Paris with Harrison

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July 15th 2010
Published: July 15th 2010
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To all my friends and blog readers, keep the comments coming, it's great to receive feedback. This one's a long one as it takes in a full, fun filled ten days.

Weather Forecast - Paris is hot and sunny with daily temperatures at around 30C. It's hot....

Monday, July 5

Time to leave my sister, Ann's house, head to the airport for a plane at 11.00am and we arrive in Paris at 1.00pm. Before long, I'm standing in front of the ticket machine with H trying to make out just what to do. Luckily, there's an information booth with a young girl who speaks English, too easy, we are on the Metro and heading for our house swap in the 6th arrondissement. This will be my home for the next 3 weeks in Paris, H gets 10 days. My gracious host, Carine and her two lovely daughters buzz us in; we talk, eat nibbles and Carine opens a bottle of Champagne to welcome us. Now, that is what I call French hospitality! We are left to ourselves at 6.30pm as our host and daughter, Wallis, jet to the South Pacific. Carine's other daughter Phillipine is traveling around Europe with friends.

H and I venture out into the Parisian evening in search of food. We have a $6 Euro beer (Happy Hour price), eat and return to the apartment before quickly falling asleep.

Tuesday, July 6

Today is Harrison's 21st birthday.

We're up late and don't get our act together until about midday; we buy a 5 day Bato-Bus ticket and immediately hit the river for a tour of the Seine, stopping in the Latin Quarter for lunch and then off at the Eiffel Tower. The queues are just huge, so decide to leave it until later in the week. Then, just to get those legs in shape, we walk back to the apartment in the 6th , shower and relax before heading out for the evening.

Again I'm thwarted in my attempt to buy tickets for the Metro, until a very nice French lady helps me to buy a ten ticket concession. I now have 10 metro tickets (12 Euro's) and a highly graffitied Metro train takes us to the Latin Quarter for a nice dinner of snails, beef bourguignon, crème brulee all washed down by a pitcher of the house wine. Dinner over, we head for the Pigalle, tonight we have tickets to the Moulin Rouge. As we walk, we pass sex shows and are asked if we are interested, H and I laugh and talk about how different this is to Bangkok.

The Moulin Rouge show starts at 11.00pm and our seats are next to the stage, it's as though we are amongst the dancers. About ½ way through the show the stage slides back revealing a huge water tank full of snakes, one of which has to be at least 12ft long. Dramatic music, then a bare-breasted showgirl dives in, curling the serpents around her body. OK, enough of the snakes, I just don't like these creatures and the sooner we are back to the dance routines, the better is is for me. Bare-breasts and lots of feathers; now that's what I like... We leave at around 2.00am, catch a taxi and head back to the apartment. Definitely, a great night out....

Wednesday, July 7

We are late getting up and dion't leave the apartment until around 11.30. Today, it's Sacre-Coeur and to my astonishment it isn't too crowded. The Basilique Sacre-Coeur, is a white structure that
At The Top of Sacre CoeurAt The Top of Sacre CoeurAt The Top of Sacre Coeur

It was hell climbing the 300 steps.
sits on a hill overlooking Paris. I think that the church has been specially water-blasted for us, as it really does look whiter than white to-day. Anyway, we enter (it's free) and we manage the walk through without too much pushing and shoving. Around the corner for the entrance to the Dome of the church, we pay our 5 Euro entrance and trudge up the 300 steps to the top. I haven't done this before, so am pleased to cross this off my list.

We make our way down the hill through Place du Tertre where there are numerous cafes, lots of tourists, and artists offering to do your portrait in charcoal. Lots of color, so this is definitely a click, click, click situation. And before long we are at the Moulin Rouge and ready for our windmill series of photos. Watch this space!!

Back to the 6th on the Metro, we stop and do some shopping; tonight it's burgers for dinner and feet up with a good book.

Thursday, July 8

Up-Early, although an early start for us is 9.00am, still we are at the Louvre around 9.40, buy 2 day museum passes and immediately
Moulin RougeMoulin RougeMoulin Rouge

There's a grate outside of the Moulin Roge that the trains pass under. It gives a Marylyn Monroe effect.
make our way to the Mona Lisa. Already there is a crowd, and we are not able to get as close as the last time I was there. The free-space between the painting and the crowd seems to have been doubled. We stand in awe and wonder just what the appeal is, I take the requisite “H and Mona” shot and move on. There's just hordes of people, however the museum is so, so big, it can handle a lot of tourists. All the old masters pass us by in our 6 hour whirlwind tour of the Louvre. In the basement they have even excavated the old foundations of the original fortress that stood on the spot. While the Louvre is the most amazing museum on the planet, there is just too much stuff to take in in one day and there are certainly too many people.

We soak our sore feet in the fountain outside the glass pyramid and drink cokes, before taking the Bato-Bus down to Notradame. Again, it is free entry to the cathedral, which we do. However, we want to go to the top, but the queue is quite long and even with our museum
The Opera HouseThe Opera HouseThe Opera House

No, this really isn't Dolly Parton's Opera House.
passes, we have to join the end of the queue. Decision made, we walk over to Isle St Louis for an ice cream.

