[Travel Diary #1] Belgium & France — Day 5: Tasty in Paris

The fifth day of the trip included visiting the Versailles Palace, coming back to the Louvre Museum, tasting French cuisine and enjoying the nightlife in Paris.

Look how beautiful the City of Light was at night — Image courtesy of the author

Before starting with the journey in the day as before, I would like to talk a little bit about public transport in Paris.

Public transport system

When I first saw the map of public transport, I was mind-blown. I had never seen a complicating thing like this. There were too many stations, lines in different colors, and different zones. It was hard to know where to start on that map. There are five zones on the map, with separate lines for different types of transportation: bus, metro, a train system called RER and tram. The metro system will only be available in Zone 1. If you want to go places in other zones (for example, the Versailles Palace was in Zone 4), you need to take the other public transport.

The public transport map in Paris — Screenshot captured by the author


You have several options depending on the number of days you stay there, and when you stay in Paris. Below are the most popular tickets or passes I saw in Paris:

  • t+ ticket for the single trip: It would cost you €1.90 per ticket. The ticket valid within 90 minutes or two hours from the time you validate it, depending on which transport you get in. You can buy a pack of ten t+ tickets at the price of €16.90.
  • Navigo weekly travel pass with unlimited journeys. The price for Navigo week pass is around €22.80.
  • Mobilis ticket: unlimited journey during one day depending on zones you choose. The price would start from €7.50, and please note that the more zones you choose, the more money you pay.
  • Weekend day pass for youth: If you visit Paris during the weekend and you are under 26, you can buy this ticket. This pass could be purchased online or at the ticket booth of the station. At the time of our visit to Paris, I saw one of my friends try to buy this ticket at the vending machine, but there was no option there. She had to ask the staff at the ticket booth about this pass, and they sold it there. The price was €6.10, including €4.10 for the pass itself and €2.00 for a physical card.

For more options, you can visit this website to choose the most appropriate tickets for your visit.

Citymapper app

I discovered a mobile app for local people and tourists to use to ease their trip: Citymapper. It was easy to use. You only need to type your current position and your destination, and then the app will show you several options to get that place with the suggestion of the fastest way. Of course, you can use Google Map to do so, but sometimes Google Map is not as correct as of the Citymapper app.

Citymapper App — Screenshot captured by the author

Citymapper also shows you the disruption alert for you to consider which route you should take. Citymapper eased our trip in Paris with explicit instruction (only one time it was incorrect which happened today).

The only thing I don’t like about this app was that it quickly used up our phone’s battery. My wife’s phone reduced energy quicker than usual when using the app. Usually, she only has to charge her phone every 10–12 hours. But with this app, it caused her phone’s battery to end quickly in just two hours.

Anyways, it is still an excellent choice for tourists who don’t want to spend hours to understand the public transport map of Paris. And the good thing is that the map (as shown in its description on App Store) covers many cities, including Rome, Brussels, etc. Therefore, you can think of using it based on the country the app developer described.

Today should have been a relaxing day because we only had Versailles Palace in our itinerary, with the plan to enjoy French cuisine in the evening. However, a problem occurred during our visit to Versailles caused us exhausted when we came back. The issue related to the Citymapper app, as I mentioned before.

We should have taken a train directly from our place to the Versailles palace train station. However, that train was disrupted on that morning, so we had to first take a bus to a train station called Val Fleury RER and from there, take a train to the Versailles Palace train station.

We followed the Citymapper and hopped on the Bus 162 to get to the Val Fleury RER station. However, when we were on the bus, we found out that the final bus stop would not be Val Fleury RER station, but six stops before that named Marquis. When I noticed that, I rechecked the Citymapper and it instructed us to got out of the bus at two stops before Marquis to take the right bus. We followed the instruction and got out the bus at that stop.

Then, we realized that there would not be any bus stopping at the Val Fleury RER station. The only way for us to get there was walking. It took us half of an hour to get the right station where we could take a train. When we walked, we realized the road near the station was under construction, so no bus could get to that stop on that morning. We felt really bad when we had to walk so far like that. We needed to be at the palace on time, as stated in our tickets to avoid waiting. So, we had to walk fast under the heat of 32 degrees Celsius.

