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Travel time:September 7 - 11, 18 - 20, 2006.


   The main destination of the trip was Madeira, and Paris emerged as a great addition to the trip. We have not yet been to Paris, and another of our couples was, but already in the distant 1994.

  So, on the morning of September 7, the Boeing-757 of the Israeli airline El-Al delivered us safely to the Paris Charles de Gaulle airport. We got our luggage without any problems and went to the arrivals hall. Here we were expected by a representative of the transport company, from which we bought the airport-hotel transfer.
  By the way, a very good option for those who are in Paris for the first time. The cost of the transfer is approximately equal to the cost of a taxi ride, but you know the amount in advance (we paid it back in Israel and we only had a voucher on hand) and therefore all sorts of cheating by not always conscientious taxi drivers are excluded.
  There were about ten of us and a comfortable minibus took us to the hotel. The trip turned into the first tour of the city. The driver, his name was Claude, was trying to tell something in a mixture of French and English. At the same time, when a difficult situation arose on the road, he gave out a truly French "O-la-la". First we drove through the industrial suburbs of Paris, stopped at Montmartre, then to the Opera district, drove along Place de la Concorde and finally arrived at Montparnasse, on Rue Brancion, where our Home Moderne hotel was located.

  A few words about the hotel.
  I was looking for an inexpensive (50±5 Euro) but comfortable enough hotel in a good area of Paris. First, I paid attention to the hotels of the Etap chain. The hotels of this chain were suitable for the price and comfort (to a lesser extent). But then I had to abandon this idea. We did not plan to take a car in Paris, and all Etap hotels are far from the center.
  Finally, I found what I wanted on the Internet through the forum at By the way, a very useful site for those who are going to Paris or France. The hotel also has its own website, you can make an order online.
  The hotel is small, private, without a star classification. I would rate it as 2*. It is located in an ordinary 7-storey building converted into a hotel. There is practically no lobby, just a small corridor. The reception is a tiny room where the hostess or her daughter sits. There is an elevator. The sign in the elevator cabin says that it is designed for four, probably midgets, because we could hardly fit together. And we are all of normal build without prominent parts of the body (sorry for the intimate details).
  I've read tourist stories about the cramped rooms in Parisian hotels. Then we were lucky, because in this hotel the rooms are relatively spacious. At least a wide double bed, a table, a bedside table with a TV, a wall-mounted closet and you can still move freely in the room. A toilet with a washbasin and a shower cubicle (that's right: a cubicle, not a cubicle). In addition, we had a studio room, so there was also a cupboard with dishes, a microwave (!), an electric stove and a sink. The key is a magnetic card. Everything is whole, clean, neat. In a word, apart from some cramped shower cubicle and an elevator cabin comparable in size, the hotel fully met our requirements. Yes, another small bummer: we booked a hotel via the Internet and we were given breakfast, but the younger hostess who received us said without a shadow of a doubt that this was wrong and breakfast, if we wanted, had to be paid separately.
  The area of the hotel should also be noted: a quiet, calm sleeping area, prosperous from a criminogenic point of view, where the middle class lives, not luxurious, but in abundance. Brancion Street itself is probably a typical street for this area, with one-way, not very heavy traffic, with a narrow sidewalk. Georges Brassens Park is a block from the hotel.
  Approximately at an equal distance from the hotel (about 700-800 m) there are three metro stations: Convention, Plaisance, Porte de Vanves. We enjoyed the first one. Firstly, it is located on a convenient line, from our point of view, and secondly, we just found the road from the hotel to this station more attractive and fun. From our street we turned onto Rue de Vouille, which became Rue de la Convention. There are many shops, restaurants, cafes, confectioneries, a Champion network supermarket. We had no trouble finding a place to eat breakfast. Immediately we chose the cozy restaurant Bistro Romain, where we had a very good dinner several times.
  I describe the hotel and the area so verbosely that you may ask: where is Paris, where is the excitement about the "celebration of life, which is always with you"? And we wanted to see not only the festive, ceremonial Paris, the tourist Mecca of all times and peoples, but to see and feel it from the inside. Therefore, they were looking for a hotel in an atypical place for tourists. In the morning we got up quite early, walked along the street with the Parisians to the metro, on the way we went to cafes, drank coffee, but unlike the Parisians, we ate a huge hot baguette with ham and cheese. We walked down the street again and, together with the Parisians, descended into the metro.

