Paris - City of Lights, Food, Wine, History and Pickpockets

The first time we went to Paris our son was 5 and our daughter 13. We flew into London toured around and then took the Chunnel Train to Paris for three full days of sightseeing. We hit all of the high spots. We went to the top of the Eiffel Tower, toured the city at night on a bus (which was a highlight of our trip), took a sightseeing cruise on the river Seine, hit the Louvre, Notre Dame and the Sacré Cœur. We took hundreds of pictures during our trip with our Canon Elph. For those that don’t know the Canon elph is a tiny camera that takes a decent photo and fits in your pocket...on the last day of our visit our camera was stolen. All of our pictures were gone. We were heartbroken.

That trip was in 2004 and the “cloud” was not what it is today and I hadn’t offloaded any images at all. I spent months scouring the internet after we got home expecting our camera to show up for sale. I went on to message boards pleading for the return of our SD card. I realize now how silly it was to think that it would show up somewhere….but I was desperate and desperate people do desperate things.

We still mourn the loss of those images...but the experience taught us a few things. Firstly, pickpockets are very real in Paris and you should always be on the lookout and secure your stuff. Secondly, a bigger camera that doesn’t fit in your pocket is easier to keep track of. After owning three iterations of Elph cameras and having them all stolen or lost, I switched to a much larger Nikon camera. It’s easy to use and is a good cross between an SLR and an automatic. It’s big enough that I can’t put it in my pocket and the camera body is red so it stands out. I’ve had it for years now... never stolen and never lost. Thanks to my husband for realizing that a bigger camera might be a good idea for me.

Despite our loss we fell in love with Paris on that trip. We’ve been back several times since, always finding something new to visit. Once you get the top tourist spots out of the way you can start really exploring the city...finding your favorite restaurants, your favorite parks, your favorite place for pastries and coffee and your favorite place to take in the view with a baguette and a glass of wine. On stressful days we fantasize about sitting on the edge of the River Seine on the Île de la Cité with our feet dangling over the riverbank with a fresh baguette and a bottle of wine. Of all of the cities we’ve been to we could see ourselves living in this vibrant city.

In this blog we have pulled some of our images from the different times we’ve been there since we lost our images on that first trip. There are some cities we’ve been to that we don’t desire to see again but Paris is a place we could see over and over again.

If you have never been to Paris & either you are planning a trip there, or you just want to know more about it, here are some good sources of information;

If you are not familiar with how web pages function, or if you need help for how this page works, click here.

Where to stay in Paris?

Consider the Louvre area; It is in the 1st arrondissement just north of the Seine River. The Tuileries Park is directly next to the Louvre. It is within walking distance to several museums including the Orangerie and Musee D’Orsay. It’s close to the Île de la Cité and Notre Dame and there are convenient metro stops to get you to places like the Eiffel tower and a number of places you will want to visit. Click here for a Google Map of the Louvre.

We stayed near the Louvre on our first trip in an apartment hotel with our kids and it was a perfect location for a first trip. During our most recent trip we rented a small apartment in the Le Marais area of Paris. And for a previous trip, we rented (again through VRBO) an apartment near the Les Sablon Metro Station and the Bois de Boulogne park. Hotels in Paris are generally expensive, and using VRBO or AirBnB to find an apartment in a good location is one option to keep costs down. You can cook some of your own meals and keep drinks and snacks in your apartment. Eating in sometimes can save a lot of money and your waistline. We find that after a few days of eating out we are dying to just have something simple. Do your due diligence and read the reviews when renting a place to make sure it will meet your needs. There are a number of reliable apartment rental companies available, you should make sure your selection will be in a good location and would meet your needs & budget. We suggest that you try to find accommodations near a metro station, as that will simplify your trips around the city. See our tips below about where to obtain a Metro ticket.

