass.com/how-it-works/paris-museum-pass.html?aid=30&gclid=CNLDzKr7-a4CFcVF3wodM1Xl0Q
Another place I could not resist is Shakespeare & Company, at kilometer zero, the very heart of la rive gauche, the Seine’s left bank. S & C was the first to publish James Joyce and many writers have virtually inhabited the place, although….big although, it is not in its original location. http://www.shakespeareandcompany.com/
For those of you that don’t know, Europe is now Euroland. Border checkpoints are a thing of the past. (Although as an American in Euroland, I always carry my passport.) Many of the old customs houses have been sold and are used as private homes. The really nice thing about the European Union is, there’s no need to carry four or five different currencies in your wallet. A Euro is a Euro and right now the Euro is running about one to $1.32. Not bad, considering last year around this time it was up to $1.45.
There are some exceptions to the Euro. Denmark. England. Finland. Norway. Sweden. Switzerland.
When it comes to Paris, there’s just too much to write. Matter of fact, there’s too much to see and do in one day, but there’s also something irresistibly sophisticated and debonair about saying, “Mais oui, mon ami! Madame and I raced to Paris for the day. I simply can’t eat croissants from anywhere else.” Of course, you should be wearing a beret, a scarf, and a suitably relaxed expression of distain when you say this. Also, one hand should be on your wallet.