Paris – better late than never

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(Ahhh…’weee-feee’ at last……)

Pairs, like a trip to Africa, has it’s “Big 5.”

Une: Sacre Coeur

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I even had my portrait sketched by an artist in Montemarte!  (Well it was a sketch of a young girl….)

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Deux:  Arc d’Triumph…..and here the view from the top down Champs Elysees

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Another view from L’arc…..

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We only window shopped…..

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Trois:  Oui, the Eiffel tower and yes we went to the top….bein sur!

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And from the top…..the wonderful weather we have enjoyed everywhere continued.

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Quarte: Notre Dame

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Cinq: La Louvre!  Oh boy it was magnificent…and we only cycled around the outside!

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The top 5 and then you add on other biggies…..Pompidou Centre, all the musee -Orsay, Rodin, les Jardin…..

The best thing we have done here is another cycle tour.  A few years I read an article about this Kiwi guy who had a company in Paris  and had filed it away especially for this trip.
For me there are many great things about a cycle tour.
A chance to hang out with other English speaking adults and have a laugh (we had two other Kiwis and 2 Americans  who were into homechooling, with us), this is really important for me.
Then there is the fact I can just sit back and follow, no decisions to make, no guide book to read, Marcel our guide just told us the stories and led us to fabulous places, nothing I had to do but enjoy it. Hearing a potted version of the French revolution on a bridge over the Seine while gazing at where the Bastille had been was priceless!
Riding around a city is such a superb way to see it.  Grand avenues, tiny alleyways, cobbled streets, private gardens, mini villages, Seine-side, food filled streets, bridges parks and the best ever – riding around The Louvre!  Yeeha!!  Such a huge and grandiose Palace.  That was ‘formidable!’  (En Francais).

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We visited Victor Hugo’s house….

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Even though we negotiated some major roads at times, riding along the Seine was fantastic!

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Tracking down the latest Parisian  graffitti artist who leaves a “pacman”….

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There are two bridges where couples buy a padlock, write their initials on it, lock it to the bridge and throw the key into the Seine. The bridges are totally loaded with padlocks of all shapes and sizes.

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There was a Japanese couple in their wedding clothes doing this, all very romantic until they threw the key and it landed on the roof of a passing boat!!  Not sure what this means….

My 4th form French has flowed surprisingly  well.  The kids were suitably impressed with me the first time I conversed and was understood.  The man at the local vege shop, where we have bought stuff for the third day in a row, greets us like old ‘amies’ and tonight congratulated me on my French!  The absolutely very best way to learn the lingo, be here and buy things!!

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Twice we  tried to visit The Catacombes, and twice we  failed.  They are very strict about the time they let the last people in to walk through the skeleton lined passages.  In fact it is the biggest queue we have encountered….and we were just third from the front when they cut us off. 😦

C’est la Vie!

The most peaceful place was La Pere Lachaise cemetery, yes Jim Morrison is buried here, but also Chopin, Oscar Wilde, Edith Piaf, Liszt…..The place is huge with tombs that range from public phone box size to mini cottages, very tranquil although Ollie got the creeps after a while….

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Huge family tombs.

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The leaves made it feel almost Autumnal….

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Jim Morrison’s underwhelming grave….and Oscar Wilde’s flamboyant nouveau angel-topped one!IMG_3941

I contained myself buying artwork, only a couple of prints after a visit to Musee d’Orsay – the Impressionist biggie…

Ollie is happy as we have seen all the scams.  There are warning signs aplenty about pickpockets. There are pamphlets about all the scams you will encounter.  We had heard a lot about these from other travellers, which naturally fascinated the boys more than just ‘another old church’…..  So very exciting, that they are just everywhere….The fake petition, the ring, the 3 cup swindle.  Oui!

Charlie’s Paris trip has been interesting.  He had reached his expiry with regards to old buildings, churches and his very worse “ just wandering around the place.”  So as a soundtrack to Paris and  our sightseeing he has been plugged into “Harry Potter” (all 7 books!) being read by Steve Fry.  Good old mp3!  I am wondering how he will remember Paris though.  Will the Eiffel Tower be forever linked with Cedric’s death?  Will he only remember Voldemort’s return when he sees a photo of us up the Arc d’Triumph?  Mmmmm….

Still he loved the cycle tour and kept up the very front as per usual, being very attentive and admired by all. (Mp3 free)
The Metro is so efficient and quick.  We have been buzzing around.
Parisians do seem exceptionally well dressed, stylish .  So many women wearing ‘real’ shoes, high heels. Perhaps this is just in contrast to us in our well scuffed Teva sandals and after 4 months of wearing the same stuff.  Charlie’s 2nd pair of sandals is dying….just got to get to Bali….

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Versaille was high on my list and I am so glad we spent a day out there.  Such a huge palace.  Such grand gardens.  Tres magnifique!

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MInd blowingly huge and opulent….

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We stayed for the fountain shows, dozens of different fountains, all very unique in it’s own  garden, each one designed beautifully.  Good to see and hear about some history on the other side of the channel, Marie Antionette et al.

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The grounds were spectacular (oops I can feel myself running out of adjectives….)

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We have been couch surfing in Paris.  Hosts here get inundated with requests as you can imagine.  So we were very grateful to Armelle for picking us out of all the others, especially as I have two kids and we wanted to stay for 5 nights.  She had a tiny apartment in the 12th   arrondissement (district) and worked such long hours – a self confessed perfectionist.  Also a great traveller and an artist in her spare time.  We managed some great conversations over a late supper  in her very good English and my careful, slow deliberate English.  As I described what we do about schooling she sat there frowning at me (as many have done before) I thought oh no…. Formal education is so very strict and so very important in Europe (no homeschooling in much of Western Europe).  She said how very different, how completely at the other end of the spectrum this sounded to French school.  Ten minutes later she touched me on the arm and said –

“What you were saying made me dream….”

I was touched.

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So Paris was bonne indeed.

 

PS

We spent 4 extra hours at the airport, as our flight was delayed, but we passed that playing with 2 youngsters whose mums were both French but had married Australians and lived there now.  Both had been ‘home’ for the summer  and now were flying solo back with their babies. Ollie had a ball with the 2yr old , well a balloon mostly….

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