Backpacking to Europe – Part 26: Paris Big Bus Tour

Backpacking to Europe – Part 26: Paris Big Bus Tour

Previously

If you just reached here and wanted to read the start of our journey, let’s go to Part 1!

Day 6, Tuesday 14th February 2017

It is Valentine’s day! And we were touring Paris on this romantic day. It was a funny moment because when I was drafting my itinerary for this Eurotrip, I did not realize that we were going to be in Paris on this date. When I finished drafting, I saw the coincidence and told my wife “Honey, we are going to be in the city of love on the 14th of February!“. She gasped at the coincidence.

The Eurolines bus trip from Berlin to Paris

We wanted to go  to Paris for this trip, but since we planned to take flights for our Paris-London and London-Brussels routes, we decided to take a bus from Berlin to Paris. The bus trip was an experience for us, but it was also a mistake. Undeniably, the bus trip was quite cheap as compared to flying (Euro 36 for an approximately 15 hours, 1,035.6 km journey). But what we did not know was this: the bus, which operated on a full capacity that night, did not make a single stop throughout the journey since there was an on-board toilet. In the end, it was a very tiring journey.

Sunrise as we were approaching Paris
Sunrise as we were approaching Paris

Apart from that, the bus made two stops along the way, in Antwerp and Brussels before proceeding to Berlin. I guessed, that was the sacrifices that we had to made in order to travel cheap. At least we were glad that we took a night bus, we saved on one night accommodation. So, after that long journey, around 10.00 am, we arrived at Gare routière internationale de Paris-Gallieni.

Paris Metro Tickets

When we arrived in Paris, we wanted to go to Ibis Avenue de la Republique to leave our bags at the hotel which offers Nanny Bag service (more on the Nanny Bag later). So, we walked to the Metro station which is connected to Gare routière internationale de Paris-Gallieni, and decided to take Metro Line No. 3 from Gallieni to Republique. We went to the ticketing machine and guess what? Despite having an English instructions, I found the ticketing system quite confusing.

Confusing ticketing system for me
Confusing ticketing system for me

The reason being, I bought a one way ticket for my wife and I, or what I thought to be a one way ticket. When we reached Republique station and left our bags at the Ibis Hotel, we walked back to the Metro station and I bought a new ticket to go to Franklin-Roosevelt station. However, I mixed the ticket up inside my jacket and I accidentally used my previous ticket in the turnstile. Unknowingly, the turnstile opened and voila! There I was on the other side of the platform.

The newer trains on the Metro system. The stations do not always look this good. Most of the time it is old-looking, smelly and not so clean
The newer trains on the Metro system. The stations do not always look this good. Most of the time it is old-looking, smelly and not so clean

So, throughout our journeys in Paris including our train journey to the CDG Airport where we boarded the Vueling plane to London Gatwick Airport later at night, we just bought the ticket according to our guts feelings. It was also the reason why when I reached Gare du Nord station in order to go to Terminal 3 of CDG Airport, I was nervous. Nervous if the turnstile did not open because I bought a wrong ticket. Gladly, that did not happen.

Nanny Bag

As mentioned above, I used the Nanny Bag service to leave our bags whilst in Paris. We decided that we would spend only a day in Paris and consider our trip here to be a recce trip since we heard a lot of uninviting stories about the city. Some cities have lockers in public areas or train stations but some are not. Since it was convenient for us to leave our bags in the city, we found Nanny Bag and used their services.

The nearest Metro station to our Nanny Bag
The nearest Metro station to our Nanny Bag

So, Amira and I booked online prior to our trip and paid Euro 12 to leave 2 bags at Ibis Avenue de la Republique Hotel until 3.30 pm. It was so convenience because the hotel is located near the Republique metro station and we could walk around without carrying our bags.

Paris Big Bus Tour

After leaving our bags at the hotel, we moved to Franklin-Roosevelt metro station by taking the Line 9 Metro service in order to hop on our Paris Big Bus Tour bus. This is the first time that I was using a hop on hop off bus. Prior to our visit, we paid for the ticket online for Euro 59,4 per person.

