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Published: August 21st 2011
We have been constantly bombarded by one and all, even the French, on how rude the Parisians are.
Well maybe we were in the wrong Paris, as we found the Parisians to be among some of the friendliest and most helpful anywhere we have travelled.
Mind you we did attempt to speak French and the mock horror and expressions of “please STOP, you are butchering our language, we will speak English” may have had something to do with it.
The train and subway system to Montmartre and Hotel du Square d’Anvers is quite simple and we find getting around the city a breeze. Our room sits, virtually, on the top floor with glimpses of the Eiffel Tower and overlooks the garden and leafy area of Square d’Anvers.
It is easy to walk to Sacre Coeur Basilica and the Moulin Rouge, mind you it is even easier if one takes the funicular.
The weather is surprising hot and it is a pleasure to dress in summer clothing once again.
Our first day is one of orientation and we make our way up to the Basilica where we are afforded fabulous views of the city and Michelle’s
first full view of the Eiffel Tower.
We have a full list of sights that we wish to complete, so there will be little available down time. On this occasion we have decided against the Paris Pass as we find this option quite expensive.
So forth we go, one of the first sights is the Eiffel Tower, now Michelle really struggles with heights so I found it interesting that she agrees (even suggests) to climb to the first level. This is a challenging hike and we pass one young lass that has been overcome by the heat.
The views that await us are spectacular and after a brief reprieve even Michelle enjoys taking in the sights. The Tower provides an excellent overview of the city and part of its architectural history.
It is from here we stroll down to and across the River Seine to Palais de Chaillot, where we enjoy watching the young ones swimming in the fountain, taking relief from the searing heat.
From before we started our trip, it was one of Michelle’s desires (probably the top of her wish list) to sit back in Paris sipping on a glass of red
and admire the Eiffel Tower. The day was so hot she relented and had a glass of white instead.
Around the corner from the Tower, past the Australian Embassy and just before getting on the metro we stopped to observe a plaque that pays tribute to the Jews arrested in Paris during the Second World War.
A rough translation to the plaque is:
“13,152 Jews were arrested in Paris and deported and assassinated at Auschwitz. In the Velodrome d’Hiver that once stood on this spot – men, women and children were packed in here in inhuman conditions by the government of the Vichy police, by order of the Nazi occupation.
May those that tried to save them be thanked.
Passer-by never forget””
Now, you might ask how it is we came about this find. Well Michelle read a book (I know shock horror) whilst we were in Rhodes, called Sahara’s Key (has just been released as a new movie) and the velodrome is mentioned in the book.
Our next day sees us examining the “what’s next” list. Whilst we were on Crete, a North American lass (who lives in Paris) gave us a list of
“must see” places, as did Lucile (whilst we were in Morocco).
The first is the Rodin Museum, a beautiful garden estate, littered with magnificent sculptures. To wonder around and gaze at these impressive works of art is awe inspiring.
From here we move onto the Museum d’Orsay, a converted train station, a truly impressive (which is hard to compete with in a city like Paris) building much more compact and manageable than the Louvre. Here we see classics from Van Gough, Monet and Degas, to mention a few. To spend two or three hours wondering the corridors of this vast building is to only but scratch its surface. We met a couple, whilst in the line-up to enter, and this was their third visit in a week.
Another day sees us beat, so we make our way back to Montmartre and another fine café for us to rest our weary feet and quench the evening’s heat with a classic French white.
The Louvre is the quintessential destination for any budding art lover, or observer of fine art, visiting Paris and we are of no exception. Long queues are a common requisite for most sights in Paris
and we will, again, not be disappointed in the queue that awaits us as we approach this iconic sight.
This is my second visit to the Louvre and as per usual a few hours offers little justice. The Mona Lisa is one of the “big five” draw cards of the Louvre and the masses that congregate in front of this art work is astounding. For several hours we make our way, up and down stairs, admiring some of the finest collections of art the world has to offer.
With numb minds we make our way to the Arc de Triomphe and Avenue des Champes, to observe some of the finer things in life. Well the more expensive, anyway!!
Another day draws to a close and we head back to Montmartre in search of that traditional French fare, before heading out of the country. We choose a small café and on inspection of their menu decide this is looks as authentic as the next place. I go with the escargot followed by a traditional duck dish. Michelle, upon deliberation, decides that what she really wants is something simple. She notes that the restaurant offers a dish called “Big
Sausage”. We enquire as to what meat the sausage was – in broken English we get the reply “pork”. Hmmm, should have made the enquiry, “what part of the pork” – do you know where I am going with this??? Ok, now I have tried some varied and interesting food on our travels (sheep’s head, bull’s tail, lamb’s intestine, to mention a few) but this was foul and I don’t mean chicken. Michelle really enjoyed my duck.
Our time in Paris has come to a close, we will return to this magical city.
We will take the Eurostar (high speed train) from Gare du Nord to London.
It is as we are leaving Paris that we strike our first rude experience and it isn’t the French. English customs question and then berate us about not having a onward ticket. Yes Jonathan I know you warned us but to date this hasn’t been an issue. At one point I wasn’t sure they were going to let us into the UK. Anyway we managed to convince this contrite you official and on our merry way we went. I guess we’ll need to start being more prepared. Or lie.
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