Our Eurotunnel booking from Calais to Folkestone was for 8pm. So, we had all day to travel from Paris to Calais and it is only a three hour trip. And…we woke up to a beautiful morning in Paris. A little sleep in was in order, a nice leisurely breakfast, and we eventually check out if the Hotel at 11am. It was kind of a sad feeling to be leaving Paris. There is still so much more to see and explore and there is also the thought that I may never get to visit Paris ever again. But I am much luckier than some people, I have now been to Paris twice. I need to be more thankful! So we get out on the highway after doing a couple of circles around the Arc De Triomphe. Daniel says that you can’t drive through Paris without experiencing this amazing piece of roadway. Ahhhhh it’s just crazy. People just changing lanes and pulling out in front of you. Fun! We laughed all the way around…twice. What a memory! The decision was to get off the big motorways and drive through some local villages. Our lunch stop was Amiens, a town that has a cathedral that looks just like the Notre Dame. Same design and artwork! But this place was worn out and crumbling. Such a sad sight as in its glory days it would have looked marvelous. I guess if it was in Paris, it would have been fully restored.
We walked the length of the Main Street admiring the town and found a nice restaurant for lunch…outside seating to enjoy the beautiful sunshine. An hour later and we were still waiting for our food. I guess the chef had packed up all the lunch menu ingredients as it was nearly three o’clock. And when the food finally came it really looked like it had been thrown together in a hurry. I think they had forgotten out order! Our first bad dining experience, not bad for a month away!
We headed for the coast and although we couldn’t see the sea it was great to know that England was just across the shore and that was where we were heading. Arriving at Calais was a great feeling and getting in the queue to board the Eurotrain was exciting. We had crossed to England like this last year but Teresa hadn’t ever, and it was great to share this new experience with her. It only takes 35 minutes, but to think you are in a tunnel under the sea…and still sitting in you car…on a train carriage…makes it quite an adventure. Another great memory!
So after driving on Europe’s roads for nearly a month, we drive off the train and onto England’s soil. It’s a funny feeling but somehow you feel like you are home. My ancestors do come from England but that was a very long time ago. Robin was born here and he didn’t go to New Zealand until he was three years old. He still has lots of aunts, uncles and cousins in the Bournemouth, Poole area. We visited them the last two trips over. Sadly I won’t have time this trip. I must look up Dad’s side of the family sometime. The roads here are really wavy and as Daniel speeds along you almost feel like you are in a boat…although its bumpy as well. Daniel thinks its because when the roads were built, they never planned for the amount of traffic that actually uses the roads now, and to repair them would cause major traffic delays. And lots of complaints…so everyone just puts up with the roads like they are. We arrive at Daniel and Marysia’s place at eleven pm and Marysia cooks tea…bless her! It’s so nice to be ‘home’.
You should see our very nice Hotel. It is so quaint. Filled with olden day memorabilia like a treadle sewing machine, a spiral staircase with ornate railings, an old pendulum clock, gold etched picture frames and lace doilies. The rooms have flowery wallpaper and old handbasins and furniture. It is an old home that has been in the family for years and been converted to a hotel. We feel rather spoilt to stay in such a place in Paris! Really hard to believe…I have to remind myself that this really is my reality for the moment!
We venture off for a walk. It’s not far to the Notre Dame Cathedral and also the Louvre says Marysia..and we can go through the Botanical gardens (known as the Jardin de plantes) and the Luxembourg gardens (known as the Jardin de luxembourg) on the way. Well it was quite a distance, maybe not for the younger person, but it was quite a walk, but well worth it. Both of the gardens were fantastic. We stopped at the Luxembourg gardens for a picnic lunch. And what a lovely lunch it was! Red wine, cheese, salami, tomatoes, fresh bread and olives…yum!
The Notre Dame is amazing. The Notre Dame Cathedral Paris or Notre Dame de Paris (‘Our Lady of Paris’ in French) is a Gothic cathedral on the eastern half of the Paris, France, with its main entrance to the west. Notre Dame Cathedral is widely considered one of the finest examples of French Gothic architecture in the world. It was restored and saved from destruction by Eugène Viollet-le-Duc, one of France’s most famous architects. The Notre Dame Cathedral was one of the first Gothic cathedrals, and its construction spanned the Gothic period. Its sculptures and stained glass show the heavy influence of naturalism, unlike that of earlier Romanesque architecture. It was among the first buildings in the world to use the flying buttress (arched exterior supports). The building was not originally designed to include the flying buttresses around the choir and nave. After the construction began and the thinner walls (popularized in the Gothic style) grew ever higher, stress fractures began to occur as the walls pushed outward. In response, the cathedral’s architects built supports around the outside walls, and later additions continued the pattern. And thank God that they did, so we can visit it and look at amazement at the wonder of the place…and take lots of photos!
