I don't know how far we would've gotten if we wouldn't have gotten over the giggles.
The Eurostar to Paris was rather a relaxed and unproductive train ride for us; other than the us getting to Paris, obviously. When we arrived Ashley’s dad, Morley (of blog post ’Snow and Cheese’ fame), and his wife, Cheryl, were patiently waiting at the Gare du Nord for us. After a loving greeting we took a cab to the hotel, put our faces on and went for a stroll to find some dinner. We crashed after that since the next day we had a scooter tour around the countryside and Versaille.
We woke up at a respectable hour and had breakfast at the hotel then waited in the lobby. A little while after the guide was to meet us, Cheryl joked that there were enough red scooters outside that we could just take a few. It wasn’t long after that Adam (our entertaining and knowledgeable guide) showed up. He took us through all the paper work and gave a rundown of how the day should go. Then it was out to the scooters for a crash course on two-wheeled, motorized mobility. With Morley’s experience on two wheeled modes of transportation and Dan having his motorcycle license we made it through
The Spring behind the church was great. We all had a drink.
the crash course sans crash. Despite having reserved two 50cc scooters, with Dan’s license Adam insisted that he take the 125cc (coincidentally the same size that Dan took his test on); it was a veritable beast. We also learned that the rules for French round-abouts are opposite to all others we’ve encountered; in a French round-about the vehicle on the right has right of way. So if you’re in the round-about you had to yield to the vehicle entering (unless they had a give way sign). We headed out of town via ‘La Rue du Pompe’ which we were told was ‘Pompous Street’; there were some hoity toity looking flats. We went through one of the large parks in town (that used to be the kings hunting ground), crossed the Seine into the suburbs, and then straight through to Versaille. We parked right in front of the statue of Louis XIV while Adam went into the history of the Palace and some of the kings. Since I’m sure you could wikipedia it if you wanted to know everything, we’ll just touch the points that really stood out. Louis the XIV lived a really long time for that era, 70 some
Of to the Races
Racing through Versaille on full stomachs Great galettes and crumptious crepes.
odd years. Louis the XVI was the last king in France with the famous Marie Antoinette as his queen. Marie Antoinette was not a favourite with the court and was often called “La Autri-‘chienne’” behind her back; she was Austrian and the marriage was arranged to stabilize the rocky relationship between the two countries.
We cruised out of town around the palace gardens. Our first stop was at a little town that had grown around a leper colony. We stopped at the old hospital (now a hotel) and had a wee look around. At this point we had been passed by one cyclist; it was a down hill and we weren’t weaving through traffic. Next on our list of sites was a 12th century church in a small farming town. After a quick look inside we went around back to the natural spring. It was crisp clear water that we all took a sip from. Apparently it was quite common for churches to be built near springs back in the day. Across the town and up the hill we went and got a great view of the country side. Since it was nearly lunch time we scooted back into
Just in time
We made it for the flowing fountains at Versaille, only 4 times a weekend.
Versaille and stopped for lunch at a restaurant where we all got a ‘formule’ with our choice of galette (a savoury crepe), crepe, and a moule (bowl cup) of cidre. It was delicious, and that’s when we had a good long chat with Adam. We learned that he had married a French lady and been in France for 5 years. Together they started the scooter tour company. We chatted about French labour laws and the difference in compensation compared to home (yes, still being Canada). We came to the conclusion that we should all move to France. With bellies full we continued back to the Grand Trianon; the palace Louis had built to entertain his friends (Versaille was for the court). He also had a sail boat that he could sail on the canal from Versaille to the Grand Trianon. We got to see the small Trianon where Louis the XV housed his favourite mistress and later (when he came of age) Louis XVI gave to Marie Antoinette. Being that it was a gorgeous day and we’d spent quite a bit on the scooters, we decided to go through the gardens behind Versaille. Being that it was Sunday the fountains
Walking along the Seine
This is one of those short walks turned long. At least it was sunny and one of us was pretending to know where we were going.
were running. Apparently they use all the same plumbing; a raise water source (now on top of the palace instead of a reservoir near bye) instead of pumps for pressure, and valves that could let the water flow to certain fountains (the ones were Louis was walking since the reservoir couldn’t hold enough to keep them all going all the time). It was really nice to see the gardens as last time we were at Versaille we stuck to the Palace only. The fountains cut of fat 16:30hrs, and that was our cue to leave. Jumping back on the scooters we headed back to Paris. It was an exciting trip with Morley and Cheryl’s speed governed (at 40kph) scooter hitting 45, and us having a true Parisian scooting experience where one vehicle was backing towards us and another was pulling out on the other side of the street, with nowhere to go we sqooze through a gap barely wide enough for the scooter to make it through. It was, certainly, the most exhilarating experience one could have on a scooter with both wheels on the ground. With traffic as heavy as it was we opted to take the Metro back
to the hotel instead of scooting. Another late dinner and then bed for us.