Tips for Paris

Eiffel Tower: Be sure to reserve your tickets ahead of time online prior to your trip if you want to go up to the top. If you don’t and try to buy your tickets that day they may be completely booked. They do check ticket times and are pretty strict about not allowing you up to the top in until the time printed. You are allowed to go through security along the perimeter without tickets. The ticket office is behind the security.
Learn some French: A lot of Americans complain about the French being rude. We’ve found the opposite to be true. If you take a little time to learn some French and don’t expect everyone to speak english it’s appreciated. One waiter completely changed his attitude when I asked him to speak more slowly in French. He winked at me and the rest of the meal was perfect. Remember you are in their country. Don’t expect them to be American.
The French Rail System: (including the Metro) in Paris is excellent, and the cost of an RER Train ticket from Paris Charles De Gaulle Airport to the Gare du Nord station is considerably less expensive than a taxi or Uber fare. Be careful of pickpockets on this rail line, they operate here just like everywhere else! You can purchase Metro tickets (or the Paris Visite ticket) at any Metro ticket machine or ticket window, anywhere in Paris, at CDG/Orly airports or at any of the major intercity train stations throughout Paris. A Paris Metro single day ticket is called the Ticket Mobilis which is good for unlimited rides on the Metro system during operating hours for the day it is used. (Not valid for airports) Physically it’s a coupon of about the same size as the Paris Metro Ticket t+. Ticket Mobilis is available in various fare zone coverage from 1-2 zones to 1-5 zones. If you’ll be traveling strictly within central Paris, zones 1 & 2 cover the entire Metro system, and a 1-2 zone Ticket Mobilis is the recommended ticket. Price as of January 1, 2019 is 7.50€.
Credit Cards: Don’t expect your credit card to always work. Even with the chip embedded there are times when a pin is required. This is especially true at some of the metro ticket machines.
Cell phones: Cell phones are required these days for maps usage and uber, etc. Roaming can be expensive so have a plan and investigate your options before you go. For those of you using (or needing) cellular phone service, AT&T offers a $10 per day plan (unlimited data) for certain family subscription plans.

Pick Pockets and Scam Artists

Ignore teens who ask you to read & sign their petitions! Most frequently, once you are distracted, one of their accomplices will attempt to pick your pocket! This type of scam is very common at or near the more iconic Paris landmarks, but you will see them on connecting streets or routes as well.
If you use a backpack, the best type to use are the types that have a chest strap that interconnects & locks the shoulder straps. Keeping that chest strap connected, precludes a pickpocket (or street thief) from yanking your backpack off your shoulders! It’s best to keep your credit cards and valuables in an inside pocket rather and an outside pocket that could be unzipped while you are in a crowd. Better yet, keep it around your neck under your shirt.
We almost got ripped off by someone trying to “help” us at a metro ticket machine. He was trying to sell us a ticket for some ungodly amount of money when the metro price is very reasonable. Don’t fall for these scams. Go to the official ticket booth if you have questions.

 Quick History Lesson 

The Louvre is the world's largest art museum and a historic monument in Paris, France. A central landmark of the city, it is located on the Right Bank of the Seine in the city's 1st arrondissement (district or ward). Approximately 38,000 objects from prehistory to the 21st century are exhibited over an area of 72,735 square metres (782,910 square feet). In 2018, the Louvre was the world's most visited art museum, receiving 10.2 million visitors.

If you are looking for more information about the Louvre including; history, art content, interesting facts, architecture, etc then click here to visit the "Live Science" website.

You may not have noticed the interesting architecture of the Louvre roof, so the image above is a close-up of one of the roofs (see the larger picture of the Louvre, in particular, the building roof at the right side of the picture).

Fun Fact: The "greyish" area behind the windows, is called a mansard or mansard roof (also called a French roof or curb roof) is a four-sided gambrel-style hip roof characterized by two slopes on each of its sides with the lower slope, punctured by dormer windows, at a steeper angle than the upper. The steep roof with windows creates an additional floor of habitable space (a garret), and reduces the overall height of the roof for a given number of habitable stories. The upper slope of the roof may not be visible from street level when viewed from close proximity to the building.

