| Part 1: Strasbourg, Paris
Hotel Hannong, 75 Euro for a nice
double room without breakfast. The room has everything including a
fridge (which doesn't work), individually adjustable A/C, a dryer, TV,
free WLAN access in the room, some nice furniture, toilet with bathtub
and shower. We requested a room with two children beds, but in the
hotel they upgrade us to a higher standard room for the same price.
Breakfast not included (costs 14 Euro/person). Limited WLAN Internet
access: can't send emails, no Usenet, no FTP, can't even use the
Weather: mostly sunny with some
clouds in Munich, still sunny with clouds when we arrive in Strasbourg,
overcast later in the afternoon and some very light rain. Temperatures
relatively high (28-30°C).
We manage to leave home at 10:45am. The motorway from Munich to
Stuttgart is not good - full of roadworks, which slow down considerably
the driving. At 12:30pm we make a lunch stop in a motorway restaurant.
At 1:30pm we continue driving, reaching Strasbourg around 3:30pm. The
navigation system we are using (Magellan 1215) works so far reasonably
well. Only at one point in
Strasbourg it seems that the maps of the navigation system are not up
After checking in the hotel we take a rest and leave the hotel after
5:10pm. Until 9pm we do some sightseeing and have dinner. The
restaurants here are more expensive than in Munich. The whole city, or
to be more precise the central old town area, seams geared towards
separating tourists from their money. The old city is nice, but
relatively small. Half a day is sufficient to see everything.
-> Verdun -> Reims -> Paris
Hotel Etap, Paris. 48 Euro for a double
room with three beds (the third bed is on top above the double bed),
not too small considering that this is Paris. The room is clean and
modern. It has a shower cabin and a separate toilet cabin, while the
is in the room. No telephone, no cupboard, but there is a TV. The room
has very weak A/C. No Internet access in the room, only in the
the lobby for 4 Euro for 50 minutes. The Etap hotel is supposed to be a
no frills hotel. The only problem is the location. At the
outskirts of Paris, it probably takes 45 minutes to get into town by
public transportation including the walking distance. Parking costs an
additional 8 Euro/day. Breakfast is an additional 5/Euro per person,
bringing the total to 66 Euro for two people if you include parking and
breakfast. Not cheap, but in France everything seems to be more
expensive than elsewhere (except perhaps Rome, where we paid 110
Euro/night for a much worse room).
Weather: mostly sunny with some
clouds in Strasbourg, quite warm (around 27°C in the morning).
Later in the day it gets even hotter with temperatures over 30°C in
Verdun and a bit cooler in Reims. It rains in the evening and at night
We check out at 11am and head towards the European organisations area,
arriving there at 11:20am. It takes some time to find a parking,
because it is not clear where we are allowed to drive or not. Until
12:15pm we walk around the area which includes the European Parliament
and the Council of Europe buildings.
Then we start driving towards Verdun,
where a big battle took place in WW I in which one million soldiers
died. At 1pm, we stop for some lunch at a motorway restaurant.
Around 4pm we arrive in Verdun. We can't manage to
reach the place I wanted to see, because the main road in town is
blocked and the navigation system insists that we take
it. So we simply stop in a commercial area in Verdun and have a brief
snack in a McDonalds restaurant.
At 4:40pm we continue driving. This time,
surprise, surprise, we finally find an access to the historic centre of
Verdun, but it is already too late for a visit. We continue driving
towards Paris. The next stop is in Reims, which has an interesting
cathedral (a UNESCO World Heritage site). We arrive in Reims shortly
after 6pm. The cathedral is nice, but a bit less impressive than I had
imagined. Also, it is currently undergoing restoration.
We visit the cathedral until 6:45pm, then have dinner in a nearby
Chinese restaurant. At 8:10pm we continue driving and arrive at the
hotel in Paris at 9:45pm. Thanks to the navigation system it is very
easy and fast to find the hotel.
Hotel Etap. Could not manage to connect
to the Orange WLAN network in the room. Also the Neuf WLAN network
(available in the room) does
not seem to work.
Weather: overcast in the early
morning, the sky then opens up and becomes blue. Mix of clouds and blue
sky, windy and fresh. Considerably less warm than yesterday.
We get up at 9am, then have breakfast until after 10am, and only manage
leave the hotel after 11am. To save time we drive by car into Paris
(it's a 10 minutes walk to the metro station, then it takes around 30
minutes to reach the centre of Paris according to the reception). By
car it is a quite long drive to the Eiffel tower. It's 11:55am when we
finally have parked the car and can start the sightseeing. Basically a
good part of the day is already lost - I guess the next days we'll have
to speed up a bit in the morning.
Lots of tourists at the Eiffel tower,
very long queues. The tickets seem not so expensive (around 5-6 Euro
per person to get up if I understood it correctly). Great sunny
weather, blue sky, a bit fresh.
It's almost 1pm when we leave the Eiffel tower and head towards the
Quartier Latin. The idea would be to have lunch somewhere in the
restaurants area of Boulevard St Michel. In practice it takes quite
some time to drive across Paris and we only reach the Sorbonne
university at 1:30pm. So much traffic and so many traffic lights. We'll
stop using the car to get across Paris.
We have lunch in an Italian restaurant near the Sorbonne. Food is not
too bad, but not that great either. We then drive back to the hotel,
arriving there at 3:30pm. There Shirley takes a rest with the children.
I walk to the nearby Carrefour store where I buy some drinks.
At 6:20pm Shirley wakes up. By the time everybody is ready (kids have
to be dressed, receive some food, be prepared) it's about 7:10pm. We
walk to the metro station and fetch the 7:20pm train, arriving at the
Tuileries station at 7:45pm. It's a nice evening, sunny with a blue sky
and to the delight of Alissia at the Tuileries park there is a fun
fair. We are in the area until after sunset, slowly walking towards the
Alexandre III bridge. At 10:45pm we take the metro back to the hotel.
Again there is no elevator in the metro so we have to carry the heavy
up and down the staircases.
By the way, I'm told by the metro staff that the weekly card for 16.80
Euro is not available in the
metro stations. To apply for it apparently you have to go somewhere and
you need a