We had two nights in Paris prior to our Avalon River Cruise and two more nights after the river cruise. The first two nights we stayed in a charming 4 star small hotel in St Germaine.
Our Singapore Airlines flight from Auckland, via Singapore, arrived into Paris at 6.50am. As expected our room wasn’t ready until the 2pm check-in so our luggage was stored and we took the opportunity to orientate ourselves by using our ‘Hop on Hop off’ bus pass. There were two itinerary options and we did both. The first covered a loop of the central tourist spots from the Arch De Triomphe to Notre Dame on both sides of the Seine and the second was called the Montmartre loop which is on the Right Bank and passes Basilique du Sacre-Coeure, Moulin Rouge, Gare du Nord rail station plus many other attractions.
Following the itinerary on the map and relating it back to where we were staying was invaluable for us getting our bearings. We could then confidently head off on foot knowing we could find our way back without resorting to leaving a trail of bread crumbs.
We were within walking distance to the Eiffel Tower via narrow streets with their array of fashion shops, brasseries and monuments that made for a pleasant stop start journey targeting the iconic landmark. A walk in the opposite direction took us down a street with shops focused on selling art and antiques as well as the National Museum which made for another stop start stroll.
This is the Left Bank which historically is the “arty / academic” side of the city with its Latin Quarter compared to the Right Bank which is the old money affluent side. Our closest bridge across the Seine took us to the Palace de la Concorde with the Champs Elysees to the left or to the right a walk through The Tuileries Garden to the Louvre Museum (all surprisingly close). We were often told that the City of Paris is actually quite small, like London. I know where they are coming from and like London, taking the underground train “Metro” is also a convenient way to cover distance quickly.
For our last two days, we stayed in a large 5 star hotel located near the Arc De Triomphe so we got to experience staying near one of the World’s most famous shopping streets, Avenue des Champs-Élysées. This is an unashamedly tourist area and the prices reflect that. There is a buzz about the place. This is where the affluent live, shop and dine as they have for generations. We joined the crowds and meandered down the Champs Elysees to Place de la Concorde, took a left and had lunch at Maxims. Had a quick look at The Ritz where Dianna and Dodi dined prior to their fateful drive then we wandered along Rue St Honore which had every fashion shop you could imagine.
An optional excursion we took with the River Cruise was a guided walking tour of the island where Notre Dame is located. Ile De La Cite and Ile St-Louis. This is the centre of Paris and France where the medieval city was founded. What a fascinating history lesson right from the Romans to the liberation of Paris by the Allies.
Our visit was too brief, but we packed a lot in and I learnt so much to pass on to my clients. We found the Parisians friendly, we felt safe and would definitely go back and stay longer. Knowing what I do now, I would stay a minimum of 7 nights in an apartment near we stayed for the first two nights so we can live the stylish life of a Parisian for a short while.