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    • Day 5


      June 20, 2022 in France ⋅ ⛅ 18 °C

      Galleries Lafayette .. such a beautiful shopping building ! No €€€ spent here ! Mastered the Met 🚊 spent the day wandering all the little streets. Weather a bit like home ! Warm amd sunny one minute then raining the next ! Almost need a pair of jeans and long sleeve top - which I don’t have !Read more

    • Day 3

      Paris, and a much better day

      April 12 in France ⋅ ⛅ 23 °C

      Having crashed at 6pm (Amr) and about 7pm (me) last night, we both woke about 3am and didn’t get back to sleep, but had had good long sleeps. So eventually we gave in and were officially awake - looked at emails, did wordle, planned the day, and by the time it was getting light we went for a walk to find the police station as we had been advised by the embassy to file a police report for the theft. So that was a fun brisk walk round the neighbourhood where we hadn’t been before, quite cold to start, about 10°, and we found the police station but were told to come back at 9. So we wandered on, bought a pain aux raisins and a baguette, stopped for a coffee and returned to the room. Relaxed and set off again at 9 and a very nice policeman heard our story and recorded it all - his English was about equivalent to our French but we managed fine - he was really lovely. So we have an official report, and I think he sends some notification to the embassy.

      With that done, and the passport to be picked up today, we decided to calm down and begin to enjoy Paris. And we did! It was a beautiful day…a while ago I checked the long term predictions for Paris weather and it showed raindrops for the entire time we are here…well so far it was totally wrong…not surprisingly! So our plan was to go to the Musée des arts décoratifs which Amr had booked on line a while ago…entry was for 11am, so we turned up at about 20 to and joined a queue and found it only opens at 11, so we had to wait standing in the sun for quite a while…and not good for us as Amr hadn’t been feeling 100%, thought it was jet lag and stress from dramas, but standing there he felt dizzy and shaky…not good he bent down to help but wouldn’t go and sit on the grass…finally the queue moved and he felt much better, but once in we would have headed straight for the cafe but we found there wasn’t one inside the museum…so he said he was now ok enough to continue and see the exhibits which we did…interesting new exhibit of the history of the big Paris shops, and another of Iris van Herpen, a Dutch outlandish fashion designer…anyway we had fun and Amr survived so all good.

      After the museum we headed straight to a cafe where we both (even Amr! as a sugar boost) had hot chocolates and then over to a boulangerie where we bought yum baguette filled with chicken, avocado, salad and ate it sitting on chairs in the Tuileries. Just divine…trees with their new greenery, blossoms out, tulips colourful, children pushing boats on the round pond….

      After a lovely relax there, and Amr declaring he was restored, we got the metro to the embassy to get my passport….success! …I now have a valid emergency passport, which I will not be carrying with me again in a visible bag until I board a plane! After that excitement we returned to the hotel to have some R and R and unwind before we have dinner. We have a booking at a little place from last time, in the Marais, for 7pm, looking forward to that, and afterwards I think it will be straight home to bed!

      Now the report from dinner…Amr had a little nap during our downtime and we set off walking to the restaurant a bit after 6. It is light till quite late now, broad daylight when we walked back around 8.30 ish…anyway, had a delightful wander through the Marais where there are so many little eateries, and being Friday night they were all buzzing. Ended up at our place, Le Progrès, and had great meal till Amr started to run out of steam…poor thing, he has done such a stirling job holding up during our passport panics and sorting out solutions, but he is fighting a bug and for the first time ever couldn’t finish his beef tartare! A true sign he wasn’t feeling well. At first it was good. We shared a salad of barrata with tomato, rocket, peppers, pesto, just perfect, then he had the tartare and I had some skirt steak with salad and fries, really good. And a half litre of house red. Ambience great, but when Amr started to fade it was time to go back and he is now tucked up asleep, and very soon I will be too! Only just after 9.30 but we’ve lasted well, and it was a great day!
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    • Day 7

      A productive, satisfying and sunny day!

