Nostalgia gets a hold of me at times, making me want to return to the city where I spent most of my life and the neighborhood where I lived for 27 years. My years in the Ile Saint Louis were the best years of my life.
The airport in Nice is about 40 minutes on the train. This is to the nearest train station to the airport plus a good 15 minutes walk. I always walk from the train station to the terminals, rain or shine, heat or cold, day or night. Some might say it's unsafe but I never had any problems.
Air France has its base in Terminal 2, the newest of the two terminals, a glass terminal with its distrinctive flying saucer shape. One short ride on the escalator gets me to the main hall and the express check-in for the mid-day flight to Paris-Orly.
The G-20 Heads of State meet-up in Cannes was well over but they still had some empty desks iwth G-20 signs in the hall. Note how they used the Eiffel Tower (Paris landmark) as a symbol for France with a meeting taking place in Cannes.
Baggage drop-off counters (Air France).
Access to the boarding gates with security check and passport control.
A view on the apron with Terminal 1 in the distance.
Air France Airbus A-320 ready for boarding.
My flight to Paris
I have the advantage of priority boarding so I am one of the first passengers to board. A view of the terminal right before getting inside the airplane.
A quick chat with the pilots before most other passengers start coming in.
A view of the cabin with the chief stewardess, from my seat. Tight spacing between the seats.
The wing with the engine.
I am sitting in the third row with a window seat.
This one was the nicest stewardess on the flight.
We will have an on-time departure. We start the roll-out. Nice is a beautiful airport right on the sea always with awesome views on take-offs and landings - some times to the East, other times to the West depending on the weather.
I always lurk at business jets. This airport hosts some really nice machines. Sometimes the Sheikhs park their 747-400s for days. The G-20 had some of the most amazing aircrafts including Air Force One (with accompanying B-757). What you will see here is less sophisticated but still very nice.
a B-737 operated by Global Jet Austria. Most probably a rental biz jet for a private client. Not bad I must say!
I really liked this baby. I would love having this little machine for my own use! Can you imagine? No more waiting in line, no more boarding procedures, no more cheap food on the flight... life would be so much easier!
Her name is SP
(Brazil)">VP-CNR a Gulfsteam GV
-SP (G550) operated by Rashig Engineering. So sleek and elegant and probably fast too!
Right across my window making their way for take off I see an Air France regional jet. This is a Bombardier CRJ-1000. She is quite new, delivered 2011-09-01. She flies in the colours of Brit'Air. She is named F-HMLJ.
Making our way from take off we are on stand still waiting for another Air France plane to land.
We will take off with some steep bankings and be on our way immediately after.
Starting our climb and leaving the airport behind with some good overhead views
The runways were built from land reclaimed from the sea.
Baie des Anges (the bay of angels) with the city of Nice right below
Leaving the coast, we quicly reach the Alps with its snow-capped summits
The service begins promptly after reaching our cruise altitude. The choice is between soft drinks, still water or instant coffee with cookies or salted crackers.
I go for the cookies with some water.
Flying above the clouds. The wings have the traditional Air France logo "la crevette" (the shrimp).
We had an uneventful flight with no turbulence all along. After about one hour and a quarter we land at Orly-Ouest. I see an Easyjet on our way to the gate which I suppose must be an A-320. You can also see the ATC Tower in the background.
I have not landed at Orly Ouest in ages. I always choose CDG
when going to Paris but there were no flights available to CDG
the day I bought the trip on the Air France website.
Exiting the terminal will take very little time. The weather is beautiful. I go to the bus stop to find the bus to the train station. The train is the fastest way to the center of town. I will be heading to Saint Michel Notre-Dame.
This is a view of the Orly Sud Terminal with the ATC Tower.
Orly Sud was the first true major airport built in Paris. It took years for Orly Ouest to be built. Orly is a true historic airport. You can learn facts about Orly airport history on this link.
I will pass on the train ride. It is somewhat unexciting to ride through suburbia but it is the fastest way to reach my stop at Saint Michel/Notre-Dame and the most central and most historic part of Paris.
Coming off the station and taking a couple of sets of stairs I am on the left bank of the Seine right across the river from the cathedral and back in my old neighborhood again. I am a happy bunny! I feel like I am home again! Each time I go back is just like I never left.
Walking across the bridge to Ile de la Cité and across another bridge to the right bank I meet with one of the jazz bands that is almost always there on the weekends. These are American musicians residing in Paris. They have been around several years.
