29 September 2019: Last Day In Paris....Nice Surprise In A 1934 Citroën Traction Avant

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September 29th 2019
Published: September 30th 2019
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Notre Dame Notre Dame Notre Dame

From the Shakespeare and Co Bookshop Cafe
The last Day in Paris for Tim and Natalia started in rain, and finished in rain.

They had to be on the 20.40 train back to Luxembourg, so we popped the umbrellas and nothing stopped us. We had a late breakfast, well, a croissant and a coffee, and were carrying some rolls and quiches to eat at the Jardin de Tuileries near the Louvre later on.

There were crowds everywhere, always is in Paris, but with Jacque Chirac’s funeral and Paris Fashion Week locking horns , the gardens were a peaceful place to hide. It’s springtime in Paris and the gardens are beautiful. Parisian gardens are designed to be perfectly symmetrical rows of flowers and shrubs, colour coordinated to blend without detracting from the surroundings, in which this case were lakes and groves of trees. We sat in the wind swept spray of the largest lake until we couldn’t even pretend to enjoy it anymore, and headed to the Louvre.

On the way Tim received a call from work, ON A SUNDAY, and explained that this guy was doing an emergency response drill and needed some codes and advice on how to complete it. The demands in some jobs require the phone they gave you to be available, so in a way it’s reasonable. We discussed the prospect of being compensated for this interruption and so on and so on. This wasn’t a call from work; it was a hire car driver.

Turns out it was all a ruse. Tim had arranged, before we came away, to be driven around the highlights of Paris in a 1934 Citroen Traction Avant, a vehicle that looks like a German staff car in WWII but is very French. It had a 3 speed stick shift protruding from the dashboard, and our driver

, Fabian, told me he had to baby it every day in order to keep it going. Driving it was a completely different artform, and modern drivers need to know, that you don’t really drive anymore, you just find D for drive, and steer and brake. Fabian had to juggle the gears to avoid the crunch and crackle of the gearbox - if you’ve ever driven with a ‘crash’ gearbox, you know what I’m saying - and this car was the first front wheel drive in France. I found the exhaust fumes interfered with my mind sometimes, but we were all in this together.

Sort of a 1970’s ignorance of what substance abuse can do to you, tempered by the knowledge that you’re all in it together. Looking at some of the music festivals now, the only thing that’s changed is that the drugs can kill you.

I clarify here that , like Bill Clinton, I never inhaled, and have to go on first hand accounts.

I sat in the front, protected from the cool breeze blasting the sun roof, but no one wanted it closed; it was all part of the experience. Fabian looked French, had a great turn of phrase with his good, but not perfect, English, gave us his social and political views, then apologised - I’m sorry for being too enthusiastic about all this - and then continued as if his apology was just a comma in his conversation.

He didn’t give much information, but rather held a quiz. I would be last if points were given, with Tim a clear first ( I seem to recall the French Revolution was a VCE subject), and Sue and Natalia tying for second/ third. At one stage Fabian spoke to me to check if I could talk. I did answer a couple but I told Fabian that I think you learn more from listening than talking. He thought that was deep and a thought to keep; Fabian obviously doesn’t know me. I’ve told Natalia in the past that I only interrupt to let you know where you’ve gone wrong, ha.

I’m not going into the whole Fabian trip but we loved it and it’s a perfect way to see Paris. Fabian also tipped us off on another French Brassiere to eat at near the Opera House; classic French cool, meals that weren’t over the top but certainly great value for money, and, what a way to finish visiting Paris .

Today Sue and I caught a bus to the Opera House to see inside, but it had been commandeered by the fashion show and a million paparazzi. I took a few pics, but after being told I was in someone’s way, backed off and left it to the pros. What a self indulgent industry. Still, people love it, it generates jobs and income, so it’s a good thing.

A wander around the river and a quick lunch wrapped it up, and we caught a train back to our room to pick up our bags and leave Paris.

I’m sitting in the airport lounge now, ready to go home, but still sad to leave, and I’ll give a wrap up tomorrow and maybe rate a few places we saw, and places we stayed at.

It’s all been good but some things I wouldn’t repeat.

Well, it’s 25 hours to home so I’d better psych myself up and relax. Catch up with some of you when I get home.. some I obviously can’t, so all the best and thanks for reading.

Additional photos below
Photos: 35, Displayed: 25


Citroën Traction Avant, 1934Citroën Traction Avant, 1934
Citroën Traction Avant, 1934

Our ride around Paris in the afternoon.
A Very Cool CarA Very Cool Car
A Very Cool Car

....and a very French driver who knows his stuff.

Jarden des Tuileries Jarden des Tuileries
Jarden des Tuileries

The garden of tile makers. Lots of wind is not good for boat rentals.

Our driver suggested this as a stylish cheap eat, and it turned out to be similar to Brassiere Julien, only busier. We arrived to just in time to get a table, and walked past a long waiting queue when we left. Timing is everything.
Sunset At Gare de Est Sunset At Gare de Est
Sunset At Gare de Est

Took this with the phone as I walked with Tim and Natalia to the train.
The Dash.The Dash.
The Dash.

That’s a 3 speed stick shift, on the dashboard.
Fashion Week In ParisFashion Week In Paris
Fashion Week In Paris

This is the Ritz Hotel, famous for dishing up Princess Di’s last meal.

1st October 2019

Have a good trip home.
1st October 2019

In HK. The worst is over.

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