Friday, July 9

Now, the Musee D'Orsay is normally my favorite museum it houses paintings by the impressionists and artists such as Van Gogh, Guagin, Monet, Manet, Renoir and Toulouse La-Trec grace the walls. Woe is me, the only floors that are open are the ground and 1st floor, all the other floors are being redecorated. Also, it is absolutely forbidden to take photo's any more . Big changes from the last time I was there with Caroline in 2007. The paintings are being exhibited in the galleries around the side of the ground floor, however I'm sure that they are not showing all the pieces that I have seen in the past. Harrison likes the layout better than the Louvre, it's smaller and more manageable.

We catch the Bato-Bus to the Grand Palace and then walk up the Champs Elysee to the Arc de Triumph, another 250 steps, my legs are starting to feel the climbing. It's good that this is one of the monuments that you can visit with the Museum
Hotel de VilleHotel de VilleHotel de Ville

The picture of DeGaul is made up of photo's of all the freedom fighters that went to England with him.
pass, otherwise I think that I would give it a miss.

Our walk up and down the Champs Elysee has us enter a number of the French Car manufacturers, such as Peugeot and Citroen to check out their concept cars; H thoroughly enjoys this.

Beers and dinner in the Latin Quarter.

Saturday, July 10

Today we really must get up early, but as always our early start is somewhat halfhearted. Instead of walking, we catch the Metro and arrive at the Tower Eifel at around 9.30am. The tower was built in 1889 for the Exposition Universelle, I presume that's the World Fair, and is 984 ft or 300 meters high. In 1909 it was almost pulled down when its planning concession expired, but was saved because of the huge radio ariel on top that was so important for French radio. Now, I've been up Blackpool tower and it's about ½ this size. Anyway, the queue is still fairly long and it is 11.00am before we reach the front to buy our tickets. It is possible to do a combination walk and elevator, however we have done sufficient step climbing in the past few days. The elevator takes us to the first level and we immediately get in line for the lift to the top. H is thrilled, this is the one thing that he has really wanted to do since arriving in Paris. Lots of photo's and back down using the elevators.

It's our final day of the Bato-Bus ticket, so we take the river bus for one last time and get off at NotreDame, grab a couple of 2.70 Euro sandwiches(the sandwich deal of the trip) including drink and sit in the park next to the church, St Julien le Pauvre, to eat our lunch.

Back to the apartment for a shower and relax before heading to the Bastille for the ballet. Tonight we are going to see Kaguyahime at the Opera Bastille. I must say that I didn't have a clue about the storyline, but later found out that it's all about a moon baby found in the reeds by a Japanese man. Still, we both enjoyed the performance and the auditorium was spectacular with wonderful acoustics.

After the audience spilled out onto the Bastille Plaza, we went in search of and found what we think is the cheapest bar in Paris. Yes, it's 3 Euro pints, so we settled in to watch the 3rd place World Cup match.

Sunday, July 11
It was quite a late night last night and we didn't get home until after 11.30pm. Today, we're off to Marche Aux Puce, the very last stop on Metro line 4. This market has everything, from clothes to antiques and furniture. It also has a smattering of gamblers playing the shell game. Quite interesting... H buys a few presents, but his real goal is a leather jacket. He does see one that he quite likes, but it's pricey, so he decides to leave it until Monday when we can again go shopping.

In the afternoon we walk around the Marais, doing some people watching and finally end up in Place des Vosges, the oldest square in Paris. One of the houses overlooking the square was the residence of the writer Victor Hugo. Well worth a look as the square is surrounded by art-galeries and cafe's. And I can attest that the food is good in at least one of the cafe's; I had a meal with friends over my 50th birthday weekend.

In the evening we are back at the Bastille to watch the World Cup Final. Yes, 3 euro pints make for an inexpensive evening and it's a great result for Spain.

Monday, July 12
The great leather jacket quest begins and ends at the Galleries Lafayette in the 6th. The sales are on and the deals are good, 50%!o(MISSING)ff and in some cases an extra 20%! (MISSING)H scores big and buys 2 jackets. I think that he was pretty pleased with himself.

Napoleons tomb is located in Les Invalides. And yes, it's a very big tomb for such a small guy. There's no denying that he was brilliant, however it was one step too far and eventually he was exiled first to Elba where he attempted a return and later to St Helena where he ended his days. The Emperor Napoleon is laid to rest in Eglise du Dome and the body is placed in six coffins, one inside another. I suppose they just wanted to make sure that he wouldn't be back for a third time....

Dinner at the Petit Prince was again very good (my 50th birthday), although H and I both feel that French Waiters are a little snobby and not very attentive. Food excellent, waiters poor....

Tuesday, July 13

H decides, he wants to go out on his own to buy some gifts; this is fine by me as I have to catch up on my blog and also review photo's taken over the past week. H leaves map in hand making the comment as he leaves”I'm walking to the Latin Quarter”, I quickly tell him to “continue to the end of Rue Vaugirard and then take a left down Rue Saint Michel”. Two hours later he returns ,after turning right and ending up by the Peripherique, the motorway that rings inner-Paris. He has not yet made it to the Latin Quarter. Off he goes again, returning later with his gifts...