My very first stop will take me to my old bakery, rue (street) François Miron in Le Marais. I found some changes as they had just completed some renovation work with remodeling and improvements. They had re-opened just 3 days back. This bakery is an absolutely wonderful place like there are few in the city. The quality of the production is some of the very best you will be able to find and sold at non-inflated prices, which is rare.
The owner was awarded the title of Meilleur Ouvrier de France in 1986. In Japan they would call him a "living trasure". It's the highest existing standard for the trade. You can learn more about what it takes to become a Meilleur Ouvrier de France and the high value of this title by looking at this link:
You will get an idea just by looking at the pictures! This is no Starbucks! Everything you see is made from scratch and coming out fresh the oven twice a day.
The rue François Miron. Le Marais is an old quarter in the center of Paris where most buildings date from the 17th Century in the days when they travelled by horse and carriage or on foot. The streets are narrow, there was no question of automobiles not even bycicles.
I took pictures as I went along to the places where I had to go on the Saturday afternoon. I had one shopping stop. Here, some café terraces in Le Marais
The BHV (Bazar de l'Hotel de Ville) the well-known department store across the street --rue de Rivoli-- from the City Hall. I used to work all-year part-time jobs in this department store when I was a student.
Famous French names such as Maxim's, Chanel, Dior. The store was very busy. People have already started their Christmas shopping.
Right nearby is the Tour Saint Jacques. This is what's left of a medieval church, Saint Jacques de la Boucherie. This is still one of the official starting points for the pilgrimage to the famous town of Santiago de Compostela in Spain.
Hotel de Ville - the Paris City Hall
Behind the Hotel de Ville is the famous church of Saint Gervais from where King Louis IX
and his followers had started on their way to the first crusade. This is a very impressive church with magnificent stained glass windows. It was damaged by a bomb during WWI and restored albeit some of the original stained glass windows being replaced.
This church also houses the organ of the Couperin family, same as it was when built with no transformations.
A contemporary nativity scene in the Church bookstore.
The Louis Philippe café and restaurant a few cobble stone steps from the church. It has the same name as the Pont Louis Philippe, the bridge right across the road.
I stayed in this beautiful building. This is 17th Century architecture from the time of Versailles. You can see large courtyards with arches. They had stables at street level for the horses and large courtyards to host the carriages with wooden structures between the buildings. The underground level is where they had the kitchens and dining rooms.
This is where the rue de Rivoli changes name to become the rue Saint Antoine at the Saint Paul Le Marais metro stop. Rue Saint Antoine leads to the Bastille, the next metro stop on the line. There is another massive church some meters down the street named Eglise Saint Paul. This part of the street has a lot of food stores, bakeries and small restaurants and a couple of small hotels.
I took the metro in the early morning to meet a friend in Saint Germain des Prés. This is the metro station, outside first and then inside.
Famous landmarks in Saint Germain des Prés. Café des Deux Magots (also a restaurant) and the famous Brasserie Lipp Boulevard Saint Germain, with the church of Saint Germain des Prés, the oldest church in Paris. This area played an important part in the cultural renaissance after WWII mostly in literature, politics and music. Lipp and Deux Magots were the meeting point of the intelligentsia and they still are - now sharing them with well off tourists.
Place Saint Germain des Prés with the rue de Rennes and the Montparnasse Tower.
Back to the Ile Saint Louis and across the bridge to the Left Bank with a view on Notre-Dame. These are my most favourite views of the cathedral with the Seine.
Further along the Seine toward the West near the Pont des Arts on my way to the Louvre.
The Institut de France hosting the French Academy (Académie Française)
The reversed pyramid in the gallery below the Louvre. I can remember the first day they opened the gallery to the public after the inauguration. I really liked the idea of this reversed pyramid.
You can access the Louvre museum from the underground level below but also a selection of stores and restaurants/cafeterias as well as access to two metro lines, line 1 and 7 with the Palais Royal stop.
The top of the Pyramid from below.
The Louvre as seen through the Pyramid. A mix of 17th-20th C. architecture: the old meets the new!
The Arch of Triumph of Carrousel, built by Napoleon Bonaparte. The interesting point is the fact that the Pyramid is aligned with Notre-Dame, the Carrousel, the Etoile and the Grand Arch of La Défense. They are all in perfect alignment. The idea of the Pyramid and the Grand Arch of La Défense came from former President François Mitterrand a Free Mason and Rosicrucian and also a well versed intellectual and writer.
