Tails from Paris
I’ve been putting off writing this Paris post because nothing much happened – I didn’t think it was particularly exciting. Then I looked at the photos and, surprisingly, some of them are really great. And then I remembered the start of the trip…
We travel light, the LSH and I. There’s nothing worse than trudging around a city, lugging ten kilos of shoes and clothing that you haven’t worn. On this trip, we only had one night in Paris and we brought the bare minimum – clean undies, clean t-shirts and bathroom essentials. The heaviest thing in my bag was my lap-top and, to be honest, I could have survived without it. The heaviest thing in the LSH’s bag should have been his camera…
As we were driving to Avignon to catch the TGV (the high-speed train), he suddenly said “Oh NOOOooo!” in a tone that led me to believe he had forgotten the train tickets.
“What?” I asked.
“I’ve forgotten my bloody camera,” he replied (he may not have used the word bloody. It was quite possibly a different word.)
Anyone who lives with a photographer knows just how big a deal this is. His camera is like an extension of his right arm. Worse, it gets cared for like a baby whenever we go away – it sits, cradled lovingly on his knee, or it’s given prime position on tabletops as we dine, and it’s carefully tucked in to bed at night when we return to our accommodation. This was going to be the first trip we’d taken in ten years where the LSH did not have a large Nikon slung around his neck.
I did what any loving wife would do in this situation. I laughed. My little camera (not the one that I attempted to force-feed tea, the other one, that I haven’t really got to know yet) was in my bag. The second-heaviest item, incidentally. I looked at the LSH’s sad face as he contemplated a weekend in Paris with no lens to look through and I felt sorry for him.
“You can have my camera,” I offered.
It was his turn to laugh. But, yeah, he took me up on my offer later on, and that’s how some of the photos in this post turned out as well as they did! I’m pretty sure you’ll be able to tell which ones are his. Leave a comment and let me know if you think you can identify them.
This was my first trip on the TGV so I was excited about it. The TGV goes at about 300km per hour and gets you from Avignon to Paris in three hours. That’s an eight-hour road trip – in three hours.
Yup, this is the way to travel, I thought, as I sat there, knitting at 300kph.
We arrived in Paris and found our way to our hotel very easily. I know nothing about Paris, but we were staying in the Marais area, which I am told is very central. Our hotel was the Jeanne d’Arc, which was good value (in Parisian terms) at €110 for the night. But it turned out that these people had a much better deal :
They had found an apartment on Airbnb for €55 per night.
Oh, by the way, they’re the reason we were in Paris. That’s the Eldest Daughter and her boyfriend. You can see that the ED also carries a large Nikon wherever she goes. It’s genetic, I guess.
Paris was wet, wet, wet and we walked, walked, walked. We walked from our hotel to La Bastille, took shelter in a cafe where we were served by the world’s slowest waitress and then we walked to Notre Dame. From there, we made our way along the banks of the Seine until we reached the Louvre (which was closing, it was 6.30pm after all), turned away from the river and walked to the Passage des Panoramas, where we were booked into a gluten-free restaurant, Noglu (oh the joys of travelling with a family that has special dietary needs)
Here are some wet Paris images :
It didn’t rain all the time, though. The sun broke through the thick black clouds every so often, illuminating Notre Dame
…and this young American lady, who is now in the snaps of hundred of tourists, as well as making an appearance in my blog.
It was starting to get dark as we reached the Pont des Arts. I’d never heard of this before, but people who are in love attach padlocks to this bridge as a sign of their love and throw the keys into the Seine. To signify that they are locked together for eternity, I suppose.
There were a few combination locks in evidence. Just in case someone changes their mind…
The sun was setting and did its best to colour the sky, but a fantastic sunset was not in store. This was the best it could manage :
After our meal in Noglu (excellent) we parted company. The LSH and I went back to the Hotel Jeanne d’Arc and the ED and her bf went back to their apartment.
The following morning, we met up for a hearty breakfast at Breakfast in America, as recommended by our American friend Sprocket (he was in our house dog-sitting for the weekend – thanks Sprocket & Doodles!) We filled ourselves up with stodgy American food and headed off to Montmartre.
Montmartre was once a tiny village, perched on a hill on the outskirts of Paris. Then it was discovered by the arty set, who were quickly followed by wild party goers, attending the famous Chat Noir or Le Cabaret Au Lapin Agile, two famous (or should that be notorious?) clubs which were home-away-from-home for many famous artists at the turn of the 20th century.
We briefly visited La Basilique de Sacre Coeur
and had a good wander around the Musée Montmartre (worth a visit, but a little steep at €9 per person).
After that, we had a late lunch in a very sweet little bistro just down the hill from the museum, La Maison Rose. Off the beaten track, so not shockingly expensive AND the waitress was very understanding when we said we weren’t very hungry and we’d like to share two cheese plates between the four of us (Breakfast in America was still rumbling around in our stomachs).
We parted company with the young folk after lunch and made our way slowly back to the Gare de Lyon via the Louvre. We had an hour in the Louvre. It wasn’t worth it and I wouldn’t do it again – next time I’m in Paris I want to spend a whole day there.
Then it was back to the station for dinner in the Restaurant le Train Bleu, which is the station restaurant. In France, you will often find that the restaurant at or close to the railway station will turn out to be the best in town. Le Train Bleu is a beautiful setting – but unfortunately it wasn’t serving until 7pm. With our train at 8pm, we thought it was better to eat in the bar and we had the most expensive burgers ever – €27 each!!! With our drinks, the meal came to almost €80 – crazy! Give me Provençal prices any day!
We duly boarded our train at 8pm. We should have arrived back in Céreste before midnight, but the very efficient TGV system let us down. There was some sort of mechanical issue on the train and we were delayed by twenty minutes. Eventually, we arrived at Avignon – to find that our car had a puncture. After some initial swearing, the LSH changed the wheel and off we set once again, sticking to 80kph because it was one of those silly modern slim-line spares. We finally fell into bed at 1.30am, after two exhausting days.
Big cities? I can take ’em or leave ’em. Swanning around with my nearest and dearest? Anytime.
I’ll leave you with random pictures of Paris, and a promise to blog very soon indeed with horsey and doggy tails once again.