|Gare St. Lazare or St. Lazare train station is the second largest of six terminus stations in Paris, through which over 400,000 people pass daily. It serves both the high speed TGV along with local trains and is also a major metro station. Thus, when you get off the train coming in from Normandy, you feel like you have been slapped in the face and dumped right into an anthill. This area of Paris is not only a busy train station, but the central location of some pretty hot shopping with the 45,000 square foot, Printemps Department Store closeby. Ladies, this is the largest department store in the world but, trust me, you do not take your husband with you when you go there.
Trying to get our bearings and push our way through the crowd, we queued up in a short taxi line because we had already decided that we would take a taxi to the hotel although it was only about 3-4 miles away. We could have taken the metro and lugged the baggage, arriving about 500 meters down the street from the hotel. That would have been entirely too cruel so we opted for the taxi and thoroughly annoyed the driver, who was obviously upset at the short fare. C'est la vie, baby, I thought as we drove into a beautiful part of town with a great location.
Let's stop here and talk about luggage. None of my friends will believe it but we went to France for 10 days with only carry-on luggage. That's right, one roll-aboard each, one backpack and one other carry on in which I shoved my purse going through check in. We took lots of snacks that were replaced with a few purchases as we went along but all in all it worked out pretty well and prevented me from mass shoppping. We did that because we were flying standby and couldn't check a bag. It took careful color coordination; black, beige and brown and careful packing. Only two pair of shoes each and sample sizes of liquids, cosmetics and other necessities. I never thought we could do it but it really made things a lot easier on the train and moving around the country. Only thing that I regret was that I didn't take a couple of pieces of warmer clothing so layering became important.
We were staying at the Westin which has a fabulous central location in the 1st Arrondissement, right across from Les Tuileries garden and a short walk to the Louvre. Two metro stations are close as is the Place de la Concorde. There are lots of bistros, restautants and other eateries nearby. The location is one reason that we stayed there but actually we were able to use our Starwood points and get a deluxe upgraded room, which we were able to check into right away. It was on the top floor of the remodeled wing with two balconies under a Mansard roof, a large marble bathroom with double vanity and soaking tub, separate toilet and bidet, and also a built in, walk in closet.
We were so tired that we couldn't even leave the hotel for the remainder of the day and instead rested and decided what we were going to do for the next two days. Welcome rest, welcome relief.