Next place to walk to was the Louvre. The Louvre—is one of the world’s largest museums, and a historic monument. A central landmark of Paris, France, it is located on the Right Bank of the Seine. Nearly 35,000 objects from prehistory to the 21st century are exhibited over an area of 60,600 square metres (652,300 square feet). With more than 8 million visitors each year, the Louvre is the world’s most visited museum. The museum is housed in the Louvre Palace (Palais du Louvre) which began as a fortress built in the late 12th century under Philip II. Remnants of the fortress are visible in the basement of the museum. The building was extended many times to form the present Louvre Palace. In 1682, Louis XIV chose the Palace of Versailles for his household, leaving the Louvre primarily as a place to display the royal collection, including, from 1692, a collection of ancient Greek and Roman sculpture. The museum opened on 10 August 1793 with an exhibition of 537 paintings, the majority of the works being royal and confiscated church property. Holdings have grown steadily through donations and gifts since the Third Republic. As of 2008, the collection is divided among eight curatorial departments: Egyptian Antiquities; Near Eastern Antiquities; Greek, Etruscan, and Roman Antiquities; Islamic Art; Sculpture; Decorative Arts; Paintings; Prints and Drawings. So, those are the factual things about the Louvre, but we know it as the place with the glass pyrimads on the square in the middle of the louvre. Everyone takes their photos with the perspective of touching the top of the pyrimad with their finger. They extend their arms and the person taking the photo positions the camera in just the right place. Fun!
We walk along the side of the river Sienne and watch the boats transporting people up and down the river. We need to find another Metro station and they are sometimes hard to find. Another bit of walking…never hurt us though and it was great to look at the markets on the way. But we really wanted to get to Montemarte before it got too late. Montemarte has to be seen in daylight..as well as at night. After a couple of Metro changes we got there and just in time.
We arrive and immediately walk through the lovely Montemarte town and up the stairs to the Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Paris, commonly known as Sacré-Cœur Basilica. It is a Roman Catholic church and minor basilica, dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, in Paris, France, and it is very picturesque. The Sacré-Cœur Basilica was designed by Paul Abadie. Construction began in 1875 and was finished in 1914. It was consecrated after the end of World War I in 1919. It is a popular landmark, the basilica is located at the summit of the butte Montmartre, the highest point in the city. The view from the top, outside the Sacré-Cœur Basilica is amazing. It’s a great place to take in the scenery and also to take some photos the Paris landscape. There are often street performers all around the Basilica and on the many steps and levels up to it. A very interesting place to go! So if you ever go to Paris, I suggest a visit to Montmarte should be on your trip plan. It’s well worth the visit.
We wandered around the steep little roads and looked in a few shops. We also sampled the local bakery by buying some lovely custard tarts. Actually we just sat down on the steps and ate them while having a bit of a relaxing moment and also doing some people watching. And there are plenty of people to watch…the place is buzzing with them. I guess the Moulen Rouge show which is held at the theatre at Montmarte also brings a lot of people to the area.
Well you would think that that was enough action for one day, but no! We found our way back to the Metro and then back to the middle of Paris. Daniel really wanted to go to a pub where a jazz band was playing for the evening. The pub had an underground cave/theatre where the band would be playing. We wandered around until we could find the place…and then joined with about 30 other people in a little underground room. The band was great, very talented, and very loud. Daniel loved it! Both Judy and I sat there with tissue rammed into our ears. Through the tissue we loved it too. Once again it was a very late night. Paris is a fabulous place to visit! We go to bed feeling exhausted but very satisfied with the day.
Next morning we wake up to our first wet day of the holiday. We meet for breakfast and all decide that a sleep in was in order. So back to bed it was and after a little nap I wrote a little more on my blog!
Indoor shopping was the best way to fill in the day. Eventually we ended up taking the Metro to a different shopping mall and found sunshine! Lots of walking and people watching for me. I didn’t buy anything.
Tomorrow we pack up and head home (Dan and Marysia’s home) in Windlesham. The holiday has been fabulous but sadly it is coming to an end 🙁
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!