Tuesday, November 17, 2009

An Australian in Paris

I'm back in London after my weekend in Paris, with some awesome memories...and very sore feet.

Well, after my brief post of our first day in Paris, Hannah and I headed back out to take some pictures of the Arch de Triomphe, Champs Elysees and Eiffel Tower all lit up at night. Just amazing. We eventually found a Franprix supermarket to stock up on some supplies for the following day, as it was going to be a big one.

Saturday morning started with a trip to a local market just around the corner from our hotel, where, after chickening out of buying some "fromage" and a baguette (I was afraid I would say the wrong thing!), we purchased a croissant and then went into Starbucks, where Hannah ordered her coffee in French and I asked for the loo, in French. It has to be said that I was very proud of myself!

The first stop of the day was to the Metro station, where we managed to buy a day ticket for the train with the help of the customer service lady who did not speak a word of English, but we managed to understand each other OK, and we were soon on our way to Montmartre.

Seeing the Sacre Coeur was just like being on the set of Amelie, one of my all-time favourite movies. We climbed up all the steps and had a good look around. The weather was absolutely perfect, but very windy, and the views of Paris were breathtaking. Hannah suggested we take a tour of the crypt, and I agreed. It would be good to see underneath the church. How stupid I was. After attempting to read the sign, written in French, that mentioned something that looked to me like "300 steps" we purchased our tickets and went through the turnstile, of which there was no return. I remember thinking it was strange for there to be 300 steps down under the church. That seemed like a very long way to me.

Once through the turnstile, I was faced with a spiral staircase...leading UP! Oh, yes! We were taking the stairs all the way to the top of the dome and yes indeed, there were 300 steps, if not more! The stairs didn't really bother me, but it was very narrow and winding, smelling very strongly of a toilet, and I began to feel really dizzy. Although the views that I saw when I made it to the top made the whole thing seem worth it. See for yourself:

After Montmartre, we headed out to the cemetery at Pere Lachaise, which is where Edith Piaf, Oscar Wilde, Jim Morrison from The Doors and Marcel Marceau are buried. It was the most beautiful cemetery I have ever been to...and I have been to lots. I love to wander through cemeteries, even though most people I know think that is strange. Hannah, luckily, was not one of those.

After spending the morning in the cemetery, we grabbed some lunch at The Cat Cafe across the road, where the staff did not speak a word of English, but again, with the help of my trusty phrase book, we managed OK.

Back on the Metro, which is a very efficient, if somewhat smelly and hot experience, and off to Notre Dame. This cathedral was incredible.

After Notre Dame, it started to rain, the first and only time over the whole weekend, and we walked along the Seine to Pont Neuf and then back on the Metro to Champs Elysees, to buy our tickets for the Lourve on Sunday. My feet had just about fallen off by this point!

Back at the hotel to put up my feet for a while and then we headed out to a French restaurant for dinner...at 8pm! That may not sound strange to you but as a nanny who eats with the kids at 5.30pm each night, eating at 8pm was a luxury!

Our waiter, thank God, spoke very good English and offered to translate the whole menu for us! At one point, he was explaining a dish and could not think of the word in English, so he pointed to where his kidneys would be on his body, which, if I had liked kidneys, would have made me change my mind about ordering it. There's something just a little disconcerting about being shown a potential menu item on the human body! But the food was delicious and, in case you're wondering, it was Cote Vignes in the 16th Arrondissment. There's a free plug!

The only downside of the evening was we had decided to dress up and I had my high heeled boots on and could barely walk, and we went the wrong way down the street and turned a three minute walk into a 10 minute hike!

Sunday was another beautiful day and we went to the Lourve. I have no words to describe that place. I could have spent days in there and never been bored. We got there early which was great because we got to see the Venus de Milo and Mona Lisa without the crowds. After the Lourve, we walked to the Metro through Jardins des Tulieries and sat by the pond in the sunshine. I didn't want to leave.

But the Eurostar waits for no man (or woman) and I had to say farewell to Paris.

Before I came, I never had any great desire to go there, but now, I know it is a place to which I will definitely return.

1 comment:

Paula said...

Terrific post, great stories, and excellent photos! Well done for speaking French, I know only a few words of it, but I'd be so terribly shy to actually say them to someone French, for fear I am getting it all wrong, bravo! I'm so jealous of your adventure, but even more so, I'm very happy to read you both had a great time. Hope your feet are recovering. And thanks for all the brilliant photos.