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The Basilica is located at the summit of the Montmartre, a hill in the north of Paris. It is a minor Catholic church, but become one of tourist destinations in Paris because of its location at the highest point in the city.

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To reach the Basilica, visitors have to walk through a small street filled with mostly souvenir shops. Be careful of your belongings as there are many pickpockets around. I kept hugging my bag to avoid this to happen. Some pickpockets are smart enough to create some chaotic scenarios to distract the tourists attention. My advice is to be aware of those teenagers in groups.

The small street

The small street accessed to the Basilica

There is a legend behind the site of the Basilica. It is associated with the city’s patron, Saint Denis. He was martyred and beheaded. However Bishop Denis picked up his severed head and carried it to the top of the hill. The Basilica is built as a guilt offering and a vote of confidence to cure France’s misfortunes after France’s defeat in Franco-Prussian War in 1870 and the Commune of 1871.

Visitors have options to go up the dome by climbing up the 234-step staircase or by a cable car. By taking the cable car, we have to buy the ticket. But it is more efficient especially for those bringing old people or children.

Queuing for cable car

Queuing to ride the cable car

The Sacré Coeur is recognisable by its architectural style which is Roman-Byzantine. Inside the building, the ceiling is decorated with the largest mosaic in France measuring about 480 m². As the church still actively used for mass services and praying, visitors are required to keep the noise down and no photographies are allowed inside.

The view from the Basilica is breathtaking. Due to its location on the Montmartre hill, even higher than the Eiffle Tower, the Sacré-Coeur Basilica has become one of the most noticeable landmarks in Paris.

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Admission: Free, but there is a cost to go up the dome

Metro: Anvers (Metro Line 2)

Opening Hours: Basilica: 6AM-11PM (daily) ; Dome: 9AM-6PM (daily)

Bateaux Mouches are open excursion boats in Paris. The cruise offers the visitors a view of Paris city from along the Seine river. Second time visiting Paris, it was my second time cruising on the Bateaux Mouches. Instead of going at night, I went in the afternoon this time. And since it was summer, the sun sets later at 9PM.

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The boats are equipped with audio announcement systems, synchronized to the boat’s movement. The commentary provides informations about the sights. Not to worry about the language, because the the commentary goes in several different languages.  There are upper and lower deck seats. Upper deck seats offers best and clearer views, except there are no shelters (if it rains) and it can be windy. The lower deck seats are indoor.

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Some sights include the famous Eiffle, Notre dame Cathedral, Invalides, Musee du Louvre, Grand Palais and the list goes on. Certainly, the tours offer a pleasant and relaxing way to see the city. This worths and is recommended for those who has limited time to explore Paris.

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Love bridge

Love lock Bridge

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The city offers a different feel and view during the daytime and at night. During the daytime, you can see the architecture of the buildings clearly, whereas the night it offers romantic views with lights.

 

Website: http://www.bateaux-mouches.fr/en

Language: English, French, Spanish, Italian, German, Portuguese, Russian, Japanese, Chinese, and Korean

Address: Port de la Conférence – Pont de l’Alma (right bank)

Metro: Pont de l’Alma (line 9)

 

Eiffle Tower is not the only options for those who want to viewing the whole city of Paris. In fact, Tour Montparnasse or also called Montparnasse Tower is an office skyscraper in Paris where visitors can view the best landscapes of the city. With the height of 210-metre (689 ft), it used to be the tallest building in Paris before being surpassed by Tour First.  

The building is located nearby Gare Montparnasse Train Station, one of the six largest terminals in Paris. Taking TGV train from Lourdes, I alighted at Gare Montparnasse Station. But, coming out from the station, I did not notice the skyscraper since the it looked like other office buildings.

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Whereas the building still serves as an office, level 56th is opened as a tourist observation deck. From the observation deck, visitors can access the roof-terrace for the best outdoor viewing platform. Visitors need to purchase the ticket and go up by the high-speed elevator. Actually the concept is similar with the Sky100 in Hongkong or N Tower in Seoul.

The entrance to the observation deck is just next to Galeries Lafayette. However, this Galeries Lafayette is the old building, not the new one. It still carries fashion brands, but not as much as new building with high-end fashion brands.

The Old Galeries Lafayette

The Old Galeries Lafayette

Be prepared to queue up, especially during spring/summer where it is a peak holiday. I suggest not to visit in the summer afternoon as the sun will be scorching hot.

View from the roof-terrace

View from the roof-terrace

View from the roof-terrace

View from the roof-terrace

So if you are a skyscraper-crazy or simply want to get the panoramic view of the city in Paris, Montparnasse Tower should be included on your visit list.

Website: http://www.tourmontparnasse56.com

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Lourdes is a small suburb located in the south-western France. The modest place has been a major pilgrimage place for Roman Catholic. The Blessed Virgin Mary is believed to have appeared there to a poor shepherd girl, Bernadette Soubirous. Ever since, people from all over the world, Catholic or those who believe, has been visiting not only for praying but for miraculous healing.

The population of Lourdes is around 15,000, but the crowds are mostly tourists and pilgrims. Almost in every corner, souvenir shops can be spotted. Most of them selling prayer items such as rosaries.

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Basilica of the Rosary (Basilique Notre-Dame du Rosaire)

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Basilica of the Rosary (Basilique Notre-Dame du Rosaire) is one of the major places of worship. Just behind the Basilica, there is the Grotto of Massabielle, where The Virgin Mary is said to have appeared 18 times to Bernadette. At the back of the Grotto, a spring was spouted when Bernadette scraped the earth as instructed by The Virgin. The water from this spring is believed to have a healing properties. Not only those who are sick, but also those who hope to be cleanse spiritually go for the bath in which the spring water flows to.

