What it’s like in Paris (and the Marriott Opera Ambassador Hotel)

We spent four nights in Paris during the last part of our honeymoon, and while it was a quick visit it was also quite beautiful. At some point my wife asked me if I thought Paris was more beautiful than New York. Of course I said yes. Now this doesn’t mean I don’t like New York – I love where we live in Brooklyn and all of our friends are nearby. But when you look at all the wrought iron, the old structures, the history that comes out of the city, Paris truly is a beauty.

We arrived in the early afternoon and immediately took a cab from the train station to our hotel: the Marriott Opera Ambassador, a wonderful 4-star establishment within walking distance of the Paris Opera House (which unfortunately was closed during our stay) and easy public transit to get to places like the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre, and even Versailles. While the bed was not the comfiest of our stays the staff was kind enough to add an extra pillow top making it a bit more amenable to our tastes. There was plenty of space to put our stuff (a nice armoire with a safe) as well as a desk that was easily usable. The bathtub was large – a feature my wife enjoyed greatly – but strangely the toilet had its own room. It made it easier if we had to go to the bathroom if the other person was in the bathtub or shower, but it was a bit odd. Overall, a great place to stay and the staff was wonderful.

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We started off in Paris simply walking around, an easy thing to do in a city that developed when the fastest mode of transport was horse-drawn carriage. We saw some wonderful promenades and funny signs and learned that it is true what they say about Parisians vacationing for much of August: there were signs everywhere about closed businesses and when they would return.

We spent time at the Eiffel Tower, learning about its original purpose as scientific equipment and how it was supposed to be torn down a few years after completing the experiment. We walked past the Louvre and later I got to visit it (my wife was feeling too tired). I got to see various museums with arms and armor as well as scale models of locations across Europe where French kings fought battles. Napoleon’s Mausoleum was quite a sight as well – such a large encasement for a small body. We also visited Notre Dame after waiting in a line that seemed to be long but really was short; inside we saw some Church gold!

 

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I took half a day to go visit the Palace of Versailles and was really amazed at the scale. Unfortunately, it was a bit of a rainy day so the views weren’t as spectacular, but the majesty of the rooms and the artwork displayed was incredible. The building itself was magnificent and it was quite amazing to learn about its development over two hundred years. There was even an extra exhibit inside a hall showcasing artwork of all the battles France has won explaining the French assistance during the American Revolution – incredible. I spent a few hours there by myself and returned back to Paris where we explored further.

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Paris was amazing and we spent too short a time there. We plan on returning in the future to explore more and maybe we’ll stay at a Starwood property this time….

Review: Eurostar on the Chunnel

From London we traveled to Paris via the Eurostar train under what is called the Chunnel (the English Channel Tunnel). I had done some research ahead of time and discovered that there are two different types of trains that go underneath on that route and I wanted to make sure we were in the most up-to-date, the e320. So, after some searching on CaptainTrain (now called Trainline), I found what I was looking for – and they were in Premier class!

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We took a taxicab to London Pancras Station and got some food after which we crossed the road to King’s Cross Station, home of the famed Platform 9 3/4 from Harry Potter. There was an enormous line of people waiting to hold onto a baggage cart half-stuck into the wall. We decided not to wait in the line and instead board the train.

It took a little while to get through their security (similar to airport security) and we also went through customs in the train station (a cool novelty). They stamped our passports with little train cars to signify the method of transport we used to exit the country and we were on our way!

The train was long and our seats were pretty comfortable (although not as wide or squishy as Amtrak’s regular coach-class seats, ironically). The exit from London was smooth and soon enough we were flying through the English countryside.

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There were some really cool displays on the overhead screens about the train and its destination. Everything was shown in English as well as French. It showed the destination of the train, what car we were in, our speed, and sometimes even our location.

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As you can see there were times when we were flying through the countryside quite quickly. It was honestly such a cool ride I was sorry to see it end.