Tag Archives: paris

All Aboard the Chunnel!

photo credit Mike Knell, creative commons

photo credit Mike Knell, creative commons

On May 6, 1994, Eurostar’s channel tunnel, or “Chunnel” as it is colloquially known, officially opened from England to France. It is a modern marvel of engineering—it took eleven drilling machines and 13,000 people six years and 4.65 GBP billion to install it. At 31.34 miles long, it is the second longest undersea tunnel in the world. Its lowest depth is 250 feet underwater!

Since it’s opening in 1994, millions of people have enjoyed the convenience and comfort of this fast zip from London to Paris. If it’s not on your travel bucket list, it should be!

Tickets for the Chunnel are released about 6 months prior to travel date, and it can start as low as $65 if you grab yours early! They also have senior fares available. A regular one-way ticket may cost around $120-180. There are 3 classes on board: standard, comfort and business. Standard class is family-friendly, with access to a buffet car with snacks. Or if you’re traveling in comfort class, your journey will include a light snack and first class seats. Want to travel in style? Business class comes with a 3-course meal and your choice of fine spirit on board, plus access to the exclusive Eurostar lounges at St. Pancras or Gare du Nord stations.

Did You Know?

–         A contest was held to determine where to place the Chunnel.

–         Both the British and French started digging from each side at the same time, but they didn’t quite meet in the middle—the English side tunneled the greater distance.

–         French engineer Albert Mathieu was the first engineer to propose the tunnel in the 19th century, and his plans included an artificial island half-way across for changing horses.

–         Much of the chalk marl bored on the English side was deposited at Lower Shakespeare Cliff in Kent, now home to the Samphire Hoe Country Park.

–         One of the eleven boring machines remains buried under the Channel. Another was sold on eBay for £39,999 in 2004.

–         Up to 400 trains pass through the tunnel each day, carrying an average of 50,000 passengers, 6,000 cars, 180 coaches and 54,000 tonnes of freight.

–         The lining of the tunnel is designed to last for 120 years.

–         Shuttle trains are 775 metres long – the same as eight football pitches.

–         The Queen and President Mitterrand were the honored guests on the inaugural ride. The royal party travelled from Waterloo to Calais at a sedate 80mph. The presidential party sped to the coast from Paris at 186mph.


Willamette Intl Travel designs and books train itineraries all over the world. Our rail expects can explain the nuances of train travel and book Eurail tickets, rail passes and city passes. In a hurry? We can issue your tickets in-house with just a day’s notice! Make an appointment today, call 503-224-0180.

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Filed under England, Europe, France, Travel by Rail, Where in the World is the WIT Client?

PARIS: Family Fun at Art Ludique


Fans of Animation take note! We’d like to share with you Art Ludique, the world’s very first museum dedicated to the art of entertainment. It’s housed in the avant-garde collection of Les Docks en Seine.

Families on vacation in Paris this month should bring the kids to check out the exhibit PIXAR: 25 Years of Animation, with original pieces from the artists who created Toy Story, Finding Nemo, Ratatouille and Wall-E.


Next up is a major exhibition: The Art of DC: The Dawn of Superheroes, which showcases the world of Batman, Superman at the Justice League. This is a must-see for anyone (parents and kids) who grew up with these cultural icons. This exhibit opens March 31 and runs through September 10, 2017.

So check it out! Take your kids to see Art Ludique, a fun and interactive stop on your French holiday!

Note: There are also 3 great dining options at Les Docks.

Art Ludique
34 Quai d’Austerlitz
Hours: Monday – Thursday 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Fridays 10-10; Saturday and Sunday 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.


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Three Day Trips from Paris

We all love the City of Lights, but who doesn’t also love to take a day excursion to see the nearby towns and countryside?

Auvers-Sur-Oise. Less than an hour from Paris is the village of Auvers-Sur-Oise, notable as the location where Van Gogh spent the last two months of his life. Take a leisurely stroll through the luscious green village and visit landmarks such as the famous church Van Gogh painted, the cemetery where he is buried, the auberge where he spent his last days, and the house of Dr. Gachet, one of the painter’s last subjects.

Fontainebleau. This lovely historical town is renowned for the scenic Forest of Fontainebleau and the historical Chateau de Fontainebleu. It is a weekend getaway for many Parisians as well as a major tourist attraction (though less popular than Versailles). The town is very navigable on foot, as there is only one main artery, the Rue Grande, which connects the castle to the opposite edge of town and maintains a collection of lovely shops. With origins dating back to the 12th century, the chateau was the preferred residence of French kings and emperors for 7 centuries, who embellished the building and the gardens to their present grandeur. If you can, visit during the weekend, where its streets come alive with the Sunday morning food market. Make Fontainebleau one of your stops in the region, before exploring nearby Barbizon, Milly-la-Foret and Samois-sur-Seine. The castle is open every day except Tuesday, January 1st, May 1st and December 25th, from 9h30 to 17h in winter and from 9h30 to 18h in summer. As of April 2011, the entrance fee for adults is 10 euros; children below 18 enter free.

Giverny. A small village 80km mwest of Paris, Giverny is best known as the rural retreat of the Impressionist Claude Monet. The paintings of haystacks, cathedrals and waterlilies come from here. As Giverny tends to get a bit crowded, it’s always best to arrive early to avoid the throngs. Explore Monet’s House and garden and the Museum of Impressionism, best visited with a guide. You can also try one of the nature trails that wind above Giverny, with panoramic views of the village, Seine valley and neighboring town of Vernon. Just make sure you where sturdy shoes or hiking boots!

