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We’re funny (usually), controversial (sometimes) and insightful (always!). Our travel experts share their experiences below in hopes of hearing back from YOU. So read, comment and enjoy!

Posts in ‘Things to do in Paris’

isango! launches ‘Paris Magic Moments’

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Disneyland® Paris comprises of two fantastic parks – Disneyland Parks and Walt Disney Studios. A visit is a double treat filled with plenty of magical choice.  That however, can raise several issues.  What to do and how to get the most and best out of your visit.

Those vexing decisions can now be left in the very capable hands of Paris Magic Moments, isango’s newest website.

Paris Magic Moments, launched in the UK on 30th June 2014, is run by a travel team solely focused on, and dedicated to, Disneyland Paris.  The company has a Specialists Sales Team that will advise you on the lowest prices and the most competitive deals to suit your budget.

PMM

Open seven days a week and supported by a high-speed and hi-tech online booking system, Paris Magic Moments makes sure that you get those much-desired discounts and special offers that will add to your enjoyment and the overall ©Disney experience.

Unlike other travel and tourism booking organisations, Paris Magic Moments is a preferred partner of Disneyland Paris.  This means that PMM can bundle a wide range of options with Disney’s offerings and choices that you won’t otherwise have access to.  You can buy products and ticket packages, normally offered only by Disney Hotels, even if you are staying at Disney Partner/Affiliated Hotels.

Paris Magic Moments caters only to the UK market so travel and transport is geared to getting you to and from London and Paris.  The choices are really terrific as you can avail of options that include the Eurostar Passenger or the Eurotunnel Car Train or the P&O Ferries.

Paris Magic Moments’ service goes beyond just arranging your tickets.  They sort out another travel related bother – luggage.  This service is part of the Disney Express and saves you the hassle of moving your luggage onto the train, into the hotel and when you leave, the reverse process.  Now you simply check in on the train at the station, get your tickets and room keys while your luggage is taken to the hotel and the same applies when you leave Disneyland.

PMM’s offerings don’t stop at the door, so to speak.  They provide valuable budget savings on meals too.  There are a whole bouquet of meal plans and add-ons.  Guests staying at Disney or Partner hotels get vouchers for meals within Disney Resort.  Then there are the super thrills of enjoying the high-octane Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Dinner Show as well as meals at Cafe Mickey.

To give you a change of scene and pace so that you can round out your vacation, Paris Magic Moments offers Paris Day Trips.

Using the expertise and services of Paris Magic Moments will ensure that both you and the kids revel in the excitement and magic and the very best of Disneyworld® Paris.

Book your Disneyland Paris holiday now at www.parismagicmoments.co.uk

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4 Unusual Things To Do In Paris

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The usual path for most visitors to Paris is the Arc de Triomphe, Notre Dame Cathedral, with the Louvre, the Champs Élysées and the Eiffel Tower in between. While these are must-see and iconic sights there are other subtle and intriguing ways to see and experience the City of Lights. Such as…

Taking a Horse and Carriage Ride through Paris
It’s an absolutely regal experience! You feel like royalty riding in the beautiful polished open wooden carriage driven by a top-hatted, liveried guide handling the reins. The sound of the horse’s hooves clip-clopping along the streets of central Paris; people stopping to wave and photograph you along the way will transport you to a different world.

Horse Carriage Tour in Paris

That world is filled with the wonderful landmarks like the imposing Eiffel Tower and the grand and wonderful bridges of Pont Alexandre III and Pont de l’Alma. As you traverse the Avenue Montaigne and slowly ride past the Petit and Grand Palais’ and through the Champs de Mars you cannot help but feel a special affection for Paris!

The romanticism is heightened with a warm blanket covering your knees and a glass of bubbly champagne in your hand.

Taking a Wine Tasting Tour
Wine and Paris go together like bread and butter. Taking a wine tasting tour through this city combines two wonderful experiences – wine and unseen Paris. You will get an intimate feel that most visitors miss. Paris’ many bistros date back a long, long time and some of them are iconic. These traditional drinking and social gathering places with their tiled floors, wooden chairs, and old black and white photos on the wall will give a strong taste of what the real Paris is like.

