Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Paris, arrival in Paris

It was an uneventful train ride from Avignon on the TGV. The TGV train is too long and wouldn't fit in the old train station at Avignon centre so they built a TGV station outside of town. There's a navette (shuttle bus) that runs between Avignon and the TGV station. There are TGV trains that take you to all corners of France, to Paris, to Marseilles and Nice, to Lille where you can connect with trains from the rest of Europe. It's amazing, I love the TGV, they're so fast and efficient. It makes Europe so much smaller.
We arrived in Gare de Lyon, one of the six train stations in Paris. This trip I decided to stay in a different part of Paris. My first 2 trips I've stayed in the posh 1st arrondisement, my subsequent trips in the Marais. This, my fifth I chose the Rue Cler, Rick Steves' touts this area. I was curious, not wanting to miss anything. It has its advantages, it's quiet but after staying here, I wouldn't do it again, it's too far from the 'action'. I still prefer the lively Marais district.
The Rue Cler area is too out of the way, having to take a long metro ride and with making a change halfway. Whereas in the Marais, I hardly need to get into the metro at all. The other thing, we keep bumping into Rick Steves' people. We saw this Oregon couple there; we sat next to them at a restaurant in Lyon the week before. We said, 'hi', again. They're nice but to bump into people twice in France is odd!
The same thing happened in the Cinque Terre 2 years ago. Rick Steves loves Vernazza and every where in Vernazza, it was all 'his people'. Good thing, we didn't stay in Vernazza but in Manarola. It happened also on another Italian trip. We were in the company of Rick Steves' people throughout the trip - Milan, Venice, Florence and Rome. Then we were 'Rick Steves' people'. I'm glad he doesn't write anything about Southern Italy or Sicily. These places are Rick Steves' people free. I like the guy, I started Europe using his guides. Now I use 'Let's Go' and/or Lonely Planet. They go to more places.
This was Sophie's second trip to Paris. She was just there for 1 day the first time. So I had to play tour guide again.
After working hard to reorient ourselves to Paris again, we finally secured some metro tickets and found our way to Rue Cler and to our hotel.
It's nice is you want to be away from the livelier areas of Paris, a pedestrian friendly street, lots of eateries, grocery stores, cheese store, a regular self-contained neighborhood.
There's even a branch 'Lenotre' bakery that's spoken of highly by blog, Parisbreakfasts. We peered into the window, it's OK, mind you, we've seen enough pastry shops in Lyon, that's the topic for another posting.

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