Trip Report elSpike's French SkiSki in the time of Covid - Les Trois Vallées

elSpike

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Note: I used to do this format of Trip Report over in the Japan forum in the BeforeTimes™ so I hope team Europe are ok with it as well!

We are just 11 days until team elSpike take off from warm and humid Singapore, which means it is time for me to start my, now, traditional trip report thread.

I got so many positive responses last time that I decided to do the same format of daily trip reporting as the last couple of times

A selection of previous trip reports are here:
elSpikes 2020 Sneaky skiski Shiga Kogen
elSpikes Ski-Ski 2020 Shiga Kogen and Myoko
elSpike's 2019 Ski Ski Ski 2019 - Shiga Kogen, Madarao, Myoko and Yuzawa
elSpike's first Aussie Ski Trip 2019

Some background. My family (Wife and 2 boys aged 16 and 13) and I are relatively latecomers to skiing. We started our adventure in January 2016 with a week in Madarao. From that beginning, the bug bit hard so since then we’ve skied Appi, Naeba, Joetsu Kokusai, Gala/Ishiuchi, Furano, Tomamu, Shiga Kogen, Myoko, and Falls Creek. We’ve all progressed from that first morning of asking “Is there a left and right ski?” to being relatively advanced who can tackle anything inbounds. My wife and I love perfectly groomed intermediate runs in picturesque settings with trees or views to the horizon. Our boys terrify us with their love of finding the hidden trails between the trees off the edges where mountain goats fear to tread.

After the past 2 years we were ready to ski anywhere that would take us, so when the Singapore Government announced Vaccinated Travel Lanes to Europe and North America a few months ago, we pounced. We again scored some amazing flights and have the following trip planned:

France (and a sneaky day trip to Switzerland) from Dec 12 to Jan 10.
11th fly in to Paris and do all the COVIDy things.
4 days in Paris getting timezone acclimatised and some touristy things
- (also hopefully sending our skis and boots ahead to the mountain)
Take the direct TGV from Paris du Lyon to Annecy
5 days in Annecy including a day trip to Geneva for a chocolate tour and some medieval history tours around Annecy
Ski Cab transfer from Annecy to the mountain
17 days in 3 Vallées staying in a chalet in Reberty (Les Menuires) skiing from first to last chair
Ski Cab down to Chambray and direct TGV to Paris
3 days in Paris doing return covid tests and some more touristy things.

Plan is to post a daily report each evening including the non-ski days.
If you want to get straight to the skiing stuff the link is here 3 Valleys Day 1

Expect detailed food posts and details on par with the previous reports. Feel free to interact as you so desire.

The hype is real!
 
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elSpike

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Some interesting Covid preparation notes:

Vaccinations:

We are all double vaccinated with less than 6 months since our last shot. (Adults: Moderna, Children: Pfizer) and the adults are getting their booster @ 5 months on this Friday. We wouldn’t travel if we weren’t all vaccinated.

Vaccination Certificates and Proof

At the time of booking our tickets, Singapore’s vaccine certificates, while having a QR code, were not accepted in Europe. As of last week that has changed and a Singapore certificate with the notarise.gov.sg QR code is now accepted and their scanning apps will process them.

Prior to that we used a now-defunct French website that would allow us to convert our certificates to an EU code. This process took about a month and my wife and I received our European certificates last week. We were able to import them into the French Anti-Covid app.

For our boys, we have used the Geneva application process here: https://www.ge.ch/en/covid-19-certificate/covid-certificates-e-demarches-application-form (This is free for people going to the Geneva Canton - A wider Swiss site is here: https://www.bag.admin.ch/bag/en/hom...ikat/covid-zertifikat-erhalt-gueltigkeit.html and costs 30 euro)

We used our bus tickets for our trip from Annecy to Geneva and our Chocolate tour tickets as the proof of entry to Switzerland. Mr 13’s European cert came through last night and I expect Mr 16 sometime in the next couple of days.

TLDR: We are all vaccinated and all of us will have our Singapore Vaccination Certificates converted to the EU qrcode certificate.
 

Jacko4650

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Three Valleys are on my radar. I look forward to your trip report. Enjoy, it's just starting to get uncomfortably hot here in Oz.
 
