Category Archives: France

Hotel review: Holiday Inn Gare Montparnasse, Paris – France, 4*

Reception-area

Reception-area

Many days before we arrived I could see, through the internet, that our room had been upgraded from a standard room to an executive. Although I am  a Platinum member of the ICH brand, I never even hope for an upgrade at Holiday Inn and Crowne Plaza, so this was a pleasant surprise.

The surprise was even bigger when the friendly woman at the front-desk told us that the mini-bar was free at the exectuive room AND when we entered the room and we realized we had a huge balcony (at least compared to some very tiney once we have had at other hotels, I think this must have been  at least 2*10 meter), at the top-floor! The room was double the size of the standard-rooms (I had a sneak-peak into one when I walked past and the door was open) and had a jetted bath-tub.

Free mini-bar: Not exactly like Intercontinental, but good enough!

Free mini-bar: Not exactly like Intercontinental, but good enough!

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Toiletries

Toiletries

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We didn’t have breakfast included in the rate, so I never saw the breakfast. There are plenty of bakeries, cafes, restaurants and even a grocery-store close to the hotel, so there is no need to book a rate with breakfast!

The good things:

  • An excellent upgrade
  • Friendly front-desk staff
  • Very good location, close to several metro-stations
  • Lots of pubs, bars, shops etc… in the area
  • Lively area
  • Free WiFi for members in their loyalty program

The not so good things:

  • A strange noise coming on/off all day. It’s not very loud, but if you have heard it once, you will not forget it
  • Houskeeping do everything in steps, so if you use the room at day-time you will have 3 visits: First when they clean the room. Second when they deliver clean towels and third when they replenish the toiletries and the mini-bar
  • The water-pressure in the shower was very weak
  • The WiFi denies you access to some pages, for instance, my blogs

How to get to the hotel from Charles De Gaule airport:

The easiest would be to take a taxi, however that would also be the most expensive (around 40-60 Eur. I think). Instead you can take the train to either Gare de l’Est or Denfert Rochereau and change to metro number 4. to Montparnasse Bienvenue. The hotel is located 10-15 min. from the metrostation.

If I would go back?

Yes, this is a decent hotel in a great area. Not exactly in the middle of the touristic area, but not in the middle of nowhere either.

 

Hello from Paris, finally!

IMG_7232After 3 days without being able to reach my blog, I have now, finally, bought a VPN. (Don’t ask me about the technical terms here. The only thing I know is that a VPN will help me to be able to get into my blogs although the network I am using is trying to restrict me.) Even in China, I was allowed to read/write my blogs. It seems like some French hotels are harder than that, as I had the same problem in Nancy and a friend of mine, who was in Paris for the weekend, also had the same problems from her hotel.

 

Hotel review: Intercontinental Paris le Grand 5*, Paris – France

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This hotel defines everything I like with a luxury hotel: The old glamour (it was built in 1862) combined with refined and gracious service, a nice and cozy – but still elegant clublounge with excellent food-offerings, the best location and a bed and linens to die for. I have been to Intercontinental Paris le Grand once before, and I really loved it then. This time we had only one night, but a night I will remember for a long time. 

IMG_6796We knew we would have an early check-in and I had informed the hotel in advance, via Twitter. When we arrived we were taken care of immediately by a very charming bell-boy. He sent us to the check-in area where we met the front-desk manager. We were told we had been upgraded to the Prestige Suite, but since it was not ready  we could wait in the club-lounge or we could get another room. As I was eager to see the club-lounge (rumours said it was fantastic) AND I of course wanted to stay in the prestige suite, we chose to go to the club-lounge.

And yes, it was extraordinary! I have been to many hotel club-lounges, but this must be among the best I have ever been to. Everything, from food (offering and qualitywise) to the staff, was excellent.

After a delicious breakfast (served until 11) we were taken to our room, the prestige suite.  It’s not the biggest suite I have been to, but it had the same old granduer feeling as the hotel, and I loved it. The fact that the table in the living-room was filled with fruit, macaroons, luxurious juices and small, sweet treats, didn’t impress me the less.

As a Royal Ambassador (the highest level in the Intercontinentals bonus-program) the mini-bar drinks are free. A big plus for two bottles of real Champage!

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The only thing that disappointed me, just a tiny little bit, was that we got the same Agara toiletries as they offer in the standard-rooms. Last time I stayed at this hotel I got L’Occitane toiletries, which feels more luxuious.

