The last time that Bill started a sentence with, “Let’s…” you can tell what happened by the title of our blog. His most recent suggestion using that word did not involve an international move; simply a train ride up to the capital and a couple of nights in a hotel. It only takes about 5 hours to go from downtown Carcassonne to downtown Paris and with our Senior railcards the one-way fares can be as low as 26€ in 2nd class or 30€ in 1st. Once you’ve arrived there’s a choice of 1600 hotels and 44,000 restaurants so something to appeal to anyone’s budget. With all of those advantages it was easy to say, “Let’s go!”
There’s a TV program in the US called “House Hunters International” that we used to watch every week. Unsurprisingly, we were always delighted when the show featured a search in France and when it was in Paris the real estate agent was almost always Adrian Leeds. In 1996 she began an online guide, “Insider Paris Guide for Good Value Restaurants” that we used on every vacation to sort through those thousands of eating establishments but I can’t find that it’s still being updated. I did discover, however, that those keywords from the title produced lots of helpful results from bloggers and travel websites. Armed with those suggestions it was easy enough to check the Google map to find the different locations and to get feedback from diners. Of course, there’s always the Michelin (Red) Guide that‘s been recommending restaurants since 1900 including the 94 1-star ones in Paris.
Depending on which train you take from Carcassonne, there are 3 out of the 6 main stations where you will arrive in Paris. For the convenience of catching the train home or for day trips we tend to stay near the station and a look at a Google map will display hotels around each with the corresponding user comments. We always book directly with the hotel rather than through a reservation service. If we’re going to remain in town for more than a night or two, we like the extra space and cooking facilities that apartment-hotels offer and for even more room for longer stays, a short-term apartment or house rental is sometimes worth the extra effort to collect and drop off the keys and tidy up the place before leaving.
For sightseeing there will be a blog post on Christmas Day about the books we’ll be reading in front of the fire trying to decide on where to go next. The three websites that I like for giving you an initial idea of what you might see in a destination are:
- The Crazy Tourist https://www.thecrazytourist.com/
- Planetware https://www.planetware.com/
- The Culture Trip https://theculturetrip.com/
In the first paragraph I mentioned that it’s about a 5-hour train trip from here to the City of Light. By coincidence there’s a website called, “How far can you go by train in 5h?” where you can hover your mouse over any station in Europe and see where you might go for dinner! Here’s the link: https://www.chronotrains.com/ Hint: use two fingers to zoom in.
When we lived in Philadelphia I worked with a young woman who said that she always kept an overnight bag packed and sitting in the closet by the front door. Her girlfriend worked for an international airline and when empty seats became available on a Friday night they were suddenly off to Madrid, Amsterdam, or maybe London for the weekend. So, the next time I hear, “Let’s go to Paris for dinner,” I’ll be ready.
Photo note: We stayed in the 8th arrondissement and took some pictures in the neighborhood. The featured photo is café Triadou Haussmann and the tower of clocks is in front of the Saint-Lazare train station.