      April 3, 2023 in France ⋅ ☀️ 12 °C

      Today is John’s 80th birthday!! He is a no fuss person, and they have had family celebrations before they left, but we want to make things good for him today…! They both had a good sleep last night, and felt ready to take on the world this morning. But our first decision was what to do about the strike on Thursday, which is the day we have tickets on the TGV down to Bayonne. The media remains silent, but we and everyone knows Thursday will be a chaos day when nothing is working, so we decided to go to the ticket office at Montparnasse station and try to swap to Wednesday. We tried online with no success, so stood in line and waited for ages with a numbered ticket (like sitting in a Medicare or Centrelink office waiting your turn)…While waiting, Amr was bored as he could get no reception on his phone (even though I could on mine!) so he started fiddling on the self serve computers in the room, and put our booking number in and got our journey and names etc up, and requested a change and managed to find a train on Wednesday, leaving at 10am which is perfect, and swapped us on to that!! There were many trains that were “complet”, so very lucky! And the machine printed out new tickets, and no charge!!! So he quickly did the same for Carole and John, and we are even sitting next to each other!! That was the train to Bordeaux…we had separate tickets from Bordeaux to Bayonne, not a TGV (that was the best we could find when we originally booked) and couldn’t get the machine to do that, but by then our number was finally called and a very nice man organised the last leg for us, and we are set to leave Paris before everything shuts down - metro, trains, buses…phew! And we are so happy to have an extra day in Bayonne, and we have organised the extra night with the hotel there…so happy, and relieved, as Easter was going to be complicated anyway…Amr gets huge accolades for making that big change ….!

      So with light hearts we set off to enjoy Paris, a beautiful sunny day - cool but gorgeous. Got the metro back to St Michel area had a little refreshment at a cafe, and walked round Notre Dame, still so much work to do, but they are faithfully and meticulously restoring the beautiful cathedral. Then we walked back a little along that end of rue de Rivoli near Les Halles and went to book Chez Denise for dinner tomorrow night…all they could offer was 10.30 pm!! And tonight totally booked, so we changed plan and got a booking for tomorrow lunch at 2pm…perfect…John and I just love their menu as among many other yum things they have tripe, liver, kidneys!!! So we will be happy.

      Another stop for refreshment (actually I had an onion soup, felt hungry) but the others had drinks…Then we kept walking along the streets, got the metro back to Bastille and walked along the raised walkway we had discovered last time in October 2021…it goes for about 4 kms from Bastille to Bois de Vincennes, and so pretty…it was lovely in autumn, and equally gorgeous in spring - so different, the leaves just appearing, and the fruit blossoms out.

      Now back at the hotel for R and R, dinner at another local bistro across the road at 7.30.

      …back from dinner. Really good. We started with a cheese and charcuterie board, then Amr and John had a gravelax dish and Carole and I had scallops with carrots and an orange sauce…delicious, but SO many carrots!!! Even Ted would be stumped I think! I did quite a good job and almost finished them, with a bit of help from Amr! Altogether a great day.
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    • Day 6

      Sunday in Paris

      April 2, 2023 in France ⋅ ☁️ 8 °C

      A really cold day today…no rain, but cloudy and mostly single figure temperatures. I wore all my layers, but walked with a spring in my step…quite invigorating! We emerged seeking breakfast and found today was the Paris marathon!! More than 70,000 people running through the city, via all the famous landmarks…great for us, as many roads closed off which is great for pedestrians - no cars - though getting on the other side of the runners can be a problem…like trying to get through the traffic in Cairo!!

      So we didn’t have a specific plan for the morning, just walked along to the Tuileries, then popped into shops when we needed a thaw from the cold! Wandered into UniQlo, always fun, and Galeries Lafayette in the food hall where we bought and ate a baguette ham sandwich.

      Our only commitment was a tour of the Opera Garnier at 2pm. This is the original, traditional building in Place de l’Opera, and we have never seen inside. The newer, modern Bastille Opera seems to be the main venue for opera (where we saw Rigoletto last visit) so were excited to view the interior of this older rather majestic building. We went to our favourite café nearby, l’Entracte, for a warm up and drink - hot chocolate for me and wine for Amr - till 2pm. The tour was excellent…actually seeing the interior was the amazing part, totally OTT decorated, built for people to socialise - to see be seen - in the late 1800s - the opera then was secondary! Sort of beautiful, but a bit over ornate for me…the round ceiling painting was replaced by Chagall rather than repairing the original…a bit out of sync with the rest of the decor, but rather good!

      Then we walked all the way back - clocked up about 14 kms today - and got back to the hotel to meet Carole and John!! Great to meet up…we went to a very noisy bar for a drink (Le Tiny Cafe) which Amr had been curious to try, then on to a slightly quieter bistro for a meal. All good, and fairly early as of course C and J are totally jet lagged just off the plane with a 9 hour time change, but holding up fine. Tomorrow is John’s 80th birthday!! Such fun.
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    • Day 5

      An excursion to Chartres

      April 1, 2023 in France ⋅ ☁️ 11 °C

      Another good day - we decided to take the train to Chartres - we last went there 36 years ago! It is quite cold today (this is not a complaint, I love it but did need all my layers, and I think tomorrow will be colder). And each day it is sunny, with rolling clouds that turn into rain lasting about 5-10 minutes now and then! We had anticipated this spring weather, and it will probably continue like that when we start walking. Also from the train, about an hour’s journey, we could see the green fields with shoots of the crops looking so lovely, and such a contrast to the fields in September. And the trees just have a green mist around them - some still without leaves, so beautiful! By June they will all be in full leaf.

