Friday, April 1, 2011
Paris: Match Station Names with Attractions (Part 2)
Partial map of the Paris Metro system, showing municipal rail lines that serve the Gare du Nord station.
Paris-Nord = Gare du Nord
After three hours of luxurious high-speed rail on the Thalys line, I arrived in Paris (Gare du Nord station) from Amsterdam. This was my second visit here, and unlike in Part 1, this time I arrived via rail and my hotel, Hotel Nord Est, is just a block and a half from the station. Now let me tell you that Gare du Nord (or Paris-Nord) is a mega-hub. Meaning, it's a station that is served by all sort of buses, Metro, RER, TGV, Eurostar and other international lines. To stay near here is to be in location heaven!
The Hotel Nord Est is pretty much across the street from the Gare du Nord mega-station. Check it out!
It's also got walkable satellite stations, La Chapelle and Magenta. So if a line's route includes any of those two stations, consider it Gare du Nord as well.
As this was early spring, it was rather cold and I was all covered up! So I did the usual trek toward the usual attractions, although I do have some newer ones to match with station names. As discussed in Part 1, the Arc de Triomphe is in the Charles de Gaulle-Etoile (or just Etoile) station. Etoile means "star" in French, named after the shape made by the several avenues that jut out from this circle.
The Arc de Triomphe is on the Charles de Gaulle-Etoile, or simply Etoile, station.
La Defense = Grande Arche
Do check out another giant arch, the Grande Arche in the La Defense district, at the La Defense station, northbound on either RER [A] or Metro  from Etoile. Speaking of Etoile, it's on one of the most useful Metro routes, the ; so it's one ride to Moulin Rouge (use Blance), Sacre Coeur (use Anvers), and Jim Morrison' grave (use Philippe Auguste).
Trocadero = Eiffel Tower (overlook)
Another different move I made on this visit was how I accessed the Eiffel Tower. This time, I used the Trocadero station, only a short ride on Metro  from Etoile. It leads to the Palais de Chaillot, a museum whose paved courtyard serves a balcony overlooking the tower. What a difference! Seemed like every other tourist in Paris was decided to go there too, as I had to jab and elbow my way through the thick crowd in order to get a good shot of this famous monument.
The Palais de Chaillot's patterned pavement adds geometric appeal to the view of the Eiffel Tower.
When hunger strikes you while you're visiting this area, you'll be glad to know there is a wonderful crepe stand (those banana-nutella ones are especially divine!) at the edge of the courtyard. There are also a few casual cafes near the station stairs.
The Louvre is served by the Metro station of the same name. Easy enough!
The Louvre is the Louvre
No guesswork needed; the station serving the Musee du Louvre is called...Musee du Louvre. Go figure! Well actually, there are two: Palais Royal-Musee du Louvre and Louvre-Rivoli. They are also both one ride away from Etoile on Metro . Paying for a ticket to go inside and see the Mona Lisa is awesome and everything, but believe me, you can see her for free and even see some Da Vinci Code locations.
The inverted pyramid is in the Carrousel du Louvre underground mall.
The underground mall adjacent to the museum, Carrousel du Louvre, can be accessed from the Palais Royal station. Here, you can find the Inverted Pyramid as well as a photo-op with Mona Lisa. Several to choose from, so pick your best camera trick and angle! And since you're at a mall, shopping and dining are never a problem.
100% free pic with Mona Lisa inside the Carrousel du Louvre mall.
Notre Dame is Notre Dame, Sort Of
On RER [C] as well as on [B], the unmistakeable gothic masterpiece Notre Dame de Paris cathedral could very well be a good first destination coming from either airport. Its station is called Saint-Michel Notre Dame, and along the [C] route it's a single ride to and from Versailles (Rive Gauche) from the Eiffel Tower (Champs de Mars).
The Notre Dame is served by the ultra-handy RER C route and the airport-friendly RER B route.
Since my onward flight to Athens on easyJet was in the early morning, I had to take a cab from my hotel to Orly Airport. Wasn't a bad fare at all; I think I was charged a flat rate or something.
La Defense <> Arc de Triomphe (Etoile)
CDG Airport (end) <> Notre Dame <> Orly Airport (Antony)
Versailles (end) <> Eiffel Tower (Champs de Mars) <> Musee d'Orsay <> Notre Dame
La Defense (end) <> Arc de Triomphe (Etoile) <> Musee du Louvre
Etoile <> Moulin Rouge (Blanche) <> Sacre Coeur (Anvers) <> Pere Lachaise Cemetery (Philippe Auguste)
Etoile (end) <> Eiffel Tower (Trocadero) <> Eiffel Tower (Bir Hakeim)