This article is part of our Europe Trip series:
On Tuesday morning, 2 June 2009, a Kide dropped us off at the nearest RER station around Châtenay-Malabry, Robinson (pronounced: ro-bang-song). Our first destination for the day is the centre of the Paris: the Île de la Cité island and its most famous attraction: Notre-Dame cathedral. Since we enter the Robinson station from the side entrance, we had to use the automated machine to buy the tickets for the RER train, using Euro coins since the machine doesn’t accept notes. Luckily, we had enough coins. Only couple of later then we found out that at the main entrance, there’s a ticket counter where we can buy tickets using notes. :P
RER trains charge by zones, so we had to check on which zones the starting and destination station are located, to ensure that we purchase the correct tickets according to the number of zones travelled. We can either buy single-trip (one-way) tickets, return tickets or a carnet of 10 tickets (with discounted price) which can be shared by different passengers. If you’re not sure, you can just go to the ticket counter and inform the staff your destination station, and the staff will advise you on the price.
The Robinson station is on a branch’s end of RER line B, so we took the train towards the city and we alighted at St. Michel – Notre Dame station, the RER station closest to the Île de la Cité island. It was the first time we used public transportation in Paris, and we enjoyed it very much. The RER trains are similar to Kuala Lumpur's KTM Komuter trains, slightly bigger than Singapore’s MRT trains and it’s quite convenient, provided it’s not too crowded.
From St. Michel – Notre Dame station, we crossed the bridge across Seine river to Île de la Cité and walked towards Notre Dame cathedral. We took our time taking pictures in front of the cathedral, near the statue of Charlemagne and at Point Zero, the “real” centre of Paris where distances to other locations in Paris (and perhaps France?) is measured. From there, we proceeded with our walking tour around the island, covering Pont d’Arcole and Hotel de Ville across the Seine river, Hotel Dieu, Pont Notre Dame overlooking the Tribunal de Commerce building, Place du Chatelet and the gloomy Conciergerie building, before reaching the Palais de Justice and Sainte Chapelle buildings.
After taking some rest in front of Palais de Justice building, we then left the island by crossing the Pont St Michel bridge, and walked along the Seine river towards Pont Neuf. After taking some pictures and having another rest in front of Institut de France building, we then crossed the Pont des Arts bridge and walked towards Louvre. We bought some ice creams at the end of the Pont des Arts bridge before entering the Louvre via its Sully wing. Since it was a Tuesday, the Louvre museum was closed for the day, so there’s not much people traffic there, allowing us to enjoy taking the photographs near the Louvre pyramid and the Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel.
We then met mbak Enik near Louvre, and we proceeded to have lunch at McDonald's which is located along Rue de Rivoli, one of the most famous roads in Paris, not far from Louvre. After lunch, my wife, my mother and mbak Enik then visited a duty free shop around the area, while I took Irza and Inka for sightseeing around the area. We walked past Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel monument towards the Jardin du Carrousel garden behind it. After taking pictures in front of the Joan of Arc statue at Places des Pyramides, we then walked north towards Avenue de l'Opera.
Our next walking destination was the Palais Royal and the garden, Jardin du Palais Royal. Passing through the garden until the end, we exited Palais Royal complex through its back entrance and walked along Rue de Petit Champs, located around Paris' 1st arrondissement to go towards Avenue de l'Opera again. Our next destination was the famous Opera National de Paris Garnier building. By that time, we have walked several kilometers and myself and the kids were also very tired, so we decided to take the public bus back to Rue de Rivoli to meet my wife and my mother.
That was the first time we took public bus in Paris. :) Since we haven't purchased our carnet of t+ tickets yet (will share about the advantage of buying the carnet of t+ tickets later), we purchased the tickets on board of the bus from the bus driver, and pay in cash. The ticket purchased from the bus driver can only be used on the bus itself and doesn't allow transfer to other mode of transportation (e.g. the metro train).
(To be continued)