The Louvre with the Pyramid.
Time was pressing as I had to get a flight back to Nice in the evening. I had to set back and walk toward the islands again.
Looking to the East from the Pont des Arts, this is a view on the Pont Neuf (which in fact is the oldest bridge in Paris) see the link with the list of bridges. The Pont Neuf dates back from the reign of King Louis XIV also known as "the Sun King" of Versailles.
Looking to the West with the Musée d'Orsay and the Eiffel Tower.
Going on my way to the islands, a nice view of Notre Dame cathedral with the Hotel Dieu. The Hotel Dieu used to be a monastery later transformed into a hospital. It is still a hospital with an emphasis on emergencies being in the center of the Paris, plus a number of medical and surgical specialties.
The Ile de la Cité on the right with the Ile Saint Louis further away.
The shadow of Notre-Dame at sunset time.
I always had a fascination for Notre-Dame. The place has incredible history. You probably all know the musical of the same name from the book by Victor Hugo.
I had about two more hours left to see a couple of old friends in the neighborhood and they went very quickly. Then came the time to go back to the train station and on to Orly to catch my flight. Take-off to Nice was scheduled a 9.00 PM
Views of Notre-Dame at night, while walking on my way back to the station. Sacred architecture. These genius Gothic architects and builders sure did not need computers. It took one hundred years to build Notre-Dame.
My time in Paris had come to an end. The train station at Saint Michel Notre Dame with trains going in all directions. You can go from here directly to Versailles also.
I had to catch that same bus the other way after I got to the Pont de Rungis station. There were a few travellers going to the airport although not many. The bus arrived relatively quickly and got us to the Orly Ouest terminal in no time.
After I went through the self check-in, security and passport control (had to remove the shoes and place everything on the moving belts, you all know the story) I went to the designated gate only to find a little later that the flight was delayed. The incoming aircraft arrived late.
The boarding gate area was packed with the delays and several flights leaving about the same time. There was not enough seats for everybody. A lot of people were standing up and others were sitting on the floor. The flight got delayed some more and we did not get scheduled to leave until past 10.00 PM
It made no sense standing idle. I walked around and noticed there was a Mariage Frères tea store with some very pretty displays. This came as a surprise as I was a client for years in their original store in Le Marais. I still buy from them through their web site. My orders always come quite promptly and without fail.
.The flight was finally called and it was time for boarding. The flight was full. It was an A-321 this time, completely full with 212 passengers. Good thing I had priority boarding. I could take my time and get set up before the great most of the passengers would come in, called by row numbers.
The glitch was that my window seat in fact did not have a window! It was a window-less seat. Getting all the passengers in took quite a while which made up for an even longer delay.
Air France safety card are small and three-fold. It was the same on the Air France Concordes. They were the exact same format only portraying Concorde's security features.
I was tired so I slept through the flight and did not get anything from the expedited service. I knew I still had to get home this late in the night. I was fortunate to have a seat neighbour who worked in one of the High Schools in Monaco and heading in the same direction. He offered to give me a ride to a not too distant place from where I would catch a taxi as chances to catch a train this late in the night were few if none at all.
This was our airplane in the night as seen from the terminal.
There was no bags to pick up so that saved time. By the time we got out it was just about midnight.
I believe in playing good luck and getting it on my side. The weekend was wonderful albeit much too short and the weather was perfect. I had nothiing to complain about.
Paris has the kind of magic you cannot find in any other city. I don't know what it is - maybe the history, the people, the architecture, the stores, the food, the culture, the charm... there is definitely something unique to this city.
I will end this trip report with three of my most favourite songs about Paris - all are beautiful timeless songs illustrated with beautiful pictures of the city.
Revoir Paris - Charles Trenet
Sous le ciel de Paris - Edith Piaf
I love Paris - Frank Sinatra
I must say I totally agree with Frank Sinatra. I love Paris too and I know I will love this city for my entire life.
I would have liked to cover more about the city but one and a half day is not enough. There is so much to see and do, whether one is a local or a transplant or a tourist. Never any idle time.
For those who have never visited Paris I really encourage you to go and spend some time. You will not be disappointed.
I hope you enjoyed this trip report. Thank you very much for your attention and most of all enjoy your travels and your flights wherever they may take you.