During our recent trip to South Africa, we arranged our flights so that we had an overnight in Paris on the way home. Several people asked why we would only plan for an overnight in Paris. There were two reasons; one was that this trip was all about visiting South Africa and we did not want to do a 30-hour trip from California to South Africa and back without a break. The second one was that we were traveling with friends who had never visited Europe and we wanted to give them a taste of Paris on our way home.
As planned, it was a great little side trip and our friends loved it. We got into Paris after a long day and night of flying. We flew from Livingstone, Zambia to Johannesburg, South Africa, and then an overnight flight to Frankfurt, Germany followed by a short hop to Paris. Whew! (Here’s a tip – try to sleep on the plane!) We arrived at Charles de Gaule airport at about 10:00AM and took the RER train into Gare du Nord. From there it was a short walk to the Hotel Mademoiselle.
Of course, it is only a short walk if you know where you are going. When you exit Gare du Nord you have to know where you are! If you exit from the main part of the station, you will be facing Boulevard de Demain. If you used this exit, turn to your left and walk down to the greenhouse part of the station that you see below. (To make it easier for you to navigate in Paris, each of these photos, except the last one, have been captured from Google Maps Street View and is a live link back to the original Google Map. Click on the photo so that you can look around to get your bearings. This is a great tool. I always try to walk the streets before I actually visit a new city. Also, if it is available, I will do a Big Red Bus tour in a new city.)If you exit from the greenhouse looking part of the station, you will be facing a street directly in front of you, between the Café du Nord on the right and the Paris Nord Café on the left. If you came out the main entrance, turn to your left and walk to the greenhouse looking part that you can see above.
You will have to cross the 4 lane road, Rue de Dunkerque and walk down Rue de Saint-Quentin. After a couple of blocks, the road curves to the right at a major intersection.
You should see the Marché couvert Saint-Quentin in front of you and a Western Union on your right.
Go across the main street and enter the very small one-way street, just to the right of the market, Rue des Petits Hôtels. Walk past the SuperMarché and the Vins Restaurant Cafe and you will find the Mademoiselle on your left.
This is a beautiful little hotel. We stayed in Room 404 and our friends stayed in 203 and 204. It seems that the “04” rooms were much larger than the “03” room. They have a wonderful dining area in the back of the hotel and serve a delicious breakfast. You can also go up the street to the farmer’s market, Marché couvert Saint-Quentin, for a quick breakfast if you wish. (But, don’t get there too early because not every stall will be open!)
For our short introduction to Paris for our friends, after checking in at the Madamoiselle, we visited the largest covered farmer’s market in Paris, Marché couvert Saint-Quentin, then took the metro to the Picasso Museum. Two of our friends decided to skip the museum and catch up with us at the sidewalk cafe close to where we were going to catch the bus to the Eiffel Tower.
From our hotel, turn right at the covered market and go one block then turn left on Rue de 8 Mai 1945 to go to the Gare de L’Est train station. Hop on to the #5 Metro line toward Place d’Italie and get off at the Bastille station and cross over to the #8 Metro line toward Balard and get off at the first stop, Chemin Vert. (Keep in mind that when I say cross over to the other line, it will involve going down 3 flights of stairs, walking a few hundred feet, then going back up 3 flights of stairs.) When you exit the metro station, cross the street and walk up Rue Saint Giles, cross Rue de Turenne to get to Rue du Parc Royal. Keep walking west and the road turns to the right, then you take the street on the right at the Y, Rue de Thorigny. The Picasso Museum is on the left.
After our visit at the museum, we walked south to the St. Paul metro station, taking the #1 line towards la Defense and got off at the Tuileries stop, near the Louvre.
When we exited, we walked across the street and turned right, heading toward the Hotel Regina about one block away. At the hotel, we turned left and walked up Rue des Pyramides to enjoy a great little sidewalk cafe, La Rotonde des Tuileries. This is only a block away from where we would catch our bus to the Eiffel Tower for dinner.
After a little snack, our friends met up with us and we walked down to #2 Rue des Pyramides, on the left, at the Hotel Regina.
We opted to purchase a dinner and river cruise through Viator so that we didn’t have to wait in any long lines at the Eiffel Tower. This tour was handled by Paris City Vision. As you might expect, our friends loved having dinner in the Eiffel Tower as well as seeing the lights of Paris on the river cruise.
The next morning we planned to take the #7 metro line from the Poissonnière metro stop to the Palais Royal de Musée Lourve metro stop to meet up with our tour guide for a small group tour at the Louvre. We booked the small group tour through Viator as well.
My friends decided that they would rather take a taxi instead of fighting the crowds on the metro. The taxi dropped us off at the Hotel Regina where we met up with our guide at the Paris City Vision (located just in front of the white vans behind the statue.)
If we had taken the Metro as planned, from our hotel, we would have continued down Rue des Petits Hôtels to a major one-way road, Rue la Fayette. Across the street, you will see the Hotel Albion that looks like a Greek Temple. You want to turn left here and walk up the one-way street, against the traffic.
Continue on for a couple of blocks and you will see the metro sign ahead, in front of Les Volcans. This is the Poissonnière Metro Stop. Take the #7 metro line towards Louis Aragon.
If you have never traveled on the metro in Paris, please check out my other posts on how to use the metro. Don’t leave Paris without experiencing Le Metro!
Get off at the Palais Royale de Musée Lourve metro stop.
When you exit the station at the large open square shown above, turn to the west, in the direction of the traffic flow, and walk down Rue de Rivoli to the front of the Hotel Regina about 2 blocks away. Turn right to get to the Paris City Vision office at #2 Rue des Pyramides to check in and join the tour group. We booked the small group tour through Viator as well.
We had a great guide and a wonderful visit at the Louvre, and were able to get great views of everything but the Mona Lisa. That room was so crowded that unless you wanted to push through a hundred people, you were not going to get very close. As you can see from the photo below, you had to hold your camera above your head and take several shots. None of mine came out without someone or something in the way.
After our visit at the Louvre, we caught a taxi back to the Mademoiselle to pick up our luggage and the taxi took us back to the airport for our return flight to Dulles International in Washington, DC.
A quick but very enjoyable trip for us and our friends. They are ready to go back to Paris!!!
Turning Dreams into Memories,
One Vacation at a Time.
As you might guess, this document is a compilation of information from our travels as well as from other travelers. I hope it has been of value to you. Check out the important links below.
- Packing Checklist
- Parent Authorization Letter For Unaccompanied Minors
- Medical Treatment Authorization Letter
- Travel With Minors-Permission Letter
Don’t hesitate to email us when you return from your trip with any suggestions that will make this document better for you and your fellow travelers!