Versailles and Paris 19 to 27 September 2013

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October 1st 2013
Published: October 2nd 2013
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Versailles and Paris 19 to 27 September 2013

We arrived in Versailles at about 2.00pm and gave the motor home a thorough clean and organized the cupboards so that Kerrie had some cupboards to put her and Gamma’s things in while we travelled together. We found when we got there that there was nowhere to park the camping car while we stayed in Paris for the week, except to pay full price at the caravan park. This is what we did. The one advantage was that we kept the camper connected to power so made sure a bottle of Champaign was in the fridge for when we returned – as you must!!!.

The next day after an eggs & toast breakfast, and after phoning Kerrie who was packing to leave London, and Adam in Perth, we packed one suitcase and headed by train to Paris. We also had to change trains to the Metro system once we got into Paris. We had good instructions and maps to find our apartment and arrived at 1.00pm only to find it wasn’t ready and there was a leak in the kitchen pluming that the owner was fixing.

This was no problem as we dropped our bags off and went exploring in the Montmarte area where we were staying. Our street was Rue (French for ‘street’) de Martys, not far from the Sacre Coeur, which is a stunning Basilica on top of a hill. This suburb is known for its painters and other fine art people, particularly in the Espace Dali (a popular square). The little cobble stoned walking malls and roads were lined with beautiful little shops, many restaurants with outside dining, all in amazing buildings. We came across a town square that was full of artists with their easels, painting in oils, watercolours, with palate knives and brushes. There were a couple of people cutting out portraits of people.

We also saw the “I love you” wall where these words are written in many languages all over a large wall.

The whole area had an amazing vibe about it. There was so much going on.

The owner of our apartment (Igor, who was a Spaniard living in Argentina, but having time back in Paris) had recommended a restaurant for lunch. We found it and had a lovely big bowl of salmon salad with fried garlic potato slices on top. The meals were so big, we couldn’t finish them – as Igor had told us would happen!.

We then went back to the apartment and all was ready. Before Kerrie & Gemma arrived at about 5.30pm, Tom & I had been to the supermarket to stock up on basic supplies. We could hardly wait to see K & G. They were catching the train from London and then a taxi to the apartment. We heard the door bell go and raced out to open the door. Gemma could not believe it when she saw us. After lots of hugs and kisses, we all settled into the apartment. After lots of chatting, we decided to walk back around the streets in our suburb. We had so much to tell each other so we found a restaurant and chatted endlessly over dinner. We were sure that Gemma had grown in the 4 months since we had seen her last. And it was so wonderful to see her little ‘dancing’ eyes looking at everything new to her.

It was about 9.30pm by the time we finished dinner and as we had all had a big day, we went back to the apartment because the next day we were off to Disneyland.

The week we were in Paris, the weather was mild and almost dry all week.

And oh Paris….what a beautiful city. I just love it. We found the French to be friendly (particularly when they found we were Australians and not English) and willing to make us ‘feel at home’. We loved wondering around the streets, soaking up the French atmosphere. Ahhhhh! The ‘liltingness’ of the French accent I find wonderful to listen to. It’s almost melodic. Is there any wonder the French view English as a harsh sounding accented language.

Paris is home to 300,000 dogs which many are treated like humans and are bought to restaurants. The other Parisian favourite is buying fresh banquettes and munching them (without butter) while walking along the street. This was an easy cultural favourite to copy.

The Metro system is very efficient in Paris, as it is in all major cities throughout Europe se used it extensively. Kerrie gave Gemma tickets to go through the turn-styles to the Metro and she did it as if she had done it all her life. Gemma was so good throughout her time in Paris. We kept her busy and she loved all the new things to see and experience. Gemma is so enthusiastic and Kerrie was amazing how she prepared Gemma, regarding the history of various places we were going to visit. Her highlight were Disneyland and the Eiffel Tower.

The 7 days in Paris were spent doing the following:

Day 1 – Kerrie & Gemma arrived and we looked around Montmarte

Day 2 – Paris Disneyland. Wow, was that a full day. Gemma had an autograph book so she lined up to say hi to Mickey and get his autograph. We saw all the Disney characters later in the day, during a parade that went through Disneyland at 5.00pm. We had lots of rides but the best one for Gemma was the teacup ride. Tom & I made sure the teacup spun fast. It was Saturday so it was pretty busy so some of the lineups were pretty long – mental note: go to Disneyland during the week when all the European kids are at school. Tom & I have been to the Disneyland in California and it certainly wasn’t as busy.

At 9.00pm we were back in our apartment, satisfied we had seen almost all we wanted to see.

Day 3 – Went inside the Sacre Coeur Basilica, metro to Notre Dame where we had coffee and tried to find where we had a fantastic coffee that we had when Sheryl was with us in 2002 (it had gone), visited the Louve and saw the Mona Lisa (there are 700 metres of building making up the Louve),visited Trocadero, visited Galeries La Fayette Haussmann (beautiful domed roof).

Kerrie, Gemma and I attended a special perfume workshop (organized by Kerrie xx). There were 5 of us all together, for 3 hours, learning how to blend the various liquids to make a fragrance we loved. We ended up taking 3 blends we made home with us. It was a lot of fun and laughs. Tom was waiting outside for us. We had a coffee before going back to Montmarte.

Day 4 – Tom went to his Cooking Class lesson which was a birthday present from Kerrie, Adam and Gemma. Gemma & I joined him at 1.00pm to help him eat the beautiful lunch he and his group of 5 other people, had cooked (Cod for entrée, pigeon and beautifully presented veggies for mains, several cheeses and a mixture of breads, homemade ice-cream and plums. Kerrie went to a Macaroon cooking course. Went to restaurant for dinner and Kerrie & Tom had Bourgionae Beef. Gemma was tired that night.

Day 5 – Caught Metro then RER train to see Chateau Versailles – wow, what an amazing piece of history (again, built by King Louis X1V et als al, Hall of Mirror in 1668). Beautiful fountains and gardens, dazzling state rooms, marble courtyards, private apartments of past kings and queens, the Chapelle Royal, Hall of Mirrors and incredible furniture, wall tapestries and paintings all made for an amazing tour. It was a long day but we were fantastically satisfying.

Day 6 – Went inside the Sacre Coeur Basilica on the hill of Montmarte, then caught the Metro to the River Seine to catch the Batobus (Hop-on-Hop off boat), then did the “behind the scenes tour” of the Eiffel Tower. After we had dinner at a restaurant close by, (because Restaurant 58 on the 1st level of the Eiffel Tower was booked out) we went up to the Trocadero to watch the 9.00pm twinkling lights on the Eiffel Tower (happens for 4 minutes at 8.00pm and 9.00pm) – beautiful!!

Day 7 – packed up and left the apartment at 10.45pm by taxi and then RER train to Versailles to pick up our motor home and introduce Kerrie and Gemma to their next part of their holidays.

We just loved Paris. I will send the photos of Disneyland and the Chateau de Versailles in separate blogs from this one. Enjoy!

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