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Unread 28 Feb 18, 07:38 AM  
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#1
Gill H
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Join Date: Jan 08
Location: London

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Mmm, Paris! (March 2018)

Bonjour mes amis! You may have read some of our previous trippies on the Dibb, from our visits to WDW and DLP, as well as various other destinations. Just in case you are new to us, we are Gill and Peter H on the Dibb, and we look like this:



We both love theatre, music, food and visiting nice places. Oh, and all things Disney of course! In fact we celebrated our joint 50th birthday last year with a double dose of Disney three days at DLP, then a train from Paris to Barcelona for an overnight stay, and then a 7 night Med cruise on the Disney Magic. It was utterly amazing but it had taken us a good while to save for, and when we got home our budget for future holidays was pretty much non-existent.

The other member of our household is our lovely cat Spikey. Shes a rescue cat and weve had her two years. Were not entirely sure of her age but we think shes around 15, and though shes generally in good shape for an older cat, she had some health problems over the past few months which meant that any hope of building up that holiday budget was put on hold for a while. Youll be glad to know shes in better health now though. Here she is on a walk in the park! (Yes ... yes we do. We don't have a garden and live on the high street, and since she's deaf it isn't safe to let her out alone.)



So, at the beginning of this year we decided to start saving in earnest for another WDW trip in a few years time. We were going to have to be strict with ourselves. No DLP trip this year. No long weekends to various tempting European cities. Wed restrict ourselves to a staycation this year and take advantage of all the fun free stuff London has to offer. We made a savings chart and prepared to buckle down.

And then

Eurostar announced their latest offer - 29 tickets. Ooh, tempting. Of course, we knew those tickets would be at awkward times and dates certainly not a weekend away. But, worth a look perhaps? So we looked. And then we realised that Peters birthday was coming up in March, and he had a few days annual leave to spare. So we played around with dates on the Eurostar website, and worked out that we could travel to Paris on a Monday lunchtime, and back on a Thursday afternoon, for 29 each way per person. Well, it would have been rude not to at that price. So we got our annual leave approved, and grabbed the tickets as soon as we could.

The next step was to decide whether to make it a Paris trip, or a sneaky couple of days at DLP. We weighed up the pros and cons, which wasnt easy. For all those who say DLP is too expensive, well, I can tell you that the cost of a DLP offsite trip, compared with a few days in Paris, came out at about the same price. There are loads of inexpensive hotels around DLP, and the cost of 3 nights in the Ibis with park tickets and eating offsite was pretty reasonable. But wed only recently had a DLP trip, and there wasnt really much to pull us back so soon. Neither of us are massive Star Wars fans, so the Season of the Force wasnt a draw in itself. Added to that, Phantom Manor is down for its long refurb, and thats one of our favourite rides. We both felt that we didnt really want another DLP trip so soon.

However, trying to find accommodation in Paris that was reasonably central and didnt bust the budget was a huge challenge. Weve often stayed in Ibis and Campanile hotels in various countries, and they tend to be basic but clean, safe and comfortable. But most of the Paris ones were either a long way out, or had dreadful reviews, or were out of our budget. Many were all three!

Eventually, after several days trawling the internet, we found a good deal on Expedia and tried to book only for the website to go wrong when we tried to pay. After endless buffering and error messages, we phoned Expedia customer service, who were less than helpful. First they put us through to an American line where we got hold messages in Spanish, then when we rang off and called back, they said they could book the hotel for us but at a much higher price than wed seen. Even though it was clearly still available on the website when we did a dummy booking, they insisted it was no longer available at that price. So we rang off and gave up for the night, sending them an annoyed email of complaint.

The next day we got a bland sorry, looking into it apology, and that night we tried again. This time we found a good deal for the Hotel Novanox, a three star hotel in Montparnasse, which came out at just over 200 for three nights. Yet again, the website didnt allow us to book, sending us into buffering hell. We phoned Expedia again and were told yet again that they could book, but not at that price. However, this time it was only a couple of pounds more, so we agreed to book. Expedia did eventually (after a couple of chases) send us a 25 voucher in apology, but we can only use it on a flight/hotel combination, which were unlikely to do any time soon. Ah well.

