Two Weeks in France: A Stop in Paris

| September 17, 2011
notre dame cathedral paris france

Beautiful Notre Dame as the sun sets in Paris

We’re back! Donna and I had a wonderful time in France and I can’t wait to share our experiences with you. Today’s photographs are of Paris’ beautiful Notre Dame Cathedral on the Seine River. While taking the photograph above, Donna and I had a wonderful time standing and talking on the bridge as we waited for the sun to set. It is hard not to feel romantic in such situations! With Paris buzzing all around us on a perfect summer night, It was another of those “life is good” moments.

I was hoping that all would come together for this shot. What I wanted was a good sunset with an interesting sky, all happening while the lights turned on to illuminate the cathedral. We had to be patient but Paris delivered. I felt very fortunate to be able to get this shot with only one night in Paris.

Why only one night in Paris? Because we missed the Musée d’Orsay during our trip to Paris in 2008 and we had to see what was within its walls. Although we were really on our way to the Loire Valley to see breathtaking chateaus in the French countryside, Paris seemed like the perfect place to recover from our long flight from Denver. I also wanted to take a few pictures of Paris with my “BIG” camera. I only had a point and shoot with me last time I was in Paris and I really wanted some nice shots of the city to bring home.

ile notre dame

Perfect September day on the Île Notre-Dame

We stayed on the Île Saint-Louis, which is one of two natural islands on the Seine River. It is connected to the Île Notre-Dame, which is an artificial island. As you probably know, it is home one of the world’s most beautiful cathedrals, Notre Dame. The atmosphere on the Île Notre-Dame makes it a great place to kick back. Kids play in the park while tourists and locals alike sit on park benches and soak up the energetic atmosphere of Paris around them. The river seems to create a sanctuary in the middle of chaos that invites all who visit to just take a deep breath and marvel in their breathtaking surroundings.

notre dame cathedral paris france

Paris’ Note Dame just before sunset

Paris is a wonderful place and you should visit if you have a chance. I have never been anywhere like it, which makes it one of those must see spots. Our small taste on this trip was just enough. We had more of the country to conquer. The following morning we were on our way to the Loire Valley to experience the tranquil French countryside peppered with fabulous chateaus. Check back soon for that. You wont be disappointed!

Travel Itinerary Details

For those interested on the nuts and bolts of our trip, I thought I would add a few details to these posts that may help you experience the splendor of international travel.

We had a smooth start to our trip with an on time 9:22am departure from Denver. Over weekend prior to our travel, I was  worried about flying through Washington Dulles due to hurricane Irene. I usually schedule vacation departures for Saturdays. For this trip, however, I was not able to get the frequent flyer flights I wanted and opted to leave on Tuesday instead. I am sure glad I did. Saturday would have been a bust with all the cancelled flights over that weekend. Lost hotel deposits and rescheduling almost every element of the trip would have been no fun!

After going through Minneapolis to get to Dulles, we departed on time and landed in Geneva at 8am. We then took a short train ride from the Geneva Airport to downtown Geneva to meet our TGV train to Paris. After arriving in Paris at 1pm, we hopped in a cab to took a short taxi ride from Gare De Lyon to the Île St. Louis where our hotel was located. In traditional travel style, Donna and I took a two-hour power nap and then got up to experience a bit of Paris.

air force one minneapolis

The President was in Minneapolis when we landed – Nice ride!

For our train travels in France, we bought a France Rail Pass from Rail Europe. It is a “four-day in one-month” pass that allowed us to go from Geneva to Paris, Paris to Tours, Tours to Avignon, and finally, Nice to Geneva. The pass saved us more than $500 in train fares. Although Geneva is in Switzerland, There is a French side to the station, which allowed us to use the French Pass to initiate our ride from downtown Geneva to Paris.

Getting from the Geneva Airport to the downtown train station, however, requires a separate ticket. Fortunately, arriving airline passengers can get a free ticket for local transportation. The free ticket machine is in the baggage claim area of the Geneva Airport. The ticket is good for 80 minutes and can be used for most modes of public transport, including the trains and buses. If asked on the train to see a ticket, you have to show both the free ticket and an airline boarding pass showing same-day arrival. Oh, once we got to the TGV station in downtown Geneva, we had to stop in the Rail Europe ticket office just outside the train station to get our French Passes validated. Then we were good to go!

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Category: France, Photography, Travel

Comments (5)

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  1. An excellent share Lee. The sunset shot is stunning!

  2. AutumnLeaves says:

    So glad you had a fabulous trip, Lee. With images such as this (and your monthly challenge as well) it is obvious why all and sundry consider Paris one of the most romantic cities. I look forward to hearing more!

  3. Holy SMOKES Lee, these shots are amazing! I just love the colors and details here, we really get a feeling of being in Paris vicariously through your lens!

  4. Viviane says:

    What beautiful pictures you have of Notre Dame! I agree, Paris with its banks of the Seine, it’s really a dream place (the Orsay museum with all his paintings of the Impressionists is to visit and revisit …). If I understand you went by train from Tours: it is my area, I have led my son to his school this morning … It is also the region of the Loire Valley. This weekend, we visited Chaumont Sur Loire about thirty kilometers away, really beautiful. I think with all these beautiful pictures, there is more than paint!

  5. Mario says:

    Great photos! I love the first one of the sunset.