A Travellerspoint blog

France

Paris - the escape just in time..

semi-overcast

Well, after the initial blister inspiring day in Paris, we decided to start our second day bright and early with a long walk all the way to the Eiffel Tower. Of course jet lag helped us wake early, because this would not normally be in our character or even a consideration. Not many people are around at 7:30 in Paris - just the street cleaners sweeping the previous day's mess.. and there was plenty of that too! We wandered past the Opera building, then on to the Place de la Concorde and down the boulevard, crossing at the famous bridge that I don´t recall the name of ;) We had skipped breakfast, so were looking for a local boulangerie to get some food from, but in that part of town the shops were scarce.

We finally made it to the Eiffel Tower at just before 9 and considering we still hadn´t had any breakfast were feeling rather peckish. Even though the lifts don´t start till 9:30, he queues were already forming, so we figured we needed to get into one to save a long wait.. As the queues kept growing we thought we were clever to be so early, until at 9:30 our particular lift was declared out-of-service and we were forced to pick another one. As it turned out we made the wrong choice, because at 9:30 the queue we HADN´t picked started moving, but ours didn´t The french customer service officer kindly informed us that there was a technical problem and it would be fixed in about twenty minutes. (side note: always multiply these estimates by at least two). At about 10:20 the queue finally started moving. By then we were about ready to pass out, but of course had to persist now! The trip up the tower was worth it though (I guess I have to say that now don´t I) and the views were spectacular, so all´s well that ends well. The only downside is that we were necessitated into buying a severely overpriced chocolate crepe and some coffees from the cafe on the second level

After that rather long start to the day, we were pretty much wrecked already, so took it easy the rest of the day. We did visit the Arc de Triomph and the Moderne Art Museum of Paris, which were both fantastic of course. To finish the day off, a nice dinner at a restaurant as the heavens spilled open and blew everything down around us. Some french guy on the table next to me cracked a joke about the price sign falling over that I didn´t understand, so I smiled politely.. (he said ´prix chute´ if anyone knows what that´s supposed to mean? - I presumed.. ´the price has plummeted').

Our last full day in Paris was a real test on our feet.. museums and art galleries will do that for you :) The louvre was everything it was made out to be - way too much to see of course, so I´ll spare you the details now. The Pompidou was even better in our opinion, just because the art was modern. Problem was that we were totally wrecked by then, so were limping our way through the gallery We were very fortunate in our timing though. Turns out the first sunday of every month means free entry to most major galleries including the Pompidou and the Louvre, which probably saved us a good 30 euros! Our timing only got better when we found out that the train staff would be going on strike a few hours after our train left for Barcelona .. phewwww.

The train trip turned out to be rather stressful though. An unfortunate breakdown happened on the way from Paris to Montpellier, meaning we missed the connection to Barcelona. Of course all the instructions on how to deal with this were broadcast in french, so we didn´t understand what was going on and knowing that the strike would start that evening, we were starting to think we would be stuck in the south of France for a few days! There were enough other people headed for Barcelona though and after a train trip to Perpignan and a bus from there we ended up in BCN only an hour and a half later than expected.

That´s all for now.. I´ll tell you more about Barcelona later.

Peter

Posted by Peter 00:00 Archived in France Comments (0)

Paris - the first day.

sunny

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.

Posted by Peter 00:00 Archived in France Comments (0)

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