Monday was a day for a sleep in after all that scooting. We nipped out for breakfast, met back at the hotel, then headed out to the Musee de l’Orangerie. There we got to see Monet’s famous water lilies painting. They were very large paintings, taking up the wall of oval rooms about 6m wide be 10m long. Downstairs we saw many other works; even some of Van Gogh’s before they went a little strange. After a lunch in the park (at a restaurant) we wound up walking along the Seine until we crossed at the Ile de Cite and walked to the Luxembourg gardens. It was supposed to be a short walk, just another way back to the hotel, but it turned into much longer. Once again we didn’t get back until 7ish, and since tonight was laundry night, it didn’t leave much time for dinner. We ended up starting our washing, then heading to a bakery where they warmed up three Croque Monsieurs and one pizza for us and going back to finish laundry.
As Monet’s house and inspiring water garden were
A quick bite while our clothes got a quick clean.
on the menu for Tuesday (and they were a significant travel away) we needed to get up and activate our train passes before the train to Vernon (I know, right? But it’s pronounced Ver-no in French), and met Morley and Cheryl at the train; no hitch there. As we travelled to the North-West, the skies got greyer, greyer, and then wet. We had assumed everywhere was warmer and dryer than Scotland; apparently not so much and we were unprepared clothing wise with nothing to shed the water (Ashley didn’t even have long sleeves). We jumped on the bus that would take us the rest of the way to the garden without getting too wet. There was another bit of walking between the bus drop off and the gardens, and the line to the garden was thankfully quick. We warmed up a little in the gift shop and then headed out to the gardens. Dan had a particularly hard time with the cold, having chivalrously given up his jacket. He nipped into the house and looked at art, catching up when the others headed towards the Japanese garden that had inspired the ‘Water lilies’. It was a beautiful garden, and hardly
Easy to see why Monet liked this spot.
had any of the flowers blooming. There were many noisy frogs in the water, hangin’ out on the lily pads making quite the ruckus; Ashley wondered how Monet way ever able to concentrate. To kill time while waiting for the bus we had warm drinks at a museum near the house and then scurried through the still less than ideal weather took the bus and train back to Paris. After dinner that night we all went to the lobby to use the internet (we still needed to plan where we were heading the next day) and have tea.
The next morning we tried to head out for breakfast. Nothing too fancy just a croissant and tea/coffee. We ended up at the same bakery we’d been doing most of our bread buying at; but the cups of tea and coffee were really tiny. Back at the hotel we all got our bags ready for checkout and met in the lobby again for some proper cups of tea. We said fair-the-wells quickly as Morley and Cheryl’s airport shuttle arrived ahead of schedule. We tried to finish our tea and then went to Gare de Lyon to catch our train down to
Nice (as the planned hostel in Cassis was full). When we arrived there were no trains available for Thursday, or Friday. No fast trains anyways. We could’ve taken a regional train (many stops) to Dijon and then change to one for Lyon, and continue in the morning. Since that would’ve used two of our ten train days we decided to try and make it the whole way in one day on Thursday instead. Then began the ordeal of finding beds for the night. Dan tried to remember on what street he stayed seven years ago (to no avail, probably due to age) and we instead headed to where we stay two years ago (2!?!?!?!?!?!?!?). They were full but they gave us several flyers for other hostels. We found beds at the third hostel, just about as Ashley lost hope and may have settled for the station floor. During that time we had learned that Thursday was a holiday and that everyone was taking a long weekend, making our unplanned travel plans almost impossible. We went shopping for dinner to prepare at the hostel (and wine to lift our faltering spirits) and met our roommate Cammie who was doing 6 months straight travel from Florida. We three went up to Sacre Coeur that evening, chatted, and drank our bottle of wine. The next morning we caught the 07:38hrs train to Lyon, changed there for one to Marseille, and then one to Nice. We arrived around 2100hrs checked into our pre-booked hostel, and went for a walk on the town. Points of Note
• It’s not very easy to find a breakfast joint in Paris (not like we’re used to, or we didn’t look very hard). It seemed that everyone either ate at home and then went out for coffee, or just went for morning coffee.
• Look up the dates of public holidays in the countries you plan to visit and pre-book accommodation and travel around those days
Tot: 0.043s; Tpl: 0.018s; cc: 9; qc: 25; dbt: 0.0069s; 1; m:saturn w:www (126.96.36.199); sld: 3;
; mem: 1.4mb