Road Trip From Annecy to Paris, Beaune, and the Eiffel Tower

Road Trip From Annecy to Paris, Beaune, and the Eiffel Tower

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As much as we loved the small town of Annecy, Paris was awaiting our arrival. It’s a five-hour drive, so we packed up early, said farewell to our gracious Airbnb host, and hit the road.

Beaune

About a third of the way to Paris sits the wine capital of Burgundy, the city of Beaune, pronounced bone. Ya, I had a lot of fun with that telling my wife that we’re going to Beaune. Being the wine capital of Burgundy, Beaune is surrounded by wine villages, and producers house their facilities within the city. We’re not alcohol drinkers so that’s not what lured us in. Rather, it was the venue for the annual charity wine auction that drew us there, the Hospices de Beaune.Beaune

Back in the 1400’s, when Burgundy was ruled by Phillip the Good, numerous massacres that occurred at the close of the Hundred Years’ War left many families in the countryside near Beaune destitute and susceptible to a recent outbreak of the plague. One of the Duke’s chancellors, Nicholas Rolin, and his wife built a refuge for the poor and inflicted in response. It served as a hospital for the underprivileged and church until the 1970s.

It was constructed rather flamboyantly, small, but still flamboyant. The building is made up of two wings surrounding a paver courtyard. The facades have ornate painting patterns as do the roof tops along with dormer windows. Inside is a room called the Room of the Poor. It is a long hall lined with beds on both sides with tables and benches in between for meals. The room opens into a chapel, allowing the sick to attend mass from the comfort of their beds.Beaune Hospital Beds

Entrance costs 7.50 Euros and the audio tour does a great job of explaining the rich history of this location. Each room was fascinating, from seeing meals preparation in the giant kitchen, to the display of old medical tools. This stop probably added about two hours on to our drive from Annecy to Paris, but well worth the time and money. Plus, it was nice to get a break from the car.

Arriving in Paris

The five-hour drive through the French countryside was surprisingly like a road trip in the United States. There were a lot of scenic areas interspersed with long, flat drives with nothing to look at. The last couple hours of the drive were rather rough as I had to keep slapping myself in the face to stay awake. However as soon as we hit the outer limits of the city, the anticipation of driving into the heart of one of the largest cities in the world did the trick to get me wide eyed and bushy tailed.

Our hotel was in La Defense, the business district of Paris about five miles northwest of the city center. As responsible travelers, we did extensive Google mapping of the area prior to arriving. As we looked at the streets, we noticed the lines not only make spaghetti patterns like most big cities, but were talking multiple levels of spaghetti. You couldn’t see half the roads when you clicked on satellite view because there are so many vertical layers of roads. Luckily the anticipation was worse than reality. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not going to pick up driving in Paris as my new pastime. But we were able to make it in to the parking lot of our hotel without major incident.

Thumbs up for Paris
Thumbs up for Paris

We planned to spend the last five nights of our trip in Paris. We didn’t have enough points or free nights in any one program to spend the whole time in one hotel. We were able to get our first three nights in the Hilton Paris La Defense located in the CNIT shopping mall. Since we arrived on Saturday, we were able to use our two free weekend nights we got from the Citi Hilton card (an offer that’s no longer available) as well as a third night using 72,621 of our Hilton HHonors rewards points that we got from the various American Express Hilton co-branded credit cards (luckily these offers are still available).

This area isn’t what you would imagine when you think of the typical Paris atmosphere. As I said, it’s in the business district and a good walk from any of the main Paris attractions. I enjoyed staying here. It’s close to metro access which gets you to all the Paris sites within minutes. So, if you’re looking to stay in the typical romantic Paris atmosphere, skip on this area. But if you’re okay with being in a more modern area outside of the city center, it’s a delightful place with comfortable rooms.

The Eiffel Tower

By the time we got checked into our room, showered, and refreshed from our long drive it was about 5 or 6 in the evening. We were a little hungry and wanted to go see the town. As I had never been to Paris, I wanted to head straight to Paris’ most iconic landmark, the Eiffel Tower. Since this was my first time using the metro we took a few minutes to figure out how the whole ticketing process worked. It was surprisingly simple. We made our way to the Bir-Hakeim exit and walked a couple blocks to arrive at the Eiffel Tower.

