Sat 31 May 2003
After a rather uneventful flight and a short stopover in Bangkok we arrived at Charles de Gaulle airport at seven AM yesterday morning. Our immediate challenge was to navigate our way out of the airport and into our hotel in the north eastern center of the city. We decided to make sure that we would stay awake until night time to try and minimize the effects of jet-lag.
The train into town proved quick and relatively straightforward and only required one change-over at la Gare du Nord. Of course it was peak hour traffic, so the metro was jam packed and our bags were rather in the way. Thankfully it was only one stop.
The hotel is neat and simple and serves our purposes just fine. The location is convenient and there are plenty of shops in this area.
We decided to start our tour of the city with a walk (generally aimed at ending up at the Sacre Couer) through our neighbourhood. Considering we didn't bother checking the map though, we ended up making a large circle straight past the Sacre-Couer and the Opera among others before ending up right in front of our hotel again! We did see a nice church along the way, the Saint Laurent, which had some beautiful stained glass windows and a lovely wooden floor and painted ceiling.
Seeing our hotel again was our cue to get some lunch as we were getting rather exhausted by this stage! We stopped by a little market down the road from our hotel and picked up some brie, chorizo sausage, bread and a bottle of wine and snuck it back into our hotel room (don't tell anyone ) Needless to say it was a beautiful feast!
With the extra energy afforded by those ingredients, we ventured to attempt our outing to the Sacre Couer again, this time armed with a map. Of course that made it all much easier and we were there in not too long. Mass was in progress as we entered the beautiful building and the singing sounded truly amazing. We spent some time just sitting there and listening to it all, before joining all the other tourists in walking around the building, a strange feeling while others are in the middle of a service!
Exiting the Sacre Couer we wandered the streets of Montmartre, which although quaint, were also stiflingly busy and crowded with pushy portrait artists trying to sell their services. By this time we were starting to feel the effects of a trip halfway across the globe and started heading back to the hotel. A nice little dinner in an Italian restaurant (yes, I know - it's not right) topped off the day nicely! By eight we were fast asleep!
Next episode: The long wait for the Eiffel Tower on our second day.
Read more about Paris in the Paris Travel Guide.