Tuesday, 5 December 2017

UK-Paris Day 11: Eurostar to Paris, Hotel 34B Astotel & Le Mesturet

Although our hotel was just a 10-minute walk away from Edinburgh Waverly Station, the path consists of a lot of stairs and uneven pavement. After deciding that it was not worth breaking our backs lugging our luggage up the stairs to save a few pounds, we decided to book a 6-seater taxi from our hotel instead. The taxi cost us £5.50 and was definitely worth every penny in my opinion!

Inside our big taxi
More than enough space for everyone

We bought our breakfast at Costa and Pret A Manger before boarding our train at 6.25am. We were off to Kings Cross Station!

Enjoying our breakfast on the train at Edinburgh Waverly Station

Although the journey was 4 hours 25 minutes, it didn't feel that long as the seats were comfortable and the view was lovely. As usual, I was busy working on my laptop (these posts don't write itself! *laughs*) while snacking and admiring the view every now and then.

We arrived at King's Cross Station at 10.50am, right on schedule. These trains are hardly late! Awesome!

We spent some time doing some last minute shopping at Platform 9 and 3/4 and had lunch at Wasabi.

Lunch at Wasabi at King's Cross Station

Then it was a final goodbye to UK (for this trip at least) and onward to Paris.

We went across the road from King's Cross Station to London St Pancras International to board our Eurostar train to Paris. It cost us €64 per adult, €44.50 per child 4-12 years old (children under 4 who don't need a seat is free).

London St Pancras International Station

You must check in at least 30 minutes before your train's departure to clear the usual immigration. It was a mad dash for us as we did not realise that the international platform was quite a distance away. Thank God we made it just in time!

Eurostar Departure Gates

The Eurostar train left promptly at 12.24pm. Although the journey involved going underneath the English Channel, it only took 2 hours and 30 minutes to reach the heart of Paris!

In the Eurostar, somewhere underneath the English Channel
Passing the fields of France
The information screen in the train tells you interesting details about the journey

We arrived at Gare Du Nord Station at 3.45pm. France is ahead of the UK by 1 hour and behind Singapore by 6 hours.

Gare Du Nord Station, Paris

Before arrival, do read up on train travel in Paris and Paris train safety tips. It's a known fact that Paris is infamous for pickpockets and we have experienced a near-theft incident ourselves (more details in the next post). Stay very vigilant!

We found our way to the ticketing booths of the Paris Metro and bought our tickets.

Paris Metro ticket counter

Things to note on Paris Metro Tickets:
  1. Ensure that you have either coins or a credit card with you to purchase the tickets as the machines do not accept notes (more details here). 
  2. Alternatively, you can also purchase your tickets from the customer service counter, however, that may not always be available.  
  3. A single ticket will allow you to travel anywhere within Paris Central for the same price. 
  4. You only need your ticket for entry as the Exit gates open automatically.
  5. You can purchase a single ticket at €1.90 per ticket or bulk purchase 10 tickets for €14.90.
  6. You can also purchase Zone 1-2 Ticket Mobilis at €7.50 per person for unlimited rides within Paris Central.
  7. If you take less than 4 trips per day, it's cheaper to bulk purchase 10 tickets instead of the Ticket Mobilis. The latter is only worth it if you take more than 4 trips a day.

After getting our tickets, we headed to the gates. Although train travel is 100 times cheaper than taxi, travelling via the Paris Metro with 3 large luggage, a few backpacks, a senior and a child was a NIGHTMARE!!

Unlike London and Singapore where there are larger gates for passengers in wheelchairs or carrying bulky items, Paris does not. The gates also do not have sensors, which we found out the hard way by getting slammed by them!! Our big backpacks also got stuck in the gates!! We had to use brute force to push the gates apart and we almost couldn't get free if not for kind Parisians who gave us a hand!

Unbeknownst to us, there were actually doors next to the gates that could be opened. It was only after I saw how the locals did it that I realised we were supposed to push the luggage through the doors while going through the gates! In any case, it wasn't intuitive at all and definitely not what we were used to.

