Yes, can you believe that I had never been to Paris before this trip? I was anxiously looking forward to our four days in the City of Lights. I had my list of places I would like to go, and things that I wanted to see. I also knew that I wouldn’t be able to do it all so I gave myself permission to deviate from the schedule I set up. Of course I had to save some things to see and do for my second trip to Paris.
For our hotel stay I made our reservations at the Radisson Metropolitan in the 16th Arrondissement using my Club Carlson points more than a year before our trip. Previously with Club Carlson if you booked a reward stay, your last night was free. In other words, they didn’t even charge you points. Consequently I booked two nights under my name (remember one of those nights was free) and two nights under Blogger Hubby’s account. We would spend four nights at the hotel in total but only paying points for two nights.
Before we went to Paris I found out that SPG purchased our hotel and it would be in their luxury collections. I was concerned that they wouldn’t honor our reservation but they assured me they would.
A month before we left the United States I had made train reservations and purchased our TGV (fast train) tickets to go from Lyon to Paris. I again turned to The Man in Seat 61 to explain the differences between the trains. He had recommended purchasing our tickets through the Captain train website which I did. The Captain Train website has since been taken over by Train Line but it is the same format and I had no problems purchasing and printing out my tickets. If you plan to go to Europe, for many routes it is much less expensive if you purchase your tickets 60 or 90 days in advance. For other smaller, local trains it didn’t seem to matter and we would purchase them at the train station either at the kiosk or at the ticket counter once we knew definitively what our plans were. Track information is not posted until 20 minutes prior to the train’s arrival so no sense in asking people which track you’ll be departing from. Also, since we departed Lyon from Part-Dieu station there was assistance for those with mobility problem as as was the case with our traveling companions. Her husband went into the office, told them where we were waiting and an attendant came out with a wheel chair and took her to the correct track and helped them on. If you need help and it is available, take full advantage of it.
For those who are unfamiliar with train travel in Europe, once you have your ticket, you need to validate it prior to boarding at the machine on the platform. Conductors will still come by and check your ticket to see if it has been validated and if it hasn’t, there is a huge fine to pay.
On the Train Line website, which is in English, you can choose which type of seating you wanted and which class. We traveled first class (wouldn’t do it again), sat in the upper deck for better viewing and chose single seats facing each other. Across the aisle were two seats together either facing forward or facing each other like we were. We had a small table between us with a small lamp.
I emailed the concierge at our hotel asking for ways to get to the hotel from the Gard Lyon, the train station that we would be arriving in. Obviously the options were to hire a driver, taxi, subway or bus. He gave us the prices for these options. We chose to take the bus as it would drop us off about 2 blocks from the hotel and would be inexpensive. We bought a book of ten bus/subway passes called a caret. If you plan on using public transportation, I would recommend buying a caret as it will save you time. For us taking a bus was easy as we only had carry-on luggage (me) and a slightly larger case for Blogger Hubby as we allowed room for souvenirs in his suitcase. The ride took a lot longer than I thought, about an hour, but while we were traversing Paris we got a good orientation to the city and I got my first glimpses of the Eiffel Tower. Blogger Hubby is always a little nervous about making sure we know that we are on the correct bus/train, that we are going in the right direction and that we know where to get off. Fortunately I have no qualms about asking people. I found if you have a smile, and ask if they speak “English” people are willing to help you as much as they can. I’ll tell you this now – we did not get lost once nor did we get on the wrong train or bus or miss our stop.
We got off the bus and headed for our hotel, now called Le Metropolitan, a Tribute Portfolio Hotel. The hotel is shaped like a triangular between two streets. I knew that European hotels were small but when they took us to our room, I couldn’t believe how small it was. Both of us could not be up and walking around at the same time. There was a small chair in the corner but immediately behind it was a floor lamp and if you sat down the back of your head hit the floor lamp. You couldn’t pull the chair out because there was only about a foot’s length between the chair and the corner of the bed. When we asked if there was another room they told us no and that we should be happy as this was an upgrade.
I did not know how we would be able to spend 4 nights in this room. That night I sent a tweet out to @SPG assist, sent them the pictures and told them how uncomfortable it was. Next morning there was a knock on our door and they moved us across the hallway. This room even had a couch in it – certainly not luxurious but a much nicer room. I would stay away from room 226 and instead ask for room 230.
There is a restaurant on the first floor and it looked nice though we didn’t try it. I believe the breakfasts there are about $30 each. Instead we would go to a pastierrie and purchase our freshly made French pastries. Around the corner and down the street from the hotel was a Casino – which is a French supermarket. That’s where we purchased our yogurts, sliced meats, cheeses and wine.
For being branded a “luxury hotel” it did not feel very luxurious to us with the awful royal purple rippled carpeting in the hallway, elevators that didn’t work half the time, the lounge area that had tables where we played cards sometimes and looks better in these pictures than it did in real life. The lobby is very nice and the staff is friendly and helpful and they met all our needs particularly when we asked for numerous directions, which subway stop to use or how to get to train stations.
As you walk out the door and basically walk straight you will see the Eiffel Tower. I gasped when I saw it all lit up in the evening. This is the view as we were about 50 meters from the hotel.
Nevertheless we are very thankful that we had the points to stay here and that we booked it while we were still able to get one night free through the Club Carlson program.
Next post will be our sightseeing adventures and how we saved some money.