An Eiffely Good Day

More from my travel companion…


What to do with a full day in Paris? So many options!! Especially as it’s my first trip to Paris!  So many exclamation marks!  Not the first time this trip that I have been absolutely overwhelmed by choice.  Luckily we had tickets for a Hop On/Hop Off bus tour to give me a better overall understanding of the city.  I have been steering clear of hop on hop off bus tours to date, convinced that I can easily cover the ground on foot.  And there’s nothing that an iPhone and Wikipedia can’t tell you right?? Or even a metro/underground adventure or two!  With a city the size of Paris though, and with so much history none of which I’m really aware of, the bus seemed like a pretty good option.

Needless to say I now have a nice collection of the tops of peoples heads with some buildings in the…

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From Paris With Love and Burgers

I’m afraid that by the time I got to the French portion of my trip, my blogging had become a bit mediocre due to illness, injury and fatigue. Luckily, Sarah Barker was on the case, and provides her version of events!


Attempting to navigate the online French train reservation and purchasing system can be likened to banging ones head very slowly, and repeatedly, against a brick wall.  I’d had enough headaches trying to get myself a seat reservation on a train from London to Rennes but somehow managed to find a glitch in the matrix and after a weeks stress I managed to use my Australian credit card to purchase a ticket that didn’t need to be sent home to Brisbane (what is the use of that?!).  I thought I may be lucky and get the next couple of trains reserved in a similar fashion (minimizing human contact) but it wasn’t to be.  So off Dad and I went to Rennes train station, and somehow walked out of the main office only 10 minutes later with one ticket and one reservation in hand.  I was off to Paris!!

A good friend…

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The Riveting Tour Eiffel

On Tuesday morning, we slept in a little and then caught the Metro to Auber, which is where our hop on hop off bus tour began. After a croissant and espresso each, we selected the “yellow” route of the bus, which took us around Montmarte where we saw the Moulin Rouge, some very elaborate train stations and the Opera Garnier.



Then, we changed busses to the “green” grand tour route which took us to Notre Dame. The queue was massive and as I had previously been inside this particular cathedral before and only two days ago visited a similar one, Sarah and I agreed that we would be best off admiring it from the outside.







We wandered around the St-Germain area and found some lunch in a tiny little deli/cafe after passing by some impressive boulangeries, charcuteries and a tiny dog wearing a fur lined rain jacket. Our plan was to find the Musee Dupuytren but I mistook it’s location for the University of Sorbonne (when it is actually located at the University of Paris) so unfortunately, I led Sarah on a wild goose chase for nothing. Eventually, we found a cafe which had free wifi and we re-grouped and decided to come back to the correct university the following day.

We walked back a little towards the Seine and caught the “blue” Bastille route of the bus. By this stage in the afternoon, it was getting a little cool, so we rugged up on the bus while we took in the view.



After our Bastile bus tour, we did a little shopping along Rue de Rivoli. Sarah showed me a wonderful shop called Desigual, in which everything is brightly coloured and wonderfully embellished. I bought myself a skirt, which was on sale, although I really wanted a pair of jeans with suspenders, I didn’t think I would ever find the right occasion to wear them.

In the evening, we had a tour booked for an Eiffel Tower dinner and a river cruise. It was definitely a classy, respectable tour to attend, given the average age of the guests was about 60. In fact, we were instructed that we had to sit at the top of the bus, up the stairs, because we were “young”.


When we arrived, we caught the elevator to the first floor. Sarah commented that it was like going to work in the cage but in reverse. I was hoping there was less chance of the elevator tripping out than the cage at George Fisher but at least we were packed in quite tightly so your fall would be cushioned by the people around you. On our way up, Sarah was particularly delighted by the number of rivets used in the steelwork, which was two and a half million.

We were seated with two other Australia ladies and a mother and daughter from New York. Dinner was lovely, as was the wine!





