Saturday, January 31, 2015

A week in Paris - Day 2

 **Warning - this is quite a photo intense post**
On Tuesday morning we hopped on the metro and made our way to the city centre.

And as luck would have it, we chose the carriage with the most annoying occupant on it...A middle aged French woman singing at the top of her lungs. I really wouldn't have minded (AT ALL) if she could hold a note and sing in key, but this was not the case. It was rather amusing since we had no idea what she was singing about and the two ladies opposite us smiled and snicked every now and then, shaking their heads. As the train came to a stop she made her way through the carriage asking for money, when she got to us she decided to give us a brief and very incorrect history lesson about the Eiffel Tower. It was an interesting train ride to say the least!
We started our day at the top of the Champ Elysees by the Arc de Triomphe. It surprised me because it was A LOT bigger than what I had imagined...("That's what she said" - Sorry I couldn't resist - this is a general response that I can expect from our group of dysfunctional friends for such a sentence! I miss you guys!!)
We strolled through the city towards the Eiffel Tower, passing Hotel Shangri La - one day when I'm big I will stay there for a night or two!
The Eiffel Tower dominates the skyline as it comes into view, 324m high, made of wrought iron, it's hard to not be amazed at the architectural genius that went into building this beauty. 
After admiring the tower from up close, we made our way up to the second floor, despite the cold winds, and looked out over beautiful Paris, the view from up there is amazing.
Unfortunately the top floor was closed for maintenance, so we made our way down the stairs to the first floor, they had an ice rink set up where youngsters were gracefully gliding across the ice and right next to that was a little booth where we watched a very interesting short film about the history and construction of the tower.
We strolled through the Champs de Mars, took a few touristy photos, made our way past the Hotel des Invalides, towards the Seine, we took a slow walk along the Seine, past the National Assembly, the Pont des Alexandre bridge and crossed the river to the Place de la Concorde.
It was drizzling as we walked up the Champs Elysees, we browsed through random shops, and then it started to rain, heavily, so we dashed into the Mercedes Benz showroom much to Riaans delight.
Once the rain subsided we walked up the rest of the Champs Elysees towards the Arc de Triomphe, stopped for an early dinner and then we made our way back to the Metro. It was time to go back to Montmartre, we had one last stop for the day - the Moulin Rouge. After walking up and down the risqué Boulevard de Clichy we were dead tired, we covered approximately 20km for the day, and decided to make our way back to the hotel where some more french red wine and a comfy bed awaited us.

If you missed day 1 you can read all about it here.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

A week in Paris - Day 1

We arrived in Paris nice and early, after a very long 18 hour journey, numerous movies, a stop in Dubai which included Fruppacinos at Starbucks and a delicious Shake Shack burger.

After going through immigrations and collecting our bags we made our way to the trains.
Our first culture shock...trying to get a train into Paris without any internet connection to google which train we needed to take, we knew where we were going but not which train to take..the fact that everything was in French didn't help much either.

So, we did it the old fashioned way! Queued at the ticket office and bought our tickets from them, then we were Gare Du Nord! When we arrived we were even more confused, the train station was huge with no escalators and a ton of stairs, not ideal when you're lugging 30kgs of luggage...each!

Anyway, we eventually got to our platform and after much deliberation we hopped on a train that was actually going in the right direction. First unguided, help free train ride conquered!!
After a short ride we got off at Lamarck Caulaincourt, in the beautiful arrondissiment of Montmartre! Our home for the next week!

After checking in and a quick freshen-up we set off to explore the neighbourhood and take in everything that Paris has to offer.
First stop, the Sacre Coeur Basilisca...from a few different angles...because why not!
Gazing in awe at the Sacre Coeur.
I was constantly intrigued by all of the pretty, big doors in Paris, they are so mysterious, it just added to the charm of the city.
On the way to the Montmartre Cemetery we came across upon a tiny little creperie that makes the best nutella crepes that we had the entire time we were in Paris, they were so good we ended up looking for the creperie again later in the week. The Montmartre Cemetery is home to many famous French artists and actors and the beautiful tombstones and graves date way back into the 1600's.
We dashed into the Galeries Lafayette to escape the cold for a little while and wander through the huge department store, the intricate detailing around the balconies and the stained glass roof are fascinating and I found myself having to remind myself that this is just a department store and Parisians are actually used to this. We discovered that there is a sort of viewing garden on the roof, from here we got our first real glimpse of the Eiffle Tower.
We made our way back to Montmartre, stopped by the Sacre Coeur Basilisca again, it's even prettier at night, this time we went inside and wandered around listening to the organs playing.
We proceeded to wander through the cobblestoned streets of Montmartre, following the roads with the prettiest lights, until we stumbled upon Place Du Tertre, a beautiful little square adorned by blue fairy lights, surrounded by Parisian cafes and bustling with caricaturists and artists.

After wandering around following the lights for about an hour, we found ourselves back near the Montmartre Cemetery, the baguette I had bought at a patisserie in one of the little roads near the Place Du Tertre was ice cold, we whipped out our map and made our way back to the hotel to enjoy a truly French dinner of baguette, cheese and red wine. The perfect way to end off an amazing first day in Paris.

So this is where I leave you today. I didn't realise the post would end up this long, and I'm not even photo overloading here...we took 1080 photos in 5 days...Crazy!!! I also realised I need to learn ow to take straighter photos LOL! So instead of doing the intended 2 day posts, I'll be posting about each day we spent in Paris separately.

I hope you enjoyed reading about our first day in Paris, we've already decided we'll be going back (soon hopefully) to take some awesome photos (once we've gotten used to the new camera), and to do all of the things we weren't able to do in this visit.