25.05.2007 - 28.05.2007
Well, we set off for Paris the weekend after returning from Valencia, hence the delay for this blog.
We highly recommend the Eurostar for an easy trip through customs and quick 'boarding' into our 4x seats + table. Jodee and Dave kept us amused with the photos and odd ring tones that Dave has saved on his cell phone. Several mini bottles of wine and miles of beautiful French countryside later we arrived in Paris.
From the train station we took the Metro (the French version of the tube) to a station only several minutes walk from our hotel. We emerged from the subway to find that it was chucking down with rain (a full-scale thunderstorm, in fact) so we found our hotel and promptly decided to change into new (dry) clothing. From the hotel we caught a cab to the Lido theatre (a similar show to the Moulin Rouge, which we couldn't see as we had not pre-booked our tickets - a tip for any of you wanting to see it). On the cab ride we experienced going around the infamous Arc de Triomphe roundabout. This roundabout has 12 streets converging on it and no lanes whatsoever. Also, due to the frequency of car crashes it is impossible to insure your car for it - quite an experience! The Lido was a fantastic cabaret show, complete with 'Cirque de Soleil-type' act, the 'Diablo' and too many topless woman for Dave and Cam to count! We enjoyed a three-course meal and four bottles of wine before calling it a night and setting the alarm for 8am.
The next morning (after a traditional breakfast of bread, cheese and cold meats) we headed off to battle the queues at the Eiffel tower.
After marvelling at the breathtaking, postcard view of the tower (and the queues of people who had managed to get there before us!) we discovered only a small queue for those brave enough to walk up (as opposed to taking one of several elevators). So, we walked.
The view from the Eiffel tower stretches for miles and there are conveniently placed placards with descriptions of the many sights that can be seen from locations around the tower.
We continued walking as far as we could go up the tower with out taking the elevator and discovered that there are exactly 700 steps - whew! The legs were complaining a little on the way back down!
From the Eiffel tower we jumped onto the open top hop-on-hop-off bus to take in the sights and sounds of Paris. This was a really good way to get our bearings of the city, and we'd recommend it to others who are visiting for the first time.
We 'hopped off' at the Champs Elysees which is the main street in Paris which runs from the Arc de Triomphe at the top down to the Louvre at the bottom. For the rest of the afternoon we hopped from cafe to cafe drinking and eating (and enjoying our first Shisha - apple flavoured). We ended the night at a fantastic little Italian restaurant near (or so we thought) to our hotel. We headed home after a few wrong turns, glad that we had remembered to bring a map! We set the alarm for 7.30am.
The next morning we got up and made our way out of Paris to Versailles to see Versailles Chateau.
After having a look around the outside (not actually going inside as, again, our impatience won over the long queues - you think we would learn and get to places early). This though was a blessing in disguise as we then headed off to Versailles local market. This is definitely an area where the French have got it right. These markets were teeming with fresh vegetables, fruit, meat, fish, cheese, bread and wine. The whole time we were there it was bustling with hundreds of people (all locals) buying their produce for the week even though it was pouring with rain. With some pigeon-French and some kind vendors we managed to get ourselves enough food for a picnic in our hotel room later that day.
After the picnic we headed out on the Metro to Montmarte and stumbled upon Paris' red light district. After perusing a vast collection of DVDs and Cam fending a proposition, we hopped onto the local Montmarte bus and explored this beautiful district. With narrow, cobbled streets and beautiful old buildings, we decided that our next trip will definitely involve staying in Montmarte.
We stopped at a small cafe/pub for L'Escargot and Croque Monseir (an odd combination of an entree of snails and a main of ham and cheese toastie!) and a bottle of champagne.
After dinner we went back to the Eiffel tower for a night time cruise on the Seine. Walking past the Eiffel tower at night was incredible - it was lit with thousands of white 'fairy' lights that blinked on and off.
The cruise took a loop through the centre of Paris and around Notre Dame. We had had quite a full day and Cam started to nod off on the home stretch. We stumbled home and set the alarm for 7.30am.
The next morning we were up early and headed off in an attempt to beat the queues at the Louvre. This time we succeeded and we took a quick tour of about a sixth of the museum. (If any of you are intending to see the Louvre, you need to spend at least a full day there and even then its likely that you won't have time to see everything!) The highlights were the Mona Lisa (of course!), the winged 'Victory of Samothrace' and Venus de Milo (pictured below).
After the Louvre, we stopped for some soup (French onion) on our way to Notre Dame cathedral. It was raining again by this time and the towers of the cathedral looked imposing against the grey sky.
From the cathedral we headed east to a large cemetery to see Jim Morrison’s grave. The cemetery was older and larger than any we had seen before, but we found his grave site from the directions from a map at the front gate. The grave itself was quite non-descript, but there were several other people there (including a couple of Aussies).
After the cemetry we headed back to the hotel to pack up our things and head back to London. We managed to polish off four bottles and the remains of the picnic on the journey! Hence we arrived back at Waterloo in good spirits although not overly prepared for work the next day!
This was a fantastic trip - even with lacklustre weather - and we'll definitely be heading back to Paris again soon.