Pilgrims can write their petitions and leave in a box at the Grotto of Our Lady of Lourdes. I helped a few of my friends to write their petitions and left mine too. They are collected daily and burnt. As long as we are sincere, our prayers will be answered. There are benches to allow visitors to sit and pray. Pilgrims are asked to remain silent to create an atmosphere of devotion. And just next to the Grotto, pilgrims can light the candles or pray.

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Light the candles

Lighted candles

During the Candlelight Procession or also called Marion Procession or Rosary Procession, thousands of people will carry candles while praying. This heavenly procession starts every 9PM, starts from the Grotto around the Sanctuaries and back to the Basilica of Rosary. Many of them are sick and wheelchairs. The Rosary is prayed in many different languages not only English or French.

Candlelight Procession or Rosary Procession

Candlelight Procession or Rosary Procession

Although Lourdes is a modest suburban, this place is very peaceful. There are still restaurant or pubs which open until late, but most shops close early.

I felt so serene and peaceful during and after my visit to Lourdes. As a Catholic myself, I am very grateful to be able to visit this major pilgrimage place. I wish that it’s not going to be my last time to be able to say my prayer personally to Mother Mary in this holy place. I sincerely hope and pray that I could have my second, third, and more chances to come here with my loved ones.

When I visited Paris in 2009, I had bad experiences that totally changed my mind about the city.  To be honest, it left me bad and deep impressions about the city and the people. I do agree that it is a very beautiful and romantic city, especially when the city was lighted with colorful lights at nights.

It started when a group of three teenage girls almost pick pocketed my wallet. My friends and I were waiting for the train to come in one of the metro station in our way to Eiffel Tower. I forgot which the name of the station. Hungry, we decided to buy some tidbits from the vending machine at the station.

I guess they have targeted us from far. I remember that I zipped my bag properly after putting back my wallet. When getting on board the train, I was the last person to hop on the train. Suddenly, a group of girls pushed me. Initially I thought that they worried that the train doors would close soon., until I felt that my bag stuck on one of the girl’s jacket. Remember that my grandfather was ever pick pocketed in Europe, naturally I checked on my bag. The zip was opened!

Although it was not opened widely (about 5-6cm), I sensed something has gone wrong. I knew that they took something from my bag. Luckily, I fast enough to grab one of the girl’s arm. To my surprise, the girl whose arm grabbed, had already took my wallet. In panic mode, she returned my wallet. OMG, THEY TOOK MY WALLET!!

The girls quickly stepped back a few seconds before the train door was closed so I did not manage to drag them to the police. But I doubt that the police would help me too. Lucky I was fast enough to react so I could get my wallet back.

Besides me, my friends faced racism just because we are Asians there. It happened when they wanted to get tax refund at Paris Orly Airport. The person at the counter showed rude attitude and did not want to serve them. In the end, they couldn’t get the tax refund.

The trip taught me to be careful of your bags and we have to always be aware of anyone who bumped into us. It’s their trick… And please don’t be surprise if you encountered any racism/rude attitude from the locals.

Time to hit Disneyland in Paris… I’ve been to Japan and Hongkong ones, so I was excited to see Paris one. They say Hongkong one so far is the smallest, and although it’s not as big as Japan’s, Paris one still bigger than Hongkong.

We woke and got ready earlier than other days because we wanted to reach the theme park as early as possible. The journey took more than 45 minutes because the theme park located quite a distance from the city.

Initially we wanted to kill time by sleeping in the train, but we were too excited so ended up couldn’t sleep. Finally we reached!

So we got off the train and walked to the gate. Here we are, at the entrance of the wonderland 🙂

When we reached, the parade was just about to start. So we waited and saw a cute little train, with Disney characters on it. They are so cute… There was Pinocchio too!

After the parade, we took picture of the Sleeping Beauty Castle and started to explore the park. We tried most of the rides, including the thrill and adventure ones such as Space Mountain Mission 2, Indiana Jones and Big Thunder Mountain. If you are into thrill and adrenaline-rushed rides, I would recommend Space Mountain Mission 2. The roller-coaster is better and faster compared to the Hongkong one.

Our lunch was Mickey Mouse Burger, in the shape of Mickey’s head. Of course, I would say McDonald’s or Burger King is better.

The weather was getting colder as the day turned darker. So we went into the souvenirs shops to buy souvenirs and warmed ourselves while waiting for the fireworks and the last parade to start.

So my advice, please bring thick jacket, winter hats and gloves if you are going to any outdoor theme parks. You won’t wish to ride those outdoor fast-speed rides with the cold wind blowing to your face, right?

Visiting Paris would not be complete without visiting this city icon, Eiffel Tower. In the morning, after having our breakfast with baguette and coffee in our hostel, we head on to the famous tower. The journey took about 25 minutes.

As usual we took metro and stop at the nearest station to the tower: Champ de Mars / Tour Eiffel and walk a bit. We did not go up, I forgot what was the reason for not doing so (my trip was in 2009), but I’m kind of regret for not doing so.

If you stand directly below the tower, you won’t be able to get a full shot of the whole tower. So we walked towards the opposite side of the tower and took our best pictures there.

Since I took pictures of Eiffel from my Seine River Cruise tour at night, I got both day and night view.

Eiffel, in day and night view

In the evening, we went to Galeries Lafayette. But it was closed! What a pity! We did not know that the gallery closed very early. So we only managed to walk around the gallery, looking at the Christmas decoration. Although it was only early November, they had set up the Christmas decoration.

It was a cold night, so we decided to go back to the hostel. See what I saw on our way back. The weather was colder than yesterday, even the doves were shivering too.

How to go Eiffel Tower:
Take train and stop at Champ de Mars / Tour Eiffel metro station.

How to go Eiffel Tower:
Take train and stop at Opéra metro station.
Opening hours: 09.30 – 19.30

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