Wine tasting

You lose your sense of time in the atmosphere in these surroundings. You almost feel history being played out when you walk past the Pantheon, or the 12th century Church of Saint Medard or the Church of Sainte Geneviève and its lovely stained glass windows. The wine and history are a heady combination!

Taking a Revolutionary Tour – Vive la Republic!
Paris, we all know, witnessed the creation of the modern ideal of government by the people. The birthing of these revolutionary concepts was long, often violent and bloody but led to significant and permanent changes in the world.

As you walk past the monuments and sites associated with the revolutionary period and the establishment of the Republics you cannot help but imagine those terrifying nights. The imposing Hotel Les Invalides, ransacked by the revolutionaries for guns and ammunition, which they then used to storm the Bastille, a symbol of oppression. The Conciergerie, Tuileries Palace and the Place de la Concorde will forever be connected with the beheadings of Marie Antointte, King Louis XVII and more than 2,000 others.

Paris at night

The most important site of all, of course, is the Assemblée Nationale, where the revolutionary parliament first held their deliberations and governed France.

Shopping For Antiques
You cannot come to Paris and leave without mementoes of your visit. Sadly most people end up buying cheap knock-offs of Eiffel Tower replicas and other touristy knick-knacks. What you should really do is check out the marvellous flea markets around Paris. The largest and most famous flea market in the world is the Les Puces de Saint-Ouen. It is also the world’s largest antique market.

Antiques

They are a shoppers’ and collectors’ paradise. You are very likely to pick up great bargains in antique furniture, art, decorative pieces, architectural elements, porcelain, vintage clothing, jewellery, bizarre items or anything else you can imagine. Or a treasure!

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Paris Cabaret Guide

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Paris has always known how to put on a show and have fun especially at night.  The city is one giant seething mass of bars, cafés, lounges, esoteric drinking cellars, factories-turned-rave-dance-halls, barges converted to snooty restaurants and fancy cocktail bars.  Just about everywhere there are drinking places, clubs and bistros that attract with the pounding beats of electro, retro rock, reggae, jazz, you name it.

‘Life’ Liza Minelli once warbled, ‘is a cabaret, old chum.  Come to the cabaret!’  That urge to taste its pleasures still rings out loud and shines bright in gay Paree.  Paris, always a ‘good time city’, was one of the first in the world to put up street lighting, which only served to extend those good time hours.  The sheer numbers, variety and quality of entertainment choices can, at times, be overwhelming.

But nothing says Paris like cabaret!

Moulin Rouge
Moulin Rouge is probably the most famous cabaret nightclub in the whole wide world and the spiritual birthplace of the can-can.  Its cabaret featuring ladies dressed in feathers, sequins and not much else draws people from all over the world like moths to its bright gaudy iconic red windmill entrance.  The very name and the images it conjures up gets the heart racing.

Moulin Rouge

The Moulin Rouge is about 125 years old; the can-can and cabaret has evolved but the sheer seductiveness of the place has just kept growing. The decor still harks back to those carefree hedonistic days captured by Tolouse-Lautrec’s fabulous posters. The thought of watching a show with a glass of champagne in hand at the Moulin Rouge is inspiration enough to pack one’s bags for Paris.

Lido Cabaret
There is nothing modest about the Lido.  From its grand facade, its opulent interiors, a panoramic theatre style that seats over a thousand people, its six floor height to its Champs-Elysées address – it shouts out flamboyance.  It is over-the-top in a spectacular and glamorous way.

Revue Lido

The Lido puts on amazing shows because it has the space to install lavish sets including a skating rink, water curtain and a swimming pool.  The Lido specializes in jaw-dropping effects and absolutely gorgeous and talented performers.  The current show, Bonheur is a stunning and exotic example of what they are capable of.  It involves 70 performers, 23 sets and 600 costumes with lots of sparkles, feathers and beautiful bodies.  You will not lack for visual stimulation.  Oh yes, the food is superb too.

