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Published: August 12th 2015
Being based in Europe for the kids school holidays while Murray works from the Geneva office has its perks. My family were over visiting and exploring a bit more of Europe, and offered to babysit the kids for the weekend so Murray and I could get away. Travelling without kids makes travelling a lot easier, so we jumped at the opportunity for head to Paris for the weekend. We caught the bus into Geneva station and caught the train. The train took approximately 3 hours, the train was clean and fast.
The next day we had a big day planned and hoped to do most of the sights on the Saturday. We walked to the Metro to catch a tube into the Eiffel Tower, being the main attraction in Paris to tick of the list. To get to the tube we had to walk across the Siene river, which was beautiful, but a quick eye opener into a Paris I had not heard of. There was rubbish everywhere, a mattress and a homeless guy sleeping beside a bus station, the smell of urine anywhere near the river was overwhelming (later when we struggled to find toilets I understood
why the river was always smelling). There were settlements of tents along the river, homeless people, Murray called them refugees starting a slum. Whatever you call it, I was surprised.
Once we got to the Eiffel tower, I needed the bathroom, we finally found some, a lady came running out signalling not to go in. Having been to some disgusting toilets in India, I naively went in thinking really they can't be worse than that. Well, they were. So bad infact Murray wanted to take a photo, WASH Engineer, stands for Water and Sanitation Hyigene, translation clean water and proper toilet facilities for refugees. He takes pictures of toilets all over the world normally in refugee camps, yet here at one of the biggest tourist attractions in the world was one of the worst toilets ever. Shocking. After another hour or so we did find a public toilet worthy of being used thankfully.
We did enjoy the Eiffel Tower, it is an impressive building. We decided not to go up. The long lines and high cost meant we enjoyed it from down below, which we really did.
We did see another
bad side of Paris as some hustlers/con artists and also pick pockets in action. I think living all over we seemed to be much more aware/alert than some other tourists.
We then walked down to the Arc de Triomphe and then down the Champs de Elysees shopping strip and managed to find a fairly cheap and yummy sandwich much to our surprise. We walked down to the Louvre museum.
The Lourve was impressive, although I didn't enjoy the maze like set up, it annoyed my structured brain. We saw the Mona Lisa, along with the thousands of other tourists. We enjoyed the pacific section which was a little less crowded. After 3 hours I was well and truly finished, tired and hungry. Murray thinks he could have done another hour or so, I needed to refuel.
We then walked to the Notre-Dame, passing a dozen paddy wagons supervising a protest of some kind. Then stumbled upon the Lovers Lock bridge, I'd recently read that the weight of the locks is causing concern for the stability of the bridge, we noticed a few sections had been removed and more locks had appeared
on the new sections. We then walked along the banks of the Siene, enjoying a jazz band along the way and generally enjoying walking, although the smell of urine was overwhelming at points.
We then recharged at our hotel before we went back to the Eiffel tower and Arc de Triomphe at night, both stunning.
I love to walk, but I was tired!!
The next day we went to mass at the Notre-Dame, both Murray and I hadn't been to many Catholic services before. We both enjoyed the service and found the Priest challenging and the service peaceful and refreshing. Like a meditation. We then walked along some of the smaller shopping strips and went back to catch our train back to Geneva to be reunited with our kids.
I never thought I'd ever get to Europe let alone Paris. It was amazing and a great opportunity to see the sights without little ones who are not so great at walking.
A special thanks to my family for watching the kids 😊
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