Wednesday, January 4, 2012

New Years In Paris

We spent New Years in Paris, left Kaiserslautern on the 9556 ICE train from Kaiserslautern that departed on 30 December at 1023.  It only took 2.5 hours to make the 285 mile trip to the Paris East station, sometimes traveling as fast as 300 kph or 186 mph.  Here's our ICE train pulling up to platform 3 in Kaiserslautern.

Once in Paris we hopped on the M4 Metro line to take us down to the St. Michel tube station. Not surprising how they came up with the name for this stop. Here I am in front of the La Fontaine St. Michel, the Fountain St. Michael. Our hotel was just one small block down the street.  Got a must have baguette sandwich in hand.

The St. Michel tube station exits all come up on the south side of the Seine and cross the river from Île de la Cité, so Notre Dame is right there in your face when you come out.

Just by coincidence, good friends of ours from Texas, and their family, were also in Paris so we met them at the Highlander Pub for a few drinks then walked into the Latin Quarter for a meal. Here’s our group for the night. Mat, Justin, Daniel, Ashley, Tracy, me, Jeff and Skip.

Saturday, New Years Eve day, having done all the city highlights on previous visits, was a walk-about for Jeff and I just seeing the sights and waiting for midnight. Here we’re along the Seine looking west. On the far side of the river is the Louvre.

Now looking back to the east is the Pont Neuf bridge and the Île de la Cité, one of only two islands in the Seine within the city of Paris and the island upon which sits the Notre Dame Cathedral.

After crossing the Seine on the Pont des Arts footbridge, which leads directly into the Louvre, we entered the eastern courtyard of the palace. From there here’s the view of the Louvre’s glass pyramid.

Now from the east looking back into the western courtyard of the Louvre.

The west wing of the Louvre, Eiffel Tower and the Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel.


These Eiffel Tower vendors were everywhere. Sometimes we’d have to wade through 10 or 12 of these guys accosting us with their selections of Eiffel Towers; everything from little ½ inch towers to big 2 foot things.

This ferris wheel was put up on the east side of the Place de la Concorde. If you look through it you can see all the way up the Champs Elysées to the Arc de Triomphe.

Well, we thought we were done with Christmas markets but here’s another one along the eastern end of the Champs Elysées, complete with glüwien.

Looking east along the Champs Elysées to the Arc de Triomphe.

Just walking along the Champs Elysées and what did I find? Louis Vuitton!! I’m going in and I’m buying a purse!!

Good grief, had to wait in line to get in the door at Louis Vuitton. There I am and Jeff’s going in with me to buy me a purse.

Failed mission. I looked and looked but couldn’t find the purse I was looking for. Lots of purses but not the one I wanted. I could tell that Jeff was as disappointed as I was.  But, I've got the address memorized; 101 Avenue des Champs Elysées.

I had recently read Sarah’s Key, a novel about the Parisian roundup of the city’s mostly non-French Jewish population in July 1942. Over 13,000 men, women and children were taken into custody and housed under horrific conditions at the Vélodrome d'Hiver, an indoor cycle track. Most of them would ultimately be shipped to Auschwitz. The Vélodrome no longer exists but this is the small memorial that is located at its original sight. This is just across the street from the Bir-Hakeim Metro station, just south of the Eiffel Tower.

Since we were right there we had to do the obligatory visit to the Eiffel Tower.  Cool beans!

We’re back at our hotel for a little rest before the evening push. Here’s a photo we took from our hotel roof. As you can see, not a really nice day but the drizzle and occasional rain was quite tolerable. My umbrella was in and out all day. Jeff didn’t even have one. Plus, the temperature most of the day was around 55° F and even later, at midnight, it was still 52°.  It really doesn't matter what the weather, Paris is always beautiful.

After a nice rest we were ready to go again and so here we’re looking for a place to eat in the labyrinth of Latin Quarter streets and the myriad of restaurants there.

Great meal and some nice vino. We’re ready to party in Paris!!

We’re back on the Champs Elysées.

They still had their pretty street decorations on display.

Security was everywhere and, as you can see, they were dressed to kickass; full body armor. They were confiscating Champagne and other glass bottles too, but not too aggressively. So we were able to get by with our two bottle supply.

Up by the Arc de Triomphe again. Man, we did some walking!!

See, we still have our Champagne. We're way smarter than those security forces.

Further to the east now along the Champs Elysées at the Grand Palais we're on our way to the Place de la Concorde.

So here we are at the Place de la Concorde where we could see up the Champs Elysées and over to the Eiffel Tower. On the video here you can get an idea of where we're standing in preparation of the New Year. There’s no organized New Year’s celebration in Paris; no big fireworks display, but it was still great to watch the night evolve there. About 15 minutes before midnight the police blocked off the Champs Elysées and the only public indicator of midnight was the lights flashing on the Champs Elysées and the sparkling lights on the Eiffel Tower. You'll be able to see both on this video.

After midnight it was great fun walking up the Champs Elysées. The crowd was actually quite mellow and with plenty of room to wander about. Only problem was when it was time to start back to the hotel and the crowded Metro and lack of available taxis.  So we had a bit more walking to do to bring in the new year.

GREAT time in Paris!! Nice train trip home the next day. In the house by 1630. Hope you all had as good a night on New Years eve and that you have a great 2012!!


  1. so Mr 'France Sucks' is soft on France now, huh?!

  2. We were in Paris on New Years this year as well, although it was our first time since we just got stationed at GK in September! Looks like we hit the opposite sites on opposite days, as we left on the 30th and arrived home on the 1st. Wasn't the rain lots of fun? haha. Hope you enjoyed your trip as much as we did.

  3. I love Ken's comment. Mr. "France Sucks". You can still enjoy the culture haha.

    That is so awesome that it is only a 2.5 hour train ride away from Kaiserslautern...KICKASS!

    I love the picture of Notre Dame. And the weather is exactly how I would have wanted it. And how it was when Will and I went. Perfect for pictures!

    That is so great that you got to see Skip, Tracy, the girls and their husbands.

    Beautiful picture of the glass pyramid. You guys are getting ideas from my pictures and taking more artistic pictures...good job Ansel Adams!

    I can't believe there was a lien to get into Louis Vuitton. That is so crazy. Will and I are VIPs...we just walked right in haha. I guess it was because it was NYE, lots of tourists. I still can't believe you didn't walk out with anything, that takes some courage. I wanted to buy liek 50 different items.

    I can't believe the Velodrome d'Hiver is that close. Interesting. I still want to read that book, Sarah's Key!

    I LOVE the picture from your rooftop. You are crazy...the WEATHER IS PERFECT!!!! I love is so Paris!

    I love that you were standing somewhere where you could see both the Arc de Triomphe and the Eiffel Tower. I love when the Eiffel Towel does blinking shoes like that. We had that awesome view from our hotel room during our honeymoon and it did it every was so beautiful!

    I can't believe you guys had to walk from there back to your hotel by Notre Dame...that is a bit of a walk.

    But what an awesome blog and an awesome way to bring in 2012...jealous as always!