More facts about the club-lounge:

07.30 – 11: Breakfast. Lots of different cold-cuts, Champagne, scrambeled eggs, bacon, etc… etc… You can also order fried and boiled eggs. Mr. No-Backpacker loves eggs Benedict and asked for that. Originally they don’t serve it, but the club-manager made it as a special order for Mr-Nobackpacker! According to him, this is one of the best eggs Benedict with home-made Hollandaise-saus, smooth as silk!

 

12.30 to 14.30 Finger-food, fruits and soft-drinks.

15.30 to 17.30 Afternoon-tea with the most delicate pastries and cakes.

18.30 to 21.00 Open bar, canapes and sweets. Unfortunately I didn’t get any pictures, but it was all in the same league as the other meals.

IMG_2331This must have been some of the best hotel-experiences I have ever had and I loved every minute although I was not able to eat most of the food because of my food-allergies. I didn’t want to make “a fuss” about my diet, so I didn’t ask for something special beforehand. However I asked for some cold ham when the other ate canapes and sweets, and was told there were a lot more if it wasn’t enough. To be honest, I am sure they would have made something nice for me if I had asked, but I didn’t. Maybe I’ll do that next time?

 

We are going back to Paris next week and will then stay at a less luxurious, not to say mediocre, Holiday Inn (mostly because Mr. No-Backpacker is going to work close to that hotel) so we decided to enjoy the hotels facilities this time. Next week I will do the exploring while Mr. No-Backpacker is working. For more about Paris, please come back next week!

 

 

Our Lady of Lourdes, Catholic church, Nancy

Our lady of lourdesWhen I first saw this church I didn’t see how big and beautiful it was. The church is located only 10-20 meter from the main-road and the tram-line and I made a notice of it every time I drove past it with the tram. Because there are maintenance work on the church, both inside and outside, it looks closed from the outside.

The last day I decided to take the tram to the Art-Noevaue district, which is also close to the tram-line, walk back home and take a further look at the church on the way.

The church was not closed and I wished I had known it before. Although I very rarely go to church at home (very few Norwegians do)  I would have liked to go to the church during the Easter-week, as I think that would have been a good experience.

What I like with the Catholic churches, beside that they are usually beautifully decorated, is that people actually use it. Whenever you come in to a Catholic Church you will usually see some people who prays or having a quite session for themselves.

How to get there:

Address: 149 General Leclerc Ave. Nancy, 54 000 FR

You can either drive or you can take the tram to the stop called Blandan or Exelmans. The church is halfway from both stops.

 

 

 

Villa Majorelle, Nancy

IMG_6494Three weeks ago I was in Morocco. Unfortunately I didn’t go to Jardin Majorelle, but I saw beautiful pictures from the garden and regrettet I didn’t go by my own. At that time I knew I was going to Nancy, but I didn’t know there were a connection between Jardin Majorelle and Nancy.

Yesterday, while the men went by train to Metz, I decided to do some Nancy-sightseeing on my own. I remembered that our host here had told me to take a walk to “a house with Art Nouveau style”. I found the house, Villa Majorelle, marked it on my iPhone-map, and started to walk.

It was only 2,5 km. but for me, with my small disabilities, it was longer than I am used to walk, so I was kind of  disappointed when I found the house and it was closed! I was not the only tourist who wanted to see the house yesterday, but I was the only one who took pictures through a hole in the closed gate!

I was also the only one who climbed up on a, to be honest, I am not sure what it was, but it was a “plastic-thing” and I was a little bit afraid it wouldn’t hold me (as I didn’t know what it was…). Well, at least I got a better shot of the entrance than the others!

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The two last photoes was taken from the other side of the street.

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IMG_6492The connection between this house and the garden in Marrakech is that the owner of the garden i Marrakech was the son of Louis Majorelle, who built, owned and lived in this house.

Villa Majorelle was built in 1901-1902 and was the first Art-Nouveau building in Nancy. For more information about the building read here.

Where to get allergy-friendly food in Nancy

IMG_2236I have been to many grocery-stores now, looking for allergy-friendly food, but until yesterday, I was sure that the French simply don’t suffer from any food allergies. Yesterday I found THE shop I was looking for: Le grand marche BIO. The shop has everything “BIO” and “Organic” and a great selection for those who suffer from gluten-allergy.

Where:

Address: 8 Rue Catherine Sauvage, 54270 Essey-lès-Nancy, Frankrike

The shop is in the St. Sebastien shoppingcenter and the shop is located in the left building (if you look at the senter from the tram-stop, Maginot) on the first floor.

Getting around in Nancy

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Nancy is not a very big city. If you stay in the city-center you will propably find it more easy to walk than to take a taxi or public transportation.