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LDJ

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Pretty much my last skiing was an epic 7 day trip to 3Vs in Late Feb 2020. What epic terrain. You will have an outstanding time. French food and amazing skiing so jealous. Enjoy
 
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elSpike

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We used our bus tickets for our trip from Annecy to Geneva and our Chocolate tour tickets as the proof of entry to Switzerland. Mr 13’s European cert came through last night and I expect Mr 16 sometime in the next couple of days.
Quoting myself. How droll.

Mr 16s Geneva loophole, free EU certificate came through so all 4 of us now have European compliant QRCodes to prove our vaccination status. Adults are getting boosters tonight so we will take along our Singapore QR code as well to prove that if it is ever an issue.

8 more sleeps.
 

elSpike

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Just received this update to the Vaccinated travel lane for re-entry into Singapore!

An ART test every day for the first 7 days after return. That’s another $300ish for the family!

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elSpike

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4 more sleeps till we leave and details are becoming important.

As I said in the Europe Planning Thread France now requires either a PCR or Antigen Rapid test up to 48 hours before departure. Not trusting that ART would be suitable we have decided to go with PCRs which we have organised to be done at home via a mobile nursing service.

Additionally I finally have clarity around the PCR requirements for Switzerland when coming from a border region. I called the Swiss Federal Office of Public Health Infoline for people travelling to Switzerland: +41 58 464 44 88 (every day from 6am to 11pm Swiss Time) and spoke to one of their agents who had the same name as me*

I asked about the PCR exemption for border regions and if it was applicable for tourists as well. He said that from their perspective we are coming from a border region so we are exempt just like all residents of those areas. He couldn't provide any written advice but that I should show my AirBNB booking and our bus tickets if asked.

Chocolate tour in Geneva is a go.

* I am not implying he gave me any special treatment because our names were the same. Just that it was a little bit of a Spiderman pointing moment on the call.

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Hyst

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4 more sleeps till we leave and details are becoming important.

As I said in the Europe Planning Thread France now requires either a PCR or Antigen Rapid test up to 48 hours before departure. Not trusting that ART would be suitable we have decided to go with PCRs which we have organised to be done at home via a mobile nursing service.

Additionally I finally have clarity around the PCR requirements for Switzerland when coming from a border region. I called the Swiss Federal Office of Public Health Infoline for people travelling to Switzerland: +41 58 464 44 88 (every day from 6am to 11pm Swiss Time) and spoke to one of their agents who had the same name as me*

I asked about the PCR exemption for border regions and if it was applicable for tourists as well. He said that from their perspective we are coming from a border region so we are exempt just like all residents of those areas. He couldn't provide any written advice but that I should show my AirBNB booking and our bus tickets if asked.

Chocolate tour in Geneva is a go.

* I am not implying he gave me any special treatment because our names were the same. Just that it was a little bit of a Spiderman pointing moment on the call.

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https://gb.pbchokolade.dk/ :clap:
Everyday!
 

elSpike

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I don't know if I'm allowed to post it like that. Yesterday I was on a business trip in Switzerland. There was again no control at the border, nor was I asked for a PCR test at the hotel.
Yeah. I’ve heard that too but also have seen a few posts where some people have been called and asked to submit proof to a portal too.

I’m a strong believer in integrity being what you do when no one else is watching.
 

elSpike

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Envious of your trip, this is the first year I haven't been to the 3V in 20 years.
If you need any advice where to ski, eat, do etc.
Wow. Fantastic. First question is what is your #1 must eat here lunch destination? Second question is as a “local” what do you wish newbies understood or did to make your life easier (other than staying away!)
 

Boodwah

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Wow. Fantastic. First question is what is your #1 must eat here lunch destination? Second question is as a “local” what do you wish newbies understood or did to make your life easier (other than staying away!)
My favourite place in the universe for lunch is a sunny day on the balconies of Le Bel Air.
We renamed our place up at Dinner Plain after it. It's not the best food in the 3V, but just the vibe. The best restaurant is actually Le Farcon at the bottom of La Tania, which is Michelin hatted but still affordable. And of course chabichou, but that's pricey. Have suggestions for the other valleys too, especially over towards St-Martin-de-Belleville.
Only advice for newbies is try to speak french, and be polite.
Don't ski off piste without a guide.
It also helps to know where queues form at different times of the day but that's difficult to explain.
 