  Speaking of the Paris metro. Again, before the trip, I encountered conflicting opinions about the Paris metro. Some argued that it could not be compared with the Moscow metro, while others, on the contrary, noted convenience and functionality. I definitely agree with the second. I would also add that the subway is surprisingly clean and well maintained. And the thoughtfulness of the lines, combined with short runs between stations, really makes the metro the most convenient transport in Paris. We quickly learned a simple algorithm for finding the most convenient route.
  I can share. First of all, you need to know that each line has a number and color on the diagram. For example, the Convention station is on line 12, which is green. Each line has two terminal stations (as far as I understand, there are no ring lines). So, line 12 ends at Mairie d'Issy on one side, and Porte de la Chapelle on the other. End stations are a guide when choosing the direction of travel. There are also many junction stations where you can switch to other lines. Everywhere at the stations and in the cars there are color schemes of metro lines and signs. All signs always indicate the line number and direction of movement - one of the end stations. The same is written on the head car of the train. At the junction stations, the numbers of lines for the transition are marked.
  So, first find the nearest station to the place where you are, figure out the line number and its end stations from the diagram, then find the destination station of the trip and its line. If the target station is on the same line, all you have to do is figure out the direction and follow the desired sign. For example, at the Convention station to the Solferino station (there is the Musee d'Orsay), you need to follow the sign "12 Porte de la Chapelle".
  In a more complex case, requiring a transition from line to line, proceed as follows. For example, you need to get from Convention station to Charles de Gaulle Etoile station (orange line number 1 La Defanse - Chateau de Vincennes). Lines 12 and 1 intersect at the Concorde junction. First, as in the previous example, follow the sign "12 Porte de la Chapelle"; and drive to the Concorde station. Then, at this station, follow the sign "1 La Defanse" and go to the Charles de Gaulle Etoile station (here is the exit to Arc de Triomphe).
  I hope I haven't bored the majority of readers who themselves have either figured out or will figure out the simple intricacies of the Paris metro. And maybe someone will still find something useful in my dry lines. By the way, another piece of advice about subway tickets. If you are in Paris for several days (3-5), take a carnet, a package of ten tickets. Convenient - no need to contact the cashier each time, and cheaper: 10.50 instead of 14 for ten separate trips.

