A Travellerspoint blog

France

Tickets of the Paris, Brussels and Amsterdam rail system


View Nolan's Eleven Heaven meetups & Meet my TravBuddy friends - Rhea (rheagirl) & Meet my TravBuddy friends - Cathy (cookiecandy22) on NT01's travel map.

large_1840343_14290613031848.jpgIn Paris [Paris-travel-guide-471458] you will likely use the Metro the most. It's underground and runs on rubber tires so it's not as screeching noisy compared to trains with metal wheels. I am wasn't able to research much about the Mobilis or a Paris Visite pass hence we would always purchase our tickets from the vending machine. Besides, we planned to walk much of Paris so we chose a centrally located hotel not far from Notre Dame and the banks of the Seine.

The vending machines have gone digital and touchscreen since the late 1990s but they still issue a paper ticket stub that has a magnetic strip. Credit cards are already accepted but that would be risky, not to mention expensive if your credit card charges fees for international transactions.

In other countries, tickets are fancier. I especially liked the SCNF tickets which could be booked online and printed - or better yet, downloaded and stored to the Passbook of my iPhone. However the train conductors would be more interested in stamping/scanning the paper ticket than scanning the VR code on my iPhone. In any case, I always keep a copy digitally and on paper. It is just a bit of a hassle keeping paper dry and stored properly in one's backpack - unlike the phone which is usually readily available within seconds.

Overall, the train system is quite efficient and I would continue to use this transport mode as my first choice when traveling within Europe.

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Back to Paris and in a seedy part of town


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large_1840343_14340760184071.jpgDRAFT

We took the Thalys departing about 11AM from Amsterdam Centraal station heading towards Paris Gare du Nord. The trip took about three hours, way farther than the three hours it took from Brussels to Amsterdam. Upon arriving at the station, I had to gather my bearings to ensure that we were able to get to the hotel with as minimal hassle, considering we had our heavy luggage in tow.

We were warned by a few friends about hanging out in the Gare du Nord area. This is because late at night and into the early morning, the place fills up with drunks and all sorts of questionable people. While I had an idea of the hotel location, I didn't realize it was that far to walk (more than 20 minutes). As it was along a side street, we had to go around at one point because taking the main road and coming down from the north would take another 10 minutes or more.large_1840343_1434076013857.jpg In the end, we missed it because of the confusion associated with finding a small street with hardly any directions because it is so low key.

The place was disappointing. Even if it would have cost the equivalent of 90 EUR, it is a big letdown. I'd rather pay an additional 30 EUR just to be at the Best Western ducs du Bourgogne where it is a five minute walk to the RER B station which is the fastest way back to the airport. But since we got it free, I guess we could tolerate one night for savings of over 120 EUR. That was one of those nights where you couldn't really relish the thought of sleeping in a bed whose covers were dirty and stained.

So we headed out right away to maximize our time away from the hotel. We started walking towardsMontmarte and Sacre Coeur, since we wanted to try to attend the 6PM mass there.large_1840343_14340760044776.jpg Along the path where we walked, there were lots of immigrants and idle people hanging out in the roads near Sacre Coeur. We were hungry at some point so we entered a boulangerie where aFrenchman advised us to be careful with our stuff in this area. He was very friendly and spoke good English, but he was also concerned for our well-being. He even accompanied us for a few hundred meters walk until it was his turn to move on to his destination. Prior leaving, he reiterated what Metro Line (blue) and Station we were to take on our way back (Barbes Rochechouart).

The hike up Sacre Couer was interesting, especially for taking photos. There were quite a lot of people so you generally feel a bit safe for your person.large_1840343_14340760101376.jpg However, you still have to be extra cautious about your pockets since petty crime abounds in that area. We made our way to the inside of the church, and saw one of the most magnificent interiors of any church you will find in the world. Truly it would be a unique experience to attend mass here.

However, we decided against going to the 6PM mass in Sacre Coeur because of various advice from Parisians, not to mention it would be dark by then. Sowe went back to the place we were most familiar with - Notre Dame for the 6PM mass, which happened to be celebrated by the ArchBishop of Paris. The place was so solemn and the chime of the church organ was overwhelming. After mass we had dinner and walked back to Best Western ducs du Bourgogne as we left our largest piece of luggage there before the trip to Belgium.large_1840343_14340759858907.jpg Thibault wasn't around anymore, but we had no problems in claiming our bag and then we went back to the Metro Station at Chatelet, headed back toBarbes Rochechouart.

I made a separate review about Hotel Merryl but the bottomline is that it is not meant for vacationers - it seemed more suited to students and people doing business in the Gare du Nord area. In the morning we made arrangements for a van pickup at 7AM, of which the receptionist was bugging us as early as 630AM without offering to help with the luggage going down a ultra small elevator that could barely fit an individual and a single piece of luggage!

It wasn't a great end to a great vacation - we could have enjoyed it further had we decided to stay at the Best Western. Lesson learned - next time, don't make a lousy hotel spoil the rest of your trip - best to avoid it so I don't need to write and blog about it here. But definitely something to keep in mind the next time we visit Paris or another city in Europe.

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France, Belgium and Netherlands 2015 - Versailles Photos


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France, Belgium and Netherlands 2015 - Paris Photos


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Back to Paris after 18 years


View Nolan's Eleven Heaven meetups & Meet my TravBuddy friends - Rhea (rheagirl) & France, Belgium and Netherlands 2015 & Meet my TravBuddy friends - Cathy (cookiecandy22) on NT01's travel map.

DRAFT

Highlights

Feb. 17 - Louvre

meetup with Sami (drblue) and Raya (galhies)

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