Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Ah, Paris!

Honestly I didn't think about it that much. I knew I wanted to see Paris like I want to see all the great cities. I like cities, I like old buildings. I love galleries and museums. But Paris is something else. I could probably explain it away as the combined effect of movies, literature and art all portraying it as the city of romance and beauty, but I don't really want to. I just really loved the feeling of the city.

Tim did a great job organising a wonderful weekend and we managed to do a lot in two days.

The Eurostar fast train under the Channel was very pleasant and smooth and quick.

We had tickets for the open top buses which are a great way to cover a lot of ground and get off and on where you want.

We stayed in a charming little old hotel on the Rue d'Universite near the Latin Quarter. My room was up the narrow stairs to the fifth floor - probably once the servants' quarters.

Ordering vegetarian meals in French restaurants required some creativity - 'can I have this baked potato with that side dish?'

I was suprised to see apparently French people actually wearing berets (maybe they were tourists after all). I tried to buy a beret but they looked silly. I ended up with a Kangol hat from a dicount place - so I can be as cool as Samuel L Jackson...maybe. It actually has kangaroos on it.. and yes it's an English brand. But it is kind of beret-ish.

Parisians have the littlest, cutest dogs.

I loved the bookstalls along the Seine, which pack away into neat little boxes. Apparently these used to be the place to get your dirty books, now it's mostly well known French literature. A few were devoted to comics and others sold books on particular topics such as military history. Quite a few were given over to tacky souvenirs, but also nice prints and postcards.

I went to the top of the Eiffel Tower! I took the lifts - probably should have earned that view by using the stairs. At the top level there are signs indicating the direction of capital cities, so I took a photo in the direction of Canberra. You can see a long way, though maybe not that far. When I got back to the ground my head was still in the clouds.

The Arc de Triomphe, had, like many of the signinficant buildings and monuments I've seen in London (St Paul's for example), the inevitable scaffolding on part of it. It is pretty impressive up close.

The Moulin Rouge is nestled in a street of porn shops and XXX theatres. The Lido is not (it's on the more genteel Champs-Elysées).

Paris, compared to London, is quite planned and set out with wide boulevards (of course they knocked down a lot of buildings at some stage to create that effect).

And, I added another form of transport to my list by riding the funicular up to Sacre Coeur. There is a lot more I could say but my time is up, so, Au Revoir and Bonsoir (or Bonjour to everyone in Australia right now).

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