Adam and Liz were flying into Aéroport Paris–Charles de Gaulle (Charles De Gaulle Airport – Paris) so we needed to travel to the other side of France to meet them. Tracy and I elected to not get a car when we moved to France and because we were traveling with Kiara the Chihuahua using RyanAir or EasyJet (the discount airlines) was not an option. So we made use of SNCF’s (Société Nationale des Chemins de fer Français – French National Railroad Company) regional trains and the newly available Ouigo high-speed train. The Ouigo is a subsidiary of SNCF and is basically a stripped TGV (Train à Grande Vitesse) high-speed train without a club car designed to compete with the discount airlines. The trains happily accept Kiara which made her and us very happy. The Ouigo was comfortable and quiet and we enjoyed a very rural view of France that reminded us of Kansas and Nebraska with lots of grain fields and vineyards.
Another reason for the Ouigo’s discount fare is its use of secondary train stations. We arrived at the train station at Marne-la-Vallée – Chessy outside Paris only to realize that Marne-la-Vallée is the station for Disneyland-Paris. We hadn’t realized that walking out the station door would put us immediately at the entrance to Disneyland. We caught the RER (Réseau Express Régional – Regional Express Network) commuter train from Marne-la-Vallée to Paris and then the famous Paris Métropolitain (subway) to our hotel in the Montmartre district of Paris in the 18th arrondissement, a Right Bank arts neighborhood.
We arrived a day earlier than Adam and Liz’s arrival, so we did an evening stroll to visit Sacré-Cœur Basilica. Located at the summit of the Butte Montmartre, the highest point in the Paris, the Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Paris, more commonly called Sacré-Cœur Basilica, is a Roman Catholic church and minor basilica, dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Built of white travertine stone, the Basilica is brilliantly illuminated and stunning at night.
The Basilica complex has a large garden area and a fountain. There is an amazing panoramic view overlooking Paris from the Basilica and garden. The Basilica complex is a favorite meeting place for young people with more than a hundred on the grounds socializing as we explored. To reach the top of Butte Montmartre there is a steep series of stairs with over 300 steps or a funicular railway. The funicular has two parallel tracks with one car on each: one car going up counter-balancing the other car coming down. In a minute and a half the funicular travels 354 horizontal feet and climbs the 35% gradient 118 vertical feet to the top of Butte Montmartre. It is well worth the cost of one Métro ticket to enjoy a ride to the top. The funicular transports about two million passengers each year.
With Sacré-Cœur Basilica around the corner from our hotel enjoyed the beauty of the Basilica on the hill above us and we later returned to share the sight with Adam and Liz.