Have you ever wanted to travel around and explore the Champaign region of Eastern France? I hadn’t really thought about it much, but thoroughly enjoyed the experience. Marysia suggested driving the Champaign route following the little signs that the locals had put up along the road. Each winery offered samplings of their champaign, but sadly we travelled during the holiday season, and also midday which is siesta time…far too hot to be out working. But we did find one open that had the most amazing gardens. Here we were sitting drinking Champaign, eating crackers, cheese and cherry tomatoes like we didn’t have a care in the world…or another place to be at! Sheer luxury!
But the next stop had to be Paris..we were booked into our Hotel for three nights…and we were really looking forward to being in Paris! The earlier we arrived the better. It meant that we could start exploring and make the most of our time there. So having been to Paris before I knew a little of the Paris Metro.
The Paris Métro or Métropolitain (French: Métro de Paris) is a rapid transit system that operates in Paris, France. A symbol of the city, it is noted for its density within the city limits and its uniform architecture influenced by Art Nouveau. The network is mostly underground and runs to 214 km (133 mi) in length. It has 303 stations, of which 62 facilitate transfer to another line.
Paris’s is the second busiest metro system in Europe, after Moscow. It carries 4.5 million passengers a day, and an annual total of 1.479 billion (2009). And we managed to be included in that large number of people for three days. Daniel parked his car outside the cute Hotel that we were staying in and all our travel while in Paris was by the Metro system. Yes we squashed into the carriages and sometimes managed to find a seat. We were entertained by buskers who used the travel time and closed doors to try to earn income from the unsuspecting travellers. It was easy to think that they were just singing because they were filling in time while travelling…but after the song along came the upside down hat and the request for money. Actually some were very entertaining, and quite good singers, although we did wonder if they were lipsyncing.
The Métro introduced newer trains to allow higher traffic, but further improvements have been limited by the design of the network and in particular the short distances between stations. We were quite amazed with the train carriages that had car tyres as wheels. They seemed to be faster that the old steel wheels and actually looked rather odd. Anyway travel by Metro was a very good way of getting around and we managed to get to where we wanted to go without too much trouble.
Our first place to go to was the Eiffel tower. Marysia had been up the tower several times so it was a great opportunity for her to go shopping. We couldn’t get fast entry tickets from out Hotel so it was line up in the queue for nearly 2 hours for us! But really it is well worth it. You take two lifts to get to the top. Viewing platforms from both lift exits…but the best is the top (goes without saying really) And we were there at the perfect time, as the sun was going down. Made our photos look even better with the evening glow of the sinking sun shining over the city. We stayed up the top as long as possible. It was crowded. Thank God it is stable!
Coming down we took the Metro to the Arc de Triomphe, our meeting place with Marysia. To drive around the Arc de Triomphe, a grand traffic circle where a dozen boulevards converge on this mightiest of triumphal arches, is a courageous thing to do. In the mid-19th century, Baron Haussmann set out to make Paris the grandest city in Europe. The 12 arterials that radiate from the Arc de Triomphe were part of his master plan: the creation of a series of major boulevards, intersecting at diagonals with monuments as centerpieces (such as the Arc de Triomphe). If there is an accident here, each driver is considered equally at fault. This is the only place in Paris where the accidents are not judged. No matter what the circumstances, insurance companies split the costs fifty-fifty. In Paris, a good driver gets only scratches, not dents. Daniel drove around it on our way out of Paris….actually he drove around it twice!
We viewed the Arc and then had a lovely meal together before taking the Metro back home to our Hotel and settling in for a well deserved nights sleep….we were worn out!