14th -15th May 2011
I was in Netherlands couple of weeks ago on Official visit. With a weekend to spare, I decided to visit Paris along with my colleague Prashanjith Ghosh. The next action was to plan the travel to Paris. From the town of Eindhoven where we were staying, there were three options:
1. Take a rented car – As a person who loves driving, this was my first choice. But rental is economically viable if there are four persons. Hence this option was dropped.
2. Go on train – High speed train runs between Amsterdam and Paris. These were day trains which meant that we get very little time in Paris.
3. Overnight bus – Most economical option. We could get two complete days to roam around in Paris. This seemed to be the most ideal for our requirements.
The plan was to start on Friday night from Eindhoven on Eurolines buses which would drop us at Paris early in the morning. And start back from Paris on Sunday night. That would leave us two full days to roam in Paris. A surprising factor is that the seat numbers are not allocated on reservation. This is strange when even reservation in the “red buses” of KSRTC provides a seat number. But the buses are very comfortable. The bus drops at a place called Gallieni in Paris.
Stay in Paris:
Paris is big city and hence there are various stay options depending on the budget. A lot of “Bed and breakfast” and dormitory accommodation are available. We stayed at Ibis hotel. It is not a cheap option but they allow for early check-in which was needed for us.
Travel in Paris:
Paris has a very good metro network. About 24 railway lines go the almost all corners of Paris. A two day pass for 15 Euros allows for unlimited travel on Metro and buses in zones 1-3. Since almost all tourist spots are located within this zone, the metro pass is a tourist friendly option. The Charles De Gaulle airport is outside this zone and needs a pass with higher amount.
Though the train network was extremely good, the stations were not clean (Compared to European standards!!). The trains also looked old compared to the posh ones in HongKong and Singapore.
Vegetarians always have a tough time outside India and Paris is not an exception. It is even harder for a person like me who does not eat even egg!! But few vegetarian options are available in food chains like Subway. Restaurants line McDonald’s have only “salads” in vegetarian menu.
Most of the Indian restaurants are concentrated near Gare du Nord metro station. It is located away from the tourist areas. The high speed trains start from this Metro station.
French is the official language but surprisingly many people could understand English. Being a tourist place, language is not an issue.
Paris is one of the safest cities as long as you don’t enter into some bad areas. We travelled at 12 in the night but did not face any problem.
Is two days enough?
It depends on the interest of people. A person interested in art and history may even find a week very less to explore Paris. Remember that Paris is filled with Museums. But for normal visitors, two days are good enough. Another day can be added to visit Disney land. But this is for Paris only and France itself a big country with lots of tourist places.