This mansard roof caught our eye because it was so ornate and unusual to us - you just do not see this kind of architecture in America very often.

Jardins du Trocadero


On our way to the Eiffel Tower, we rode the Metro from our apartment in Le Marais to the Trocadero Station because we wanted to walk over to the Tower via the Jardin du Trocadero and then cross the River Seine on the Pont d'Iéna which would place us near the Eiffel Tower entrance.

As we walked through the gardens, we passed by a statue called "La Danse Triomphale a Pallas Athene" sculpted by Carlo Sarrabezolles. The statue name translates to "The Triumphal Dance to Pallas Athena" in English. This is so typical of Paris, art is everywhere and unless you take the time to notice these things, you might have walked right by it.


Eiffel Tower

The Eiffel Tower and it's surrounding grounds, are beautiful and iconic. French security has been enhanced where a wall now surrounds the entire area, and entrance into that area is controlled by metal detectors & security personnel.

the Bir-Hakeim Metro station (just 2.5 blocks west of the Eiffel Tower) is (and will probably always be) "pick pocket central" for all the local thieves. If you use this station, keep your valuables somewhere very safe & don't let anyone stand near to you

See the two pictures above taken from inside the elevator? Yep, they pack em in tightly and the elevator feels like it is as old as the tower (completed in 1889). The elevators are at a slight angle as you board them on one of the tower legs, and then the elevator proceeds upward.

 Quick History Lesson 

Constructed from 1887–1889 as the entrance to the 1889 World's Fair, the Tower was initially criticised by some of France's leading artists and intellectuals for its design, but it has become a global cultural icon of France and one of the most recognisable structures in the world. The Eiffel Tower is the most-visited paid monument in the world; 6.91 million people ascended it in 2015.

If you are not a fan of elevators, there is a 1,710 step staircase that you could walk the entire 324 meters (1,063 feet) to the top.

If you want to read more information about the Eiffel Tower including; history, interesting facts and the Tower today, click here for a good source of information at the "Live Science" website.

What do you do while you are waiting for your Tower "elevator time slot" to arrive? You could take a stroll around the Tower Park and perhaps even into the Champ de Mars. The grounds in both areas are beautiful and well maintained.

However you get to the top observation platform, as you look out from the top of the Eiffel, Paris & the River Seine are below you and on a clear day, you can see for miles.

This view is looking west and the island you see below is L'île aux Cygnes, the first bridge is the Pont du Bir-Hakeim and the second is the Pont du Grenelle. The "small" Statue of Liberty is at the west end of the L'île aux Cygnes. That large expanse of greenery on the north side of the Seine, is the Bois de Boulogne Park - a beautiful park well worth a visit.

The "small" Statue of Liberty at the west end of the L'île aux Cygnes.

 Quick History Lesson 

This quarter-scale Statue of Liberty replica sits at the southern end of Île aux Cygnes, an artificial island built in the Seine in 1827 to separate river traffic from the busy port of Grenelle. Over time, a tree-lined walkway was built that runs the full 850-meter length of the island, and three bridges were built across the island to connect the 15th and 16th arrondissements. Île aux Cygnes is the third-largest island in Paris.

The statue itself was given to the city of Paris in 1889 by the American community in Paris to commemorate the centennial of the French Revolution. In characteristic American fashion, the statue was officially inaugurated on the Fourth of July (a date not at all associated with the French Revolution) rather than Bastille Day (a mere ten days later, and often described to the uninitiated as the “French Fourth of July”).

That is the Place du Trocadero from the first observation deck (57 meters above ground) of the Eiffel Tower. We were looking north, and in the distant background is La Defense.

 Quick History Lesson 

For the Exposition Internationale of 1937, the old Palais du Trocadéro was partially demolished and rebuilt as the Palais de Chaillot which now tops the hill. It was designed in classicizing "moderne" style by architects Louis-Hippolyte Boileau, Jacques Carlu and Léon Azéma. Like the old palais, the Palais de Chaillot features two wings shaped to form a wide arc; reclad and expanded, these wings are the only remaining portion of the former building. However, unlike the old palais, the wings are independent buildings and there is no central element to connect them: instead, a wide esplanade leaves an open view from the place du Trocadéro to the Eiffel Tower and beyond.

