Saturday, April 04, 2009

Eiffel, I'm in Love

Magnifique..that’s how I can sum up our trip to Paris in one word!

We didn’t know what to expect when we first stepped on the French soil. Being Asians, specifically Muslims, we were skeptical that we’d pass through the immigration smoothly. You know, with all the hoo haa's about terrorism and the likes being linked to our kinda people. Well, we were dead wrong, after our bon jour’s and merci’s, we passed immigration in a flash. Talk about being paranoid!

At the time of arrival at CDG airport, the temperature was 0° Celcius. Sampai2 aje, we were pretty much still in the state of disbelief that we had finally reached Europe especially after the last minute planning and all.

Transportation :

1) Emirates from KL to Paris via Dubai - total return trip inclusive of everything was RM4,400. Booked online a month before the trip.
2) Around Paris, we went around by the metro, one way trip to any chosen destination within Zones 1-3 at Euro 1.60 or a day pass at Euro 8. To travel out of Zone 3, we took RER (express regional train) on the day we went to La Merne Valle area (Zone 5).

Hotel :
On the day of arrival, we stayed at a 2 star hotel – Comfort Hotel, near the airport as we needed to leave for Venice early the next morning. We were worried that the hotel would be a dodgy place after reading reviews on various websites. But considering that it was gonna be a less than 24-hour stay and the hotel provided free airport shuttle, plus the rate per nite was only Euro 50, we decided to just stay there. Well, obviously we worried about nothing. The hotel was not bad after all. Yes, it was crammy, but it was clean. It kinda reminded me of my room in the student hall back in Uni days. The reception lady was nice, she greeted us well and gave us maps and directions to go around. The next morning, we left the hotel around 5am with the airport shuttle.

Upon returning to Paris from Italy, we stayed at the St Augustin Elysees Hotel. We came across the hotel in several boutique hotel websites. Yupp, I’m a sucker for boutique hotels. After much thought, we decided to book a room at the hotel for the location. Located in the centre of Paris - in the 9th arrondissement. The hotel was refurbished 2 years ago to mimic a more contemporary style. Like the hotel in Milan, I absolutely loved the lift deco. It’s white with red floral design. The hotel's also located in between 2 Metros which are 5 min walk away. It has a balcony overlooking a quiet Parisian street. We only went out once to take pics on the last day coz it was very cold! Brrrr…Breakfast was normal but the lady that served us, Renata, was very attentive. Desk personnel were all courteous. Who said Parisians are snobs?

1) Trip to Paris won’t be complete without visiting the hot tourist spots rite? We covered Paris mostly on foot and also via Metro rides. From one end to another end of the Siene River, we walked to Eiffel Tower, The Louvre, Notre Dame, Les Invalides, Arch De Triomphe, Sacre Couer etc. Most memorable day was when Hubby first set foot on Eiffel Tower. . We took the lift to the highest floor (Euro 12 per pax). It was pretty funny when he said “Lerr, besi macam ni aje rupanya”. Eventhough he said that, I could see that he was indeed amazed by one of the world’s famous landmarks, as he busied himself capturing images of every aspect of the tower with his camera, went to all souvenir shops within the tower to buy something memorable and even pulled me to one corner to give me a kiss and said “Lets cherish this romantic moment in this City of Love”. Romantic jugak laki aku ni! Well, what better place to French kiss if it’s not on top of the Eiffel Tower kan? Haha. We also discovered how big the Louvre was. Satu hari pun tak cukup. But was so glad when I could go to the frontline amidst the hundreds of people catching a glimpse of the original Mona Lisa. Apa lagi, snap! snap!

