A Travellerspoint blog

May 2015

Day 20 - Magnificique

overcast 21 °C
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Didn't do too much today.

Went down to the Notre Dame and Ile de la Cite this morning.

Strode up the Champs Elysees to the Arc de Truimphe at lunch time.

Finished off with dinner at the Eiffel Tower.

Just another day in Paris.

Posted by Neileeann 17:00 Archived in France Comments (0)

Day 19 - A sojourn to Rouen

rain 20 °C
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Firstly the show last night was good, but it was what it was. It was a show put on for tourist with a mix of few different styles - dancing, singing, acrobats, illusionists and a laser show. It hit the mark of what I expected. It sold itself as being a bit more upmarket than Moulin Rouge and the seating was a small table with a desk lamp and bottle of champaign upon arrival. From what I had read the Moulin Rouge was a bit of a sausage factory in pushing you in and through, but it may have been a bit more bawdy in its routine. The table next to us had a marriage proposal with the engagement ring being brought out after the cancan dance and spotlighted with the light from the mobile phone – how very modern.

Afterwards we walked back to the Metro station and made our way back to the hotel. There was a big concert in the square near our hotel, so we stayed and watched that for a while. Again the French are very polite and non-aggressive. I my bang on about this, but my experience in Australia at such public events is that you will always get a few aggressive drunks. But so far on this trip, no matter how drunk, they seem to exercise very good self control and you never feel any threat.

Well today was the last day of our Eurail ticket, so we decided to use it one last time and took a sojourn to Rouen (http://www.rouentourisme.com/Default.aspx?tabid=2508&language=en-US). It is most famous as the town where Joan of Arc of executed. Given Lee-ann has a strong affiliation with Joan it seem like the place to go. It is an hour and a half train trip north west of Paris and I was really impressed with the town. It has a strong Tudor architectural style that just lead you down one street after another.

Putting on the planning hat, it has a city population of 110K and still supports a metro system, has a major cultural centre and many other cultural facilities that would put cities 3 times their size in Australia to shame.

After a good day out we made our way back to Paris and had a quick bite to eat and drink, before retiring back to the hotel for a night in.

Posted by Neileeann 10:50 Archived in France Comments (0)

Day 18 – Small k kulture

sunny 23 °C
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Firstly dinner last night was superb. We found a square that had numerous bars and a bit off the main strip. We were attracted to a bar that had the Le Coq out the front, so we set up shop in there. Beautiful meal and nice to have a meal without chips for once. After dinner we had deserts and before long we were on the cognac. Kind of slipped too easy into the French way of life. Should have started a rendition of the La-Marseillaise.

I have to say that the Parisians have been exceptional in their hospitality. Most have gone out of their way to make the language work and it has been a far more easy visit that my last time 30 years ago.

Well today was a leisurely day, participating in small k kulture. Our mission today was to walk around the Montmartre area, which is where all the old artistic lived at some time in their lives. Like a lot of other places in our travels Paris is quiet flat, but the Montmartre has one of the few hills. So what do you do when you have a hill – you build a catholic church on it to be closer to god. The Basilica Sacre-Coeur is an impressive church and just the void and artwork is enough to humble any human who doubted the power and supremacy of God. However, he still haven’t cracked this little black duck!

After that we wandered our way down the hill via the narrow streets filled with artists, shops and food places and eventually settled in near the Place the Abbesses for a drink of red wine to while away the time.

From there we made it down to Pigalle, one of the more famous red light districts of Paris. Took the happy snap outside the Moulin Rouge and eventually made our way back to the hotel.

Tonight we return to the red light district to see a show. The La Nouvelle Eve (http://www.lanouvelleeveparis.com/) is the sister show to the Moulin Rouge. It is not so racy (they keep their knickers on), but from what I have read it is a more comfortable venue and not the sausage factory that many have said about the Moulin Rouge. Time will tell.

Posted by Neileeann 17:00 Archived in France Comments (1)

Day 17 - A city of indulgence

sunny 21 °C
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Had a very good night sleep and was only awoken by Wendy the Walrus bellowing next to me.

Led Lee-ann to the Opera metro station where she will pick up her obligatory hop on – hop off bus tour. After that I headed off to the Bastille (no longer there) and started to walk towards and around the Marias District. After a couple of hours and in keeping with my earlier promise to myself, I stopped at a cafe to have a meal, which my waiter assures me to be a traditional French meal, and a big glass of burgundy. So plenty of time to sit and take in the Parisian life. Although I am yet to master the blank Parisian stare out into the middle distance.

My theme today is a city of indulgence and it is not meant as a swipe, but of an observation on their way of life. It is a city where you need to constantly stop, look around, look up, look left, look right. Look at the people and their social interactions. Drink the wine, eat the food. Slow down and forget about your life and just let it was over you. Indulge yourself.

It is interesting to note that while they sit and stare they don’t stare at their smartphones. They are engaged in fierce conversations, or if alone, just a stare into the middle distance and couples are happy to sit in silence.

Thought I better do some touristy thing, so I headed off to the catacombs. When I arrived I had my first experience of the famed Paris ques. It spread for about 150 m and given they only allow a limited number of people in at one time, I decided against it and went to other places. Still had to marvel at the Paris Metro. Travelled across the other side of the city to get here and after seeing the queue I turned back around. All done in the space of 1 hour. No matter how many connections ou need to make the trip is quick, comfortable (well a bit crowded) and efficient.

Lee-ann has just returned from her 9 hour jaunt. So I will hear those stories for the next 3 hours.

Off to dinner.

Posted by Neileeann 09:48 Archived in France Comments (0)

Day 16 - Ah Pariee

In search of Kulture!

overcast 21 °C
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Well an easy introduction to Paris.

Train trip was a flash back to old style travel, with it being fully catered with food and drinks and all free given we are 1st class travellers. I wonder what the plebs in 2nd class are up to – let them eat cake I say.

Took a taxi to the hotel and I am suitable impressed. Much bigger and nicer than what I was expecting (http://paris-hotel-meslay.com/). Got immediate check-in, which is a big bonus where the usual practice in no checking in before 14:00. Drop the bags and went to collect our metro tickets.

Afterwards did a walk around the palais gardens, the Louvre and a few other places, before heading back to the hotel. Stop in one particular buzzing street (most are) and had a pastry. It was then that I thought that I didn’t need to do a 100 things in Paris, but maybe I should just stop sit in a different cafe each day, drink some wine, look at the passing mademoiselle and think about taking on a mistress. Just to blend in with the local population mind you.

We are staying in the Le Republique District and it may be a bit trendy. The taxi driver was telling us it was a good district, but I just thought he was p$%#ing in our pockets. But in our after dinner stroll there was a few jam packed cafe’s where the local looked hell bent on discussing the next revolution.

There is a big seminar on over the weekend in the nearby square, which is discussing alternative economic models and the taking down of the capitalist system. So I might go over there with the scarf as a mask and stir up the locals.

Just my initial impression. They do live up to their ideals of Liberty Fraternity and Equality. All the different races seem to get along very well and there is a nice ambience to the city. Ask me again in a few days after I have been hassled by umpteen beggars, pan handlers and gypsies.

Posted by Neileeann 17:00 Archived in France Comments (0)

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