Stair climbing seemed to be an ongoing theme of this trip so we climbed up another set of stairs to reach the second level, passing some elevator hoisting equipment, where we were rewarded with some amazing views of Paris at night and the tower itself.









But we couldn’t stay all night because we had a river cruise to get to. We rushed down the tower, being held up in the elevator, descended some more stairs to the river bank and made our cruise with time to spare. The cruise organisers took an absolutely awful photo of us boarding but it was 10 euros so we decided not the purchase it at the end. I think we picked the correct side of the boat because we got to see Notre Dame twice as we turned around.





After our cruise, we were quite cold and tired so we walked back over Pont d’Tena through the Palais de Chaillot and caught the Metro all the way home to Voltare, after taking just a few more photos.




Rendezvous in Paris

Any of you who had had contact with me at any point during my last few days in Germany would know that I was really stressed out about catching my TGV train. The last time I caught one (2006, Paris to Brussels), the only reason I ended up getting my ticket validated is because an overly flirtatious porter did it for me. And even then, I still couldn’t work out which carriage to get on and ended up sitting in someone else’s seat.

This time, the experience was uneventful. I went to the station, asked what platform number, sat in the first class lounge, went to the platform at the right time and then got on the train.


I had my own seat by itself and spent the journey watching Game of Thrones, fast forwarding through the bits that were unsuitable for other people to look over my shoulder and see. The country side started to get less foresty and more pastoral, and very soon we were arriving at Gare de Paris Est. Apparently, this station is considered the more grand of the Nord and Est so when Queen Victoria came to visit Paris, they actually laid a new bit of track so that she could arrive at the Est station. That’s certainly a level of enthusiasm towards the English that I wouldn’t have expected from the French…

I caught a taxi, trying to practice my French (which is mostly learnt from popular culture, rather than an official LOTE program) and listened to The Lion Sleeps Tonight in French all the way to my hotel. We are very well located here in Voltare, right next to the Metro station.

The lovely Sarah Barker arrived at the hotel very soon after and we started to get ready for what we thought was the night we were going to have dinner at the Eiffel Tower. Turns out that it was actually booked for Tuesday night, so we got undressed back into less fancy clothes and went exploring.

Last time I was in Paris, I was a little too overwhelmed to use the Metro. This time, with Sarah there to hold my hand (and navigate) I conquered the Metro and rode a few stops to Republique to see a fountain with a statue and some metro signs:



We began walking towards the Seine, passing lots of exciting shops like one specialising in 60s mod fashion. Eventually, we got to the area around the Lourve and stopped for a coffee:

There was a bride who stopped for a coffee and some photos in our cafe. It was really quite bizarre. We ended up concluding that it was more likely a photo shoot than an actual wedding but even now I am not sure.


We walked along the river, staying on our side of the bank but using some bridges for the photo opportunities they provided.







After our riverside-walk we turned back towards the city and headed towards the Champs-Elysees, and managed not to get run over at the Place de la Concorde.



Walking in the direction of the Arc de Triomphe, we were losing a bit of steam and so we stopped at the Grand Palais for a beverage.


I wish we had been able to go inside the Palais properly but it seemed as though it was closed for a private function where they were checking names on lists. The outside was spectacular though – columns, friezes, carvings, statues! But that seems to be just like Paris in general, just so much opulence to see everywhere!

After our little break, we continued on our quest, which was to make it to the Arc de Triomphe. After passing many, many expensive shops (some with their own gold dinosaurs), we arrived!








We climbed up 248 steps in a spiral staircase to reach the top of the Arc de Triomphe and it was worth every step! The view was spectacular, especially of the Eiffel Tower!








After our stair-climbing (and descending) efforts, we took a few more photos and then went in search for some dinner.




We went to a strange French restaurant off the Champs-Elysees where only certain courses were available and even the native Parisians didn’t seem to know what was going on. Excellent cultural emersion experience!

We then, very conveniently, caught the Metro home to our hotel for a well-deserved sleep!

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