Travelogue: Peaceful Geneva and Mesmerizing Paris

We passed by Montreux, a place known for holiday resorts for the rich. The main attraction there is the Chillon Castle, a historic castle in Lake Geneva which is probably the most visited attraction of the country. It was built originally to allow the occupants to extract a toll from people and goods passing between Italy and the rest of Europe. The roadway here is wedged between the lake and the cliffs, so there was no way to get around Chillon

Château de Chillon or known as Chillon Castle

The castle by the lake which unfortunately looks like some construction is going on. BOO. It would have been pretty to be able to view the whole castle though

Lake Geneva is about 500sqm with 2/3 being owned by the Swiss and 1/3 being owned by the French

Such amazing view

Just so it would be a pity if I did not take a photo in such awesome weather

Before proceeding to visit the rest of the attractions in Geneva, we went to have lunch which I did not realise we actually paid for lunch to be arranged, and what’s appalling is.. we were having Chinese food again

Lunch

I think we had so much bad pasta when we were given sub standard Asian fare, we will find them tasty as well. This is terrible. I’m honestly sick of Asian food at this point of time. I rather we had Marche. Like hello, we are in Swiss! I’m just thankful I had rosti already

So we continued our sightseeing trip. Geneva not only is a financial city but also one of the world’s major centre for international organizations, which include Red Cross, World Trade Organization and World Health Organization. It is also the second most populous city in Switzerland and the people here speak mostly French. Even though there are many international organizations, the one we visited was United Nations cos too little time, too many places you know

United Nations

Even though the headquarters is situated in Manhattan, New York City but the office here is the second largest and still hold important presence

Flags of 193 nations.. I think

We happened to witness a demonstration going on though I’m not very sure what they were demonstrating against

A closer look at the people involved

Anyway the main point here is not the demonstration but the monument of the broken chair

The monument of the broken chair that was opposite United Nations

The broken chair was meant as a symbol to stand against land mines and cluster bombs and served as a reminder to politicians, which is pretty interesting. Are they going to build one monument for every event that happened?

A very hi-tech ticket issuing bus stop

Flower clock

A symbol of Swiss watches. You can smell the fragrance of the flowers from far far away

The decoration of the flowers change when each season changes

Super cute recycling bins

They must have really little litter for the bins to be this flat

Jet D’Eau

The city’s famous landmark, the fountain jet. I can’t tell what’s so special about it but it is supposedly one of the world’s largest fountain

The buildings around the stone jetty

Walked around the park and enjoying the stroll

Such enjoyment to just sit on the grass and people watch, just being carefree and relaxed

I guess that’s how the lifestyle like here in Swiss. And then I can’t remember what happened for the rest of the day enroute to France, cos my memory card was full and I didn’t realize and as a result I lost some photos. But I guess there should be nothing much other than.. more bad hotel dinner =/

xx

Finally moving on to France. Travelling can be quite tiring at times, especially in this scenario you are cramming 11 cities in 12 days. We stayed at the city of Dijon cos Geneva to Paris will be too long a journey. Novotel Dijon has crappy dinner but they have edible breakfast

Fried rice! Pretty surprising, though far from Asian’s standard. The best way to keep yourself full is to eat more eggs. I might have a phobia seeing ham now after eating it for 12 consecutive days =X

And then marks another few hours journey to Paris

Cos I was bored so selfie time!

Finally reached Paris and first stop was lunch at some Chinese restaurant. Yup, no prize for guessing what’s for lunch

Beautiful Paris buildings

Just thought it was quite interesting that the name of the shop is placed reflectively

Lunch was actually decent though I might be a little happier if we had French food

Sightseeing started after lunch and so we were brought to some of the well-known attractions

Like the Eiffel tower!

We were actually pretty far from the tower so we requested the guide to bring us nearer to the tower. I mean, what’s the point of seeing it from such a far distance away right. So the guide obliged and gave us 10 minutes for a quick photo stop

What did one tower say to the other? 😀

TA-DA!

The tower is really a sight to behold. So majestic and pretty. It was mad crowded that day with tons of people queuing up to go up to the tower. The local guide said it might take 4-5 hours judging from the queue. And with so many tourists, there are bound to be pickpockets, and we did spot some suspicious people lurking around

Happy me with the tower

Stopped at the end of Champs-Élysées so that we could take a photo of Arc de Triomphe. Yeah how sad we did not even have time to even walk down Champs-Élysées 😦

Arc de Triomphe

One of Paris’s famous monuments which honours those who fought and died for France in the French Revolutionary and the Napoleonic Wars, with the names of all French victories and generals inscribed on its inner and outer surfaces. It would be nice if we could have the time to get closer to the Arc to see the details but I guess this is all we could afford. Time was so tight we could only tour Paris on our coach bus for the rest of the day =/

Place de la Concorde

The largest public square in Paris, where King Louis XVI was executed during the French Revolution. The name was changed to Place Louis XV then Place Louis XVI and then back to Place de la Concorde. I guess historians cannot make up their mind =X

Obelisk at the centre of square

Egyptian obelisk decorated with hieroglyphics exalting the reign of the pharaoh Ramesses II. It is one of two the Egyptian government gave to the French in the 19th century. The original cap was believed to be stolen so the French government added a golden cap in 1998

The Louvre

I am sure everyone knows the Louvre

One of the world’s largest and visited museums housed in the Louvre Palace

And the Glass Pyramid

The bus happened to drive pass Pont de l’Archevêché, the famous bridge for love locks, which is probably overfilled with locks