We entered the Versailles Palace on time. After we passed the entrance, what we saw was a large square appearing under the yellow sunshine of the summer. It was beautiful and appropriate to take some photos here.

The large square inside the Versailles Palace— Image courtesy of the author

The Versailles Palace was the place where French Kings Louis XIII, Louis XIV, Louis XV and Louis XVI lived. It was built in 1631 by King Louis XIV, and it was a royal residence until the French Revolution in 1789. It was listed in the UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1979.

The Versailles Palace is now a museum, which arranges the one-way route for visitors during this Covid time. However, if visitors would like to look closer to the paintings or other artworks, it was impossible to do that here. However, we still could see the splendor of the Royal families in France in the past.

Some photos inside the Versailles Palace — Image courtesy of the author
Some photos inside the Versailles Palace — Image courtesy of the author

In general, the Versailles Palace was not impressive to me. One more thing I did not like about the palace was that there were too many people inside the palace. When the risk of a second wave of the Coronavirus was waiting ahead, the crowd was not a good sign.

Taking a walk through the palace, we got out to ready for the Garden. The Garden is typically free for everyone, EXCEPT FOR during the day there were events held inside it. And, the day we visited the Versailles Palace was an event day. If we would like to get inside the Garden, we needed to purchase separate tickets for that at the price of €9 per person. Okay, I would say ‘No’ to that.

We came back to Paris and visited Louvre one more time to take photos of the Louvre museum during the day. On the day we visited there, we were rushed to pass the entrance on time, so we did not have much time for photo-shooting. The sky was a bit leaden when we came back here, but the beauty of the Louvre Museum always remain the same.

The beautiful pyramid in a leaden afternoon — Image courtesy of the author
From the other angle — Image courtesy of the author

As promised, Chloe took us to a French restaurant in Paris named Les Bougresses. It was not too busy at that restaurant when we came there. The atmosphere of the restaurant made us feel cozy. Joining us were two friends of Chloe, who also helped us to find places to stay in Lille a few days ago (even though we had never met before). We appreciated that.

Coincidentally, the day we had dinner at Les Bougresses was the day the football team of our former company won the title of the cup (I mentioned in Day 3 if you remember). So, another opportunity to celebrate.

Inside the Les Bougresses restaurant — Image courtesy of the author

We chose one menu set (one appetizer, one main course and one dessert), another appetizer and two more main courses.

The appetizers came first. They were Foie Gras (goose’s liver — the French speciality) and smoked salmon. We would like to taste onion soup, but they did not offer this dish in summer.

The first taste of Foie Gras was fantastic. It was served with strawberries jam and bread (you can order bread unlimited). That was the first time we tasted this in our lives, and it was unforgettable. 

Foie Gras and the smoked salmon — Image courtesy of the author

Three main courses were grilled chicken drumsticks served with mashed potatoes, lambs with cheese potatoes, and grilled shrimp with beans. All three dishes were amazing. Ranking? Lambs, shrimps, then chicken. 

The dessert was Crème brûlée, a basic dessert in France.

All three main courses — Image courtesy of the author
Grilled lamb with cheesy potatoes — Image courtesy of the author
We did enjoy the dinner there — Image courtesy of the author

After the dinner with the satisfaction, we experienced the nightlife of Paris. We walked alongside the Seine River. It was so crowded there. My friend introduced that this place was the meeting point of youth in Paris. That was also Friday, so it was not too surprising that people came there for chilling. They sat along the river as groups. There were also several restaurants there, and even outdoor clubs (they had a stage to dance).

We chose a quiet place to gaze the Paris by night. From our position, we could also see the Eiffel Tower. Although it was not the first time we saw it at night, it was still surprised when I looked at that.

Paris by night — Image courtesy of the author

That was all of our third night in Paris. See you on the last day of our first Europe trip.


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