Travel Tips: Top Attractions in Paris and Best Paris Airport Transfers

Ah, Paris. The City of Light and Love. It’s a must visit on (nearly) everyone’s bucket list, and no wonder: the city has been a global hub of finance, arts, science, fashion and commerce since the 17th century. Every year, millions of tourists flock to Paris for a taste of its amazingly rich history, culture, food and architecture.

Here are some of my top Paris attractions that visitors should not miss!

DISNEYLAND PARIS / EURODISNEY 

As the only Disneyland in Europe, Disneyland Paris or EuroDisney is a major draw for tourists coming to Paris, and is one of the most visited theme parks in the region. There are two areas: one dedicated to ‘old school’ Disney with characters such as Aladdin, the classic Disney Princesses and Jungle Book, and the other to newer Disney films such as Toy Story and Finding Nemo, as well as thrilling rides like Space Mountain and the Tower of Terror. At set times, there are parades over at the central avenue featuring all the well-loved Disney friends, such as Mickey and Minnie Mouse, Donald and Daisy Duck, Goofy and the gang.

THE LOURVE 

The world’s largest art museum needs no introduction. Opened in the 18th century from a converted fortress and palace, The Lourve has been featured in countless stories, poems, songs, and in modern times, movies. Housing over 30,000 artifacts and art pieces, its most popular ‘resident’ is perhaps the lady with the mysterious smile, the Mona Lisa. The main building sports stunning old architecture, although in recent years, the glass pyramid, dubbed the Lourve Pyramid has stolen some of the limelight. Either way, the place is a must visit for photos, even if you’re not lining up for a date with Mona Lisa.

THE EIFFEL TOWER 

This iconic metal structure is now a symbol of Paris, but did you know that when the Eiffel Tower was first built as the entrance to Paris’ 1889 World’s Fair, it was criticised as an ‘ugly abomination’ by France’s leading artists and intellectuals? Today, close to 7million people ascend it every year, and it has become one of the most recognisable landmarks in the city of Paris. Standing tall at 324 metres (about 81 storeys), the tower has three platforms, with the first and second levels housing restaurants and shops.

ARC DE TRIOMPHE

Another one of Paris’ iconic architectural pieces is the Arc de Triomphe, or the Triumphal Arch of the Stars. Built in 1806, it stands at the west end of the Champs Elysees and is the world’s biggest arch, constructed at a monumental sum (for that era) of 9.3million francs. The grand monument honours those who fought and died for France in the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars. Names of French victories and generals are inscribed into the arch, with six reliefs of battles, decorated with characters from Roman mythology. Underneath the arch is the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier from World War I. Visitors who wish to know more about its history can visit the museum, located within the arch.

TOUR DOWN THE RIVER SEINE 

Cutting through the city is the Seine, a 777km-long river that starts from northeastern France, flowing through Paris, before ending into the English Channel at Le Havre. Most of Paris’ 37 bridges span the river, including the Pont Alexandre III and Pont Neuf. The best way to get a quick glimpse of everything is via boat tours down the river, which will pass by such attractions such as Notre Dame and the Grand Palace.

HOW TO GET AROUND 

If you’re a first timer to Paris, navigating a new city can be a daunting task, especially if you don’t speak the local language. Thankfully, Paris has an intricate transportation network and various options to fit every traveler’s needs.

Upon Arrival 

There are two major airports in Paris, the largest being the Roissy-Charles De Gaulle (CDG) which serves international flights, and Orly, which serves domestic and European flights. A third airport, the Beauvais-Tille Airport, is located further away, in the Northwest of Paris, and receives travellers from European destinations. From the airports, travelers can choose to take the train, car, bus, taxi or shuttle to get around. Here are some tips on the best Paris airport transfers to and from the city:

TAXI/SHUTTLE 

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Photo Credit: Jean Pierre Gallot/Flickr 

If you’re travelling in a family with small children or seniors, a taxi or a shuttle is the best option. It’s safe and convenient, and you don’t have to worry about missing the schedule, unlike with trains or buses. It’s also hassle-free, since you won’t have to lug heavy luggage up and down stairs at the various stations.

But what if I can’t speak French and the driver can’t understand me?