Call Willamette Intl Travel to book your trip to France today! We have all traveled extensively through the country and would love to arrange the perfect vacation for you and your family! Call 503-224-0180 or email info@wittravel.com today.

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Filed under City Guides, Europe, France

July 14 ~ Happy Bastille Day!


Are you lucky enough to be in Paris this weekend?

Bastille Day is right around the corner, on July 14th! It’s a serious affair, even in Paris, there’s plenty to do to celebrate the holiday. Many businesses are closed, so you’re best off just to enjoy the holiday!

Did you know? Most French call Bastille Day merely “Le Quatorze Juillet” or “La fête nationale française”!

Bal des Pompiers. Legendary parties thrown by firefighters will light up nightlife Saturday and Sunday. The party is one of the wildest in town, so if it’s your scene, prep for long lines and some gentle shoving. Dancing fireman and nonstop DJ are well worth the wait. From 9pm to 4am.

Military Parade. The ceremony starts just after 9AM and launches down the historic Champs-Elysees. The day’s festivities are complete with military vehicles, aircraft, and military personnel including the French Foreign Legion.

Free Ballet. Head to the Opera Garnier for tickets to the year’s free ballet, “Signes.” The show is choreographed by Carolyn Carlson, director of the Atelier de Paris, and features dancers from the Paris Opera. The show starts at 2:30PM.

Free Art. The price of the Louvre drops to €0. Worth heading there early or very late in the evening to avoid the crowds.

Picnic at Versailles. Festivities run at Versailles as well. A communal picnic around the Grand Canal awaits you. Regional specialties are on the menu, but you’re welcome to bring your own food. Music and festivities animate the Canal’s banks. The only condition is to wear white!

Fireworks. Head to the Eiffel Tower at 11pm for some breathtaking fireworks set to music. Remember, nearby metro stations are mostly closed, so prepare for a hike or grab a view from one of Paris’ famous bridges. Also earlier in the day at the Eiffel is a concert by the French National Orhcestra and the Radio France Choir.

Festival Paris Quartier d’été. Every year performers take to the streets for a variety of dancers, shows, theatres and circuses in the open air all over Paris.

Enjoy the festivities! Missed Bastille Day in Paris this year but want to make it for next year? Call Wittravel, your local travel agents, for professional and knowledgeable travel counseling. We can arrange private French guides who will make your trip à Paris unique and memorable!

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En France: Restaurant Recommendations

Bonjour from France! Our fellow vendors, friends, and agents have recommended some fine restaurants this past year. Here’s some of the best you should check out when next in France!  Have some of your favorite restaurants in Paris and beyond? Share with us your recommendations and we’ll post them on our blog!

3 le pre verre

Le Pré Verre. This restaurant is located in the heart of the Latin Quarter near the Sorbonne. With a vivacious atmosphere, jazzy red and black décor, eclectic menu and wine list, this bistro has it all! Start off with some delicate grilled pork pate, followed with boiled duck or poached filet of hake—all at an affordable price. Turn your meal into an animated event serenaded by excellent jazz tunes.

Le Pré Verre
8 Rue Thénard, Paris
Tel: 01 43-54-59 47

Website: www.lepreverre.com
Open Tuesday through Saturday noon until 10:30 p.m. (closed Sunday and Monday)

1 pre verre

Café Constant. This bistro-style restaurant is owned by well-known local restauranteurs who also own the Violon d’Ingres. Stop by for a coffee or take a dive into the extensive menu of oysters served in champagne sauce, foie gras, roast capon, veal sweetbread, white sausage truffé and succulent patisserie desserts.

Café Constant
139 Rue Saint-Dominique, Paris
Tel: 01-47-53-73-34

Website: www.cafeconstant.com

Open 8h – 10.30pm

2 azabu

Azabu. Petite and intimate Japanese restaurant. Commendable service and Japanese décor, well-presented and delicious dishes. From grilled fois gras in honey sauce to salmon hand rolls to sautéed mushrooms. You can order by dish or by set menu. There are even suggestions from the Chef. Recommended by a Frenchman used to eating in Japan!


3 rue Andre Mazet, Paris

Tel: 01-46-33-72-05

Website: http://azabu.fr/

3 fenocchio

Fenocchio. If you should find yourself in Nice these next summer months, try out this ice cream parlor. Located in the beautiful old town, it’s the best crème glacée on the Riviera. With 94 flavors to choose from—Orange blossom, caramel salted butter, zabaglione, avocado, hazelnut, jasmine, ginger and more!—if you can dream it, they have it.

Fenocchio (two locations)

2 Place Rossetti, Nice

Tel 33-04-93-80-72-52

Open 9am to midnight

OR 6 rue de la Poissonerie, Nice

Tel: 33-04-93-62-88-80

Open 9am to midnight, except Tuesday

Website: http://www.fenocchio.fr/

For more insider info on France, give us a call! Our agents have spent decades traveling through the country and working with clients in organizing their dream vacations in the lovely land of baguettes and Bordeaux. Call us up at 503.224.0180 or shoot us an email at info@wittravel.com.

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Filed under Europe, France, Travel by Taste