Published: June 18th 2010May 11th 2010
It has been an exciting time for me. I feel like I have had a once in lifetime opportunity to share a special adventure with my mum. I am really glad that she made the decision to visit me in London and from the moment she arrived we did not stop. At this time last year I was in Italy so I could not think of a better way to spend my 2 week easter break than in the other culinary capital, France. The plan was to hire a car and drive around for 2 weeks. After eurostaring it, PARIS was where it all began!
Pouring with rain and freezing we wasted no time exploring and even though it was my fourth time in the romantic city it still left me intrigued and wanting even more. We spent time walking around, admiring the outside of the Lourve and familiarising ourselves with things mum would do when she returned with her Trafalgar tour. I was humoured by Mums desire to buy those little dust collector souveniers that you always want to get when you first travel, and I did tell her once or twice that she would get home and wonder why
she did buy them but we all have to do it once right! There were a number of highlights on our short Paris adventure.
Visiting the Place de Vosges in the 4ème arrondissement
lunch a Juels Verne Eiffle tower
Easter at the Notre Dame
Heavens hidden cheese shop
driving out of Paris
I have this book called 100 or 1000 must see places but this particular book suggested that I go and see Place de Vosges. It is the oldest planned square in Paris and was built by Henri IV. It's the prototype of all the residential squares of European cities and as soon as I entered it I realised I had visited it before ha ha ha, even had dinner in one of the restaurants. Last time it had just been a restaurant we stumbled across. I certainly looked at it with new eyes this time.
I guess the most memorable lunch was the one that I booked at Juels Verne. I had completely forgotten about mums fear of heights when I enthusiastically thought that booking such an event would be a memorable once in a lifetime. It certainly was, just not the type of memorable I expected. Mum
overcame her fear for a few minutes by concentrating on the top of the glass elevator that we took to get into the restaurant. At one point I even felt my own legs begin to give way and actually panicked that the fear of heights that I had somewhat curbed in Africa was back to haunt me. All was forgotten the minute we stepped into the 2nd floor restaurant. We had a fabulous seat, right next to the window and the decor subtley intertwined it's 80's style chairs with more classic and up-to-date table settings.
So I knew I was up for a large but once in a lifetime bill but nothing prepared me for the price as we were handed the public holiday set menu not including drinks or tea and coffee. I had not taken this into consideration AT ALL! and 165 euros each later we were eating veal, chicken with truffles, chesse platters and souffle. Such a meal could not be enjoyed without some french wine so that was extra and right at the end we got sucked in by these lovely after dinner apertisers and biscotti which was included! BUT not the cofee or tea that
we ordered to go with it! grrrrrrrrrrrrr As much as I enjoyed all of this I could not dis- connect myself from the fact that I was about to spend my entire holiday savings on 1 meal ha ha ha ha.
We spent the afternoon walking around and I discovered this fantastic cobbled street, just behind the Notre Damn, that catered for all things french. A french pastry shop to die for, artists galleries, wine shops, delecatessen's strung with procioutto and the heavens opened when I discovered the Cheese shop. Nothing but cheese! Soft cheese, hard cheese, smelly cheese and holey cheese. They had it all and I was in heaven. The street is Rue Saint Louis en i'lle and if you walk behind the Notre Dame and cross over Pont St Louis you will find it! It is forever indented in my brain!
It just happened to be the easter weekend and because we would be on the move on sunday we decided to attend the saturday evening mass at the Notre Dame. The church was packed but we did secure a seat close to the front. As the mass began all the lights were dimmed and the pascal
candle was lite at the back of the church. Then all the priests followed it down the aisle in darkness. As the cadle past each pew every person lit their own taper candle and soon the church was full of candle light. It was beautiful. Of course, the whole mass was in French which made it difficult to follow, especially when after 1 hour we realised that the mass had not even started and they were doing some other easter ritual. So we got there at 9pm and did not end up leaving till midnight. The longest church service I have ever been to!
Sunday morning was the beginning of our trip out of Paris. the plan was to pick up our hire car and head to the Palace of Versailles which was our first stop. Loads of people told me that driving out of Paris would be tough but nobody told me that it would be IMPOSSIBLE. Oh my goodness, after a slow start on the peripherique and a 2 hour drive we made it to Versailles. Parking was nuisance and I began to doubt everything I had planned. Things just went from bad to worse when I saw
the line to get into the blooming place. Thirty degrees, rain, HAIL, some very anooying americans (sorry) and 3 hours later we finally made it to the ticket office and then joined the line to get through security. Another thirty minutes later we were in the palace grounds and then I lined up to use the toilet for another 30 minutes. ARGH! Lets just say that by the time I actually got time to see the palace I was tired, hungary, cold, wet and didn't really care too much about the french building. But then I walked into the Grand hall of mirrors! The chandeliers, large windows, gold plated frames and statues and mirrors were oppulant. It really was an extravagent place for not only its time but also our time. The gardens, that I looked at through the windows because there was no time, were well worth a visit to themselves.
By the time we had finished out Versailes tour it was almost 5pm and I was daunted by the idea of travelling to Champagne, especialy considering it was 3 hours away. According to our road map there was a way to go without heading into Paris which I
was very keen to do so we paid about 3 tolls and suddenly realised after 1 hour of driving and another traffic jam that we had travelled the correct road just in the wrong direction. It was getting very dark and I was becoming weary. Mum had a huge headache and found it difficult to read the map. We were hungary and cold but had no choice but to push on. After many arguments and taking wrong turns we made the 3 or shoud I say 5 hour journey to Champagne. By the time we got there we had reached a ghost town. For a long weekend it was dead. We found the bed and breakfast but arrived to late so went to bed tired and hungary. I can't say that after that day I had high hopes for the 2 weeks to follow.
There are more photos below