Well, there’s T2 Transfer,which provides private taxi and group shuttle airport transfers to and from Paris. Their drivers are able to communicate well in English, and the service covers all three airports (namely CDG, Orly and Beauvais) to destinations such as the Paris City Centre, Eiffel Tower, Gare de Lyon and Gare du Nord train stations, as well as all Euro Disneyland hotels. Taxis are able to fit three people (additional charges for extra passengers) while the van shuttles are able to fit a maximum of 8 people. Rates are competitive, especially if you are sharing the cab/van with other family members or fellow travellers.

For a seamless experience, book your taxi or shuttle online 48 hours before arrival, and either pay online through Visa and Mastercard, or by cash to the driver once you’ve arrived at your destination safely. The team follows real-time flight changes so be rest assured that your driver will be waiting (at arrivals holding a placard with your name, so you won’t miss it!), even if your flight is delayed.

BUS

RATP Bus Route 87 in Paris, France

Credit: Moovit App /flickr 

Buses are no doubt one of the cheaper options available, suitable for those on a tight budget or young travellers, since it might involve having to carry heavy luggage on and off the buses and while waiting at bus stops. From CDG, there is the RoissyBus that runs daily from 5.45am-11pm, departing every 15-20 minutes, for €12 (one way). Meanwhile, Bus Direct offers regular bus services from Paris to Orly, as well as attractions like Arc de Triomphe and Eiffel Tower every 15 minutes (between 5am – 11.40pm). However, due to the stops, it may take a longer time compared to a shuttle or a taxi.

For night travellers, there is a night bus service line called Noctilien (N31 & N120), which operates every 30 – 60 minutes : a little risky if you’re taking a dawn flight and you miss the bus. For peace of mind, I’d recommend just booking the taxi or shuttle from T2 Transfer since they literally pick you up from your doorstep and drop you off at the airport, and vice versa.

TRAIN 

RER Train in Paris, France

Picture credit: Moovit App/Flickr 

Another wallet-friendly option is the train. In Paris, the local trains are called RER (Réseau Express Régional), providing connectivity from the airports to the city and attractions such as Disneyland. Again, it might be difficult for families travelling with young ones or seniors due to luggage.  European travelers making connecting international flights from Orly airport to CDG may also use the train as it takes about 60 minutes at a cost of just €17.90.

 

Happy travels!

 

 

 

 

Transport in Manila: LRT & Tricycles

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Getting around Manila is fairly convenient. There are loads of jeepneys, tricycles and pedicabs for short-distance travel, taxis (when they are willing to take you lol), buses and the LRT. It can get a bit confusing for the average traveler though; thankfully I had a local to guide me 😀

E and I traveled around using all of the above modes except taxis. From Quezon City to the city center, we took the LRT from Anonas to Rekto. Before entering the station, commuters are frisked and their bags checked at the security point. Our ride was 25PHP (about RM2.50). The trains, although they looked older than the ones in Malaysia, were clean. It wasn’t very crowded in mid-morning, but evening was another story…

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Crowd around 3.30pm. It wasn’t even rush hour yet!

During our stay, we experienced going on the train after work hours and it was madness. Takes the term ‘packed like sardines’ to a whole new level – I basically had my face squashed against someone’s chest and couldn’t move. Try to avoid peak hours if you’re travelling. Jeepneys will be hard to hail as well; we waited close to two hours for one before giving up and taking the train.

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Observation: all the escalators are… stepalators. Because they were all broken down and we had to climb them lol.

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I enjoyed riding the tricycles. They are bikes attached to sidecars which can ferry two to three people each time. These are only for inter-city travel covering short distances, and cost less than 20PHP. The ‘route’ of each tricycle is painted on the front of the sidecar.

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Overall, transport in Manila is convenient, but I strongly recommend planning your travel itinerary right to avoid rush hours. The jams are bad (even worse than KL, and that’s saying something) and it gets really polluted. I got a headache while waiting for the jeepney, standing at the roadside inhaling carbon monoxide for two hours.

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Arriving in E’s neighbourhood. Sari-sari stores are small neighbourhood shops selling everything from snacks to groceries and cigarettes.

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We were met by his mom’s cute but mean cat, Meme. He’s a boy cat and he loves poking his head into bags.

