Thursday 15th May
The trip started with me going to work for a lazy half day. I planned to meet Kae on the airlink bus but missed her and so we met at the airport for a quick skim of duty free (now no longer for members of the EU the cheap bastards). The flight was uneventful except for news of strikes in Paris. We found out Charles De Gaulle luckily for us was the only of three airports not affected. We arrived in Paris and went to information to find the city bus. We found our bus and waited patiently only to see the first few buses ignore us and many others completely in typical French ‘I-don’t-care’ style. Eventually we got on the fun bus and were taken for a hell of a ride. We pulled up to the domestic terminal upon which the driver decided to have a 30min smoko break (common in France apparently!!). When he eventually returned we endured a 90 ride through some of Paris’s most colourful suburbs. There is a huge Arab/African migrant population here. We eventually arrived at Nation and easily found our hotel next to a handy metro station. We quickly checked in and refreshed knowing dinner was overdue. We went for a short walk in the neighbourhood and as is always the case in these circumstances only a Chinese was still open. We enjoyed a cheap but good meal and hit the sack ready for a hard day of sightseeing.
Friday 16th May
We woke early well refreshed to a continental breakfast of coffee croissants and cereal. With a full belly we decided to explore. We headed down to Nation, but found it was a little tricky to figure out how to buy tickets, so we started with a dose of fresh air on our walk into Bastille a major city station. From here we got our multi-day transport pass for the metro from a person rather than a machine. We started by tubing it to the Champs Elysees a more beautiful strip anywhere you will not find. This is huge tree lined boulevard comprising the presidential palace and several embassies. We walked over the Seine to the Invalide hotel, this dates to 1751 built on Louis XV instruction to house injured soldiers. We took a healthy walk along the strip before walking to the Arc d’triomphe. This is a huge square with a big arc that is central to the beauty of Paris. We grabbed a baguette for lunch and enjoyed the sun on a roadside seat. We then proceeded to walk to the Tour Eiffel which rises to 125metres. The tower has to be painted every 7 years to prevent rusting. It offers a view that is without doubt going to take your breathe away. It is set in magnificent gardens and offers stunning views of the city surround.
The scorching sun was a beautiful backdrop to one of the wonders of the world. After this we realised walking around in 30 degree heat in jeans and jumper was not clever so proceed back to the hotel to refresh and change. We changed grabbed a coffee in a classically French café and then walked to Notre Dame. It remains to this day a widely used catholic place of worship. Notre Dame means ‘our lady’ in French. The building was desecrated during the revolution in the 1790’s before its restoration in the 19th century. We had a good walk around took some pictures and admired the sheer architectural genius.
After this we walked along the Seine up to the Louvre (I did my dash to the Mona Lisa and we left cant you tell im an art enthusiast!!). We actually got free entry a classic backpackers trick free entry for the under 26’s on certain nights. We then grabbed dinner at an Italian place in the Latin Quarter very appropriate.
Again we had our delicious breakfast (I have concluded that breaky is the best part of any holiday a good meal made by others to fire you up for a day of sightseeing you beauty!!). We proceeded to the Montmartre a famous area of Paris (and the highest) upon which sits the Sacre Coeur on a stunning hillside church. The Mont offers panoramic views of the city and shows its heart as truly the city of romance. Upon climbing the hill we encountered a major rainstorm with hail, after Kae had her romantic ‘Spring shower in Paris’ moment under the umbrella, we sought refuge in a beautiful little café midway up the hill. I then learned the best way to order in Paris is not to sit politely for a waiter in British tradition but to shout louder than anyone else with your order. We ordered two lattes which translated as two espressos doh!! Now re-caffeinated, we decided to investigate the church another example of classic Christian architecture.
Outside was heaving with tourists and market stalls. We scoured the markets tasting some cheese and wine (ah I love France!!) and admired the range of goods on offer. After an hour or so of sight gazing the views we proceeded down the hill and decided to explore and what a pleasant surprise it turned out to be. We found a sex shop area and then the real Moulin rouge. We decided the scorching sun required an ice cream to keep the temp down. We ate and then proceeded through winding streets. Admiring the Moulin Rouge we took the token cheesy pic of us dancing.
A trip to Paris would not be complete without a romantic cruise of the Seine. Well we certainly didn’t get this, first we were packed in like sardines then we only had access to French commentary so my knowledge of Parisian history is limited to that of stories of their capitulation to the Nazis in WW2. The cruise was met with another major rainstorm and so we took cover under a brolly, still outside on the deck so we could admire Paris. We were by now quite tired and decided to head in the direction of our hotel, we stopped to change from our soaked clothes, and then decided to brave the impending storm and head back out.
