When asked, a Versailles guard standing at the front gate, responded, “Tuesday is the worst day; all the museums in Paris are closed. The tourists all come to Versailles instead.”While exiting Versailles after a 15-minute visit, I asked the guard a question, “When is the best day to visit Versailles to avoid the crowds?”. I had thought for sure Wednesday would be the worst day since many school children are off half the day.
You know the typical vacation questions “Got the tee-shirt” or “Got the postcard”!? Well I can say, “Got the Brie (de Meaux)”! Brie de Meaux cheese that is. Meaux is a a 25-minute train ride from Paris.Meaux, A brie(f) half hour from Paris.
One hot August mid-afternoon I took a direct “P” train from Gare de l’Est to Meaux. Many of the Meldois (local residents) within the Gallo-Roman walls had left on vacation. I followed Annabel Simms‘s exact directions ….
Antiquity, countryside and history greet you in Annabel Simms’ book, “Half an Hour from Paris … 10 Secret Daytrips by Train”. First you have to find your way there. Annabel Simms arranges the book like a quality French baguette au levain sandwich: yummy ingredients between the crunchy crusts. This is a book of self-guided walking tours of various lengths.
Suitcase? Check! Camera? Check! Walking shoes? Check!
Reading material? Prepare in advance with some book ideas!
Language? Brush up on that French grammar! Frantastique is my Wednesday exercise. Then when I go shopping or chat on the street, those proper verbs just slide right out … still studying though!
Some of the books in my library are Paris walking tours. They provide enough material to stroll through Paris and explore. Another prepares you with a story and history for your Champagne tasting.
David Downie’s books are walking tours of history. Each chapter of each book weaves a tale of discovery. Tilar J. Mazzeo’s book whisks you into Champagne history with the Veuve Clicquot. (Reims is a 46-minute train ride away from Paris.) Interested in Street Art? The perfect sightseeing book with maps…..
Pere Lachaise and other cemeteries have permanent residents; what is perpetuité; links to maps (some in English, Español or Italiano) to find famous women, celebrities, gastronomy, artists and actors, some are accessible for special needs; 14 are within Paris; 6 outside the Paris walls; not counting the pet cemetery; images of a drizzly, chilly day in Père Lachaise; where to find information about plots and handling the deceased. Looking for someone among the 7 million buried? …. keep reading ….
The RATP (Paris transportation system) has highly upgraded their website. They provide clear information when you find it. Some pages are in English, French and Spanish. Others include German, Chinese, Japanese, Italian, Spanish, Dutch, Russian, Brazilian. How would a party of five find their way into Paris from the airport?
From our balconettes (Parisian wrought iron window fences), we are enjoying our carrots – getting fatter every day, fresh cherry tomatoes, and wild strawberries; the plants are blooming. BUT who will water them while we are on vacation? Lulu Anna.
The city of Paris (Mairie de Paris) has a service called Lulu dans ma rue (Lulu on my street). Need a helping hand taking things to the cellar (cave)? Ironing? Water your plants?
A day trip to Giverny is easy. The SNCF train from Gare Saint-Lazare takes you to Vernon/Giverny in 45 minutes. Rent a bike across from the train station and take your time pedaling to Giverny. The biggest piece of advice: buy your tickets in advance to Monet’s house. Follow the online ticket links at Foundation Claude Monet. Twenty minutes before departure in the direction of Rouen Rive Droite, the departing platform (voie) is posted. While you wait, enjoy the updated three-level shopping mall at Gare Saint-Lazare. If you want to “powder your nose” the “2theloo” spot is open from 6 am to midnight and is constantly being wiped down and freshened up. Hint on train ticket pricing