Tonight, we are heading to the Firemans Ball in the 6th arrondissement, the queue is enormous and we join it at around 8.30pm. Supposedly, the ball starts at 9.00pm and by the time we get in it's 9.45, the place is rocking and the volume is high. Later in the evening, there are firemen and girls dancing on top of the bars and having a great time,. We speak to a few people along the way, have a few beers, enjoy the atmosphere and leave at around 12.45am. I think that the balls continue until 4.00pm. A totally great evening.

Wednesday, July 14 ---- Bastille Day

My alarm goes off at 7.30 and I am up quickly, call H and hit the shower. We want to be on the Champs Elysee by 8.30 to try and get a decent place to watch the parade. No walking today, we're on the Metro along with everyone else. It's rush-hour on Bastille Day and the people are disgorged onto the Champs Elysee to look for somewhere to catch a glimpse of the parade. We are already second tier and there is a barrier up between us, the late comers, and the early risers. Anyway, we find a hump that is about 4-5 ins in height andplant ourselves ontop. We think that we will be able to see something from this position. At 10.30 am the parade starts, all the African Countries are first to go, followed by the French battalions. Of course once people start taking photo's with raised hands it is hard to see anything. Then the rain comes, and boy, does it come, it's a thunderstorm, umbrellas go up and now we cant see anything. The guy next to us shares his brolly, but I get pretty wet. The rain stops, down come the umbrellas and the tanks and armored vehicles are now rolling by. The heavens open once more, it is time to leave this quagmire, however it is easier said than done because of the barricades. We are now drenched to the skin, we cant get the Metro because of the amount of people, so we decide to leg it back to the apartment. Now, getting wet isn't the problem, it's all the camera technology that we are carrying that causes us some worry. But luckily, H's backpack is wet-proof and only get's slightly damp, camera's all OK.

We take it easy at the apartment while the rain continues to fall, but around 3pm it clears and the sun starts to shine. Lucky us, this evening it's the fireworks by the tower, we eat in the Latin Quarter and then walk over to Pont Neuf at 9.30 to stake out our seat to watch the display.. Rain again threatens, but we have been deep in conversation with a Greek and his family who has lived in Paris for 25 years and we are kindly offered an umbrella. The firework display starts at 11.00pm and it is well worth the wait, supposedly it is the best in the world, I think that we both agree,.

Additional photos below
Photos: 53, Displayed: 32


Wooden BridgeWooden Bridge
Wooden Bridge

The one wooden bridge that crosses the Seine is taken over by young people each night for picnics and wine. The rails are covered in locks with messages on them.
Mona LisaMona Lisa
Mona Lisa

I was surprised that they allowed pics.

15th July 2010

Hi Kevin, You seem to have a great time in Paris. We are right now in Madrid, visiting Claire's father. We stay one week here, just resting after a special world cup event in Spain... Do we have any chance to see you in Nantes during the next weeks ? That would be great ! Dominique
15th July 2010

Hey Kevin
Hey Kevin, great blog. Sounds like a truly excellent trip. keep up the good work. Hi to Harrison
15th July 2010

Love the photos
Aloha Kevin, Enjoying the story of your trip, but especially the photos of Harrison being Harrison. Is he really 21?!? Geza and I leave for a coast to coast trip of the US mainland on Monday. Seems like a great time to be away from home. Mecca
15th July 2010

Great Blog~Happy Birthday H
Terrific travelogue. Great descriptive powers. I like your humor! Have fab time. Tom
16th July 2010

having fun
Great blog. I still haven't actioned my site yet. Still working on it - well, not really, too busy. 12 hours at Disneyland yesterday and all day at Huntington Beach today. We're knackered!! The little one has energy to spare but then, he takes 4 hour naps (but not at Disneyland!) I got Grumpy a Grumpy shirt! See you soon.
16th July 2010

Oh how wonderful
Happy birthday to Harry!! and Kev, you write so beautifully, that I could almost be there experiencing it all. Keep up the blog, got a wave from Caroline on Tuesday, she's looking good! take care and enjoy your time with your son, Bev XX
16th July 2010

Hi Kevin, Paris sounds wonderful cant wait to join you - yeh only a few moe days
18th July 2010

Gday Kev
Hi Kevin good to hear you're still enjoying yourself. Harrison's back I hear.... Caroline had a hearty breakfast at no. 18 this morning, with several houseguests of ours. We seem to do little else but eat during these Russell weekends. I've subscribed to Caroline's blog. have you? Ro and Stork
18th July 2010

Hello Kevin & H.
We are enjoying your travels. There are at least 28 Aussie girls out of the 80 strong troupe dancing at Moulin Rouge. Apparently sought after because they are well - trained, and scouts regularly head down under in search of new talent. Alison is going on Trans Siberian Railway, Beijing to St Petersburg 26thJuly. Have Fun! Lots of love.

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