I’m chronicling my first “Big Group Band Trip” to Europe in 1997 and trying to draw some comparisons to the Europe travel experience of today. Continuing my journal entry…
“June 6, 1997
We arrived in Paris at 9:15 a.m.. After clearing customs we were met by our EF tour guide, Lisa. She so far seems to be super! We transferred (by private bus, with an Italian driver named Alberto) to our hotel ‘Residence Internationale de Paris,’ 44 rue Louis Lumiere.
Right now we are in our hotel, our luggage is stored, and we are meeting with Lisa and being briefed on Paris and the Metro.
After leaving the hotel we took the Metro to Montmartre (Anvers stop-this has the famous Art Nouveau entrance). Here we ate lunch consisting of hotdog with cheese (15FF) and a Diet coke (10FF) at the foot of the Sacre Cour. The we hiked up many steps to the Basilica and went inside. It was somewhat impressive if for nothing but its size alone. The views from here are great; you can see all of Paris looking South across the river. If you lean out and look way to the right, you can even see the Eiffel Tower.
We then toured the old town of Montmartre where the Bohemian artists gathered (in the mid 20th century). Today the place is still filled with artists gathering to sketch, draw, and sell portraits. Sarah, Sabrina, and Carey got sketches done of themselves (20FF-150FF).
I am feeling OK-not too much jet-lag! But I think this is due to my sleeping on the flight over. Holly hurled and Leslie is not feeling too well either. All I can remember is how I felt in Amsterdam in 1995, so I sympathize with them.
From Montmartre, we went by subway to the old market place with outside vendors of fruit called Rue de Sentier (MO:Sentier). A brief walk through took us to our restaurant for the evening called the “Hippopotomus.” Here we dined on white rice, chicken ka-bobs, salad, and chocolate mousse. Coke Light was purchased for 10FF.
After eating, we ‘Metro-ed’ to the hotel where I immediately fell asleep. The kids and other parents did as well.
December 2007 Reflections-
If I remember correctly, clearing security and customs was a breeze. It was in the “old” Terminal I Charles De Gaulle. I remember thinking that I’d seen these inclined escalators and walkways (housed in a tube) in a James Bond movie. Today that place seems so “old” and run down. Last summer, we went through Terminal I several times and it seemed they were always working on the place with new sheetrock, barriers, and layouts.
Montmartre has not changed much in fifty years. So, when I took my students there in 1997, it was pretty much like being there today. Rounding the corner, as you head to the left of the Sacre Cour, the local artists and sketchers still hound you to get a portrait or sketch. No matter what, there is always a “good deal.” Keep walking and the price will go down, and down , and with just a hint of interest, down even more.
Hotdogs and Diet Coke! What was I thinking! Now-a-days I walk the 200+ steps to the Sacre Cour, give everybody a chance to look around, catch their breath, and see inside. Then we would head uphill and around the corner to Montmartre, fight the artist gaunlet, and visit Place du Tertre.
For a snack of soup, cheese, or salad, there is no place better the one of the cafes surrounding Place du Tertre. Mix that with a coffee or glass of wine and the ambiance is devine. For a more substantial dining experience, walk on down toward the windmill and find a local place. I’ve got plenty of suggestions for dinner.
How about that exchange rate?!
15FF for a hotdog= $1.50USD back then
10FF for a coke light= $1.00USD
sketches and paintings 20FF-150FF=$4-20USD
Rue de Sentier, that’s near the Borse, and that’s just a short distance from the “market area” I referred to known as les Halles. This grand market place is no longer there, in fact it was leveled in 1971 and replaced with a pitiful underground marketlace, now a major RER station.
The Hippopotomus! White rice, kabobs, etc….one of the main reason I decided to venture out on my own. There is soooo much more to Parisian cuisine than this!
And I can’t leave without discussing the hotel Residence Internationale de Paris. This place is OK, but it was way, way, way out on the outskirts of the city center. It took a 30 minute Metro ride with several changes just to get to Notre Dame. The neighborhood was a little sketchy with hookers on the streets between Metro stops. Don’t get me wrong, I even used this place once after founding my tour company, but there is a lot better to be had for the price in Paris.
So end my discourse on tour reflections from June 6, 1997. Hope you’ve gained a little travel insight!