Honestly, I wasn’t prepared for how impressed I’d be with the Eiffel Tower. I mean, it’s a cool looking tower and I was excited to see it, but there’s just something about standing there looking at it. It really is an architectural marvel. Constructed for the 1889 World’s Fair, Gustave Eiffel won the contest to build the fair’s centerpiece with his plans for the Iron Lady. Given that his competitors were lobbying for a giant guillotine, it makes since that Eiffel won. Despite the tower’s 7,300 tons of iron and 60 tons of paint she is still a dainty lady as she weighs no more per square inch at her base than 245 lbs. (111 kg).

The tower is open 365 days each year and you can purchase tickets online prior to arrival, if you reserve a time months beforehand. If not, you’ll be waiting in lines for up to two hours, just for your ticket. Ticket prices vary depending on how far you want to climb the tower. There are three levels of the Eiffel tower. The top level is only accessible to the public by elevator and costs 17 euros. You can access the first and second levels by elevator or by climbing the 360 steps for each level. Elevator tickets for the second floor are 11 euros, and tickets to climb the stairs are 7 euros. If you can’t get your tickets prior to your arrival, don’t worry you’ll still be able to go you’ll just have to trudge through the lines like we did.

As the lines (both security and elevator) were rather lengthy we knew it would be hard to go out to dinner as well as go up the tower. Luckily, they do sell concessions at the base of the tower. So, I grabbed us a couple waters and a sandwich to share as we waited in line.

Buying tickets to the top, was the obvious choice for us. We could always climb the stairs on our way back down. It takes two elevators to reach the summit, and we wanted to experience the tower from top to bottom. We took the elevator up to the second level only to get into another line to wait for the elevator to go up to the top level. The wait however was quite enjoyable. By the time we were at this point, the sun had set and the lights began illuminating the city, which made for great scenery while we waited. My wife was kind enough to orient me pointing out the Notre Dame, the Louvre, and the Sacre Cour, all destinations we will write about in other posts.Streets of Paris

We finally made it to the top and the views from way up there are simply spectacular. It’s fun to look down at the large city and see all the patterns. There are tons of roundabouts with roads spreading out to connect to others like spokes on a wheel. During our time at the top, I was lucky enough to learn a little English jargon. An English mother who had obviously been lost in the winding city streets was pointing out to her child that from up here, you can actually tell that there is order to the city. From up here you can see that the streets aren’t so “higglty picklety.” I chuckled a little inside.

On our way to the bottom, we stopped at the first floor. I quickly walked out to the center to look down on the base of the tower. Behind me, I heard a guy say, “No thanks that’s not for me” and he stood back and looked from about 10 feet behind me. I wasn’t quite sure why he was so worried. I mean I don’t like heights, but if I feel safe and secure, it’s fun to look out from a nice vantage point. Plus, it’s not nearly as high as the level we just came from.Kendra on the Eiffel Tower

My wife looked at me with a little smirk on her face and asked, “Are you okay dude?” At this point, I realized I must be missing something. I looked around but couldn’t see anything out of the ordinary… until I looked down. There I was standing on clear glass staring 187 feet (57 m) down to certain death.  I then carefully tiptoed back to where Mr. “No Thanks” was standing on nice safe ground. Normally I notice that kind of stuff, but the way the light was hitting it in the night must have made it hard to see. Walking out on the glass is only for the brave, or idiots not paying attention to their surroundings.

Trocadero GardensTrocadero Gardens

When you go to Paris, expect to be bombarded by solicitors and scammers. As we arrived at the base, we decided to cross the Seine river and head over to the Trocadero gardens to get some pictures from Palais De Chaillott. On our way, we had to push through crowds of scammers trying to force their products on us. After several attempts, one man put a rose in my wife’s hand and then turned to me for five euros. When I told him I didn’t have it, he said he’d accept whatever I had. So, I grabbed the rose he put in my wife’s hand and gave it back to him.

