Fall 2001:  London, Normandy, and Paris


Rodin Museum On all our student visits to Paris, we have stayed in the 7th (on rue Cler).  This location is safe and provides easy access to the places we want to visit.  For example, the Rodin Museum and the Invalides were an easy walk from our hotel, and the Musee d'Orsay is only about another ten minutes.  The Rodin is a nice break from the ordinary art museums.  The building itself, a former home, is small and allows the visitor to be near the sculptures.  Many of the works, like "The Thinker" are displayed in natural settings in the extensive gardens.  Napoleon's tomb is located under the Dome of the Invalides, and if you have time time, there's an interesting Army Museum also located in the building.

The Champs-Élysées is not only the most famous street in Paris (and perhaps the world), it's also probably the most difficult to spell.  Stretching from Place de la Concorde to the Arc de Triomphe, the street can be roughly divided into two parts: on the end toward Concorde, it is tree-lined and filled with gardens and flowers; on the end nearer the Arc, it is a traffic-jammed boulevard lined by movie houses, fast-food places, and car dealerships.  But even at its worst points, it's a great place to sit and watch the people go by!
Samantha on CE

On Montmartre
From the Place du Tertre, the Dome of the Sacré-Couer rises above the other buildings in Montmartre.  The Place still retains some of its village charm if you can get there early in the morning or late in the evening, especially in the off-season.  But even if you're limited to seeing Montmartre at the height of the tourist season in the middle of the day, you can recall a little of its colorful past by just walking a few blocks off the path leading from the steps of the church toward Place du Tertre.  There are still many treasures waiting to be found, tucked around the corner on one of the winding little streets in the neighborhood.

For most of our traveling in Paris, we prefer to use the buses, because we can see more of the city.  But for places that are farther apart, it's best to use the Metro or the RER.  They're fast and efficient and can help maximize the most important thing on any trip: time.  And for those of us whose primary experience with public transportation has been a big yellow school bus, these underground adventures are almost like a carnival ride (with strange smells added, of course!)
Paris Metro

At Versailles
We were able to see Versailles as we had never seen it before. As a result of the huge drop in tourism in the months immediately following 9/11, we found ourselves almost alone at many of the normally crowded spots.  On this visit to Versailles, we and our guide were the only people in many of the rooms.  We were able to take our time and see details that we'd never seen before.  On most of our prior visits to Versailles, I've usually seen the back of a taller person's head. Furthermore, people were glad to see us at almost every stop.  Instead of pushing us along like a herd of cattle, people in the museums, shops, and restaurants actually Thanked us for coming!  It was a nice feeling and one we'll probably never experience again.  

The McDonald's at Versailles must have the smartest staff of any McDonald's in the world.  Realizing that they were facing a crowd of twenty Americans who had no idea what goes into a Cheeseburger Royale, they moved us away from the counter to our tables, took our orders as if we were at a regular restaurant, and delivered the whole thing to us on a cart!  On the travel boards, going to McDonald's in France is often treated as some sort of heresy.  In fact, with a group of teens, McDonald's is perfect for lunch.  It's clean, fast, and has the best free restrooms around.  
Versailles Big Mac

London - Normandy
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