Your First Trip to Paris June 6 -13, 2016

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6 Days 7 Nights

$2999 Single - Land Only
$2499 Double - Land Only

Thursday, April 18, 2013

No Photos at Musee d'Orsay

Another thing I found 'new in Paris' is that no photographs are allowed at the Musee d'Orsay. On previous visits it was possible to photograph without flash as is true in most museums. I had observed on too many occasions that tourists were just flashing away at the pieces and the museum staff absolutely ignored these people.

This actually upset me very much, and I would walk around saying 'No Flash No Flash', and be totally ignored or would get dirty looks. Honestly people, it's one thing for the flash to go off by mistake, but to purposely take pictures of yourselves in front of the artwork with the flash purposely going off just shows your ugliness and that you really have no respect for great art and should just keep your lousy selves at home. That being said, now we're all paying the price, and no one gets to photograph the wonders of the beauties there.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Le Mont St. Michel

I was really looking forward to photographing Le Mont in the evening to capture one of those dramatic shots. Beware of the new car park! Talk about putting a damper on things. Last year we stayed almost to the end of the town where the land ends and the road to Le Mont continues. This year we were forced to park in the carpark which is about half mile away from there and walk to where we could take the free shuttle to Le Mont.

Although the shuttle was free, it was still at least a twenty minute walk to the stop. Everyone had to do this. The car park cost eight-fifty euro and would not take my American credit card. Also, I had my ladies wait for me so they didn't have to walk so far, but then realized there was no way for me to pull up and get them. I had to walk back to where I left them at the visitors center and have them walk back with me.

The cost in evening was two fifty euro, but we barely were able to photograph as it became dark rather quickly and we were still too far away to make much of a difference.

We stayed in Pontorson, the last town before St. Michel where the hotels looked quite deserted. You had to have a code and reservations at a restaurant or hotel to pass the traffic barrier. Supposedly by summer things will have changed a bit. On another note, if you actually took the bus to Le Mont from Pontorson (one way two euros) it takes you up to the base of Le Mont. The shuttle drops you off close, but you still have to walk may about three hundred extra yards.

Carnac and the Megaliths

For years I have been wanting to walk among the standing stones and photograph them. Last year we were fortunate enough to stay at Hotel Tumulus that is right next to the Tumulus St. Michel. Unfortunately we didn't spend much time there. Also, it was tourist season, so you cannot walk among the stones.

This year I planned the trip during off season so I could photograph and walk through the stones. Although I did find an entrance to the Menec alignments, Kermario was open and that was quite delightful. Another added treat on the road from Quiberon to Auray was a triad of dolmen (Kerioned) just off the side of the road. Absolutely delightful.

On a downside we arrived at Hotel Tumulus to find it had been 'fenced off' so that you could not walk to the top of it, but needed to call a number a get a guide. The hotel staff said they had erected the fence earlier this year. I still had a wonderful view of the tumulus just outside my bedroom.

Off season in this area means just that. There were very few people, but a few of the shops near the church St. Cornely were open. The tourist office right there was not, but the museum of pre-history was. There were a few crepe restaurants open as well, and every one of them was delightful as well as the bakery on the town square. We were also there for an outdoor market and there were a lot of lovely vegetables, but no fruit.

I did, once again, rent the car from Europcar going through the SNCF website once I bought our train tickets. The car rental places are right outside the train station doors to your right. I pre-paid when I ordered the car, (a six-speed Ford mini-van) but still had to leave a deposit on my credit card (though it wasn't charged, just held). It's quite easy to drive in Brittany and there are no tollroads. There are a lot of round-abouts, but I approve of them whole-heartedly. First, make sure you know where you are going (generally the direction of the city you're going to) and secondly, they make driving with the manual transmission a lot easier than stopping and starting.

We easily visited Quiberon, Auray, and Locmariaquer just following the signs.

What's new in Paris - 2013

Just back (again) from taking a small group to Paris and beyond. Here are a couple of things that you should watch out for or at least take notice of:

Short-Changing - Whether by accident or on purpose, I was short-changed twice. The first time was at a kiosk selling postcards and other items near the Eiffel Tower. This was a French woman in her thirties to early forties. I lost five euros as she gave me a five when she should have given me a ten. After that, I made sure to calculate my change back before I handed anyone over the amount. The second time was at cheese store at Metro: Maubert-Mutualite, and she had to count it back twice before acknowledging she made a mistake which was ten euros.

Metro Tickets - I have always bought a carnet of ten tickets. It's a little cheaper, but more often than not, I found the tickets have de-magnetized themselves and don't work. This has happened before, and half the time the ticket person insists you try it again before checking it and seeing that it hasn't been used, and then handing you a new one. You do have the option to buy a weeklong pass, but remember to bring a passport sized photo with you as it's five euros to use the photo machine for pics. Also, if you're American, and you want to use your credit card in the machine to buy tickets, it may or may not work as we do not have what is referred to as the 'flea' or the microchip that is in European credit cards. This means you cannot rent the free bikes either and parking lots with the self-pay. Make sure you have exact change. Remember everyone wants exact change, so that's a problem as well.

Musee l'Orangerie - Most of the main exhibit is closed, meaning the top floor with the Modiglianis and Utrillos, but the bottom floor with the giant Monets is open.