There were also no lifts in the station, which meant we had to each carry 1 large luggage (including the very strong mum!) up and down the stairs!!

So thankful to God for His amazing grace and protection upon us as we were not robbed or attacked while we were struggling with our luggage (easy targets if you know what I mean). I was also thankful that we made the very wise decision of not bringing my boy, who might have even gotten abducted in all the chaos! *shivers at the thought*

Our train arriving
Travelling apprehensively to our next destination

To get to our hotel, we took Line 4 to Strasboung Saint-Denis Station and transferred to Line 8 to Grands Boulevards Station. 

From the station, it is only a 10 minute walk to our hotel, Hotel 34B Astotel.

Hotel 34B Astotel
(Address: 34 Rue Bergère, 75009 Paris, France)
The decor features the 3 colours of the French flag (blue, white, red) 

We were so relieved to have finally arrive at our hotel! We were so exhausted from the long commute!

Our Family Room Standard accommodates 4 adults and comes with breakfast (more details on the breakfast in the next post, link at the end of this post). We booked directly from the hotel's website, and it cost us S$433 per room per night, which is pretty reasonable for Paris.

Twin beds for the mum and girl
The view outside our room window
Toilet, TV and study table at the lower floor

The Family Standard Room actually consists of 2 floors. The upper floor, where the second bedroom and only bathroom is located, can only be accessed by a flight of stairs. Hence, this room is not suitable for wheelchair users and the elderly as you will need to climb up the stairs to bathe. Nevertheless, at least there is a toilet on the lower floor so you don't have to climb the stairs every time you need to go to the toilet.

The stairs leading to the upper floor
Corridor leading to the bathroom and toilet, which are separated.
There is no sink in the toilet so if you need to wash your hands after using the toilet, ensure that no one is bathing in the bathroom! 
Good size shower area and bathtub
Very good French toiletries! I particularly love their body lotion, which was moisturising and not at all sticky
King size bed in the second bedroom
Nice view and wind from the windows
The fridge, kettle, safe and other amenities were located in the upper room

Our Astotel hotel also provided some special previleges that came with booking their rooms:
  • Free and unlimited Wi-Fi access
  • FREE soft beverages from the in-room minibar
  • Complimentary open bar with snacks and soft drinks every afternoon at the restaurant
  • FREE access to the soft drinks open bar offered every afternoon in all the 16 Astotel hotels located all over central Paris (known as Asto Tour). This is beneficial for resting at various pit-stops when touring Paris. 

Although we didn't pass by any of the other hotels in the Astotel Group, we managed to enjoy the afternoon tea at our own hotel. The snacks they offered were not a lot but of good quality. I love the Madeleines, which were really delicious!

After settling into our hotel, we walked for about 10-15 minutes to Le Mesturet for our dinner.

Le Mesturet
(Address: 77 Rue de Richelieu, 75002 Paris, France)

Le Mesturet has been opened for more than 200 years and has great reviews online, not just for their delicious food but also for their friendly service!

At our table trying to decide what to eat.
Apparently it's a must for wine to be automatically placed on the table. Almost every table has a glass of wine poured! The French really do love their wine. 

The highlight of our dinner for me was undoubtedly the foie gras! So yummy!!

We ordered some sides as well and they were just as delicious
The grilled salmon we ordered came with real shaved wasabi (the white chips at the bottom)! So good!
Lovely steak done just right, though I think I've had much better beef in Japan (very few can beat Kobe beef!)
Delicious mango citrus cake for dessert. SO YUMMY!!

The food is all done fresh so be prepared to wait for each course to be served. Good things are worth the wait though and this restaurant is definitely worth visiting! If I ever return to Paris, I will definitely visit again!

And that was the delicious end to our first night in Paris. More to come! 😁

Continue to >> UK-Paris Day 12: Eiffel, Arc de Tromphe, Lourve & Moulin Rouge
<< Back to UK-Paris Day 10: Edinburgh Castle & Scottish National Gallery


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(PDF to be added when this series has been completed)
Visit MADPSYCHMUM TRAVELS for the rest of my posts on UK and Paris, France
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