Saturday, 19 April 2008

Metro with a difference

When we spent the day in Paris we had a 40 minute journey from Disneyland Paris via the RER train to get us to central Paris and the first of our stops. At the station at Marne-La- Vallee, Chessy, there are a number of different types of trains. As well as Eurostar they get the TGV trains, RER and one that caught my eye a double decker train that runs on the Metro lines. There are actually 2 stations at Marne-La-Vallee all within the same building but different stairways and platforms. Only noticed that this time as we intended to use the service. Lol.

We bought an all day ticket for each of us and set off. Trains to Paris run every 10 mins so the service is fab. We sat on our first train (a regular single decker train) with just a few people on but it wasn't long before it started to fill up. The next thing that happened was such a surprise to the girls that is was fun to watch them. A man got on with a trolley with his sound system on and an accordian round his neck. He played a few songs which most people ignored but not my 2. They loved it and couldn't stop looking at him. I think they were very disappointed when he got off a few stops on. The beggar boy that appeared next alarmed them. They have never seen anything as open as that before.
Our first stop was at Chatelet les Halles and when we got off the train the maze of tunnels we found was amazing. How the heck were we going to find the train home if we had to come back to this station was my only thought. ! Andy has travelled on the Metro before when he's had to spend time working in Paris, but only from Gard du Nord and only a few stops on, even he was amazed by this station. We had to stop and look at the map to work out where we wanted to be then slowly made our way there. It seemed ages before we were at street level.

We had a short walk to the Seine and then round the outside of Notre Dame Cathedral. Last time I saw Notre Dame was in 1993 and it was dirty and under scaffolding undergoing cleaning. Now it is very much cleaner and looking what can only be described as beautiful. One of the front doors was open and a queue of people streamed from it. As the queue died down another group joined it. So we never got to go inside this time but I would love to go back and see inside it as the outside is only half the story.

After spending time there we walked along to the Metro station at St Michel - Notre Dame and caught a train to get us to the Eiffel Tower. I got really excited at this as we caught one of the double decker trains. Really it is a 3 level train. You get on the train and have a choice of going left and being on that level or right and going either downstairs or upstairs. We went down thinking that we'd go up next time. Alas it wasn't to be it was out only experience of this type of train. DH thought I was nuts when I took a photo of one as it was in the station but I had to scrap such a rare moment. How many double decker trains do we have at home?????? Exactly.

Seeing the Eiffel Tower up close was better than I thought. I hate high things, but more so if I am up on it looking down. I absolutely love all the skyscrapers in New York though and have been up high on a couple of them. I don't think I could have gone even to the first floor of the Eiffel Tower though. Too open and too much ground to see. (I hate walking along the pier over the sea in Brighton, have to walk along each plank and walk in a very wobbly fashion lol.)

This was so huge and so graceful in a way I loved looking at it, walked right through it and took so many pictures of it from all angles. I'd only seen it from the Troccadero viewpoint before and although you see it you don't fully appreciate it I don't think. Andy tried a trick shot of one of the girls holding the tower in her hand. Hope that turns out good so I can use it. The queues were enormous here at 3 on the 4 entrances to it. 2 lifts and 2 stairs, so again we wouldn't have had the time to go up the tower. (phew!)

We walked to the Arc De Triomphe as it wasn't that far. When we arrived we walked round to the Champs Elysee and stood watching the traffic round the Arch. We saw no accidents but plenty of near misses. The funniest thing that made DH laugh was when the Airport bus came from a side road and just drove straight out. He never stopped for anyone and it worked perfectly. The girls laughed at the wedding car and a following friends car that went round and round beeping it's horn and then went off down another road only to return again a few moments later. They were celebrating and having fun. We tried to find the way into the middle to see the Arc close up but found our way to McDonalds instead.

Take a tip from me Never go to McD's on the Champs Elysee at lunch time. 1. it is huge, 2. full of people and 3, absolutely nowhere to sit down!! It took us a while to get a seat and only then because I was about to split us up on 2 tables that a group of eaten eaters got up to go.

We decided not to bother trying to get to the Arc De Triomphe after lunch (DH had tried before but thought you had to pay anyway. ????) So instead we went back to the Metro and headed for Montemartre (Anvers) and to see Sacre Coeur the Basilica. We braved the steps and all the people sitting everywhere to the top. The view over Paris is amazing yet there are no distinguishing landmarks really save one. (The building with the gold roof - Hotel des Invalides). As it started to spit with rain we decided to go in to the Basilica. Again the outside was really beautiful and inside was no disappointment wither. It was absolutely quiet save for the perpetual prayers taking place at the far end on the Basilica.

All around the building are statues to the saints and everyone had vast numbers of candles people had lit, ranging from small nightlights to larger candles. We followed all round the outer edge and even DH was impressed by the building. The art work inside was fab and unlike British churches it was so warm in there. My Mum is a regular church goer so when we saw a little glass floral cross in the shop for 5 euros we had to get it for her. She'll love it I know. (Beats the fridge magnet she was getting lol.)

So with our last sight seen we decided to head back to Marne-La-Vallee. DH wanted to take us back into the mayhem of the Champs Elysee to pick up our train but I found an easier way for us to go. We got back to the Metro at Anvers and caught the train to the end of that line at Nation and from there we picked up the train to Disneyland. Rachie has always managed to sleep anywhere anytime, and she was no different in Paris. Still she is only 8 and did a fair bit of walking.

Mind you when we got back to Disneyland did we head back to the hotel? No we flipping didn't, we went into the park for a couple of hours. Lol.


Anonymous said...

wow!!!! Those pictures are great,course you had to take a photo of the train, never seen one of those before either......Sounds amazing.
Shell xx

Sarah C said...

Woweeeeeee, what a day you had. You've got some fantastic photos. I just love the one of the train. Thanks for walking us through your day and huge congrats on getting all the names down :D Sounds like an 'almost' perfect day was had by all. Looking forward to see the photo of your DD holding the Eiffel Tower if it turns out :D

BTW ~ re your comment on the paper I used for the swingball LO ~ you can use my motto if you like "love it, buy it, use it, buy it again". It's the perfect reason to scrap/make cards and to go shopping again afterwards. Win/win ~ yeah!!! xxxx

Karen said...

Fantastic pictures Mellie. Looks like you had a great time!

You've been tagged, so pop by my blog for details :o)

Lea said...

Lovely account and photos of your trip Mellie. I really enjoyed reading it. Montemartre is beautiful, I remember going there.

Juliet said...

Brought back loads of memories Mellie, and yes I have been to McDonalds on the Champs Elysee! Haven't been for a few years but itching to go again now! Glad you had a great time xx

Sian said...

Wow, gorgeous photos, and you wore me out!!!! Sounds like you all had a lovely time.