Today was our last full day in Europe. I’m getting sad that it’s ending, but I’m excited to lose the luggage which has gained a few pounds since I’ve been here!
We had breakfast at our hotel, the Hotel Ibis Styles. It was a continental breakfast, all of which have seemed to consistent mostly of the same foods, but today also included crepes! We then checked out, were able to leave our luggage at the hotel, thank goodness, and met Guy, our tour guide for Dijon.
Palaces, Museums & Mustard – Touring Dijon!
Dijon has the perfect balance of small city and small town feel. It’s busy, but not too busy, and there seems to be a lot to do within the city as well as on the outskirts. The streets are not packed with cars which was nice. It was actually interesting, we didn’t see stop signs anywhere, rather there were little posts in the road that would go down into the ground when you could go.
We visited the Palace of Dukes, which was so beautiful. I have to say, as we were walking around the city and Guy was pointing out different buildings, I couldn’t get over all of the minor details that appear on them. It seems like a lot of these actually tell a story, it was so interesting.
We then spent some time in the Museum of Fine Arts. The exhibits were gorgeous, and considering it was a chilly morning, it was a nice break from being outside. To finish our tour, we did a Dijon mustard tasting at Moutarde Maille! This was fun, getting to sample all different types of mustard. By the time we left the store, I could tell that my luggage was about to gain another two pounds.
Taking the TGV Lyria From Dijon to Paris
When our tour was done, we stopped at the hotel to grab our luggage and then walked over to the Dijon Ville Train Station. We grabbed some quick sandwiches for the train and then jumped on the TGV Lyria to travel to our last stop, Paris!
The TGV Lyria was very comfortable. The conductor came around and checked our reservations and France Rail Passes. We actually traveled with the France Rail Pass today and yesterday. Before we got on the train each time, we all had to write the travel date on the pass. The train staff made an announcement, before the conductor came around, that anyone without a reservation would have to pay between up to 25 euros additional on-board. When the conductor walked by, we showed him our reservation and pass and were all set! All of the staff on the trains were very familiar with our France Rail Pass, so they took one glance and that was it. It was such an easy experience, when I make my way back to Europe, I will definitely use this option.
Welcome Back in the City of Lights
After about an hour and a half train ride, we arrived in Paris at the Gare de Lyon. This is the same train station we came into the other night, and we were relieved to be staying at the same hotel, the Mercure Paris Gare de Lyon. We have been doing a lot of moving from place to place, so it’s a real convenience that the hotel is right next door to the train station.
We checked in and ran up to our rooms to get ready for the Paris Cruise ‘n Dine dinner cruise we were taking, operated by Bateaux Parisiens. We grabbed our Paris Visite cards and rode the metro to explore some of Paris. We had to make one switch between trains to get to our final stop. Navigating the metro proved, again, to be an easy experience.
The Eiffel Tower Does Not Disappoint (can’t say the same for the weather)
As soon as we got off the Metro and walked around the corner, we were treated to the best surprise, the Eiffel Tower! I was so excited to finally see it, it’s something I have always dreamed of having the opportunity to visit. Unfortunately, it was not lit up, yet, and it was rainy so we decided to take the opportunity to do a little souvenir shopping before the dinner cruise.
Paris Dinner Cruise Along the Seine River
After our shopping excursion, we walked down to the River Seine to find the Bateaux Parisiens boat. There were several boarding docks to choose from, but all of the signs made it very easy to decipher where we had to go. As soon as we boarded, the wait staff took our orders and began bringing us bread and wine. Every time I finished my bread, they came right over and gave me more. It was a never ending supply! I ordered the escargot meurette-style as my appetizer, a braised pork spare rib as my main meal and an aged cheese plate for dessert. It’s safe to say I officially love escargot! I never would have thought!
The main course was delicious, but I was too full by the time the cheese plate came. The views from the boat were gorgeous and the sky had cleared up. I would definitely recommend this as a great way to dine and see some beautiful sights around Paris at the same time.
After dinner we walked back up to the Eiffel Tower and we could really feel the magic from it now! There was no more rain, it was all lit up and we even got to watch it sparkle. It was breathtaking, something honestly so spectacular.
A few of us had a bit of a sweet tooth after the dinner cruise so we stopped at a little cafe and got some crepes with chocolate. Oh my gosh, these were delicious. This trip has consisted of some top notch food. We once again used our Paris Visite passes to take the Metro back to the Mercure Paris Gare de Lyon.
My Adventure in Europe Comes to an End…
My first trip to Europe has been truly incredible. We had the best final night and then had to say some goodbyes. Most of the group is heading back to Chicago tomorrow while 3 of us will head back to New York.
Now that I know how easy it is to use the European train system to get to so many places, I’m no longer intimated by booking a trip to Europe, everything feels so accessible. Hopefully my next trip won’t be too far off, so until next time, Au Revoir!