One evening in the Spring, I suggested to my wife, Susan, that we plan our next trip to Switzerland and northern Italy – or to Ireland. She replied, “I haven’t been to Paris.” So with that, our Paris planning began.
We wanted to see as many sights as possible in Paris and environs. So, instead of an escorted tour to many places, with a few days in Paris, we chose an all-Paris independent tour by Monograms.
Did you know that Monograms independent tours have people to help you, so that you’re not “strangers in a strange land?” They do – 3 in our case! Florence and Kenia shared Local Host duties. Think of the Local Host as your “concierge.” And, for the half-day tour around town, there’s a Tour Guide.
We arrived on Day 1 at Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport. The Monograms transfer driver took us straight to the hotel, Crowne Plaza Paris-Republique, where we checked in and rested for the week’s activities. I met with Florence at her desk in the hotel lobby. She gave us a Destination Guide folder, containing her office hours, hotel breakfast times, a list of Paris attractions, special suggestions, Optional Excursions list and prices, a Metro route map, and the next day’s schedule. We also bought an excursion for Day 5.
On Day 2, we enjoyed a fresh breakfast in the hotel restaurant, and met our driver Patrick outside the front door. Our tour guide Ian, who is very knowledgeable about Paris and its art and history, guided us through Notre Dame Cathedral, the Louvre museum, and the neighborhood near the Eiffel Tower. In addition, he took us by many famous Paris landmarks.
On Day 3 & Day 4, we had free time. On Day 3, we learned to ride the subway – the famous Paris Metro. At the ticket window underground near the hotel, I asked for un carnet de dix billets (a book of 10 tickets). It worked. We became Metro experts, because this is by far the quickest way to get around. We visited a park along the Seine, the Musée d’Orsay, and the Eiffel Tower, and enjoyed a wonderful dinner at Le Bosquet. On Day 4, our adventures included the Champs-Élysées, the Arc de Triomphe, a long walk along the seine past the Louvre, and Sainte-Chapelle, a magnificent medieval chapel built by King Louis IX (Saint Louis), and dinner at the Cafe Restaurant Le Sarah Bernhardt.
On the morning of Day 5, we met Chris, our guide for the Optional Excursion “Giverny & the Palace of Versailles.” We went on a thrilling tour of Monet’s house and gardens in Giverny, a multi-course lunch at the nearby country restaurant Moulin de Fourges, and a tour through the Versailles palace – with plenty of time for pictures, and a quick visit to the famous Versailles gardens. Chris dropped us off at our hotel at the end of the day.
Then on Day 6, we went up to Montmartre and the cathedral of Sacré-Cœur. We stayed for Vespers (Evening Prayer), led by a priest and a choir of nuns. On Day 7, we went on another long adventure. First, shopping at Galeries Lafayette Haussmann. From the roof, you can view the Palais Garnier – the Opéra. We did not see the Phantom. Next we visited the Arc de Triomphe again, toured the artworks in the Petit Palais, attended Mass in the old St. Francis church in the Marais district, and enjoyed dinner at a fine little restaurant in the Place des Vosges.
Early the next day, after 1 “postnight” at the hotel, our Monograms transfer driver took us to the Paris airport to start home. Of course, we’ll need to spend time in Paris again!