Paradis Latin Show
The Paradis Latin claims to be the oldest cabaret venue in Paris having been around since 1802.  What is certainly indisputable is that they put on really risqué shows.  Located in the legendary Latin Quarter in the 5th arrondissement of Paris, the Paradis Latin has glamour by the bucket-load highlighted by classy decor that is reminiscent of late nineteenth, early twentieth century Paris.

Paradis Latin Hero

Looks aside, the Paradis Latin puts on sensual shows with unrestrained energy and spectacular settings.  The choreography is breathtaking and involves ballet, tap dancing and even circus-type acts.  They rope in some of the best known talents from around the world who are capable of making you forget the glass of wine in your hand.  At the Paradis, you will never sit back and relax.  It’s all edge of the seat ‘naughty’ entertainment.

Crazy Horse Show
Avant garde, sensual, risqué!  Those are just some of the terms you could use to describe the performances at the Crazy Horse.  It is fairly young (in terms of age) among Paris’ cabaret venues with all the brashness and vitality of youth.  The Crazy Horse puts on a wide variety of turns including musical, magic, juggling and mime but its worldwide reputation is based on its “aesthetic celebration of the female form as an expression of art.”  It is one of world’s most famous burlesque theatres focusing its creative energies to celebrating the female body.  The current revue is a new show called Désirs.

spectacle désirs

A converted wine cellar, The Crazy Horse resides in an imposing building on Avenue George V.  The interior is relatively small in scale with tables, comfortable armchairs and mood lighting providing a cozy atmosphere.  The whole effect and design is to make the experience intimate for the audience and get them close up to the stage and performers.

Mugler Follies
To the Mugler Follies goes the title of the ‘baby of Paris cabarets.’  The brainchild of Theirry Manfred Mugler, the cabaret at this venue is both innovative and enchanting.  Mugler brings all his experience, as an haute couture designer and his work with the Cirque de Soleil, to the revue.

©MTML-Manfred T. Mugler (1)

He has taken over the Comedia, a 1930s theatre and imbued it with his rather unique vision.  He has put together a show that is ultra-modern, giving a fresh spin to the classic French cabaret.  The shows are total entertainment, combining glamorous characters, sophisticated erotic scenes, whimsical dances, fantastic lighting and other eye-popping effects.  They can also be beautiful and shocking at the same time.  The Mugler Follies has acrobats, singers, dancers and choreography combining original scripts, music and songs.

Mugler Follies is Paris’s newest and most mind-expanding while also being the best value Cabaret show!

Remember though when you start out on your aventures nocturnes Parisiens, that attire is very important.  A tie and jacket is not compulsory.  However, short-pants, jeans, sport shoes and sportswear are prohibited.

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The Paris Pass – Your Best Friend

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Paris – The City of Lights – is probably the most beautiful and romantic city in the world.  Its iconic landmarks, magnificent cathedrals, museums of every kind, beautiful tree-lined avenues, vivid gardens, the scenic River Seine, pretty street cafés, incredible choice of entertainment and world-famous fashion houses will satisfy every visitor’s whim.  Paris never fails to delight.

Paris Pass 1
More than 45 million people come from every corner of the planet every year!  They come to see and experience, for themselves, the many famous attractions of Paris.  The Louvre, Notre Dame Cathedral, the Arc de Triomphe, the Eiffel Tower and the Palace of Versailles are all synonymous with this wondrous city.

You should remember that very few Paris attractions are free.  You will need to buy tickets to enter monuments, museums, churches and historical sites and they can add up to a large pile of Euros.  Another problem that Paris’ popularity poses is the difficulty and length of time required to enter her majestic attractions.  Queues can be long and winding.  It could easily take you from 45 minutes to an hour to get into highly visited sites and in the summer heat, that is not a joy.  The solution to the above woes is to get yourself a Paris Pass.

Savings!  Savings!  Savings!