Public transportation:

There is only one tram in Nancy. If you don’t live close to a tram-station, there are lots of buses. The bus and the tram cost 1,30 Eur. if you buy one ticket, or you can buy 10 fares for 9 Eur. If you take the tram you have to buy the ticket in advance from the ticket-machine at every stop. The ticket lasts for 1 hour, but if you know you are going to take the tram/bus a lot during a day, you can buy a day-pass (24 hours) for 3,40 Eur.

Bicycle:

rental bicycle NancyNancy has this excellent offer, like many other European cities have, to rent a “City-cycle”. You can pick it up at around 25 stations all over the city and you can leave it at one of them when you are finished. The price is 1 Eur. for a one day ticket. The first 30 min. are free and you then pay two Euro each 30 min. For a seven day ticket the price is 2 Eur, and the same per. 30. min. as for one day ticket. All you need to rent the cycle is a credit card.

I have not used it here in Nancy yet, but I have used something similar in Sevilla, Valencia and London, and I love it!

Taxi:

You are not allowed to stop a taxi on the street. You need to go to the taxi-station or call to be picked up. There is a minimum fare of around 6 Eur. and then you pay a fixed rate depending on time and place.

 

 

Hotel review: Appart’hotel La Maison des Cherheurs (no stars here!), Nancy – France

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The name of the complex means ”The house with the researchers”, I think. (My French is a little bit “rusty”, but with some help from Google translator, I think I got it right!) It must have gotten that name because the university is across the street from the apartments. I also think the university uses the place for their guests as it is close, cheap and convenient, especially with the kitchenette.

To get from the railwaystation to the hotel:

Tram:

Take the tram #1 towards Vandoeuvre CHU Brabois from the railwaystation. The journey will take around 12-15 min. and the stop is called Velodrome. You will see the apartments from the tram-stop.

Taxi:

There are taxi’s outside the railwaystation. In France you are not allowed to stop a taxi on the road, you have to go to the taxi-station or call. The minimum fair is aroun 6 Eur.  and the price is fixed depending on distance and time of travelling. I haven’t taken a taxi from the city center yet, but I believe it will cost around 10-15 Eur.?

The Apartments

The apartment is ok’ish, not the worst I have seen, but not at all luxurious either (zero stars). The pictures at the web-site tells the truth, so I don’t find it necessary to post lots of uninspiring pictures here (yes, I think “unispiring” can describe the apartment).

The good thing first:

* I don’t think all the rooms have balconies, but our has. Although it is narrow, there is space enough for a chair.

* To have a refridgerator, pots, pans and some cutlery, microwavenoven, coffe-machine and two plates to cook food was heaven. Everything was clean, but as the clean-freak I am, I had to wash the cutleries, just  to be on the “safe” side!

* For people working at the universtiy, the location couldn’t be better.

* There are two grocery-stores within very short walking-distance. One to the left and one to the right.

* Pharmacies are located with the grocery-store to the left and another one if you cross the street and go straight forward.

* Self-service laundry is close to the last pharmacy.

* The tram-stop is very close.

* If you are fond of take-away fast-food, you will be in heaven here. Remember, this is where the students eat! Mc. Donalds, Subway and lots of local kebab/fast-food “restaurants” are just around the corner.

The not so good things:

* Our apartment is for three people, but there is no place for storing/hanging clothes. Only one small cabinet! I haven’t taken the effort to unpack, as I don’t think there will be enough space for the clothes I have brought for 10 days. (Ok, I do tend to overpack, but after all, there is limited space in a suitcase, so I don’t have that much with me!)

* Since this is not a normal hotel, but apartments, you will not get cleaning every day. For short stays, you will not get any at all, but for longer stays you will get cleaning and new towels once a week. If you are like me, who wants new towels every, or every other day, bring some more towels! (Luckily I brought some, although Mr. No-Backpacker told me I could always buy some new towels. Let’s see if he agrees with me when I can use my clean towels!)

* The area is very “studentish” and not at all very charming.

If I will stay here again? Well… If going back to Nancy, I will go with Mr. No-Backpacker and he will work. So yes, I take it we will be put in these apartments next time too. If I was a normal tourist, I would definitely have stayed in the city-center!

 

 

 

 

 

Cherryblossom in Nancy!

IMG_6388The cherryblossom here is overwhelming! For a strange reason I have always thought that the cherryblossom “belonged” to Japan. For me cherryblossom = Japan. Maybe because I have fond memories from the first time I was in Japan and fell in love with the country and the cherryblossom?

Luckily Nancy has not ruined my good memories of Japan, as the cherryblossom here is overwhelming, but not as much as in Japan. However it is beautiful here too!

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