Tuesday was our 14th wedding anniversary. Even before we got to Paris, we had planned to spend the day on the Champs-Élysées, just to be able to say that we did, LOL. But we got a late start on that because we had to go back to one of the main train stations to change our train ticket to Berlin. The reason I’m mentioning it here is in case it helps anyone else. When we originally booked the overnight train to Berlin for Thursday night (which was significantly cheaper than the day train), we had difficulty understanding the options of sleeping compartments that the woman at the ticket counter was offering. My husband speaks fluent French, but the terms she was using didn’t match the options we had researched on the Internet. So when we got back to our hotel room and I checked online to see exactly what she had given us, we were shocked and dismayed that she had put us in the highest bunks (3rd level) of a 6-person sleeping compartment. My husband is 73, and I have to use the bathroom 3-4 times a night. So having to climb up and down ladders all night was ludicrous for us…and the idea of sleeping with 4 strangers – with all of our luggage in that teeny tiny compartment and having read too many horror stories of travellers losing everything while they slept – really stressed me out.
So back to the train station we went, and were very fortunate to be served by the manager himself, who also was shocked and dismayed that we had been given the top-level bunks. He quickly and pleasantly changed us to a private compartment (at very little extra cost) and we went happily on our way. Again, I mention this in case anyone reading this is contemplating using one of the night-train options. Be very clear about what you want – and don’t want. Be aware that they will often automatically book you into a 6-person sleeping compartment, which may not be what you want. The compartments are VERY TINY! We had one big suitcase each, and that was too much for the space. Despite what the train website says, there is no storage space for luggage!
Anyway, on with the day. We took the underground train all the way from that train station to the Arc de Triomphe. When we got off the train and finally found the proper exit and climbed the stairs, there it was! Right in front of us. After seeing pictures of this iconic arch all of my life, it was a thrill to be standing there gazing up at it! We jostled our way through the never-ending crowds and took a few pictures, then followed the underground tunnel to explore it further. Hubby read almost all of the names inscribed in the walls of the Arc, checking to see if there might be any of his ancestors listed there (he didn’t find any).
From there we took our long-awaited stroll down the Champs-Élysées. I’m not a chic person by any stretch of the imagination, and don’t buy designer labels, but have to admit that it was a lot of fun meandering along and taking in all the sites. We were admittedly somewhat distracted by hunger by that time. And one of the things that we had both hoped to find while in Paris (but hadn’t found thus far) was French Onion soup. We managed to finally find a bistro that did serve it, and that’s where we chose to enjoy our lovely anniversary lunch on the Champs-Élysées.
Overall, the Champs-Élysées was very crowded and too expensive for our budget, but we had fun exploring various stores, and thoroughly enjoyed being there. In hindsight I probably should have taken more pictures – more exciting pictures – but I was too caught up in the sheer joy of being there. And we were hungry, LOL. I did manage to take a few pictures to share here, but admit that they don’t even remotely reflect the ambiance and elegance of the Champs-Élysées.
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Copyright © Sharon C. Matthies, Meanderings (blog), 2014. All rights reserved.
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