That is the best way to describe the Paris Pass.  Purchase a Paris Pass and you save on time, money and your energy levels.  It is a real life-saving sightseeing package that provides you with all you need to make the most of your precious time in Paris.

pARIS pASS 2

The Paris Pass gives you entry to the city’s top attractions as well as public transport.  One of its magic like qualities is that it offers skip-the-line access to attractions so that you enter without having to queue up.  Some highlights of the Paris Pass are:

  • Sightseeing with the Paris Pass with free admission to over 60 attractions
  • Choose from a 2, 4 or 6-day Paris Pass
  • Monstrous savings.  2 Day Adult Pass (€30 savings): 4 Day Adult Pass (€66): 6 Day Adult Pass (€122)
  • Free use of public transport – including Metro, buses and RER services for the duration of the Pass
  • Skip the line entrance to Paris’ most famous attractions, including the Louvre Museum, Musée d’Orsay, Arc de Triomphe and the Centre Pompidou
  • Free entry to Paris’ best attractions including, Musée Grévin and Tour Montparnasse Tower
  • Special offers and discounts at restaurants and shops
  • Free and very handy city map of Paris
  • Free one day Hop-on-Hop-off Bus Tour with informative commentary
  • Free 120 page Paris guidebook that is a marvelous guide filled with tips and useful information about the city and its attractions.  It is an excellent tour planner

The Paris Pass is an indispensable tool and a comprehensive sightseeing package for anyone who wants to get as much of Paris, into their itinerary, as possible.

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isango! Travel Ideas for April – Spring Magic

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It’s spring in most of the Northern Hemisphere.  It is during this time, when the flowers bloom and the world is green and pretty with the promise of pleasures to come, that the travel bug bites.

Here are some exciting isango! picks of places to be this month.

Los Angeles, Southern California
The Oscar season is over but the stars will always shine in Los Angeles, the Entertainment Capital of the World.   Visit Mann’s Chinese Theatre’s to see nearly 200 Hollywood celebrity handprints, footprints, and autographs embedded in the concrete of the forecourt.  Stroll along the Hollywood Walk of Fame where some 2,500 celebrities are immortalised by stars on the sidewalk.  Take a tour of the incredible mansions of Hollywood’s superstars in the famous Bel Air, Beverly Hills and Holmby Hills districts and you will realise that the movies are really the biggest thing in this town.

los angeles

Glamour and beauty is all around whether you are relaxing at the Venice Beach or are window shopping at Rodeo Drive.  There is also charm and quaintness to be found in the small shops, stalls and cafés in the narrow passages of the Farmers’ Market.

Paris
‘I love Paris in the springtime,’ sang the poet and he had every reason to do so.  It is a magical time to be in Paris.  The Paulownia trees and lavender are among a myriad flowers breaking out, in all their glory, in every garden and park.  This is especially so of the Tuileries Garden and the Jardin du Luxembourg.

Spring also brings out the locals and kick starts the café culture.  The alluring aroma of coffee and hot croissants is simply irresistible.  The Paris springtime nights are magical and dinner in one of the many restaurants or cruise ships on the Seine will be etched long in the memory.

Paris

At this time of the year, the countryside around Paris is absolutely gorgeous.  Take a day trip to the Champagne region of France.  The geometrically ordered rows of grape vines marching across hillsides and encircling tiny picturesque French villages are the stuff of picture postcards.

Japan
The month of April is the best time to visit Japan.  The country will be blanketed by the beautiful, delicate pink cherry blossoms (sakura).  This collection of islands is absolutely packed with natural beauty and a gracious people who have created a unique and amazing cuisine.  Japan has 16 World Heritage Sites reflecting an ancient history and a rich culture.

japan123

Among its countless splendours are the centuries old shrines and temples of Kyoto, which are national treasures and the finest symbols of Japanese heritage.  A trip on the legendary Nozomi Bullet Train from Tokyo to Kyoto is an enthralling journey that goes past the iconic Mt. Fuji and scenic countryside.  Tokyo is an eclectic mix of the old and the futuristic, best exemplified by wild street fashions, inspired by (and often outdoing) anime comics, and the wonderfully sedate ancient Geisha traditions.