elSpike

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My favourite place in the universe for lunch is a sunny day on the balconies of Le Bel Air.
We renamed our place up at Dinner Plain after it. It's not the best food in the 3V, but just the vibe. The best restaurant is actually Le Farcon at the bottom of La Tania, which is Michelin hatted but still affordable. And of course chabichou, but that's pricey. Have suggestions for the other valleys too, especially over towards St-Martin-de-Belleville.
Fantastic advice and options. Thank you @Boodwah!
Only advice for newbies is try to speak french, and be polite.
Don't ski off piste without a guide.
I think this is the key to every new country. Though my French may cause an international incident so I'll let my wife do most of the talking!
 

Telemark Phat

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Fantastic advice and options. Thank you @Boodwah!

I think this is the key to every new country. Though my French may cause an international incident so I'll let my wife do most of the talking!
Just say "Je suis désolé je ne parle pas français. Je suis australien." And you will be forgiven for any sins. Your trying, and you're not English or American.
 

CarveMan

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In fact that’s not entirely true at the moment.
After the submarine fiasco and sabotaging of GP20, Australians have definitely slipped a rung below the english in French world view.
Which is pretty embarrassing.
It’s not untrue, but I’ve also heard that on the ground nobody really cares. Maybe in Paris but not outside.
 

Kash

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Your trip sounds amazing and like others ill also be living vicariously through you! My +1 wasnt quiet ready to take the plunge on a Europe, Nth America ski trip in early 22 and Japan doesnt want us (well, their govt made it too hard).

We did a similar trip to you 3 years ago. 9 days in Meribel, a few days in Lucerne, a small swiss resort for a day, then Annecy for 3 days. One word of advice is, Annecy is stunning, but I reckon 3 days was the absolute max we needed. Sounds like you are using it as a bit of a base to explore Geneva etc though so might be ok. Could also consider a day or two skiing La Clusaz. Fantastic little resort only ~40mins from downtown Annecy. I think it has night skiing too but we didnt try that. This is just my view and maybe we only scratched the surface.

Les Trois Vallees is magic. I loved boarding Les Meniures and St Martin when not exploring the huge expanse of Meribel (which was easy given our base). You'll also enjoy exploring Courchevel and Val Thorens. Definately recommend at least visiting the various La Folie Douce bars - besides being a little pretentious they really do have a fun vibe and are worth checking out, if you can comfortably ski down hill after a few bevies :) . I loved the Tougnete and Pas Du Luc 2 region on powder days, but there is so many off piste, tree etc powder options you are unlilkely to get bored. It does seem like cruising is more your thing though and with 600ks of trails you are sorted!

Enjoy!
 
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Kenzie

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Wow. Fantastic. First question is what is your #1 must eat here lunch destination? Second question is as a “local” what do you wish newbies understood or did to make your life easier (other than staying away!)
Re eating destinations - since the resorts have been shut for 18 months I'd ask here for upto date information :-
https://snowheads.com/ski-forum/viewtopic.php?t=156501&start=160

For newbies (and this is for any of the linked French mega ski areas) - know when the links between areas close & note that these can change through the season and due to the weather conditions. Check the timings of lifts on your piste map & download the applicable app(s).
 
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elSpike

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Next step done. We used an App called Speedoc to have a nurse come to our house to collect our PCR swabs. Was a relatively easy process and all done in about 35 minutes for the 4 of us.

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Result should be ready by tomorrow afternoon.

ps. We fly out tomorrow night! Yay!
 

elSpike

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I’m writing this just outside the gate to flight SQ336 SIN-CDG.

Today was a whirlwind of highs and lows. It was a worrying wait for our PCR certificates to become available. So long a wait that I started looking for a walk in ART centre to get backup tests done. But in the end they came through just before 4pm which was around 30 hours after the sample was taken. I also found out we have an email problem that only my brother can fix (he’s in the US, so hopefully he wakes up soon).

It turns out we have got more optimised with our packing so it’s only 6 bags needed for the trip. Ski bag, boot bags, 2 REI wheely monsters and a Tatonka soft case.

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After turning off all the hot water systems (we have switches for those next to the bathroom light switches here in SG) and setting the automation for air ons to run for an hour each day to keep away the mould, we jumped in a 9 seater taxi and headed out to Changi airport for the first time in almost 2 years.