Hôtel Les Invalids

A complex building of museums and monuments relating to military history of France. Okay, not my kind of thing

The weather was very sad that day by the way. It was just cloudy, dark and gloomy

Popped by a cafe to have a cup of hot chocolate. Cafes in Paris are really pretty. Just nice to sit and chill and watch the day goes by

So we went on a scenic river cruise around River Seine and it was ohmygoodness boring. This was the last optional tour offered by the agency and I have no idea why we decided to take it

Pont Alexandra III

We did spot Pont Alexandra III from the cruise though and the architecture was intricate

No other photos cos we were seated inside the cabin and it was too far for photos, plus it was cold and rainy, plus our coach bus has passed by most of the attractions earlier. Why did we take the cruise again? Argh, sometimes tour agencies can be very frustrating you know. This 1 hour 10 minute we spent on the cruise could have been put to better use, like seriously

Thoughts on the cruise: Just don’t take it. It’s super crowded as well

And soon enough, it was time for dinner

The tunnel where Princess Diana had her car crashed. Not an attraction, just so, you know. haha

I think everyone wanted to flip when we reached the restaurant. It was the same place we had for lunch plus gosh, Chinese food again! I might have mistakingly thought we were touring Asia

Okay there’s curry chicken but I think everyone would be much happier if we were eating French cuisine. And the guide was very smart to be avoiding our radar cos he knew he will be slapped with questions if he comes near us during dinner. So we kinda ended the day with an unhappy note but oh wells, what can you expect from tours?

The hotel we stayed in was on the outskirts of Paris called Appart City Velizy Villacoublay. The hotel messed up the room allocations and they had the worst breakfast ever. So bad, there’s no photo =/

So it was shopping day in Paris with Galeries Lafayette being the first stop. The mall opens at 9.30am, we were there at 9.20am and this was how it looked like..

=O

This was the back of the queue by the way. There were so many people, crowded is an understatement

Galerie Lafayette is really huge. So huge you need at least one day here to finish shopping and we were only given 3.5 hours including lunch. So that marks the start of our mad rush shopping plus claiming tax refund process

I’m still glad we had time for a sit-down lunch and not those self-service lunch which I really don’t enjoy. Wanted to locate Laduree cos apparently there’s one nearby but I couldn’t find it. So in the end we settled on this random cafe that was just beside the Lafayette

Dog waiting for food. The dog was inside the cafe by the way

Fresh and good French baguette

French Onion Soup

Salmon and Potatoes

Steak and Fries

In all honesty, the food isn’t that great. It was passable and edible and I had better French food in Singapore. But I guess in view of limited time and convenience, we just had to make do with whatever we can

Cafe de L’Opera

9 Rue de Mogador, 75009 Paris 9e arrondissement, France

Bought a box of Pierre Hermé macarons from Lafayette for desserts and cos I really wanted to see if there’s any good

Verdict: Yes, it’s really better in Paris. The meringue biscuits are more consistent and the flavours are strong and hit the palate right away

Dinner was at this self service restaurant cos we were stuck in a long jam and had very little time for dinner. So we could only settle for quick and convenient food

Duck Confit with Mixed Vegetables

The duck was actually pretty decent

Salmon with Rice and Brussel Sprouts

We ended the night with a night view of the Eiffel tower. The guide brought us to this place where we can watch the light-up of the tower

Before 9pm

After 9pm

It was really mesmerizing. It was challenging to take a photo cos it was raining with strong wind and there were so many umbrellas going around. I know you must be thinking why the sky after 9pm looks even brighter than the one before. haha the main point here is the tower, not the sky 😉

Went back to the hotel after that cos we had an early flight the next morning. We had to reach the airport even earlier cos we need to do tax refund, which turned out to be a pretty simple process. First, make sure the stores filled up the forms properly for you (like all your particulars are filled up correctly), then you queue to scan at the machines for purchases made in Paris or those forms that had a barcode and move on to the counters for those that doesn’t have a barcode (like purchases made elsewhere in Europe). There is only one queue since everyone has to pass the machines to get to the counters. Make sure you have all your purchases with you cos they do random checks. After they chopped on the forms, you can move on to the bank (on the left) if you decided to claim back in cash. You have the option in claiming back in your home currency if you would like. Just take a queue number and wait for your turn to be called. For those who choose to claim back on credit card, you can just drop it in the box provided. Just make sure you drop in the correct box and you are done with tax refund. You then repack your luggage and go back up to check-in. See, pretty simple right?

Just had to take a photo of this. This would never happen in Singapore, or rather, very very low chance of occurring

We still manage to board so yay. I didn’t like the A380 though. I preferred the one I took from Singapore to Milan. The windows on the A380 are too far away from the seats which make it difficult to lean

Lunch

Pork with black bean sauce and fried rice

Food never felt this tasty. ha. I can’t wait to be back home already

Plus ice-cream too

Breakfast

Breakfast never felt this good

Home Sweet Home!

Tour is really not my kind of thing. I can’t do with bad food and the itinerary just felt too rushed and compact. True enough, it is value for money and you get to see most of the places in 12 days but it is really just touch-and-go. I guess it is just so I can go back again to the places I would really like to explore next time.

So Europe, till next time!

Read here for Travelogue: Charming Lucerne, Picturesque Interlaken and Beautiful Bern