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Europe » France » Île-de-France
September 22nd 2017
Published: October 8th 2017
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Monday 18 September
We arrived at the monstrous Charles de Gaul airport and tried in vain to find the bus heading to Porte Maillot where mummy's Brazilian friend, Maria, was to meet us. First we had to leave terminal 3 and find where all the busses left from. We found a place with many hotel busses in terminal 2, but the bus to Porte Maillot was not one of them! Finally we found someone who gave us directions to terminal 2D bus stop where we finally found the right bus stop. The whole venture had taken a couple of hours and lots of walking. Although we had missed the 8 pm bus Maria had suggested we catch, we nevertheless finally made it to Porte Maillot where Maria was parked waiting for us.

When we arrived at Maria's place in Bailly, near Versailles, Arthur, their Napolean hunting dog loped out to greet us. I was a bit scared at first, but then fascinated as he licked and nuzzled me. Maria's fiancé, Arnaud, had the fire burning and prepared us a spectacular meal - I was so glad I hadn't fallen asleep. Mummy and daddy had some salami and olives as entree, baked chicken as a main, and even a home baked apple tart for dessert. They were most impressed.

Maria and Arnaud had kindly given up their spacious attic room for us and made us feel most welcome!

Tuesday 19 September
We didn't arise before Maria and Arnaud left for work, but Maria had said she would be home for lunch so, after everyone had a relaxed sleep in and shower, we took Arthur for a walk down the road to the delicious bakery and supérette to buy some breakfast and lunch supplies. We were so late leaving that by the time we returned Maria was also returning home! So we joined her in a lunch/breakfast of soup, quiche from the bakery and salad.

Mummy and daddy wanted to thank our hosts for their hospitality so decided to make dinner that evening. Of course, it would have to be a three course meal after the precedent that had been set the previous evening! So, after much deliberation, a menu was decided upon and we all went for a walk in the neighbouring forest (which apparently backs onto Versailles) before purchasing the ingredients for the cooking extravaganza. When mummy and daddy got to the supérette and saw the possible ingredients, all their recipe ideas changed!

Mummy and daddy were in the kitchen all evening having a ball. Daddy was directing and thoroughly enjoying himself, creating asparagus goat cheese bundles for entree, stuffed eggplant and pomegranate pork for main, and an Iranian dried fruit compote for dessert. Our hosts were suitably impressed and everyone looked very pleased.

Wednesday 20 September
Today we had another lazy morning and big breakfast. It wasn't until the afternoon that we finally headed out. Maria had suggested we use their bikes to ride through the gardens of Versailles which we thought was a fabulous idea, given the chateau was so close. As we were riding past a huge shopping complex though, mummy and daddy thought they'd make a brief stop to look for a warm hooded jacket for me for the cold weather. After looking in a few baby shops, mummy suggested the cheap sports shop, Décathalon. It had equipment and clothing for every sport imaginable! Daddy was most impressed. And, it had a jacket for me! It was size two, but fit me quite well so mummy and daddy thought it was too good to leave at €22. After a quick lunch 'formule' - pizza, pâtisserie, boisson - we were on our way, although it was getting on in the afternoon.

The gardens of Versailles were spectacular. We left the bikes outside the immediate garden walls and walked through all the statue lined pathways behind the chateau. It was a lovely sunny afternoon.

A couple of hours later we were back on the bikes riding through the outer gardens. Daddy decided we should take the more scenic route which took us along the lesser travelled paths through some mud and over cobble stones a plenty. But the gate he was headed towards was closed!

Mummy heaved a big sigh and we turned around, back over the cobbled path through the oak trees and puddles. This time we went mummy's way and followed the people to the gate. We were very lucky as apparently that was the last gate open and it closed at 8 pm - it was already after 7.30 pm! Everyone heaved a sigh of relief and wondered which way to go next. The gate keeper told us it was a flatter / easier route if we circled around Versailles and headed back through Sainte-Cyr-l'École. We set off, trying to get back before the sun set completely and the dark set in.

As we rode, night descended on us, as did the cold. Whatsmore, little did we realise, the way we had chosen involved crossing back to where we were staying in Bailly down a long dark road with no lighting. It was all too much for me. I had braved the cold, the wind as we cycled and the dark for too long. So I wailed! All I wanted was a nice feed and a warm bed. Mummy finally stopped in the dark on the side of the road and fed me with trucks and cars wooshing past. Then I only had to wait another 10 minutes till we were home, finally!

