Category Archives: Paris
France is a mystical place. One that I have always wanted to visit. Recently the number of people I know who have traveled to France has increased drastically. I have always considered it to be an exotic and expensive location. One that I could not afford. That was my opinion till I ran into a friend recently.
Like me, Sophia loves to travel. We settled down in a café and decided to chat over a cup of coffee. It was she who told me about her adventures in France. I listened patiently knowing full well that I could not afford to do what she had done. In a way, it was torture. Intense torture!
That was till she explained that France wasn’t as expensive as I thought it to be. Ya! Right! I muttered. Sophia laughed and pulled out her phone. It took her little less than a minute to find the website that she was looking for. I humored her.
“Use this helpful tourism guide from france-voyage.com” said Sophia. I still remember her saying it.
I glanced at the page that she was showing me and I was hooked instantly. The website had so much information packed inside it. Best of all it even offered ideas on which places were good to stay at and which were the best places to visit. That however did not solve my problem. Finances!
Sophia however was not to be deterred. She insisted that the trip was possible. She said that since spring was in the air, she had taken just a bag pack with her. She had traveled from location to location using the local transport.
When I asked her about accommodation, she said that there were a number of local hostels and campsites that could suit my budget. I have to admit that I was skeptical. I was willing to consider it but the fear of it being expensive kept me away.
A few weeks passed before I dared to look at it again. I took a look at my finances and began to wonder if I could make it. I decided to call Sophia again. After a half an hour conversation with her I was finally convinced. In fact, Sophia volunteered to join me on my trip since there were parts of France that she was yet to see.
Between the both of us, costs fell significantly. Sharing when traveling sure makes the financial burden easier.
We decided to head to the south of France and enjoy the French Riviera. It was a choice that we did not regret. The fun, the sun and the sand sure took up our entire days. It was a relaxing holiday. One, which allowed me to bury my nose into my novels while working on my tan.
The French cuisine was great too! Fresh fish and lots of cheese filled our stomachs every morning, afternoon and night. Did it work out financially? Yes! It worked out pretty well. Maybe one of the reasons why was because Sophia already knew how to do things in the cheapest way. I don’t think I would have spent that much more if I was traveling alone either.
The significance of this date lies in the fact that in 1776 on this day the country gained independence from Great Britain. The same was recognized later on the 3rd of September 1783. The constitution came up on 21st July 1788 and its current version was composed on 21st August 1959.
Till date the Day is celebrated as a national / federal holiday. Americans are known to organize various private events and public ones too on this day. Amongst the popular things to do are fireworks, participating in parades, arranging barbecues, having fun and frolic in picnics and group entertainments like fairs and carnivals. Enjoying at the baseball games and concerts are other choices. Many families reunite on this holiday and bond together.
Every years US welcomes millions of tourists from all over the globe. There are people for plan their holidays and business trips to the country. Most of the foreign nationals need to obtain a tourist visa in order to enter. Exemptions of this requirement are available to citizens of certain select countries. These selected countries are pre defined and come under the Visa Waiver Program which is legally run by the government. These visitors can travel with just ESTA visa authorization.
This day bring out aloud the patriotic fervor amongst its citizens. Since it falls in summer seasons number of ceremonies takes place outdoors. Federal courts and postal services also stay closed. All in all the theme of the day is to rejoice over the rich past, cultural heritage, history and society. The colors of the national flag i.e. white, red and blue seem to take over completely. Most of the decoration materials like the balloons and streamers are put up in these colors.
The fireworks are often accompanied by music or songs that instill patriotism amongst the people; these are primarily the national anthem and other songs praising the nation like “Dixie”, “God Bless America”, “Yankee Doodle” etc. Fireworks shows are hosted largely at public levels and sometimes as personal. Some of the popular spots for this events are the National Mall, Lake Michigan, Mission Bay, St. Louis and San Francisco Bay etc.
As a tradition a gun salute is fired for each one of the states. This is also called the salute to the union. This is typically fired at noon and can be from any military base. Michigan hosts the Freedom Festival every year and is a treat for awesome fireworks displays. All in all it can be safely said that the first week on July is a great time to visit America. This is because sometimes 4th July might be in the middle of the week.
If you love Paris as much as I do, Then I hope you will enjoy this Awesome info-graphic put together by HouseTrip.
One of the greatest things about travel, is the people that you meet, Here is a story from a fellow traveler and good friend Yulia of MissTourist.com . If you have the good fortune of traveling to one of the destinations that she has lived in and writes about then you are definitely in for a treat, as she offers valuable insight to be able to see these wonderful places and enjoy it like a local. This article about Paris is just a small sample of the insight that you will find on her site.