Turkey
Istanbul mirrors its vibrant history.  Straddling the Bosphorus Strait, it links Asia with Europe.  The city has evolved into a multi-cultural melting pot and the financial hub of the country.  The minarets of the Blue Mosque and St. Sophia Church easily rub shoulders with modern skyscrapers and look down upon bustling shopping malls and restaurants.

istanbul

The old city of Istanbul (once Constantinople) is where most of the famous historical sites of the Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman periods are located.  The new city is epitomised by the upmarket and trendy Taksim Square and Beyoglu in the Galata district (once home to Istanbul’s Jews), which are a hive of flourishing art galleries, museums, bars, nightclubs, entertainment centres and restaurants.  The action in Istanbul never stops and is in perpetual high-gear.

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Getting to Disneyland Paris by Train

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One thing we often hear from our customers is that they would love to spend a day at Disneyland during their time in Paris, but have concerns about how to get there.  While at first glance the Parisian transport network may seem overwhelming, it really is super-simple and with these basics you will easily plan your journey to the Parks.

If you have not bought your tickets yet, check out our great price for the Disneyland Paris 1 Day Hopper Ticket.  Or if you would rather go for a transport-inclusive package we also have this day trip with transport.

family

What train do I take and where do I board?

Disneyland Paris is easily connected to central Paris using the RER A.  This suburban railway service runs every 10-30 minutes depending on the time of day and will get you to Disneyland Paris in just 30-40 minutes.

You can get a direct train from the following Paris Stations:

Charles de Gaulle Etoile:  Located at the top of the Champs-Élysées, there are several entrances which surround the Arc de Triomphe.  Anyone staying west of the city centre should use this station. 

Auber:  Located on Rue Auber, close to the Opera Garnier and the department stores of Boulevard Haussman.

Chatlet Les Halles:  One of Paris’ major interchanges is convenient for those staying near the Louvre, Île de la Cité and the Latin Quarter.

Gare de Lyon: Convenient for those with hotels in the south east of Paris, near Gare d’Austerlitz or Bercy.

For Disneyland Paris you need to get off at Marne-la-Vallee – Chessy.  The park gates are less than 5 minutes’ walk from here.

What tickets do I need?

When using the ticket window, you can simply explain you need a ticket for Disneyland (Billet pour Disneyland). You will find that most ticket office staff will be able to help you in buying the correct ticket.

Alternatively, you can use one of the self-service machines, all of which have the option to be used in English. One of the first questions you are asked is if you want tickets to “Paris” or “Ile de France” – choose Ile de France and from here the machines are very easy to use.

Boarding the train

No matter which of the stations listed above you board at, look out for the signs for RER A towards Marne-la-Vallee – Chessy or Boissy Saint-Leger. For Disneyland Paris you need the train towards Marne-la-Vallee – Chessy, be sure to board the right train as from the same platform trains also go to Boissy Saint-Leger. 

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In search of Père Noël – Christmas in Paris

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parishero (500 x 324)

During the coldest, darkest winter months it’s often the wonderful thought and anticipation of Christmas that encourages most of us to bravely battle the nasty breeze, sleet and sub-zero temperatures. When Christmas lights and displays pop up across the cities of Europe, one can’t help but feel the build-up of festive cheer and excitement. And during this dark time of year the best place to be is of course the City of Light, where you can soak up the glow of seasonal activities. Paris is chock-full of yuletide activities and makes for a wonderful destination even if you're not too into busy Christmas markets and carol singers. Take a look below at the best things to do if you're spending Christmas in Paris.

Christmas Lights and Displays

NicholasJonesgalerie

Image by Nicholas Jones

A 2km stretch of the iconic Champs-Élysées is lit up with dozens of lights leading up to the Arc de Triomphe. The 200 trees that are drenched in light will stay lit until 2:00am each day, and all night on December 31st in celebration of the new year.