In the center distance is Montmartre, otherwise known as the Basilica of the Sacré Cœur. This is worth a visit if you have not been there. Easily reached via the Paris Metro, exit at the Abbesses Station. Its 130 meter height (427 feet) when combined with a clear day, provides visitors with really good views of Paris - not to be missed!

For more information about the Sacré Cœur, click here to scroll to that part of this page.

If you are looking for a restaurant close to the Eiffel Tower, there are several on the Avenue de Suffren - just a block west of the tower. We ate lunch at the Le Castel Café prior to our stroll down the River Seine. You will find that the reviews are all over the place, but our experience was reasonable.

Strolling the River Seine

Bistrot Alexandre III
Pont Alexandre III
Grand Palais
Pont des Invalides
Pont du Carrousel
Musee D'Orsay

The above images were taken during our stroll along the River Seine, beautiful area isn't it? Our destination is now in sight, the Musee D'Orsay. Note to self - the Musee D'Orsay is closed on Mondays.

According to Google Maps, it is 2.7 kilometers from the Eiffel Tower to the Musee D'Orsay. On a beautiful day with these scenic and iconic locations along the River Seine, it is a nice way to get to the museum.

The interesting thing about this structure is that it was obviously created to contain a game area, but it is still quite artsy isn't it? However, it is also a very practical enclosure for a game, because the ball cannot leave the interior.

This area of the River Seine, had a wheel chair ramp to allow handicapped individuals to be able to access the river walkway. The bridge in the center background is the Pont de l'Alma.

Love Locks on the Passerelle des Arts: Sometime in 2008, people (tourists as well as locals) started attaching padlocks with their first names engraved on them, to the railings and grates of the bridge. By 2012 the number of padlocks had become enormous, estimated to be in excess of 700,000. As of 2015, over a million locks had been attached, weighing approximately 45 tons.

 Quick History Lesson 

In June 2014, part of the parapet on the bridge collapsed under the weight of all of the padlocks that had been attached to it. On 18 September 2014, the City Hall of Paris replaced three panels of this bridge with a special glass as an experiment as they search for alternative materials for the bridge where locks cannot be attached.

From 1 June 2015, city council workmen from Paris started to cut down & remove all of the locks. Health and Safety officials said "the romantic gestures cause long term Heritage degradation and danger to visitors". Street artists like Jace, El Seed, Brusk or Pantonio have been chosen to paint the new panels that replaces the old railings with locks.

After our stroll down the southern side of the River Seine to the Musée d'Orsay, which turned out to be closed, we crossed the river and visited to the Musée de l'Orangerie.

The Musée de l'Orangerie: is an art gallery of impressionist and post-impressionist paintings located in the west corner of the Tuileries Gardens next to the Place de la Concorde in Paris. The museum is most famous as the permanent home of eight large Water Lilies murals by Claude Monet, and also contains works by Paul Cézanne, Henri Matisse, Amedeo Modigliani, Pablo Picasso, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Henri Rousseau, Alfred Sisley, Chaim Soutine, Maurice Utrillo, and others.

Le Marais area of Paris, France

This is a historic district in Paris that we had not previously visited. Long the aristocratic district of Paris, it hosts many outstanding buildings of historic and architectural importance. It spreads across parts of the 3rd and 4th arrondissements in Paris (on the Rive Droite, or Right Bank, of the Seine).

If you are interested in reading more depth about the Le Marais ("The Marsh") area of Paris, click here to read a good article about the history & architecture of Le Marais. This article is very good, and you will be surprised to learn about the role the Templar Knights played in the Le Marais.

Above the Saint Paul Metro station is an area where you will find several small sidewalk cafes and pubs. So after a full day of exploring, we would stop and have a cold drink before continuing on to the apartment.

