We flew directly from Salt Lake City to Paris in just under 10 hours. It’s a fantastic flight and it was even better being in the comfortable seats in Delta’s Premium Select area. Brett has Diamond Medallion status with Delta and was able to get us all upgraded on the longest leg of the trip. Thanks to favorable tailwinds, we landed in Paris about 30 minutes earlier than expected, giving us about 12 hours to go out and enjoy the city before jumping on our next flight to Cairo.
We made our way through the huge Charles de Gaulle Airport to the RER B train and headed into the city. It took about 45 minutes on the train to make it to the Notre-Dame stop, where we got off. Paris was cold, as it usually is during the winter. We planned well, keeping our warm clothes with us on the plane so we would have layers to keep us warm in Paris while our checked bags stayed with the airline.
We circled the cathedral and were amazed at its current state of reconstruction. The fire had really gutted the place, but the work to repair it was really going well. Scaffolding was everywhere, but so where high-quality images of many of the things they had been doing to put it back together again. it was really interesting, even if it wasn’t very picturesque.
Walking the Seine
We walked along the Seine river from the cathedral and then turned and made our way to the Arc de Triomphe. We have seen both the church and the monument on previous trips to Paris, but we decided to see them again this time. We took a quick photo at the Arc and then made our way to the Eiffel Tower. I have seen it light up at night from about a mile away, but I felt like I had never actually “been there” until today. It’s worth seeing in the day. It’s worth seeing when it’s lit up at night. But it’s probably not worth going out of my way to see again and again.
Walking around Paris sort of sucks. This is especially true in winter. None of us ever got too hot or too cold, but we wound up walking about 10 or 11 miles on concrete and cobblestones. I was feeling great until about 8 miles in, when the harsh conditions under foot translated into sore feet and my Achilles tendon reminding me that I’m not really the boss.
The Paris Catacombs
One of our chosen activities today was to visit the Paris Catacombs. As we approached the museum we saw large signs notifying everyone that all of today’s tours were sold out. It was a good thing we planned ahead and booked our tickets for a 2 pm tour during our final trip planning meeting about a week ago. There were a few people in line outside the building, but it didn’t seem like it would be too crowded. We headed for the back of the line and handed our pre-printed tickets to the gentleman in charge of such things. He looked them over and then handed them back to us. “Non,” he said, pointing to the date on our tickets. January 24th. That wasn’t right. That had to be the day we booked the tickets. But where did it say the date of the tour we had booked? Did we book the wrong day? Yes. Yes, we did. We made a short-lived attempt to convince the man to sell us tickets for today, but it was futile. So the Catacombs will have to wait for some other day in Paris. It’s not what we wanted or planned, but we still got a good laugh out of all the pre-planning that went into it, the effort made to walk all the way across the city to be there, etc. It’s now a story we’ll tell and laugh about the time we didn’t see the Catacombs.
One of the things we were hoping to do at the Catacombs was find a bathroom we could use. Now that we wouldn’t be able to use a bathroom at the museum, we needed to find a new solution. Previous trips in Europe have taught us that public facilities are difficult to find. We tried a McDonald’s. They had bathrooms, but you couldn’t open the door without depositing half a Euro. We’re not against paying to use the toilet, but we had not exchanged any dollars for Euros, so we had no coins to drop into the slot. Eventually we found a free public bathroom that cleaned itself after each use. That was a stroke of luck.
Air France Lounge Access
We didn’t have to walk all the way back to the Notre-Dame to catch the train, of course, but it was still a good mile walk from the Catacombs to the Luxembourg Station. We rode the train back to the airport hoping to spend an hour or so hanging out in the Air France lounge, but they told us Brett’s Delta Credit Card passes wouldn’t work for Air France, even though it is a Delta partner. We would have to be flying in the premium cabin that day in order to be allowed in. Wait a minute! We did fly in the premium cabin that day. We were able to just scan our boarding passes to gain access to the lounge without having to use the lounge access passes Brett had. That worked out really well. The spread of food at the Air France lounge at CDG wasn’t nearly as impressive as what we had seen at the Delta lounge in Salt Lake City, but it was still pretty good. We had already eaten in the city, so we mostly stuck to hot chocolate and pastries in the lounge. They have a napping area and showers in the lounge. I didn’t try either of those this time, but I think that’s a great idea for future trips.