      Chartres is a lovely small town, and the cathedral is still amazing!! The famous stained glass windows are so intricate and beautiful, and I had forgotten the very wondrous stone carvings all around the choir. So we spent time admiring the cathedral, and then found a crêperie for some lunch - I love a ham and cheese crepe, and Amr had a hot dog Breton! Essentially a white frankfurt with onions, cheese and mustard rolled in a crepe! Both content. A bit of wandering round the town and got the train back.

      Carole and John arrive tomorrow and we have to work out plans…we are all booked on a TGV on Thursday down to Bayonne, but that is a declared strike day, and we don’t yet know if our train will be affected….maybe we should change to the day before, but perhaps everyone has already done that…when they arrive we’ll work out a strategy…

      Off to dinner just down the street soon. Very relaxed.

      Just had to edit and add that we had yet another fabulous dinner! Just in the little dive half a block from the hotel - packed of course being Saturday night, and throbbing, great food, happy ambience. It seemed to feature food from the Auvergne and Aubrac area, where we walked in 2015, and featured aligot (the amazing mash which is half butter and half cheese) and wine and meat from there. We started with aligot croquettes, then Amr had his usual beef tartare, and I had grilled octopus on the textured mash (must have a serious discussion with Paul about this!) and we shared a crème brûlée…perfect. A half litre of house red rounded it off.

      Have to mention that on a blackboard they offered 1 kg of beef to share for €69, we noticed it and laughed (and thought of Paul) and then the table next to us ordered it (the 3 boofy boys shared it, the 2 girls daintily ate burgers)…all so tightly squeezed in a small space, you are quite intimate with your neighbours. Funny. Now off to bed.
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    • Day 4

      Another wonderful day

      March 31, 2023 in France ⋅ 🌬 14 °C

      Writing up earlier today, still a little fuzzy with jet lag, but feeling fresh with thoughts on the day so far…it is now about 5pm, and we are back in the room, having a break and respite till dinner at 8pm, in a restaurant Amr has booked in the Marais, an 11 minute walk from our hotel.

      So the day started with clementines and pastries (pain aux raisins for me) then coffee in a cafe down the street. The area round our hotel, just a short walk from Bastille, is new to us, and just lovely. Many bars and cafés and pleasant neighbourhood feeling. (All signs of the huge police presence throughout the city last night had disappeared by the morning, and no word on what was going on). We have booked one local restaurant for tomorrow night - Le Petit Bréguet.

      So once fortified with coffee, we got the metro to Denfert Rochereau, quite close to Montparnasse, but another place new to us. Good vibe here too, the lovely Parisian buildings, and parks. We were there to visit the Museum of Liberation, just opened in 2019, on the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Paris. Interesting and well presented, enjoyed our time there and I learned a lot…part of the visit was descending into the bunker - 100 stairs down and up, no lift! I made it, but plodded a bit!

      After emerging from there we needed a break and sustenance - crossed the road to the bistro on the corner - perfect place. Buzzing with people having Friday lunch, and that wonderful French vibe…indescribable, and there are so many places like this all over the city. Amr had onion soup and I had toasts with caramelised onion and goat’s cheese grilled - both divine, and sparkling water (this time served in Paul approved glasses!!). A very satisfying break.

      Then we walked from there down Blvd St Michel down past Luxembourg gardens to the river. The gardens were all locked, weird, but a woman told us that they shut it when it is windy (and it is quite windy today) for safety..?? Then we walked along the left bank to the Pont Neuf and to our favourite Place Dauphine for a drink. Decided to sit inside which turned out to be a good choice as while there it started raining, and we were happily sheltered and warm. However eventually we had to leave, as more people came in seeking shelter and we had drunk our rosés, so we set off in the wind and rain (not teeming, but wet!)…decided to take the metro instead of walking and when we emerged at Bastille it was sunny and large amount of blue sky.

      So now downtime, and I will add dinner when we return…

      Now back from dinner, and yet another fun fab night! Amr is a little hazy about why he knew of this place - Le Progrès - but it was a success. Had booked for 8, and looked so busy when we arrived, but got seated in a good corner spot. Great atmosphere, and great food. I had 6 snails, and then sword fish with baked aubergine covered with vegetables (amazing) and Amr had green beans and a blood sausage and mash…all yum. Off to leisurely shower and bed…

      P.S. forgot to mention the wine tonight, and know Paul will ask…we had a half litre of a Brouilly which we had had and knew we liked…(related to Beaujolais I think)…
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    • Day 3

      A huge Paris day

      March 30, 2023 in France ⋅ ☁️ 13 °C

      This will have to be brief-ish as it’s almost 11pm and we are drooping! But must try and remember the details….this morning after eating clementines in the room, we bought pastries and then went out for coffee…walked down to the tower of St Jacques on the rue de Rivoli, via Bastille which was buzzing with a market…then up along the Seine to St Michel where we turned up to St Germaine to go to the Vieu Campeur shops to buy walking poles, our mission for the day. Successfully accomplished, then had croissants at the patisserie that won’t best croissant of the year (formidable competition) in 2018, then went back to the hotel to drop the sticks, and have a mini break.