And we do mean "above" because most Paris Metro Stations are below ground level.

The escalator in this picture is the street level exit from the Metro Station below. To enter the station, one had to take the stairs in the left center of this picture. Clever method to separate the people entering from the people exiting!

 Quick Metro Facts 

The Paris Métro is a symbol of the city, it is known for its density within the city limits, uniform architecture and unique entrances influenced by Art Nouveau. It is mostly underground and 214 kilometres (133 mi) long. It has 302 stations, of which 62 have transfers between lines. There are 16 lines, numbered 1 to 14 with two lines, 3bis and 7bis, which are named because they started out as branches of lines 3 and 7; later they officially became separate lines, but the Metro is still numbered as if these lines were absent. Lines are identified on maps by number and colour, and direction of travel is indicated by the terminus.

The sidewalk cafes do not waste any space, the tables are kept very close to each other, so that as many customers as possible can be seated.

Sidewalk cafes and restaurants are enormously popular in Paris, and they offer a delightful way for a visitor to have a coffee, a drink & snack or a complete meal while watching Parisians walk by.

The King Falafel Palace was one door away from our VRBO rental. This shop might be tiny, but their food offerings were huge. Several competing shops can be found along the Rue des Rosiers which is in the old Jewish quarter of the Marais district.

The Le Droguerie Crepe shop was on the same street as our VRBO rental and there was always a crowd waiting to order. We stopped here and had dessert crepes (instead of dinner) one evening, and they were outstanding! You can also tell by the size of the line waiting to order, that this is a very popular place for crepes.

The Cafe Le Perle was just a few blocks away from our VRBO rental, and we had good food at a decent price (located on Rue de la Perle).

At the Cafe Le Perle, my wife had a very good quiche for dinner, we both felt that it was excellent.

I was in the mood for something "hamburger-ish", mainly because I saw another customer having one and it smelled fantastic!

Or maybe I ordered that because we had been walking for hours and I was starved!

La Defense Paris, France

 Quick La Defense Facts 

By French law, the Paris city center area skyline cannot contain tall buildings (although this is about to change), and must retain it's original appearance. So all tall buildings, sky scrapers, modern buildings, etc, only appear outside the area deemed to be the original Paris city area. Therefore, the La Defense area contains an extensive number of very modern and tall buildings, shopping malls, office buildings and apartment complexes.

This panorama picture was taken as we sat on the steps of the Grande Arch, and it shows just how large this area is; it is Europe's largest purpose-built business district with 560 hectares (1,400 acres) of area, 72 glass and steel buildings (of which 19 are completed skyscrapers), 180,000 daily workers, and 3,500,000 square metres (38,000,000 sq ft) of office space. Around its Grande Arche and esplanade ("le Parvis"), La Défense contains many of the Paris urban area's tallest high-rises. Les Quatre Temps, a large shopping mall in La Défense, has 220 stores, 48 restaurants and 24 movie theaters.

This is the Grande Arche in La Defense looking out from the rear of the building.

The steel apparatus that is attached to the top of the arch, is the original transparent elevators, that used to take passengers from the base of the arch, to the top of the building. They were closed in 2010 after a non-injury accident. The museum and restaurant at the top are now accessible only via interior building elevators.

The Grande Arche comprises the third arch (together with the Arc de Triomphe and the Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel) on the historical axis of Paris.

This statue is named "Point Growth" created by Lim Dong-Lak who is a Professor of Fine Arts in South Korea and an ambassador emeritus of Korean sculpture.

There's an outdoor art collection scattered around La Défense that includes works by Calder, Miro, and other world-famous artists like Baldaccini, represented by his iconic sculpture of a 40-foot thumb. On total there are 70 pieces of contemporary artworks found throughout the district. The art route was an ambitious project initiated in 1958, just when the modernization of the area began. Some of the art works are found on the main place of La Défense, others are hidden between skyscrapers.