We arrived at Nation and sought a restaurant not easy in the rain and with some heavily inflated prices. The rain forced us into an Irish pub yes an Irish pub. Here we watched the French footy championship and admired (well I did) the beautiful waitresses! We ordered a feast of steak and chicken followed by soufflé of the tastiest kind! We learned that the best way to drink in France is wine, half a bottle for 3 pound proved a sniff when Guinness was 7quid a pint ouch! This refuelled our desire for some sights and we did a trip round all the monuments at night including the arc and the Eiffel tower both stunning lit-up at night!! We then took the tube home for a well deserved rest. The tube proved a godsend trains every 3 mins on any route all day for only 7 Euros a day.
On our last full day we had a bit of a sleep in and a late breaky. We decided as we always seem to at last minute to book a day trip to the palaces of Versailles sadly however they were all booked up. We then decided to head somewhere different and in true French style we encountered some protesters on our way to L’Opera. No doubt being French they were protesting a protest. We had a walk around here and then headed towards the Pantheon, however on the way we found some cool markets in the Latin Quarter had a quick look and moved on. We then as is often the case stumbled upon the Pantheon. This translates in Greek as ‘all the gods’. This building was built as a monument to French heroes such as victor Hugo and Voltaire by Jacques-Germain Soufflot. It was completed at the start of the revolution after 31 years in the making. We scoured this amazing building and admired the sheer scale of the building. We then headed back to the markets and headed down narrow market lined streets. By this time we needed refreshments and found a perfect little coffee store and decided to have a couple of hot choccies. They were angelic like pure chocolate it had been dipped into them. Now refreshed we decided it was time to hit the tower (Eiffel).
We joined what seemed like an endless queue and slowly progressed towards the top. We paid our 14 Euros a pop and up we went. The journey is comprised of stages and by the second stage we were many feet up and severely exposed to the elements. This led one African-American lady to exclaim ‘I didn’t know it was winter in Paris’ (it was May almost the European summer) Kae then decided many times to impersonate an American accent. We proceeded to the top and were truly taken aback by the views of Paris. We could see end to end of Paris and all the major landmarks could be contained within one panoramic view from the top 325metres up. The trip was truly worth it and is well worth its place as one of the seven modern wonders of the world. The top contains a map of the distances in each direction to the major cities of the world.
After this breathtaking affair we set back into the city, to wind down the evening. We headed back to our hotel had a quick rest and then realising the night was passing us by and being a Sunday we proceeded basically to the first place we could find. As it were we found ‘The Tramway’ an American themed little café. Here the prices were little steep but we ordered a couple of meat dishes with some side salad and the food was truly majestic a common theme in Paris. We enjoyed a half bottle of wine and decided it was a night (wine is a lot cheaper than beer here for obvious reasons). We then headed back to the Latin Quarter for a stroll and decided we wanted crepes in Paris as you do. The Latin Quarter is home to a huge educational presence and Paris University is the oldest in mainland Europe dating to 1215. We found a little crepe place and had a couple of Chocó crepes with banana that were enough to keep you up all night I might add. We then did a short stroll of the student strip and enjoyed some local culture before heading back for the night. We were truly shattered by now!
We realised it was our last day and had seen all the major sights within Paris decided just to take things easy. Again it was a stormer of a day. We had a 1540 flight so had 6 hours to kill. We strolled the local area for a while then decided we should walk into city to the main train station in Gare du Nord for a train to the airport. We strolled about 3-4 miles through stunning Parisian boulevards. We skimmed some of the shops, had a few last pics and shortly we arrived in Gare du Nord. We arrived pretty early so found a place out of the sun and rested up. Now getting hungry we searched for our last lunch ironically deciding on a Chinese lunch. The menu looked cheap until we ordered and a few dishes came to 30 Euros by far our priciest meal. We ate up and then headed to the station.
We finally found our train after deciphering all the messages at the station and headed for the airport. This is when the drama started as we arrived into terminal 3 only to be told that EasyJet had relocated to terminal 2, 4 months previously. Kae was now panicking as we had to jump on a train back to T2. we arrived back and the plane was already boarding. The trip had served us well with stunning weather, and we managed to see all the major landmarks of the city and some places lesser known too.