Of the thousands of websites dedicated to Paris, any one of them could give you enough to fill in a year of your time in Paris. However, if you only have a week, here is a brief suggestion for the best use of your time.
When my best friends, a married couple with 2 kids, came to visit me in Paris. I showed them around and was glad to rediscover the city again! Here is what we have visited:
First, the Roue de Paris, the giant Ferris wheel in the Place de la Concorde. A brilliant open air ferris wheel with sublime views over Paris. Fabulous to do as a couple, but also with children. Its in the middle of the Jardin des Tuileries, which also includes an magical old musical carousel. One of the nicest outdoor playgrounds is also a short distance away for those of you traveling with small ones.
We felt we were committing a cultural sin, but with two children in tow, we only ducked into the Louvre to see the Mona Lisa and the Venus de Milo. I’m sure we weren’t the only tourists to enter the amazing glass pyramids just to see a handful of the masterpieces on display! So don’t feel bad if you do the same thing. You need at least 4 hours to do the museum justice. Speaking of time – if you don’t want to stay in a long queue try “Portes des Lions” entrance, nobody knows about it and usually there is no queue there!
The Arc de Triomphe is sensational. It is beautiful from the outside, but what is important is that you can climb to the top. It’s worth it, and doesn’t take that long. Watching the bustling traffic around you is mesmerizing, as are the straight spokes of roads radiating from the Arc de Triomphe. There are amazing sculptures on display inside, and the ubiquitous gift shop.
The colors inside the Notre Dame Cathedral are incredible, with the stained glass windows spilling rainbows onto all the visitors. But here was something that I did not have a chance to visit before – there are crypts underneath the Notre Dame which are simply fascinating. Here you can see the underfloor heating installed by the Romans, and excavated parts of the various periods of the Notre Dame’s development over the past few centuries.
If you’ve seen the BazLuhrmann epic movie ‘Moulin Rouge’, then a trip to the famous cabaret is an absolute must (but don’t take the children 😉 ). Yes it is expensive, but it’s a spectacular show you’ll always remember. Buy your tickets online well before you travel to France. The queues were horrendous, so get there early to be seated at the front. There are 2 shows per day – one at 9 p.m, another one at 11 p.m. I definitely recommend to go at 11, as the queues are slightly shorter that time.
A trip to Montmartre should be on every visitors list. A wander through the art markets, coffee in a tiny cafe, and a visit to the Basilica of the Sacred Heart (Sacre Coeur) is the most perfect Sunday activity in Paris. Sitting outside on the white stone steps, looking over Paris from the Basilica’s raised hill location, combined with the haunting music from the choir, made it truly mesmerizing.
My friend is a dancer, which made a trip to see the sculpture of the Little Dancer by Edgar Degas at the Musee d’Orsay, a must do. We went late on Thursday, when admission was cheaper. We found the Musee d’Orsay to be a more exciting museum for children than the Louvre, and the Little Dancer was everything we’d imagined. Haunting and beautiful at the same time. There are so many other incredible pieces of work here, you need more time than just an afternoon. I also recommend taking an audio guide there.
If you have a day free, take the train to Versailles. Its easy and cheap. Don’t pay to actually go inside the palace. Yes it’s magnificent, and jaw droppingly opulent, but it’s just another grand home, and the queues to go inside are excruciatingly long. To walk through the gardens is free, and behind the palace is a divine man made lake. We hired a small row boat for half an hour and rowed around the lake in the sunshine, followed by ice creams from the small kiosk beside the lake. The children loved it, and describe it as a highlight of the trip. The fountains are only on on weekends. So many fountains, and none of them were on when we were there, take that into consideration!
On their last night we stumbled across the loveliest restaurant, Lescure, on the Rue de Mondovi. Tucked away in a street near the Louvre, its delightfully French. With both inside and outside seating, it felt like we’d slipped back in time. I absolutely recommend eating here one night.
At the other end of the restaurant price spectrum, we ate at a restaurant up the Eiffel Tower. We did this to negate waiting in line to climb the tower for two hours, and because it was a once-in-a-lifetime experience for the lovely family. I booked online for them months before they traveled, which made it easy to pick the date and time we wanted. We dressed up and made a real occasion of the evening. The restaurant was superb, the food excellent, and the staff incredible. We had a window seat too. There is nothing more romantic than dining at the top of the Eiffel Tower!
I am so grateful to my friends for their visit as they made me appreciate again this beautiful city, with hidden treats around every corner. The buildings ooze history. The food matches perfectly with the atmosphere. The people are elegant and friendly. There is still so much more to explore and I will definitely do it!