Our hosts, who had their wedding caterer over for dinner, had wondered where we were and if we were ok. Mummy and daddy had said they wouldn't stay for dinner but would instead go for a drive into Paris. Given the hour, and the eventful afternoon, they decided that it would be a bit too much.

In the end, everything worked out as the caterer left early, so Maria and Arnaud insisted we join them for dinner. And what an evening it was! I was no longer tempted by bed, as Arnaud was giving us a concert of his repertoire of instruments - piano and saxophone. He was exceptionally talented at hearing a tune and working out how to play it - everyone was most impressed! Arnaud is also an accomplished pilot - he even flew all the way to Senegal! He had some newspaper articles on the wall comparing him to Saint Exupery's 'Petit Prince'! Mummy though Maria had chosen an excellent husband-to-be!

Thursday 21 September
Today we had another big sleep in until 10am! I had a fun bath playing with the princess and horse toys that were left on the bathtub. Then I had a nice big breakfast and fell asleep on mummy before Maria returned for lunch. After lunch mummy was very excited as she had discovered on Facebook that her friend living in Uruguay was in Paris! So we arranged to meet her before going to dinner with another of mummy's friends.

Maria lent us her car and daddy was a bit nervous about driving in Paris which is apparently an enormous city! They didn't have a car seat so I got to sit in the back with mummy! We drove onto the Périphérique which is a road that goes all the way around Paris and came off at a road leading to an enormous big archway called l'Arc de Triomphe. I know a bit about this driving thing now and because I was on mummy's lap I could see out the window for once! But this was unlike any other country we have been in! The road around the big monument was full of cars going every which way! There were no lines on the road and it was cobblestone so it made a funny noise and nobody knew where to go! Daddy got less and less nervous and started to enjoy himself as he realised how the system worked but it looked a bit scary to me!

Every building we passed was magnificent, unlike anything I have ever seen! There was the enormous Louvre which is apparently a museum like we saw in Amsterdam, but it went on forever! On the right we followed alongside the river mummy called la Seine, dotted with small vendors of magazines, paintings and postcards. It is all very pretty.

Finally daddy found a park and we walked to the metro station Saint-Paul and sat on a terrace to have a drink and wait for Katell - it was already 6pm! Mummy knows Katell from university in Brisbane where she studied but they have met in Paris, Madrid, Sydney, Noosa and mummy even went to Britanny for her wedding! She now lives in Uruguay, so we were very lucky she was back in Paris for a week's holiday while we were there! Mummy and Katell talked non stop while daddy took me for a ride on his shoulders as we walked though Place de la Bastille, across la Seine past la Cathédrale de Notre Dame (mummy is teaching me lots of funny names!) and in a big loop back to our car, just before our parking ticket ran out.

Daddy's phone had stopped working so mummy had to use wifi from a cafe to find how to get to our next stop, dinner at another friend's place. Isabelle came to Australia when she was about 14 years old and then mummy went to stay with her in Orléans when she was 16 - her first visit to France. It had been a long time since they had met as Isabelle now has a husband, Arnaud (like Maria's), and two children, Quentin and Maxence! Maxence was almost my size but he could stand on two legs and walk - I am so jealous! But I think I only have to wait another few months as he is not too much older than me. Isabelle and Arnaud were very nice and gave me a big box of clothes to wear when I get bigger! Quentin hid at first but then he talked a lot. He kept replying to mummy's questions with 'ben oui!' and sounded like he knew lots of things! He even said he had a girlfriend at school, even though he is only a couple of years older than his brother! The best thing about Quentin was that he lent me his truck and his car!! I had so much fun rolling them across the floor! I want one too! Both children went to bed soon after we arrived but I stayed up a bit longer before mummy fed me off to sleep. When I awoke for a feed it was super late but we were home - apparently daddy's phone had stopped working so it had taken a while for mummy and daddy to find their way home!

Friday 22 September
Mummy and daddy woke me up super early this morning because we had a flight to catch! So instead of sleeping in until 10am, I awoke around 7am to the sound of bags being packed. When we went downstairs, Maria and Arnaud were with two children at the breakfast table! Hugo and Camille seemed lovely but they were very timid so I didn't get any cuddles! Everything was a whirlwind - we ate breakfast, the table was cleared, the children left for school with their daddy, bags were packed and brought down to our taxi awaiting outside and goodbyes were exchanged. Maria had booked us a "chauffer privé" (France's equivalent of Uber) and mummy chatted with the Marocain driver in French. The airport was very busy so it was a good thing we arrived 3 hours before our flight - we even had time to have another breakfast! I was exhausted though so I slept the whole flight (2 1/2 hours) to our next destination - Bulgaria!


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