2) Disneyland & Disney Studio Park, Marne La Vallee- - It was Hubby’s first time in Disneyland. Throughout, he tried comparing the park with Movie World in Gold Coast. Euro Disney is a lot smaller compared to Movie World he said. Queues for rides were so long and we only went on a few. But I went crazy buying gifts for my 2 nieces who absolutely adore Disney princesses!
3) La Vallee Village Outlet – The outlet is situated 5 min train ride away from Disneyland. Not many shops compared to the ones in Italy but I ended up buying myself Porsche tees (Euro 19), Porsche cap for bro-in law (Euro 10), Hackett belt for baby bro (Euro 25), Armani tee for another bro (Euro 20) etc
4) Champs Elysees – The ultimate goal going to this avenue was to go to the Louis Vuitton flagship store to buy my mum the bag she wanted. We were personally assigned a sales assistant when we got in and he attended to us like real VIPs. We went to every floor and every corner of the store. I touched most bags and tried on so many accessories but only ended up with one Hampstead for mum (Euro 620). Was toying with the idea whether to get the Inclusion bracelet (Euro 190) but then decided not to in the end. Ended up with nothing for me from the store but the experience and feeling of having shopped there? Priceless!
5) There was another shop on Champs Elysees that I absolutely loved – Sephora. It’s a beauty and perfume shop originated from USA actually. They have all perfume, skincare and beauty products sold. Think of a brand and oui! you’ll find it there. I spent a long time here. Managed to get Sephora in house nature-based perfume for souvenirs @ Euro 2 each. Wonderful stuff – perfume from chocolate, papaya. Their in-house brand stuff are pretty similar to what Body Shop has, but better, I think. Every sales assistants and promoters in the shop dressed smartly in black and hot new songs were blasted from all corners. I could remember Britney’s Circus and Womanizer played everytime I entered any of the Sephora outlet in Paris.
6) Galleries La Fayette - I would personally say that this is the Harrods of Paris. I thought I would never buy anything here. But having still a lot of money in the pocket and we went there on our last day in Paris, plus they were having Christmas sale at that time, I ended up buying 2 Longchamps Le Pliage back packs at Euro 50 each for my sis and me, 1 Furla suede handbag (Euro 150), gourmet coffee powder at Euro 3 for 250g etc. The store was beautifully decorated and before leaving the place, I stopped at the Tiffany & Co store and salivated over the Return to Tiffany heart tag toggle sterling silver bracelet. Ooooh, cantiknya! The price tag was Euro 210 but thinking that I could get it bit cheaper in KL, I decided not to buy it..

Talking about these great places, Paris is not a place without an eyesore though. There were many Morrocans selling souvenirs and begging for money illegally at the tourist spots. And from my observation, every time they heard the police sirens they would pack their stuff and ran away as fast as they could. Paling sedih when I saw this one lady begged a Caucasian guy for money, but instead of money, the guy gave her his unfinished drink. The lady happily gulped the drink away! My, kesiannya!

1) Abundance of good halal food in Paris tapi mostly Middle Eastern stuff lah. Kebabs, falafels, briyani etc. Even in the Louvre foodcourt, there were 2 halal food counters. Along Champs Elysees, pun ada banyak halal restaurants – Turkish, Lebanese, Syrian, Morrocan (they all tasted the same to me!) We searched for Burger King Muslim, a halal burger joint we read about before leaving KL, but to no avail. Rupa2nya it was somewhere in Zone 5 and not in the city actually! Kempunan!
2) Morrocan restaurant at the Grand Mosque in Paris. Slightly pricey but if you wish to dine in a Morrocan ambience, this is the place to go. Our dinner there costed us Euro 34.

3) We survived mostly on pastries and chocolates while we were there. Paris is an absolute heaven for pastries and chocolates. Yummy!

Paris? You get 5/5 from me! Everything negative we heard and read about Parisians were absolute myths to us. We love the place, love the people. I spoke a little French there and was very delighted when people could understand me. There was one time when I was queueing to get coffee, I told a French lady in the queue who was friendly enough to chat with me that I could only speak a little French but she pointed out that what I spoke was not little and my diction was good! Fantastique! Je suis heureux! Wouldn’t mind setting foot in Paris again for the third time ;) Perhaps, via Euro Star or Easy Jet from London next year, kan Hubby? ;)

1 comment:

screamingmommy said...

ooo..seriously..this is a good posting:) thanks beb I get a lot of ideas for my trip here..will print this out and study every words..he..heee..thanks beb:)