Check in was super smooth. Out vaccine certificates were checked at the entrance to the check in counters. Our PCR was cursorily checks by the check in agent and then everything else was the same familiar process of passports and boarding passes. Took maybe 7 minutes total from first cert check to us walking off towards immigration.

I did slip an AirTag into our ski bag so we can watch it make it’s way through the airport.

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Changi airport is still putting on displays and features like they always do. There was a dinosaur Christmas singing and dancing thing right in front of immigration.

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Next up the obligatory TWG for travel tea bags:
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And buying some Euros from the UOB counter. Decent rates but they only had 50/100 euro notes due to the infrequent flights.

Some other messing about with the boys and one of the creepily friendly cleaning robots here.
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And of course the obligatory angel wings pic

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And now we wait for the gate to open.

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SQ recommended that we arrive 2.5-3 hours early but in this case we could have arrived our usual 60 mins before the flight and had just as easy a time.

Next stop: Paris and what I am anticipating to be the usual shit show that is CDG.
 

elSpike

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Welcome to Paris!

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Not a bad view from our hotel balcony eh?

But before that some other stuff happened. The flight was fine. Surprisingly it was about 80% full. There was very little turbulence at all and we all managed to get a few hours of sleep/drowsiness in.

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7am Charles De Gaulle wasn’t as big of a shit show as I thought it would be but it had its moments. We arrived into one of the outer gates, so a short walk and train to the main immigration hall.

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The queue was maybe 3-400 people long but it moved pretty quickly. There was a mixed bag of mask adherence with the under the chin being the placement of choice for those flouting the rules. 1m separation was encouraged by the signs alone with people choosing to ignore at will. At immigration, my wife had her PCR checked, while my son had his vaccination status checked. I and my other son weren’t asked despite all of us approaching the counter separately, so it appears random. At no point were we asked to show or submit out Letter of Honour that we had filled out.

Baggage collected (skis were well treated) we snagged a waiting maxi taxi into Paris proper. 35 minutes and €65 was the fare to our hotel across from the Louvre.

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Our rooms were not going to be ready until 3ish so we dropped our bags and headed off in search of a real Paris breakfast.

We happened upon the Cafe Le Royal with the standard two choice breakfast sets with hot drink, citrus juice, baguette and croissant with jam and the choice being with or without omelette.

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Our stomached full we decided to go replicate one of our standard Paris Zwift routes (if you are an indoor cyclist or fan of Le Tour you know) with a loop of Champs Élysées on foot. It was fun pointing out where the sprints start and end.

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Remember how I said that no one looked at or took our letter of honour? We still kept our word and took the required ART Rapid test that we said we would. There are small tents set up all over the city where you can have a rapid test administered in about 10 minutes for €30 each as a foreigner. The results are emailed yo you and you can import them into the French AntiCovid app.

We also stopped to take some goofy pics with different statues.

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We also passed this pretty great looking monument to Joan of Arc
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With 10km of walking under our belt we stopped in at Madame7 for a drink and a sit down, with Master 16s hot chocolate coming as a chocolate lined cup and a steaming jug of milk. This is our new favourite method!

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We then made our way back to the hotel and after another short wait are now in our rooms having a pre-dinner shower and snooze. I’ll post later about dinner (or perhaps include it in tomorrows post).

So far the jet lag has been manageable. It’s only a 7h difference. We’ll see if I’m eating those words at 3am tonight (c;
 

LDJ

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The offical 3Vs app is bloody awesome for checking what lifts are open, what has been groomed how to get where and I have in my mind that it had queue times as well for certain lifts but I can’t 100% remember. Was frequently looking at it on gondolas planning next 3-4 lifts and runs. IMO sign postage was also pretty decent. I rarely got lost I just sometimes wasn’t quite where I wanted to be ;)
 
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elSpike

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The offical 3Vs app is bloody awesome for checking what lifts are open, what has been groomed how to get where and I have in my mind that it had queue times as well for certain lifts but I can’t 100% remember. Was frequently looking at it on gondolas planning next 3-4 lifts and runs. IMO sign postage was also pretty decent. I rarely got lost I just sometimes wasn’t quite where I wanted to be ;)
yep. The app is amazing. We’ve been using it to watch the webcams and track trail openings for the past few months!
 

elSpike

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Quick update cause I’m up early.