The many boutiques and shops that line Champs-Élysées are decorated with festive displays, lights and trees. Stop by at the traditional Christmas market for a cup of mulled wine and a bit of shopping. Don’t miss the stupendous Galeries Lafayette department store: from the outside you can marvel at the ever-changing light show the wonderfully magical window displays, dedicated this year to the theme of The Beauty and the Beast. Be sure to check out the Printemps store as well.

Other noteworthy spots with twinkling lights are Place Vendôme and Place de la Concorde, where you will also find the Paris Big Wheel.

Ice Skating

OlivierBruchezskate

Image by Olivier Bruchez

Donning a pair of skates and heading to the rink is a winter favourite, especially among kids.
Patinoire de L’Hôtel de Ville is situated right in front of the city hall and is the most popular (and busiest) rink in the city. If your skating skills are a bit rusty, fear not, the huge rink includes a smaller area for beginners and children – and there are even instructors at hand to help you perfect your technique.

Patinoire des Cinq Continents at Champs-Élysées, right in the middle of the liveliest Christmas shenanignas. This year the rink takes its inspiration from the five continents of the world by featuring over 300 animated pandas, deer, wolves, polar bears and other critters in its ice garden.

If you want to skate under the watchful eye of the Eiffel Tower, you can do so at the Trocadero Square rink where you will also find a Christmas village and a snow garden.

Cultural Events

There are many things to do in Paris besides the obvious Christmas activities, from shows to art exhibitions.

For scenes straight out of a storybook, catch the legendary Sleeping Beauty (La Belle au bois dormant) ballet at the Opéra Bastille, or the Beauty and the Beast musical at Théâtre Mogador.

For thrills and wondrous excitement, go to one of the latest circus shows: Cirque BouglioneCirque Pinder or Cirque National Alexis Gruss. For something out of this world, you can experience Kooza, the new show by Cirque du Soleil. Whatever your choice, prepare for an evening of fantastical characters, colours, sounds and mind-boggling feats and tricks.

Art lovers will appreciate the many exhibitions taking place, most of which run until the end of January. See the works of Frida Kahlo at the Musee de l’Orangerie, Goya at the Pinacotheque and Braque at the Grand Palais

Quirky

Christophe Alary Musee

Image by Christophe Alary

Enter the bizarre, mysterious world of carnivals of the bygone era at Musée des Arts Forains, also known as The Fun Fair Museum. The museum is located in Bercy, a disctrict once used by Parisian wine merchants, where you can see rows and rows of warehouses with rails running down the lanes for transportation of the barrels. The museum is usually only open with prior reservation, but opens to the general public during Christmas. The collection includes merry-go-rounds and carousels, Japanese billiards and much more dating all the way back to 1850.

Still unsure of what to do in Paris? Take a look at the tours we offer in this beautiful city!

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Native New Yorker – Paris Never Gets Old

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Native New Yorker - Paris Never Gets Old

paris

All around the continental Europe I go. For the last 10 days I’ve been living out of a duffle bag while exploring Europe on my fall break. Why did I choose to explore as many as four countries in ten days? Well, that is a question I still can’t answer, but what I can say is that it was definitely worth it, despite some long hours spent in trains. With my duffle bag in tow and good friends for company I went from Paris to Rome, Bologna, Warsaw, finally ending my European grand tour with a stop in Brussels. From the Eiffel Tower in Paris to pierogies in Warsaw those 10 days will never be forgotten. It would only be right to share my experiences in Europe, from the places I enjoyed the most all the way down to the restaurants with the best waffles.

Paris was the first stop on my 10-day journey. It was my second time in the beautiful city and it felt as if it was the first. Even after a 10-hour bus and ferry journey the Parisian in me came out the moment I took in French air. There are 3 things to keep in mind when traveling to France from the UK.

1.      Bring plenty of snacks

I’m fortunate enough to be able to fall asleep just about anywhere. Whether it’s a packed train or a hot room, I can close my eyes and take a nice nap. Before getting on the bus I figured that it wouldn’t be necessary to bring a lot of food with me because obviously I was going to sleep all the way to France. To my surprise I didn’t fall sleep at all and constantly smelled the mouthwatering aromas of food around me. Whenever someone opened up a bag of chips (or crisps as the Brits would say) I wanted to kindly ask them to share. I did bring two sandwiches with me but they were soon gone and all I was left with was a few cookies and some water.