For a current list of the art that can be found at La Defense, go to this web site: La Defense Art Works

We walked east from the Grande Arche, found several beautiful water fountains, several shopping malls, coffee shops, and had a very pleasant afternoon walking about this area. The Grande Arche is in the center of this image, as walked beside one of the water fountains.

Notre Dame Cathedral

The ever beautiful Notre Dame cathedral and the Île de la Cité.

 Quick History Lesson 

The cathedral has had to be restored on several occasions. During the French Revolution, many of the cathedral’s valuables were stolen or destroyed. Statues portraying biblical kings were mistaken for French kings and beheaded, and the 13th-century spire was torn down. An extensive restoration began in 1845 and lasted for 25 years.

More of the cathedral was damaged during World War II. Several of the stained glass windows were also shattered by stray bullets. After the war ended, the windows were replaced, but the bible scenes that had previously been depicted on the panes were exchanged for geometric patterns.

The cathedral is once again in need of further restoration(s), this time primarily due to air pollution and the constant pounding of visitors. See this New York Times article for more details.

This image is the property of Jean Lemoine via Wikipedia

This is the eastern end of Notre Dame, and it shows you how they used "flying buttresses" to support the height of the Cathedral. As they were working with only stone and mortar, and did not have the benefit of steel at that time, the only way they knew how to support that kind of height, was to use these flying buttress supports.

 Quick History Lesson 

The Notre Dame Cathedral Paris didn’t originally have flying buttresses included in its design. But after the construction of the cathedral began in 1163, the thinner walls (popularized in the Gothic style) grew ever higher and stress fractures began to occur as the walls pushed outward. The cathedral’s architects, in an effort to fix the problem, built supports around the outside walls, and later additions continued the pattern. The was among the first buildings in the world to use the flying buttress (arched exterior supports).

Notre Dame Cathedral dimensions;

  • The building is 130 meters long, 48 meters wide and 35 meters high.
  • The rose windows have a diameter of 10 meters.
  • The cathedral pillars have a diameter of 5 meters.
  • The twin towers are 69 meters tall, and there are 387 steps to the top.

Notre Dame interesting facts;

  • It was built between 1163 and 1345. Its construction was ordered by the Bishop of Paris named Maurice de Sully in 1160. Maurice Sully, who ordered the construction of Notre Dame, died in 1196, long before the cathedral was completed.
  • The largest Notre Dame bell is located in the South Tower & weighs 28,000 pounds. The bell is also known as the Emmanuel Bell and was created in 1681.
  • The magnificent stained glass windows in Notre Dame are original.
  • Approx 13 million people visit Notre Dame every year, which makes it the most popular monument in France. People visit Notre Dame more than the Eiffel Tower.
  • The best part is that it is free to enter the cathedral.
  • In 1804 Napoleon invited Pope Pius VII to come to Notre Dame so that he could be crowned emperor. At the last minute Napoleon crowned himself instead.
  • There are many small statues outside of Notre Dame which were placed there to serve as rain water spouts and to support columns.
  • Based on a 1905 law, Notre Dame is owned by the French State, but the Catholic Church has the right to use it forever.

Sacré Cœur du Montmartre

This image is the property of PieterjanDC via Dutch Wikimedia

We visited the Sacré Cœur du Montmartre, which is easily one of the prettiest churches in Paris. Due to the height of Montmartre, the church can be seen from all over Paris! And of course the reverse is true as well, the views of Paris (read below) from Montmartre are very good on a clear day.

Word of warning: You can see how the church sits high on the hill? On a hot day, it can be difficult to walk up all those stairs. There is a funicular that you should utilize if you are not comfortable with walking up steep stairs.

For an excellent list of information about the Sacré Cœur du Montmartre, you should visit the French Moments Website.

Sacré Cœur Métro stops: Anvers Station on the #2 (blue) line that runs between Porte Dauphine and Nation with a stop at Charles De Gaulle/Etoile by the Arc de Triomphe. From Anvers, it's a short walk up the Rue Steinkerque to the hill at the foot of Sacré-Coeur.

