Allez à Paris
Back at Heathrow ‘shopping centre’. Only 2 weeks since I was last here.
Terminal 5 is rather fun though! The plane left on time at 4.40pm. To Paris Orly.
4 years since I was last here. It was rather smoggy as we landed, the Eiffel Tower partially hidden behind an orange haze. No queue at all at passport. (How do other European countries manage, yet arriving back into London always ensues a long boring queue).
I caught the Orly Val train, which joins up to the RER B metro train, and took me straight to Gare du Nord. Quite a long walk to get out of the station, and you certainly don’t want to be passing through here in the dark. Lots of gang-type people hanging around.
A quick duck into a supermarket and time for an early night!!
Saturday 5 April 2014
After a rather sleepless night, the free breakfast was well received! Yoghurt with some apple purée, and a piece of baguette!
I bought a pack of 10 metro tickets (EUR13.75) and headed south a couple of stops, to the Notre dame. Obviously after leaving from the most inconvenient metro exit, I had to wind my way back to the river.
It was a lovely day – blue skies and the green trees, some out in full pink blossom bloom. I headed East along the river, it was like small canal, lined with lots of boats. The stalls selling a whole range of Paris tourist tat were not yet up and running, so it was a nice peaceful walk!
And towards the “lovelock” bridge. I didn’t see this bridge last time I was here. Totally covered in padlocks!
I guess the theory is you put a padlock on the bridge, throw the key over, and your love lasts forever. There was no more bridge left to put a padlock!
The Notre Dame sits on it’s own island – Ile de la Cite – in the middle of the Seine river. Built in 1862 as a Roman Catholic cathedral and is one of the most famous churches in the world. The parks all around the Notre Dame were nice and quiet – being 10am! Even the queue to get inside was only about 10 people long.
A friend I lived with in Borneo now lives in Paris. I met her in front of the Notre dame and we went off for a walk. The views all along the river are pretty. Had a lovely time wandering along the River, across the Pont Neuf and towards the Louvre – one of the world’s largest museums. Didn’t go inside this time, just around the outside courtyards – and the large glass pyramid, surrounded by water pools and fountains.
From here, we walked up towards the old Opera house and sat down at a typical Parisian street-side cafe for a hot chocolate! Disappointingly wasn’t the thick chocolate that I was expecting (like you get at Angelina – my favourite place).
We watched the world going by from the side of the street. I waved goodbye and headed up to the Republique.
A recently refurbished huge open square. Last time I was here it was a large building side and a very heavy traffic area – today there is hardly any traffic as a lot of the square is now seemingly for taxis and busses only. Tonight’s hotel is right on the square, where mummy and daddy had finally arrived and time for a rest!
And back out for another walk…..we headed back down the Notre Dame and walked all around the narrow streets of the Ile Saint Louis. People in their hundreds were queuing for icecream! Every shop had a very long queue attached! Then across to the Eiffel Tower!
I love the view from the Trocadero.
The golden statues lining the large open marble space. The fountains were on in the park – making lovely rainbows! This 324m high tower was constructed in 1889 for the World Fair and was the tallest building in the world for 41 years.
We continued walking, under the Tower and through the gardens on the other side. We didn’t join the 7m people which climb the tower annually. Last time I was here I walked up. I love the tower. It just looks so cool!
The view from every angle is great. By the time it was nearly 6pm, we jumped back on the – always very packed – metro at Ecole Militaire and back to the hotel. We headed back out for dinner and after wandering around for a while we ended up in a busy street-corner bar/restaurant. The food was really good – had a salad – and all meals here come with free pieces of baguette!
After a long day, bed time!
Sunday 6 April 2014
The real reason I am on my second weekend break in as so many weeks, to watch William run the Paris marathon.
First point of call – the Bastille.
A tall statue in the middle of a roundabout, with roads heading off in all directions, full of cafes and the second (modern!) opera house. We arrived at 9am and people were already going past (the whole race was only supposed to have started 15minutes ago!). After watching for a while, he came by at 9.30am.
An exciting 20 seconds.
Then off to explore the Bastille market. A very French, Sunday market! The market was great. Lots of fruit and vegetables, cheese, baguettes, croissants, wine, sausages, fish – lots of French things! We bought some croissants and a crepe – great breakfast. (And stocked up on some baguette and cheese for lunch!). How very French!
Another few seconds glimpse as he went back around the Bastille for a second time. Then we, along with hundreds of others, caught the metro up to the Arc de Triomphe, near the finish line. The Arc de Trimophe is a large monument in the middle of a large roundabout and a memorial for those who died in the French Revolution. After a long walk, we made it down Avenue Foch to the last roundabout.
And stood for a while. Then he went by, for another few seconds.
By now it was 1.30pm and the crowds had really built up. It was almost impossible to walk back along the road – totally jam packed with people waiting, finishing and finding other people. It was far too busy and we didn’t manage to find him. Too many people!
At 3pm I headed back to the airport. Total chaos! You could not move along the whole street, nor any of the pavement around the Arc de Triomphe! The metro station was busy – and I needed a ticket, luckily the queue wasn’t too long. And by the time I made it to the RER train – it was empty!
A quick change at Chalet des Halles and the train was then almost direct to Charles du Galle airport. The airport is huge. I needed Terminal 2E which was actually fairly easy to find, but involved a lot of walking! No queue at the security scanning and shopping time (again…) this time a nice Hermes, Prada and Laduree to browse!
Although rather annoyingly no food places – so no dinner!
Of course my gate was the furthest walk away – but the views out of the end of the terminal were quite nice! And then delayed. We took off about half an hour late.
One last goodbye to the Eiffel Tower, before it disappeared behind the clouds.