Laduree! We entered in to the shop but did not buy anything after we checked our wallets
Laduree! We entered in to the shop but did not buy anything after we checked our wallets

When we reached the Franklin-Roosevelt metro station, I saw Champs-Elysées avenue nearby. The Arc de Triomphe is at the end of the road. So, we decided to walk to the area first before boarding the bus. It was raining at that time and a little bit humid. Berlin was dryer and colder. I did not wear my scarf because funnily, I started to sweat here.

Whilst waiting to cross the road
Whilst waiting to cross the road

The walk was a very leisurely one. Along the road, Amira and I saw a lot of famous stores that people always mentioned when they visited Paris. Ladurée Paris Champs Elysées, LV store… I still could not believe that I was already in Paris. In High School, I took French as my third language and I always watched French movies. I always imagined myself visiting France and now, here I was.

LV!
LV!

Amira and I walked until we reached the Arc de Triomphe. We saw a Chinese couple and asked them to help us to take a photo. Suddenly, they asked us “Are you Malaysians?“. We said “Yes!” and suddenly, we found ourselves exchanging conversations in our national language. Turned out, they are from Penang and they were having their Eurotrip too. After chatting for some time, we decided to board the Paris Big Bus Tour bus. I was parked exactly in front of the Arc de Triomphe.

Valentine's day in Paris
Valentine’s day in Paris

The journey on the Paris Big Bus Tour

The Big Bus Tour was really an easy way to get around Paris. We did not have to think about the transportation especially the zigzagging lines of its Metro system. When we boarded the bus, it was raining and we sat in the air-conditioned area. We went on the open air deck once the rain had stopped.

Stop anywhere you like on the Paris Big Bus Tour
Stop anywhere you like on the Paris Big Bus Tour

The most amazing part of the Paris Big Bus Tour is the fact that they have pre-recorded explanations on attractions that the bus passed by and stopped at. Besides that, it provides free earphones and rain coats to all passengers. Nevertheless, the main attraction of the Paris Big Bus Tour is the ability to stop, disembark and embark at any stops that we wanted to.

Eiffel Tower
Eiffel Tower

Throughout our one day journey, we stopped at the Eiffel Tower and the Opéra Garnier stop. At the latter stop, we went to the Fragonard Perfume Museum. It was a good museum as we learnt a lot of things about perfume making. Plus, it was free! We even bought some perfumes especially the Perfume concentration. One of those was a surprise birthday present for Amira!

I think I love Paris, despite what other people are saying
I think I love Paris, despite what other people are saying

We also had the chance to see the Louvre, the Church of Notre Dame, Pont Neuf (which means New Bridge, despite it being the oldest standing bridge across the river Seine) and other attractions in Paris.

To London!

At 3.30 pm, we went back to Ibis Avenue de la Republique to take our bags and took the train to Gare du Nord station. (This hotel looks amazing and we decided to stay here the next time we were in Paris). Our flight to London was at Terminal 3. Terminal 3 reminisced my moment at the old LCCT in Kuala Lumpur as it looked almost exactly the same. Cheap and no-frill.

London., here we go!
London., here we go!

Our Vueling flight to London Gatwick Airport costed us Euro 113,28 per person. It was scheduled to depart at 8.35 pm. Whilst waiting, we bought a sandwich at Paul bakery (which I did not know have outlets in Malaysia until I returned) and after waiting at the terminal, board the bus on the tarmac to the plane. Oh, and did I mention that we did not bath the whole day? Lol!

Waiting at the boarding gate
Waiting at the boarding gate

More photos of our journey on the Big Bus Tour below:

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Next: Part 27

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The Paris Big Bus Tour is really the best way to see Paris if you don’t have so much time. If you bought the ticket at home as what we did, just print the confirmation slip and bring the card you used during the purchased. Show the confirmation slip and the card to the driver or any staff and they will give you the real ticket. 

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8 Replies to “Backpacking to Europe – Part 26: Paris Big Bus Tour”

  1. It was so beautiful celebrate valentines day in Paris, the most romantic city in the world. Greetings from Jakarta. Happy New Year 2018 🙂

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