We searched for a place that could provide us with a crib and where we could have our own bathroom. Also, an elevator was greatly appreciated.
Paris is an expensive city, so finding a place that met these requirements, plus not being expensive was a hard task. I used booking.com to look for this sort of place.
Everything under 100€ per night seemed to have bad reviews. Most people either complained about the noise, the staff, the location, the wireless connectivity or the lack of hot water, so I decided to book one that cost a little more, but that had better reviews.
We chose Hotel des Mines and we could have not been more satisfied with our selection. It is a reasonably good price for what you get: a big room with your own bathroom, functional hot water, an excellent location and very friendly staff.
Day 1 – May 2nd – Rain
We arrived at Orly airport and took the Air France Cars line that goes to la Defense and makes a stop at Gare Montparnasse. It was only some streets away from Hotel de Mines.
We took the easiest route, but not quickest. We walked under the rain, with big 2 bags and a stroller. We finally reached the hotel and settled for a while.
The 3 of us managed to take a nap, ate something from the supermarket right next to the hotel and then went out for a walk in the Jardins de Luxembourg. Nice to see that the government invests in this kind of places and that Parisians are respectful of the well kept infrastructure.
These gardens are amazing: a big area, lots of green and a big pond where children can play with their toy sailboats.
We walked a little further through the Place Saint-Suplice, right by the Île de France, where we stopped at a pretty fountain. Some monuments and buildings around are a nice sight.
We ended up at one of the bridges that cross the Seine, this one specifically is called “Pont des Arts”.
I had seen this tradition in many other cities in the world where you buy a lock and just leave it there locked to a bridge. I think it is a symbol of your union to something or somebody. to a certain bridge. What astonished me this time was that this bridge was COMPLETELY covered with locks, one locked to the other. It was not possible to see the bars any more.
Day 2 – May 3rd – Sacre Coeur at Montmartre and Tour MontParnasse.
We woke up early (as we are used to with a baby) and took the bus to Montmartre. This bus was great because we just had to walk down Boulevard Saint-Michel and the bus stop was right at the corner with Rue Royer-Collard.
I speak a very limited French, so the bus driver was nice enough to signal us when we were supposed to get off the bus in order to be as close as possible to Sacre Coeur. To my surprise, the Google maps app does NOT provide routes using the bus when you select the “public transportation” option. This works perfectlyl in Barcelona, so I was disappointed I was not able to find my way like that in Paris.
We got off about 3 blocks away from the entrance to Sacre Coeur, where you can either take a more direct and steep path through some stairs or get even closer and just climb a few of them at the front of the church. Carrying a stroller, we chose the second option.
The view from these stairs, the few steps closer to the entrance, was amazing. I had been there first in 1998 and then in 2003, but I didn’t remember such a great view.
There were a lot of people (it was Saturday), but still we were able to take a couple of good shots. We didn’t go in because that would have meant standing in line for who knows how long. It was not even a line, it looked as I’d people were struggling and pushing their way in.
We took more pictures and started our way down. As we were walking, we saw the funicular that takes people from one of the streets below, right to where we were before.
When we reached the base of the funicular we were marveled by the view from down there. It was even better than the one from above.
We sat on a bench, ate our baguette with some cheese we had bought, opened a bottle of wine and enjoyed the sun and the view. We stayed there for a couple of hours and let our son play around and try to chase the pigeons. We enjoyed Sacre Coueur a lot.
Long walk to Tour Montparnasse
Our goal was to be at the Montparnasse Tower at 7:00 pm. We read that the best way to enjoy the view was to be there while there was still sunlight, then have a drink or 2 at the bar on th 56th floor, and remain there for a while until the Eiffel Tower was lit and sparkled at least twice.
Having this in mind, we had no rush to get there. It was around 13:30 when we finished our lunch and almost finished the bottle of wine at that bench. We started walking.
I have to admit that all the neighborhoods we were in Paris, had clean and well organized streets. With the exception of a couple of very narrow sidewalks, it was never difficult to cruise with a stroller. Despite what most Spaniards think of French and France in general, Parisians were always nice to us.
Anyway, according to Google Maps, we had to walk almost 6 Km for about 1h 13 min. Of course, with a baby, we never expected this to be true.
When we were half way there, we crossed the “Jardins des Tuileries”, which is this big green area right next to the Louvre museum.
Actually, Louvre is shaped like a bracket that faces west, towards Tuileries Gardens. Being with a baby, you are always grateful if you have a park nearby.
The views of these gardens are spectacular, so we spent some time there before finally crossing the Seine river and heading to the tower.
We walked some more and finally reached the Montparnasse Tower.
We bought our entrance, waited no more that 5 or 10 minutes in line and got into the elevator. Yep, it’s one of those very fast lifts that make your ears go “pop” if you’re not careful.
56th and 59th floors of Tour Montparnasse
We reached the 56th floor and were witness to a very pleasant 360º view through the glass.
Here they have a little restaurant, where you can buy a beer, a sandwich or a muffin and you an sit and enjoy it on one of the 3 or 4 tables available.
We walked around, trying to make our way around all the people that semmed to be stuck to the glass, but finally then decided to go to the 59th floor.
There’s a little hallway that takes you to some stairs that lead you to the rooftop. There’s no elevator there, just the stairs, so we had to carry the stroller. Fortunately, the stairway is wide enough all the way up, so it was no big deal.
Once you reach the top floor, you are on a roofless platform, surrounded by well designed metal walls that are strong enough to prevent people from falling off to the next level and with just as many holes in them so that you are able to see through and enjoy the view.
Up there, you can also see a fridge where they keep the bottles of expensive sparkling wine that you can get if you buy a certain entrance pack. You also have little drawings of the most important monuments, carefully positioned in order to let people know what they were looking at.
The long building in this picture is the Louvre Museum. Yes, it’s that big. The little church at the top of the hill on the background is where we had been some hours before.
This is a shot that I love because you are able to see Les Invalides, Arc du Triomphe at Place Charles de Gaule, the Eiffel Tower and the business district of La Défense at Puteaux, which is actually not within Paris.
We had read that the tower was lit at 20:00. However, we were there at the begining of May, so the sunset took place a little later and the tower ended up being lit at 21:00… It was 19:45 when someone confirmed this to us. We couldn’t wait any more, we were extremely tired, hence we took off. If we were to see the Eiffel Tower illuminated at night and sparkling, it was not going to be this day.
The next 4 days we went to the Louvre Museum, to Trocadero to watch the Eiffel Tower from below, walked to the Arc du Triomphe, Notre Dame, Place de la Concorde, went to the Grande Arche at La Défense and spent countless hours in parks. If I find the time, I’ll write another post about it.