Bring enough snacks and then some for long journeys, especially those of you who don’t intend to nap your way to France. You will regret not bringing enough, especially when you realize that a single hash brown on the ferry will cost you almost £3!

2.      Never go to Europe without cash

Of course being the person that I am, half of the time I don’t carry cash. Ever since I got a debit card on my freshman year, carrying cash has become a thing of the past. Instead of taking out pounds to convert to euro, I decided to wait until I arrived in Paris. Mistake! I forgot that I would need money to get to my hostel from the bus station. After wandering around Paris at 7am (the sun wasn’t even up) looking for an ATM, my friends and I decided to pay for each other to get on the Metro. Make sure to bring at least 20 euros with you in cash – trust me, you’ll need it.

3.      Overpacking is never fun

When it comes to helping people pack I’m basically the packing Fairy Godmother. I’ll tell you what you won’t wear and how to maximize small spaces. However, when it’s my turn to pack I am not as cut-throat. I have a tendency to overpack because I love options: after sitting on a long flight, train or bus ride I always want to change my clothes. So naturally I stuffed my bag full of clothes and for 10 days I felt like I was carrying around a dead body. Not fun at all. Of course what’s even worse than heavy luggage is the fact that it will get heavier as you travel: think about all the souvenirs you'll want to buy! When the souvenirs won’t fit in, you know you’ve overpacked.

eiffel

Despite these hardships I had amazing moments in Paris. There is nothing like seeing the Eiffel Tower at night, especially when the lights start to flicker. Even though this was my second time in Paris, it was different. I was there with people who had never been to France and I got to appreciate things I’d seen before in a whole new light. Their boisterous excitement upon seeing the Eiffel Tower brought back the memories of seeing its imposing frame for the first time.

lovelock

Another great moment was putting a lock on Love Lock Bridge, also known as Pont de l’Archevêché. It may have taken us an hour to walk from the Eiffel Tower all the way to the other side of Paris, but it was worth it. A group of us all wrote our initials on the lock and threw the key over the bridge.

The best part of my second and final night in the city was a visit to the very first crepe stand I went to in Paris with my mom. It was one of those happy moments that I couldn’t explain to anyone. Deep down I knew why I have always been in love with Paris. Though I can’t speak the language and I get lost, Paris reminds me of home.

Since I was breaking off from the group to go to Italy, I was in Paris just for two days. On my second day I said goodbye to my friends and decided to round off my stay in the City of Light with a trip to the legendary Shakespeare and Company bookstore before getting on the train to Italy. It was only right to go inside and buy classic Shakespeare books as proof that I was really there. After my purchase I found my way to a little café by the train station and bought some of the tastiest quiche I’ve ever had. Alone, with my duffle bag, baguettes and quiche I was off to Italy for the first time in my life.

Explore Paris with Isango!

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10 Facts about Bastille Day and its Celebration

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Bastille Day

Bastille Day —celebrated on 14 July—is a special day for France as it symbolises the beginning of democracy and freedom of the people. It is the French National day and is called La Fete Nationale in French.

The Bastille is a medieval fortress and prison in Paris. On July 14, 1789, an outraged group of Parisians stormed the Bastille. This was a pivotal event of the French Revolution—marking the beginning of the end of the French Royalty and the beginning of the modern republic.

Events and Tradition
The day is celebrated with military parades, fireworks, festivals, communal meals, parties and dances.  It also includes large picnics and musical performances.

Although every city, town and village throughout the country celebrates the day, the largest celebration is in Paris, where a parade marches past the famous Champs Elysées, in front of the President of the Republic, French officials and foreign guests. At the end of the parade the French President and many foreign ambassadors wait and greet the military.

The day then ends in style with an awe-inspiring fireworks display at the country’s most iconic landmark – the Eiffel Tower.

