After visiting London last summer, a friend and I have decided to fly to Paris this year.
We've booked our tickets on the Lufthansa website on the day before Christmas, and were able to get a very good deal for our DUS-CDG-DUS return tickets (just 130€ per ticket). The downside was the early hour of departure on both legs. Remember, there are reasons why certain flights are cheap!
Due to some poor planning, I ended up alone on the DUS-CDG leg, as my friend would take the Thalys train to Paris later that day. I had to leave the house at 3am in the morning to arrive at DUS on time by train for my 7am flight. It was a rather busy morning at the airport, as school was just out for the summer.
After a thirty minute delay, we thrusted off to Paris. Service this morning was the usual Germanwings snack bag with a rather tasty sandwich, a bottle of water, a sweet chocolate bar, and an additional drink of my choosing. A larger or second sandwich would have been welcomed, but the snackbag is a definate improvement over the cheese rolls on previous flights. Oh well, it's just an hour in the air.
After arriving at CDG, getting my bag and posting some pictures on Instagram using the free WiFi, I took the “CDGVAL” peoplemover to Terminal 3, and bought a train ticket to Gare du Nord—the most cost-effective and usually fastest way to Paris! I arrived at the hotel around 11am, and thankfully my room was ready for me to take a quick (3h) nap.
Paris est une fête
“Paris est une fête” was this year's tagline for the Bastille Day celebrations, the French national holiday. We conveniently scheduled our trip to watch the famous fireworks at the Eiffel Tower and Champ de Mars park, and some sightseeing on the days before and after.
I had a few hours to spare until the Misses arrived by train, so I visited some great photo spots I've researched before. You should check out the Rue de Buenos Ayres for a great view of the Eiffel Tower, and the Metro station Wagram for a typical Parisian street scene. The square between the two wings of Palais de Chaillot at the Place du Trocadero is Paris' most beautiful spot, with the best view of the Eiffel Tower and lush gardens nearby.
Since our hotel was located in the famous Montmartre area, we started our sightseeing tour at the Sacré Cur church, and continued to the Arc de Triomphe at the Champs-Élysées, where Paris' most classy shops are located. While the Misses went shopping (of course), I climbed the Arc de Triomphe and was rewarded with awesome views over the entire city, notably the Eiffel Tower (again) and the ultramodern skyscrapers of La Défense. We continued to the Louvre museum—Pei's pyramids are really awesome pieces of architecture and go well with the 16th century buildings that surround it, so definately take some time to take photos and enjoy the place! Grab a snack at the nearby Café Marly. We ended our first day in Paris with a trip to La Défense, an area surprisingly busy in the evening (take the RER A train from Charles de Gaulle – Étoile, and buy separate tickets for fare zone 3).
The next day was July 14th, the French national holiday. We started the day at the Notre Dame church, and then took a boat tour on the river Seine. We were disappointed that the entire area between the Palais de Chaillot and Champ de Mars, including all roads in between, were shut off by Police in preparation for the evening's celebrations. Avoid the area on Bastille Day! After a late lunch in one of the many restaurants on the Grands Boulevards, we took a walk through Paris, past the opera, Place Vandôme, Place de la Concorde and the Champs-Élysées to the back of Champ de Mars to watch the fireworks. Bring a blanket, and something to eat and drink (no glas bottles, though)!
For our last day, we had tickets for the observation deck of Tour Montparnasse for Paris' best views. The observation deck is on the 56th floor and offers fantastic vistas. You can stay there for as long as you want. You should schedule your visit for dusk to get both daytime and night impressions. To conclude your trip, visit the Montmartre quarter and wander through the narrow alleyways.
All good things come to an end, so it was time to head home. We had to catch the first CDG-DUS flight at 9am, and left the hotel at 5:30am. Damn, I hate those early flights! After a quick taxi ride to Gare du Nord, we bought tickets for the RER B train to CDG. It turns out there are express trains running that don't stop anywhere between—we could have stayed in our beds a whole hour longer! But it's better to be safe than sorry. After arriving at Terminal 1, the dreaded concrete camembert, we had to wait another hour before checkin opened.
Lufthansa aka Eurowings aka Germanwings definately need to get things in order: the Lufthansa checkin was already open, but could not process our Eurowings tickets, operated by Germanwings, and booked on the Lufthansa website. What a mess!
After receiving our boarding passes, we proceeded to Satellite 6 and waited for our flights. This time, I was able to shoot a perfect video of the underground walkways to the satellite buildings! After a short delay, our ride back home arrived in Paris. The return flight itself was uneventful, with very light loads (maybe 40%).