      Set out again for what turned out to be a big walk, despite getting the metro in the beginning to Louvre (turned out we walked a total of 23 kms according to my Apple Watch)…then wandered a bit, shops, parks, ending half way up the Champs d’Elysees, had a drink in our fave bar near the Opera (which is covered in scaffolding) which was very fortunate as during that time it suddenly had a short rain storm, then becoming sunny and clear by the time we set off again.

      Ended up walking most of the way back to our dinner place - Amr can’t quite remember where he heard of it (? Hartley) but it is Le Petit Célestin, on the quai Célestin and was wonderful. Our booking was 8pm, quiet at that time, and when we left at about 9.30 it was chaotically buzzing. Delicious food - barrata on endive and grilled prawns for Amr, asparagus and kidneys for me. A delicious mash, quite unlike Paul’s even though we are in Paris - sort of lumpy and flavoured and delicious…very small place, probably only about 30 places, and close to your neighbours. Fun.

      Walking to the restaurant we had noticed many police and flashing lights vehicles driving back and forth, but later when we left there were hundreds of them everywhere…and clumps of police standing round on street corners…we had to detour round Bastille to get back to the hotel…sort of scary in a way…I think they must have had a threatened attack and had police everywhere to make it difficult…anyway, safely back and no news of anything…can still hear sirens…so while I say Paris is normal, this wasn’t! Off to sleep…
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    • Day 2

      Ah Paris

      March 29, 2023 in France ⋅ ☁️ 19 °C

      Just a very brief post to relate that we arrived here…felt like a very LONG journey…but all well, and found the hotel so easily…just straight on to the metro at Gare du Nord, down the line 5, and we found our hotel, a new Ibis for us, in the Bastille area…

      But have to say we are rather wobbly and spaced…but nothing that a good night’s sleep won’t fix. After checking in at about 4.30pm (that is about 28 hours after taking off in Sydney) and doing a bit of unpacking (not much to unpack as we have been so ruthless about little luggage) we set off for a walk towards Bastille, and finally stopped for a glass of wine in one bar, then for a little meal in another. It is very mild today, about 18°. The leaves are starting to make a green mist in the trees - some quite green, and some still totally bare. Very pleasant. And there has been no sign of garbage pile up, or any unrest in the area around here. The bars and bistros are buzzing, and Paris life seems normal!

      So now showered and ready for a long refreshing sleep…Amr has bought clementines ready for our breakfast (this is a tradition) and all is well. More information tomorrow!
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    • Day 4

      Welcome to France 🇫🇷

      June 19, 2022 in France ⋅ ⛅ 23 °C

      Two and a bit hours on the Eurostar and now in Paris ❤️ although the Queen had to line up with all the other plebs and wait almost 2 hours for a taxi to drive me under 5 kms to the hotel 🏨. Sweaty Betty had sweat running from my bum cheeks to my shoes 🤣 did not go out or look at anything as minimal sleep had caught up with me 😱 9 hours last night so rearing to go !Read more

    • Day 5

      Dont touch the mini bar 💀

      June 20, 2022 in France ⋅ 🌧 14 °C

      So we all know the rules on the mini bar … do not under any circumstances TOUCH the mini bar (my 🐵🙈🙉 can confirm that rule they have heard it 100000 times !) so the mini bar here is partly tricky ! Nespresso machine ✅ well that’s free , bottle of Evian on the little table with a bottle opener one would assume is free ✅ a as bad next to the Nespresso machine a rather innocuous looking small block of Alain Ducasse Le Chocolat weighing 60 gm. Almost unwrapped and ate that beast in one mouthful due to its position next to the free Nespresso machine … for some reason I thought hold on lard arse let’s just check this baby out on the “free” or not “free” mini bar list … thank god I did 🤣🤣 €14 which currently translates to $21.18 AUD 😱😱😱😱😱 now that is my line in the sand (Iceman are you hearing me ?) old habits die hard … never ever touch the mini bar even if it’s sitting next to free stuff 🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣😂Read more

    You might also know this place by the following names:

    Bastille, La Bastilla

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