Anyway, we now have a booking for the Hotel Novanox. Reviews seem pretty good, and although we know it wont be the lap of luxury, it looks a decent place in a good location.
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DLP: day trips 2000, 2003; Cheyenne Sep 2009, Feb 2011; Sequoia Lodge June 2008, May 2012; Elysee May 2012, Jan 2013, Sep 2013; Disneyland Hotel Mar 2015, Santa Fe Nov 2016; Newport Bay Sep 2017
WDW: Port Orleans Riverside Dec 10; SSR Nov 14

Edited at 07:42 AM.
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Unread 28 Feb 18, 07:43 AM  
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Gill H
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So with travel and accommodation sorted, we began to plan what to do. Now weve been to Paris several times before, and have done most of the big tourist spots. But Paris is more than the Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame, the Louvre and so on. There are many, many things to do, even on a budget. And this is where the trippie gets its title, because several of them begin with an M.

Our first M is the Montparnasse Tower, just down the road from our hotel. Finished in 1973, this is one of Paris few skyscrapers, and one of the tallest buildings in France. Its loathed by many locals as a huge 1970s tower block doesnt really go with the elegant buildings around it. On the other hand, the view from the top is often called the most beautiful in Paris not least because you cant see the tower!

So we searched around for the best deal and pre-booked a trip to the top through Hotelopia (since Peter gets 12% discount from work). It doesnt specify a time, but were thinking well probably go at sunset so we can see the Eiffel Tower light show. Weve been up the Eiffel Tower during the daytime so it will be nice to have a night view of Paris.

Our second M is Montmartre, where weve booked a food walking tour for Peters birthday. This one is slightly above our budget but its a birthday present from my parents. Weve booked through Secret Food Tours and got a 15% discount as its our first booking. They know its Peters birthday, so you never know, he might even get a little extra!

Our third M (and this is only a possible activity) is a wander round the Marais area. Weve been there before, having downloaded an audio walking tour of the area before we went. However, we hadnt taken into account that theres a significant Jewish community in the area and we went on a Saturday. So we had to listen to mouthwatering descriptions of famous bakeries, which were all closed! Not making that mistake again.

Near our hotel are the famous Luxembourg Gardens, which I cant make an M out of except to say that if its cold or wet, as per the current forecast, its an Mmm maybe not! But if its nice we will probably have a wander there.

If the weather is against us then we have another M up our sleeve Museums. Our Eurostar tickets get us 2 for 1 entry into several museums and galleries including the Musee dOrsay, which has quite a few other Ms Monet, Manet and more!

Our final M concerns Music (OK, thats a bit of a cheat) as weve booked a tour of the Opera Garnier. Again, Hotelopia with 12% discount was the best deal. Weve got this planned for our last morning.

Of course theres another M that weve only touched on Mmmmm, Meals! Besides the food tour, weve also planned in some nice and reasonably budget-friendly restaurants. This is where it got tough. On previous trips weve relied on our trusty copy of Sandra Gustafsons Great Eats in Paris which never failed to lead us to those little places only the locals know, where you can get a wonderful meal for a good price. But the last edition of this book was 10 years ago now, so weve had to search food blogs and Tripadvisor instead. And weve come up with some interesting suggestions:

On our arrival night we plan to eat at the Montparnasse branch of La Criee. This is primarily a fish and seafood restaurant, part of a chain. Weve eaten at the Val dEurope branch on a previous DLP trip and had an enjoyable meal there. We havent booked, so we may change our mind at the last minute, but it should be a reliable choice for a good meal.