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Mean, bitey, scratchy cat. BUT HE’S SO FLUFFY

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SO. FLUFFEH

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There’s also Ino, a very sweet natured white mongrel who likes to be petted. She’d lean her body against my legs and wait for me to start petting her. When I stopped, she’d make a circle and then rest herself on me again. So sweet ❤

 

Travelogue Penang: Penang Botanic Gardens

Traversing the Penang Botanic Gardens is like a walk in the park…not.

Exploring the place requires lots of stamina and sunscreen. It’s location is far out from the rest of the attractions in Penang, but if you like nature, it is worth a visit.

Not to be confused with the Penang National Park, the Botanic Gardens is the largest city park in Penang and was founded in 1884 as part of the wider research of the Singapore Botanic Gardens (both Penang and Singapore were under British rule then). It was originally established to conduct research and development of plants from around the world for commercial purposes. Back then it was not open to the public, and rare plants were kept under lock and key. Since there is a big waterfall cascading down towards a nearby river, the park is sometimes known as the Waterfall gardens.

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Other than that the place was clean and quiet (on a weekday), with some tourists taking the buggies rather than hike up the sloping hills under the burning sun. The main paths were well paved, while the more adventurous can opt for the smaller, hidden paths among the trees which lead up to the jungle. Surrounded by green hills, the place is a tranquil retreat from the city.

How I wish Malaysia had nice weather like in the UK, where walking through parks is a joy. One could spend all day sitting on the grass during summer and not turn out like toast.

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We wanted to visit the famous waterfalls; unfortunately they were closed for a photoshoot, wut.  I felt a heatstroke coming on, so we had to rest at a gazebo and take some pictures.

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There are monkeys in the park, but I think they were hiding from the heat as well. All we saw was a large monitor lizard running across the road, and butterflies darting in between flowers.

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There were a couple of greenhouses and orchid gardens within, but I really couldn’t take how hot and sunny it was (over 40C, I think!) and we left after just one round around the park. Took a bus to the air conditioned haven of the Gurney Plaza shopping mall (hallelujah !)

GETTING THERE 

Rapid Penang Bus 10 takes travelers from Weld Quay and goes through many attractions in Georgetown, before ending at the Penang Botanic Gardens.

Entrance is free.

Opening hours: 5AM – 8PM

Phone: 04-226 4401

 

 

Review: The Northam All Suite Penang @ Penang, Malaysia

Penang is only an hour’s flight away from KL, making it a great place for a quick weekend getaway. During a trip, I stayed at the Northam Hotel, located close to Gurney Drive. It’s purportedly four-stars, but a little old and tired-looking. Definitely in need of a revamp.

E and I arrived around 11am and took a bus to Komtar (RM5.80) and then a taxi to Northam, which is just a stone’s throw away from the beach. Public transportation in Penang can be difficult – to get to places, you have to make a lot of interchanges and taxis tend to have a capped rate of that’s what you get when you go to touristy spots >->).

Northam Hotel Penang

We stayed in a single deluxe suite, which was spacious with a nice, fluffy king-sized bed, sea-view, two TVs (one in front of the bed and another in the living area), two toilets, study desk and a zomgs jacuzzi.

Northam Hotel Penang

Northam Hotel Penang

Ermehgerd. Made use of this a couple of times during the stay. Nothing better than relaxing in a whole tub of warm water after a long day walking around :3

Northam Hotel Penang

Awesome sea  view

Northam Hotel Penang

We then went to the 9th floor, which had facilities such as a gym, a spa and a swimming pool with even more awesome views. Since it was on the edge of the building, you can lean over and look at the car’s below. It was very windy though, so if you’re swimming it might get cold.

  • Room: 9/10 – nice sea views, spacious, good amenities, clean
  • Lobby/overall hotel design: 7/10 – Nice but tired, in need of a revamp
  • Facilities: 8/10 – Gym, Spa, Swimming pool
  • Location: 8/10 Walking distance to Gurney Drive
  • Service: 8/10 – No problems with check-in/Check-out processes

THE NORTHAM ALL SUITE PENANG 

55, Jalan Sultan Ahmad Shah, Pulau Tikus, 10050 George Town, Pulau Pinang

Rservations: 04-370 1111

northamhotel-penang.com