Dinner last night was a little difficult to find. While there are a stack of restaurants all around our hotel almost all of them were completely full at 6.15-6.30pmish. We were turned away from about 5 or 6 before we found one with a table.

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Cafe Saint Honoure is a couple of blocks along Rue Saint Honouré (same one our hotel entrance is on) and serves a mixed European menu. Everyone found something they wanted, with Burrata featuring all through the menu. They did a pretty solid onion soup and fries, and their Pinot noir house pour was very tasty.

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They also had a stack of giant stuffed bears that Mr13 had to get a photo with.

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After dinner it was back to hotel and straight to bed after being awake for far too long.

We’ve woken up early but not unusually so (4.30am starts are a way of life for cyclists in Singapore trying to avoid the heat) and are just waiting for the breakfast places to open because the lavazza coffee capsules here are a hate crime.

For those of you waiting for snow and ski phase, we will reach the mountains on the 21st so you can either keep following along here or ignore me till then!
 

Kenzie

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The season in the Tarentaise is off to a corker of a start. Over 1m of snow this week in the valleys, 2m+ up higher. And now this ...

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Total bullshit!! Meribel's snowdepth & weather as of today (Monday):-

 
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davekinkead

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Total bullshit!! Meribel's snowdepth & weather as of today (Monday):-
Someone's not getting enough powder!


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elSpike

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Day 2: Paris

As you saw above I awoke rather early so it may take a few days to get into the time zone. There is a Lavazza coffee machine in the hotel with some obscure pods (I’m a Nespresso-like capsule guy) that took a couple of attempts to find one I liked.

By 7am our stomaches were grumbling so we popped across the road in the pre-dawn light to Cafe Nemours for the standard coffee + juice + croissant. No menu just the one set at €12 a piece.

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We stayed for a second cup as the light changed from a deep blue to the light grey that stayed for the rest of the day.

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On the way back to the hotel we also convinced the boys to recreate a photo we took 8 years ago in the Colonnes de Buren (the art installation inside the courtyard of the Palais Royal).

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Turned out pretty good!

Around 9.30 we popped across the road to spend the morning in the Louve. It’s a museum that you could go to every day for a week and see something new eagerly time. It is dense with artifices and it is very easy to be overwhelmed by the sheer volume of things.

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Incredibly both the Mona Lisa and Venus de Milo exhibits were very quiet. Maybe a 5 minute wait for Lisa and less than 10 people around Venus while we were there. Last time we visited the Mona Lisa room was like a mosh pit and we couldn’t get closer than about 20m away!

On the Louvre, it is highly recommended that you pre buy tickets on the website as they now have you book a 30 minute window where you can enter the pyramid so if you try to buy at the museum you may have a wait before you are allowed downstairs.

By about 1 we were all museums out so we walked over towards St Germain to find a cafe for lunch. We managed to find Les Dreux Magots, which contrary to what I initially thought, means the two monkeys not two fly lava! The food and service were divine, and dare I say worth the eye watering bill. It has a storied history (literally) being the home cafe for such giants of the literary world as Simone de Beauvoir and Ernest Hemingway.

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Another stroll back across the Seines to our hotel for a short rest was then in order.

This evening we took the metro over to La Defence for their Christmas Market.

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This is the largest Christmas market in Paris with over 350 chalets with all sorts of food, crafts and christmasy things. I was more impressed with the Grand Arch above the Metro Station.

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We then popped in to the second largest Christmas market at Tulleres too. What can I say, we are suckers for hot apple juice and weird European crafts. We did manage to find a tree ornament at both markets so the trips out and back were well worth it.

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All in all a wonderful day! Tomorrow we are thinking of heading over to Versailles.
 

elSpike

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I talked about it here:

But long story short.
We converted our Singapore certificates to EU versions through the French portal back when it was open.
We converted our boys ones through the Geneva Canton process where you need proof that you will be in Geneva.

All of this is moot now as the Singapore Vaccination veers now have EU qrcodes built into them so they are pass sanitare compliant.

I’ve seen signs in almost every pharmacy window saying they do conversions. I expect it would take all of 10 minutes as that’s how long it took for our on arrival ART results to be mailed to us.