On the Tuesday weve gone for something completely different. Again in the Montparnasse area, near the tower so we can go there after our trip to the top. Its called La Vache au Comptoir (The Cow on the Counter) and its basically a burger restaurant. But these arent your Maccy D burgers. They include options such as the burger Iberico with steak, chorizo, Alpine cheese, onions and jalapenos. Or the vaguely healthier option, the No regrets burger with lean steak and sauce on the side. Reviews are good and prices are reasonable, and it will be a change from fish and seafood!

Wednesday is Peters birthday and lunch will be taken care of by the food walk, which finishes with a group picnic of all the goodies our guide has collected on the way. For the evening weve booked somewhere a little special - La Coupole restaurant. It dates from 1927 and is an Art Deco dream. Pretty much anyone famous in the arts has eaten here Picasso, Hemingway, Sartre, the list goes on. According to their website the restaurant is famous for shellfish and for their lamb curry, served from a trolley by an Indian waiter in dress uniform. Apparently the curry was the last meal of Francois Mitterand, so Im not sure whether thats a recommendation or not! Since we are on a budget we are intending to stick to the set menu which is priced more reasonably but you never know, its a birthday after all and it is our last night.

Thursday will be our last day. After our Opera tour well head to Gare du Nord station, firstly for lunch at Brasserie Terminus Nord (pre-booked lunch deal, thank you Expedia) and then get our train home.

The major unknown quantity for our trip is of course the weather. Just like parts of the UK, Paris is being visited by The Beast From The East at the moment, and snow is forecast in the next few days. Were hoping temperatures will recover a little next week, but we could find some of our plans changing in favour of warmer pursuits. Time will tell.

And thats about it for now. Au revoir, mes amis!

>>Day 1
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DLP: day trips 2000, 2003; Cheyenne Sep 2009, Feb 2011; Sequoia Lodge June 2008, May 2012; Elysee May 2012, Jan 2013, Sep 2013; Disneyland Hotel Mar 2015, Santa Fe Nov 2016; Newport Bay Sep 2017
WDW: Port Orleans Riverside Dec 10; SSR Nov 14

Edited at 10:56 AM.
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Unread 28 Feb 18, 10:03 AM  
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Caljos
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Join Date: Mar 11
Have a great trip! When do you go?. My hubby and I are going Good Friday-Easter Monday. first time in Paris so any tips for us gratefully recieved.
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Our 9 th trip!
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Unread 28 Feb 18, 10:15 AM  
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Gill H
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Join Date: Jan 08
Location: London

theDIBB Guidebook
Guidebook Photos: 86
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We go on Monday.
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Queen of Team Wimp
DLP: day trips 2000, 2003; Cheyenne Sep 2009, Feb 2011; Sequoia Lodge June 2008, May 2012; Elysee May 2012, Jan 2013, Sep 2013; Disneyland Hotel Mar 2015, Santa Fe Nov 2016; Newport Bay Sep 2017
WDW: Port Orleans Riverside Dec 10; SSR Nov 14
Gill H is online now Girl Mouse Click to view Members Gallery Click to view Members Trip Plans
DLP for lions, jungles and food, oh my!
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Unread 28 Feb 18, 10:48 AM  
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geoffa
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Join Date: Jan 09

geoffa's Reviews
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Restaurant Reviews: 3

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La Vache au Comptoir - the best burger you'll ever taste.

Luxembourg gardens Magnifique! they were created by Queen Marie de Medici (widow of Henry IV)

The tour of Garnier's Opera House is jaw dropping except for that hideous Chagall roof painting in the auditorium put there in 1964. I'd rip it out and restore the gilt splendour. You'll be surprised at the length of the boxes. Not like ours at all. They had dining tables in them and would eat a meal and maybe wander to the front to watch a bit of opera - returning to their meal at the table. Quite bizarre.

You can always do your "Phantom" strut down the amazing Grand staircase:



These days it is mostly ballet that is performed there. Grand operas tend to be at that monstrous concrete block over at the Bastille.
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Edited at 11:18 AM.
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Cancelled because of illness.
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