The Abbesses Station on line #12 (green) line is approximately a 10 minute walk via Rue Chappe and Rue Yvonne le Tac taking you past some nice shops & restaurants. Which station you arrive at depends solely upon which line you took to get there. Note that the Abbesses is the deepest station in the Paris Métro, at 36 metres (118 feet) below ground.

Warning: There is a long (and steep) spiral staircase from the subway car arrival area to the surface exit at the Abbesses Station, look for the elevators if you are not able to climb steep stairs.

Catacombs of Paris

The Catacombs of Paris located in the 14th arrondissement quartier Montparnasse. We had our teenage son with us, and we had intentionally looked for something unusual like this to visit. Judging by his reaction to what he saw on the tour, he found it to be very entertaining!

It is not known just how large the Catacombs actually are, there are estimates that there are over 200 miles of tunnels, however, only a very small area of that is part of the tour and "legal". The other areas are considered to be dangerous and are off limits with police patrols, etc.

Was it spooky? Definitely!! I doubt that anyone could descend into an area like that, where the bones of over six million people are kept from hundreds of years ago and not feel it!

Image is the property of MykReeve via Wikipedia
Image is the property of Campola via Wikipedia

Once you have entered into the green building entrance, you will immediately descend via a very narrow (and steep) spiral staircase that delivers you into the catacombs. The first thing you'll notice are the very low ceilings - if you're claustrophobic you might want to brace yourself - and for the first three or four minutes you'll be walking through empty corridors with no bones in sight. Once you reach the ossuaries, you will see bones neatly stacked, sometimes to the stone ceiling, frequently stacked all the way back to the stone walls (often a considerable distance) and these bone stacks are everywhere!

There are no elevators at the entrance or exit, you walk down the steep entrance staircase (130 steps) and you will have to walk up the steep exit stairs (83 steps). There are no cloak rooms or bathrooms anywhere, and it is chilly so you should dress appropriately.

 Quick History Lesson 

The Catacombs of Paris are underground ossuaries in Paris, France, which hold the remains of more than six million people in a small part of a tunnel network built to consolidate Paris' ancient stone mines. Extending south from the Barrière d'Enfer ("Gate of Hell") former city gate, this ossuary was created as part of the effort to eliminate the city's overflowing cemeteries. Preparation work began not long after a 1774 series of gruesome Saint Innocents-cemetery-quarter basement wall collapses added a sense of urgency to the cemetery-eliminating measure, and from 1786, nightly processions of covered wagons transferred remains from most of Paris' cemeteries to a mine shaft opened near the Rue de la Tombe-Issoire.

The municipal ossuary in the Paris Catacombs is one of the world’s largest and one of only a handful located underground.

There are several YouTube videos that can show you the catacombs in detail, click here to view one of them.

Quick Funny Story

On one trip to Paris, we took a train to Bordeaux. We rode the metro to the Paris train station, and we saw our train listed on the train schedule monitors, so we enjoyed a cold drink while waiting for our train's track location to be announced. When it was finally announced, we walked over with our back packs & luggage, got on the train and sat in our assigned seats. Just as we are getting relaxed, an English family walked up and said "you are sitting in our seats", so we asked the train car attendant to come over and sort out the situation. He took one look at our tickets and told us "your tickets are for the express train, and you are on the local train to Bordeaux & your train has already departed". So we gathered up our backpacks and exited the train, and as we are standing next to the train car wondering what we do now, the same train car attendant leaned out the car door and told us "hey, you can ride with us, and someone will get off the train and you can have those seats". Since this was much better than waiting in the train station for the next express train to Bordeaux, we hopped back on spent the majority of the ride in between train cars, sitting on the floor. We eventually got seats as people exited the train.

These things can happen when traveling - keep your cool and have fun along the way.

European Travel Tips

Please click here to read our complete list of European Travel Tips. These are the tips that we utilize every time we travel, so we hope you find them as useful as we do.

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