He looked at me as if I had just murdered his firstborn. You know what, if I want to buy a rose for my wife, I’ll come to you and ask. This isn’t the way a business transaction works. The thing that bothers me about this, is that he knows that most couples wouldn’t be able to do this as it would cause an argument. Well he dicked with the wrong couple! Kendra and I see eye to eye on spending money on souvenirs. Anyway, off my soapbox.

We meandered through the gardens for a few minutes until we found a nice spot to sit and wait for the lights that glisten the tower at the top of every hour. As we sat, we had about 12 thousand people try to sell us beer, wine, or champagne.  In fact, until this day whenever I hear any one of those words, I think about my time at the Eiffel Tower. We grew very tired of saying no. Seriously every 15 seconds someone is approaching you.

We figured since we were in the city of romance, we would just start making out the next time someone offered. So we did. It was a bit awkward, but hilarious. There was one guy that I swear watched us kiss for a whole minute. Kendra started feeling awkward and started to pull back, but I was in this. I held on to her head and wouldn’t let go until he left. The guy did eventually give up so we were able to decouple. We were pleased with ourselves.

It was getting late and we had planned a long day of walking at Versailles the next day. So, we headed back to Bir-Hakeim to hop on the Metro and go back to our hotel for a good night’s sleep.


10 Replies to “Road Trip From Annecy to Paris, Beaune, and the Eiffel Tower”

  1. Wow, I would love to go to Paris, and I will. There are so many places you can visit there with a lot of history, and the museums, there are a lot of them too. I loved the Tower Eiffel video, it looks awesome. Aside from the Eiffel tower, what other places you managed to visit in Paris in your short visit?

    1. There truly are endless things to do in Paris. It’s a city rich with culture and architecture that never gets boring.

      We had five days there and it felt like we were constantly running from one thing to the next to take it all in. We were able to see Versailles, the Louvre, The Orsay, the Sacre Cour, Notre Dame, San, Chapel, and many more cathedrals. One of my favorite things was going to see the catacombs. Basically an underground graveyard with the remains of millions of people. Kinda creepy, but interesting and a bit different from the typical Paris stuff. We’ll be putting up posts about all of them in the coming weeks.

      Thanks for reading, and take care.

  2. This was so fun to read! I’m taking a Mediterranean cruise ina few months and this is getting me pumped for adventures!!

    1. A Mediterranean cruise sounds lovely. I’ve never been on a cruise, but I can’t think of a more beautiful coast line to take one on. On our last European trip we spent some time on the coast in Southern Portugal as well as some time in Southern France. It really is a beautiful coast, so I’m a bit envious of you.

      Have fun on your cruise, and please stop by and share your experiences.

  3. Hey Dustin,

    I’m so glad I bumped into your post today! I actually planned to visit Paris two months from now and it’s always nice to learn what anothers’ experience is like. 🙂 Great photos also! I have one question, you mentioned using Airbnb — I’ve never tried it before and though it could be a nice alternative to booking hotels, was it easy to find lodgings on there in France?

    1. Hi there Anh Nguyen.

      Great timing. I’m excited for you to go to Paris and enjoy all it has to offer.

      To answer your Airbnb question, yes it’s incredibly simple to book. You should check out my How to Save Money Traveling With Airbnb post. It should help you get started. Be sure to use the link in the article to sign up and it will save you $40 on your first stay.

  4. Hi Dustin,

    What a nice road you did! It’s like I was doing it by myself while reading the story:) Awesome!
    I’ve never had the chance to visit Annecy, but I did visit Paris a few time, though. My mother and uncles live in Paris. So I go quite often go there. The Eiffel is absolutely beautiful. It was during the day, though when I visited the Eiffel and I remember that they were plenty of birds on the floor. They weren’t scared of people. However, I had a great time in Paris, especially at Mont Martre!
    Great article, I really enjoyed the reading!
    Thank you!

    1. Thanks for the comment Daniella.

      We were lucky enough to be able to see the tower both during the day light and at night time. It’s fun to see how it looks in different lights and it never disappoints regardless. We also loved the Monmarte area as well. Paris is such a fun city with a lot to enjoy.

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