10 Facts about Bastille Day
1. Bastille comes from the French word bastide, which means stronghold. It was formally known as the Bastille Saint-Antoine.

2. As the opening victory in the revolution, the storming of the Bastille is today celebrated as a national holiday.

3. The French National Anthem called la Marseillaise is a revolutionary song.

4. France's tricolour flag (blue, red and white) was introduced during the Revolution. The three colours represent the ideals of the French people – Liberte Egalite Fraternite (liberty, equality and fraternity) for all citizens.

5. There were only 7 prisoners at the Bastille when the people of Paris stormed on July 14th, 1789.

6. The Man in the Iron Mask was a Bastille prisoner from 1698 to 1703.

7. The famous philosopher and writer, Voltaire, and The Marquis de Sade were also prisoners of the Bastille.

8.  Milwaukee, Wisconsin has a large Bastille Day celebration downtown that lasts four days. They even have a 43 foot tall replica of the Eiffel Tower! Other US cities famous for their celebrations of this day include New Orleans, New York, and Chicago.

9. The famous bicycle race —the Tour de France—takes place during Bastille Day.

10. The Key to the Bastille was presented to George Washington in 1790. It was built by Charles V between 1370 and 1383.


Happy Bastille Day!
 

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Luxembourg Gardens

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Luxembourg Gardens; Credit - Grant Glendinning If you are looking for a chess partner; want to soothe your nerves, then take a stroll past lovely flowering plants and shrubs; lounge at an open-air café while sipping coffee; give the kids a pony ride; get away from your office for a quiet lunch break, then the gorgeous Luxembourg Gardens is just the place for all these activities. The gardens have fountains, sculptures, ponds, tennis courts, a marionette theatre, playgrounds and food kiosks.

Jardin du Luxembourg, to give its proper name, sprawls in the 6th Arrondissement, the heart of Paris, on the Left Bank of the Seine. It is bounded by Rue de Vaugirard, Boulevard St. Michel, Rue Auguste-Comte and Rue Guyneme. The second largest park in the city it is the official gardens of the Luxembourg Palace, the home of the French Senate.

The Palace and the Gardens are the child of Marie de Medicis’ grief at the assassination her husband, Henri IV. Not wanting to live in sorrow at the Louvre, their home, after his death she bought the (now called) Petit-Luxembourg Palace in 1611.

She then set about building a new one to resemble her childhood home in Florence – the Palazzo Pitti. She also commissioned several gardeners, notably Tommaso Francini, to design and create a park in her beloved Florentine style. 2,000 elm trees were planted amidst several terraces. Francini then built the beautiful Medici Fountain – the centre of a grotto.

When work first started the garden was only eight hectares. Then in 1630, Mme. Marie purchased more adjoin land and engaged Jacques Bovceau to carry on the work. He laid out a series of squares along an east-west grid that was marked at the east end by the Medici Fountain. He added borders of flowers and hedges in front of the palace, an octagonal basin with a fountain facing (what is now) the Paris Observatory.

Work was completed in 1625 but the present size of the Gardens was reached in only 1790.  This additional land was confiscated from the Carthusian monks by leaders of the French Revolution. Jean Chalgrin, architect of the Arc de Triomphe, carried out restoration work on the derelict gardens. He preserved and incorporated the old vineyards and formal French style gardens of the monks.

In the mid to late 1800s, many statues, sculptures and new boulevards were added. The Medici Fountain was rebuilt and moved to its present location. A scale model of the Statue of Liberty, built by Bartholdi, became a new resident. The garden also acquired a marionette theatre, greenhouses, an apiary and an orangerie.

The Jardin du Luxembourg now has hundreds of statues, monuments and fountains; acres of flower beds, trees and shrubs. It has changed much since Marie de Medici’s original plan but one thing has always remained – serenity. The gardens have always been an oasis amidst Paris’ turbulent history and everyday life. It is true sanctuary in every sense of the word.

Admission to the Luxembourg gardens depends upon the time of the year.

Opening times: Between 7:30am and 8:15 am.
Closing times: Between 4:45pm and 9:45 pm.
 

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