Edit:
This post was in reply to @Occasional Visitor who had asked:
Have you received your Pass Sanitaire ? (from a chemist) How long did it take ?
They have since deleted the question so I’ve included this edit to keep the story consistent. Otherwise it just looks like I repeated myself for no reason. In future please don’t delete your posts after I have answered them. Thanks.
 
Last edited:

climberman

CloudRide1000 Legend
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the sunny illawarra
Day 2: Paris

As you saw above I awoke rather early so it may take a few days to get into the time zone. There is a Lavazza coffee machine in the hotel with some obscure pods (I’m a Nespresso-like capsule guy) that took a couple of attempts to find one I liked.

By 7am our stomaches were grumbling so we popped across the road in the pre-dawn light to Cafe Nemours for the standard coffee + juice + croissant. No menu just the one set at €12 a piece.

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We stayed for a second cup as the light changed from a deep blue to the light grey that stayed for the rest of the day.

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On the way back to the hotel we also convinced the boys to recreate a photo we took 8 years ago in the Colonnes de Buren (the art installation inside the courtyard of the Palais Royal).

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Turned out pretty good!

Around 9.30 we popped across the road to spend the morning in the Louve. It’s a museum that you could go to every day for a week and see something new eagerly time. It is dense with artifices and it is very easy to be overwhelmed by the sheer volume of things.

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Incredibly both the Mona Lisa and Venus de Milo exhibits were very quiet. Maybe a 5 minute wait for Lisa and less than 10 people around Venus while we were there. Last time we visited the Mona Lisa room was like a mosh pit and we couldn’t get closer than about 20m away!

On the Louvre, it is highly recommended that you pre buy tickets on the website as they now have you book a 30 minute window where you can enter the pyramid so if you try to buy at the museum you may have a wait before you are allowed downstairs.

By about 1 we were all museums out so we walked over towards St Germain to find a cafe for lunch. We managed to find Les Dreux Magots, which contrary to what I initially thought, means the two monkeys not two fly lava! The food and service were divine, and dare I say worth the eye watering bill. It has a storied history (literally) being the home cafe for such giants of the literary world as Simone de Beauvoir and Ernest Hemingway.

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Another stroll back across the Seines to our hotel for a short rest was then in order.

This evening we took the metro over to La Defence for their Christmas Market.

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This is the largest Christmas market in Paris with over 350 chalets with all sorts of food, crafts and christmasy things. I was more impressed with the Grand Arch above the Metro Station.

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We then popped in to the second largest Christmas market at Tulleres too. What can I say, we are suckers for hot apple juice and weird European crafts. We did manage to find a tree ornament at both markets so the trips out and back were well worth it.

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All in all a wonderful day! Tomorrow we are thinking of heading over to Versailles.
sweet :)
 

elSpike

I am a Meat Popsicle
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Jul 28, 2015
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Miss Paris so much...
The red ape sculpture on the Champs is Orlinsky, there's a heap of his stuff en piste at Courchevel, always makes for terrrifc photos on a sunny day!
So great. Can’t wait to see more!
 

DidSurfNowSki

One of them
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Jan 19, 2014
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Canberra, ACT
Around 9.30 we popped across the road to spend the morning in the Louve. It’s a museum that you could go to every day for a week and see something new eagerly time. It is dense with artifices and it is very easy to be overwhelmed by the sheer volume of things.

D0C21AF8-A7C9-4D96-A7AA-A89318336C57.jpeg

Was the Omega there ? Sorry, bad movie reference. Loving this TR.
 
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elSpike

I am a Meat Popsicle
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Was the Omega there ? Sorry, bad movie reference. Loving this TR.
I like you. We can be friends. We made the same reference multiple times! That movie was made for Tom Cruise like Zombieland was made for Woody Harrelson.

(Movie is Edge of Tomorrow for those playing at home and have no idea what DSNS and I are talking about. Do yourself a favour and give it a watch. Tom cruise sci-fi action comedy at it’s best.)
 
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Tanuki

Part of the Furniture
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(Movie is Edge of Tomorrow for those playing at home and have no idea what DSNS and I are talking about. Do yourself a favour and give it a watch. Tom cruise sci-fi action comedy at it’s best.)
Great movie, followed up by a more somber (contemporaneous) Cruise Sci-Fi 'Oblivion'.
 
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