Saturday, March 26, 2011

Paris (Sept. 23-27)

5/29 Update: removed Luxembourg from my trip but I left my planning here for future reference
9/6 Update: planned one extra day in London, so Paris got moved one day to the right on the timeline.


In 1988 when I went with my family to Paris, we spent 4 nights and 5 days. We stayed at the Prince de Galles right off the Champs Elysées (my dad used some frequent flier miles to book the room, at 400 per night now I don't think I'll be staying there this trip!). We did a bus tour (probably the Cityrama tour) and then the Arc de Triomphe, Montemarte, and Notre Dame. Day 2 we drove out to Rhiems and Epernay, saw the Dom Perignon winery and the American cemetery. Day 3 was the Eiffel Tower and the Louvre, Day 4 was Napoleon's Tomb and the Louvre again, and Day 5 was Versailles and a Bateaux-Mouches tour of the Seine before flying home. I have some photos I can't readily identify that most likely include some of the places below, too.
I'd also like to dig a bit into my family history. Around 1898, my great-great grandfather Beryl left the city of Kishinev (in what's now Moldova) with his wife and kids, and his two brothers and their families. They left behind a sister. The three brothers intended to go to the US, but stopped in Paris for what turned out to be 8 years. Beryl died in Paris before he could leave, and his wife and children (including my great-grandfather) came to the US via Ellis Island in New York in 1905-06. A brother went to Philadelphia with his family. The other brother stayed behind, and the US families lost contact with the Paris family. Fast forward about 100 years, and a descendant of the Paris brother found me on the internet. His family history had the same story about 3 brothers and a sister, with the families of 2 brothers going to the US, never to be heard from again. So somewhere in Paris is a Jewish cemetery dating back to the early 1900s, and I hope my cousins over there can help me find it.

Frommer's suggests the following for a 3-day tour:
  • Day 1: The Louvre, a walk along the Seine, Notre Dame, Place de la Concorde, Champs Elysées walk, Arc de Triomphe, and the Eiffel Tower
  • Day 2: Ile St Louis, Musée d'Orsay, Napoleon's Tomb, Bateaux-Mouches ride, Montemarte, Sacré-Coeur
  • Day 3: Versailles, Centre Pompidou, Place des Vosges (Marais), the Jewish section at Rue des Rosiers, Montparnasse, Closerie des Lilas

Nightlife, shopping, lodging, and eating places TBD.

If I leave London by on the 8:02am train, I can get to Paris by lunchtime (11:17am). Since half the day is gone, I may take an extra half-day in Paris if I still have stuff that I want to do. Luxembourg is my next stop - it's about 2hr15min to the capital of Luxembourg City according to the train schedule and I can either get there at 10:52, 16:17, 18:15, or 20:45 (good thing I'm used to military time!) via the TGV high speed rail on one of 4 direct rides. Looks like I can't avoid the TGV. I'd probably take the morning train, get in at lunch, spend the night in Luxembourg, then head out the next morning.

Paris is days 6-10 of my trip. This includes one day off, in which I will force myself to relax by taking a day trip out of the city or just hanging out and people watching.


Depending on when I'm in Luxembourg, there are a couple of festivals in September: the Fête du Raisin et du Vin ("A splendid folklore procession celebrates the local grape harvest and the new Moselle wine season") in la ville de Grevenmacher the second week in September and the Wine and Grape Festival ("A folkloric procession, wine tastings, and election of the “Wine Queen” greet the new Moselle grape harvest") in Greiveldange the third weekend. Wednesdays and Saturdays are Market Days in the city. Apparently most of the major attractions are less than a half-mile from the city center so no real need for even a bus.

A few miles outside of the city there's a US military cemetery, home to 5000 fallen soldiers from the Battle of the Bulge, as well as the final resting place of General George S. Patton. Also: the Casino 2000 with a 4-star hotel and multiple restaurants, but which requires coat and tie to get in. I could conceivably bring a button-down shirt to wear for contingencies like this, and a tie doesn't take much room, but I wouldn't have a jacket.

Luxembourg City is day 10 of my trip.

Trains to Brussels, my next stop, run hourly and take about 3 hours. The train passes through the Ardennes Forest, sight of the Battle of the Bulge.


  1. The Jewish quarter in Paris is a great little neighborhood, definately worth a visit to walk through and have a meal. The same goes for the Jewish Ghetto in Rome. There's some fascinating history in both neighborhoods.

    I'm sure in some of the other cities on your route too, but those are the two I've been to. It's always cool to see how our little community exists in cities around the world. The similarities (and differences) are striking, and make for a nice common thread through a trip (while only taking a few hours per two per city)

  2. There are Jewish Quarters in Amsterdam and Copenhagen (of the cities I've looked into so far) as well as upcoming in Berlin. My dad has been on some special tours in Europe with the Holocaust Center (where he's a docent) and I'll see what he recommends. I'd like to see some stuff but I'm not going to make it the focus of my entire trip like he did.