• Day25

    Parlez Vous Francais

    June 25, 2016 in France ⋅ ⛅ 19 °C

    Hotel breakfast was at 8am today, with most of us jumping on the bus at 8.45 for a city tour with Tamara and Jo. Tamara shared her wealth of knowledge about this gorgeous city with us, as we did multiple laps of the Arc De Triomphe. There is an enternal flame lit at the Tomb of the unknown soldier, which has apparently only ever gone out once, and of course it was because an Aussie couple tried to cook a sausage on it... Straya, mate!
    We drove down the Champs Elysees, where all of the expensive shops are, your Louis Vuitton, Prada etc, as well as a bunch of car showrooms. We drove through the Place de la Concorde, the largest public square in Paris, and through Opera House and shopping district. We passed the Lourve, and also the Notre Dame cathedral. We finally stopped at a french perfumery, called Fragonard, where we had an included tour.
    We met our guide and she took us through Fragonard's history, how perfume is made and the history of the fancy perfume bottles. Frangonard's perfume can only be bought at Fragonard's stores, and they are only in France. Of course this sucked us all into buying a few bottles, so I picked one I liked to give to Mum.
    From here it was a free day to explore Paris, so I headed off with Jacinda, Alex, Ali, Brooke and Nicolette in search of some proper French crepes and croissants. It ended up being too hard a decision so we split again and Brooke, Nicolette and I wandered the city. We ended up getting crepes from a little food place in a park just off the Champs Elysees. Nutella and banana - Delicious!!
    We walked up the Champs Elysees, venturing into different shops, before making our way into Laduree, a bakery famous for their macarons. The queue was nearly out the door (always a good sign), so we jumped on the end and made the difficult decision of what to buy, and what size. I'm not a huge macaron fan, but these were something else - believe the hype!
    We made our way back outside and I decided to part ways with the girls, too much to see and I didn't want to drag them along!
    I made my way to the Metro station, then realising how close I was to the Arc De Triomphe, ran up and took some photos.
    I headed to Charles de Gaulle Etoile metro station, worked out how to buy a ticket (easy enough), and followed the signs to the correct platform. It would be difficult to get it wrong, the signage was fantastic! I only had to wait about 2 minutes and my train arrived, and 8 or so stops later I was at the Hotel de Ville station. I got off the train and found my way out of the station, and tried to get my bearings. It was a little difficult, as my maps on my phone weren't loading properly without data, but I figured it out and headed on my way to the Notre Dame.
    It was such a beautiful day to be walking through the city. I finally made it to the cathedral and there was security and signs everywhere - no entry into the cathedral until 4.30pm. It was currently around 1.30 or so, and we were supposed to be meeting Tamara at 4.30. I won't lie, I was a little shattered... It's not like I hadn't seen enough churches along the way, but second to the Vatican, it was the one I was most looking forward to!
    Nevermind, I took plenty of photos out the front and headed towards another catherdral recommended by Tamara - Sainte-Chapelle. This one doesnt look like much from the outside, but there was a line and a €6 fee to get in, so I figured it must have been alright. The queue moved fairly quickly, and I walked inside to see some nice stained glass windows. I wasn't overly impressed, and thought to myself that Tamara may have over exaggerated how nice it was, until I found a small staircase in the back corner. I walked up and was completely blown away by the room upstairs. There was 15 huge stained glass windows surrounding the room, the sun was shining brightly through them, I think I actually gasped when I walked in. I wandered around, took some photos, then headed back down the stairs.
    I had about an hour to head back to the meeting spot, so I decided to continue walking, hoping to pass by the Lourve and take a couple of token photos. I crossed the river and walked along it, then started to panic a little that I wouldn't make it back in time, so upped the pace. By the time I got to the Lourve, walked in the wrong entrance and got stuck behind a gate, I could only take a quick picture and then walked through the gardens on the property, finally arriving back at the Place de la Concorde with about 15 minutes to spare.
    We jumped on the bus and headed back to the hostel, where we had a couple of hours to get ready for our final night on tour.
    We jumped on the bus at 6.45, on our way to our parisian dinner at Restaurant La Mère Catherine. Jo dropped us on the main road, and we hiked (in our fancy clothes) up to the top of the hill to Sacre Coeur Basilica. What a view! We took some photos, then made our way to the restaurant.
    There was a duo singing in the corner, what started as some lovely french tunes, turned into some cracking Katy Perry and Britney Spears covers.
    I had the french onion soup (delicious) followed by chicken with french fries.
    Jacinda, Charli, Brooke, Sharne, Nicolette and I had booked the Moulin Rouge, rather than the contiki cabaret choice, so we had to bail before the end of dinner, so we rushed a few goodbyes to people we may not see again, then hiked back down the hill to the main street.
    We made it just in the nic of time, walking in and finding our table during the opening number.
    My initial thoughts were that it was a little tacky, but once you embrace the over the top smiles, all of the boobs out and about, the true corniness of it all, it's actually quite spectacular! In between all the dance numbers, there are some truely incredible acts. A ventriloquist who was hilarious, a lady in a pool with pythons, and my favourites, 2 people on roller skates, on a tiny platform doing some amazing acrobatics! Many gasps from the crowd during their performance!
    After the show was over, we grabbed our programs and headed to the bar next door, O'Sullivans. Tamara had told us the rest of the group would be meeting there after their show.
    Well, thanks to the Euro cup, and the Ireland V Wales game, this Irish pub was packed. It was the most disgusting place I've ever walked into. I have no doubt in normal circumstances it's great, but we walked through so many sweaty welshmen, the place had the stench of poo and vomit. That's not an exaggeration. In the time we were there, Wales won and the Welsh got even rowdier, and a few others showed up. We tried to message Tamara to find somewhere else to meet, but by the time the rest of the group arrived we gave in and found an area on our own. We drank away the disaster of the final night, I think I headed out on the dance floor for a while with Natalie, and eventually ubered home with Nicole, Jono and James.
    I snuck into my hotel room trying not to wake Terryanne, and went to bed for the last time on Contiki!
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