  I want to express my opinion about one more myth - about the attitude of Parisians towards tourists. Before the trip, I read a lot about the supposedly unfriendly, even boorish attitude of Parisians towards visitors. I don’t know, maybe we were lucky, but on the part of the Parisians we were everywhere accompanied by benevolence and a desire to help. And I have a little question for those who complain about the arrogance of the Parisians: have you tried to say hello? An elementary "bonjour" at the beginning of a conversation or appeal and an equally elementary "merci" at the end almost always guarantees a friendly and sympathetic attitude towards you of any Parisian. In any case, we had the most favorable impression from communicating with the Parisians. Let me give you two typical situations.
  We were to return from Madeira to Paris and stay one night at the same hotel. The flight from Madeira arrived late in the evening and we got to the hotel when there was no one at the reception. Those. before leaving for Madeira, we need to arrange for the cards to be left for us somewhere or through someone (everything has already been paid). The complexity of the situation is that the senior mistress, with whom we had to negotiate, speaks only French, and our knowledge in this language only allows us to read the names of metro stations. 
  In short, we are faced with a complete misunderstanding of the contracting parties. Both sides have already begun to get nervous: the hostess cannot understand what four seemingly respectable people want from her, but who do not understand simple and native French, and we simply resolve the situation out of impotence. We take a time-out and postpone the negotiations for the next day in the hope that there will already be a junior hostess and we will agree with her in English.
  However, the next day, our dear madam smiled at us again. But we were already ready for it. We realized in time that this is our problem and only we can help ourselves. Having called relatives and friends (fortunately, several mobile phones are at hand), we got the phone number of a familiar Parisian who speaks both Russian and French. They quickly explained what and how, gave the phone to our madam.
    You should have seen how she lit up when she heard her native speech! After explaining, she took one of us by the hand and led us to a special box and showed us where envelopes with room numbers and magnetic cards would be left for us. We left for Madeira early in the morning and Madame came to our rooms twice to make sure we were ready to leave. Then she went outside to the taxi to see us off and wish us a happy journey. By the way, everything we agreed on worked well and we got to our rooms without any problems.
  The second situation. In the Galeries Lafayette area, we went to have lunch at a cafe. We sit, eat, talk, of course, in Russian. Nearby, two ordinary Parisians also dine at the table, they also speak, of course, in French. Suddenly, out of the corner of my ear I hear that Russian words slip through their conversation. I thought it seemed. And they stood up and, passing by us, one in pure Russian, the other with an accent, they say, addressing us: "Welcome to Paris!". And someone says that Parisians do not like visitors.
  Our routes. When planning walking routes, we were aware that we would not be able to see everything we wanted. Therefore, we ruled out country walks in advance (Versailles, Fontainebleau, etc.). Let's leave it for next time.
Of course, it makes no sense here to describe in detail all the sights we visited. Everything has long been described in detail more than one million times. I will just briefly list in chronological order the places we visited. Maybe someone will come in handy in preparation for a trip to Paris.
  As a rule, we started and ended our walks at the Convention metro station, which had already become our home, reached the pre-planned station and started walking from here:
- Metro Concorde - Place de la Concorde - Tuileries Garden (Jardin des Tuileries) - Champs Elysees (Avenue des Champs Elysees) - Metro Champs Elysees Clemanceau - Metro Anvers - Funicular - Sacré-Coeur Cathedral (Basilique du Secre Coeur) - Rochechouart Boulevard - Clichy Boulevard - Moulin Rouge cabaret - Blanche metro station;
- Metro Cite - Palais de Justice - Conciergerie Palace - St. Chapelle - Notre Dame de Paris - Seine embankment along the cathedral - Saint-Michel Bridge (St. Michel) - Latin Quarter (Quartier Latin) - Sorbonne University (La Sorbonne) - Pantheon (Pantheon). Here we split up: one couple went to the Musée d'Orsay, the other to the Luxembourg Gardens (Jardin du Luxembourg). In the evening we met at the hotel and went for a walk to the Eiffel Tower (Tour Eiffel);
- Metro Trocadero - Trocadero Square - Chaillot Palace (Palais de Chaillot) - Jena Bridge (Pont d'Iena) - Eiffel Tower (Tour Eiffel) - Champ de Mars - Military Academy (Ecole Militaire) - Invalides (Hotel des Invalides) - Army Museum (Musee de l'Armee) - Alexandre III Bridge (Pont d'Alexandre III) - a boat trip along the Seine - a walk along Montparnasse;
- Metro La Defense - Defense "Parisian Manhattan" - Grande Arche - observation deck on the Grand Arch - Metro Charles de Gaulle Etoile - Arc de Triomphe - Metro Opera - Opera Garnier (Opera Garnier) - Place Vendôme (Place Vandome) - Rivoli Street (Rue de Rivoli).

  And in conclusion, about the general impressions. Of course, Paris is PARIS! We felt the influence of the intangible and indescribable Parisian aura on ourselves, and all the time we were in some unusually high spirits. We got real pleasure from touching the legendary past in the form of palaces, cathedrals, monuments, from contemplating the grandiose architecture of Parisian avenues and streets, from buildings symbolizing the inexhaustible depth of human thought and, especially, from walking along the streets and parks. And we will definitely come to Paris again.

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