France
Paris

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  • Day55

    Lunettes Pour Nous

    October 14, 2019 in France ⋅ ☁️ 17 °C

    We had a big decision to make. With only two full days in Paris, we needed to choose our activities wisely. One thing we were both in agreement on was that we had no intention of running to and fro all day doing the normal "tourist things". There would be no Hop On Hop Off buses, no Louvre, no Musee D'Orsee, not even an Eiffel Tower in our plans. But what could we do ?

    When we had been in Nantes we happened to notice an interesting shop with the slogan "10 Euros in 10 Minutes". Although you might be excused in thinking it was some sort of fast food place, it was in fact an optician. Their unique claim was that they could make you a new pair of glasses in only 10 minutes, with or without a prescription. Not only that, but the cost could be as low as 10 Euros.

    I had to admit that it had us both intrigued enough to do some further research. We learned that each store was highly automated and could produce the lenses in only a few minutes. Our problem in Nantes was that we had arrived on a Sunday and the store (like just about everything) was closed. But we were going to be in Paris on a Monday. Voila !

    The more we thought about it, the more the idea started to take root in our minds. It certainly would be an experience to have an eye test in France and go home with new spectacles. And so that's what we decided to do.

    Our research had shown that there was a store on the right bank, about 1 km from our apartment. We arrived right on opening time at 10 am and then had fun explaining to the young staff that we were from Australia and were looking for new glasses. We were soon both ushered into a high tech testing room where we had new prescriptions produced (no appointment necessary).

    The next step was to choose our frames. It was here that we discovered that not all the glasses can be produced for 10 Euro. Most of the frames were from 20 Euro to 50 Euro and the price of the lenses depends on the complexity of the prescription. Presumably it was only people who required no correction at all who would be able to get the 10 Euro special.

    Even so, the prices were quite reasonable. Thirty minutes later I was the proud owner of two new pairs of spectacles and Maggie the owner of one new pair. Even with scratch resistance and transition lenses, the total cost was only equivalent to $300 AUD. And did they work ? Yes they really did. It will also be another fond memory of our brief time in Paris.

    The rest of the day we spent walking (and walking and walking) until we both felt completely spent. The weather still continues to be warm and sunny and we even took the chance to have a lovely snooze on a couple of the chairs in the Tuileries Gardens.

    We returned exhausted to our apartment for dinner, before having another nightime walk around the I'le de La Citie. The tourist boats were cruising the Seine and the distant light from the top of the Eiffel Tower was flashing across the low clouds. It had been just about an ideal day in this wonderful city.
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  • Day26

    Cheese eating surrender monkeys

    October 12, 2019 in France ⋅ ⛅ 18 °C

    Or so I'm told...
    Interesting hour getting caught up in a protest through paris. Didnt understand a word that were shouting, understood the police who were plenty and armed to the teeth though. Pretty sure they weren't even all protesting the same thing....Read more

  • Day1

    Paris Arrival!

    March 30, 2019 in France ⋅ ☀️ 19 °C

    After we FINALLY made it to Paris, we had the best day ever. But the trip here was exhausting! We sat in traffic all the way from Richmond to Dulles. Then had a yummy airport dinner before our redeye flight to Iceland. We each got a couple of hours of sleep on that flight and then a couple more on the flight from Iceland to Paris. We arrived in Paris at noon yesterday and we were both very tired. Our Airbnb host had told us to take the train to his stop in Paris. But the train was closed for maintenance, which we found out after we had already bought a ticket! So we waited in the longest line ever for the replacement bus then transferred to the train and then got off at our stop. Then we were planning to turn on cell data briefly to get walking directions to the Airbnb but the cell data wouldn’t work! Fortunately, all of the Parisians we met were the nicest and most helpful people ever. Three different people tried to give us directions and a random hotel let us use their WiFi. We arrived, about 2 hours late, and our awesome Airbnb host was still sitting there waiting for us!

    We were tempted to take a nap but decided to push through “until 8:00 or so”. That’s when the awesome part of the day started. Our Airbnb is in the perfect part of town. It is just south of the Latin quarter, right off of Rue Mouffetard, the oldest street in Paris, and probably the coolest street ever. For a couple of miles, the street is lined on both sides with everything you can imagine - bakeries, fruit stands, fresh seafood shops, butchers, cheese markets, cafes, bars, restaurants, creperies, shops, ice cream parlors, markets, and anything else you can imagine. Live music is played on every block. And it’s pretty much all Parisians, very few tourists. We started at a cafe with a cheese plate and wine. Four amazing types of cheeses and a basket of French bread. We sat outside and people watched and listened to a band and ate and drank for awhile.

    After we left the cafe, we walked north up Rue Mouffetard to Notre Dame and the Seine River, passing a beautiful old Church and the Pantheon on the way. We walked into Notre Dame during their Saturday night mass, which was pretty cool. The architecture, both inside and out, and the stained glass, was incredible. Next, we tried to go into Sainte-Chappell’s on the next block, but it had closed. We’ll try to go there today before the Louvre! We stood on a bridge over the Seine River and people watched and waved to the boats passing by.

    Then we wandered around the city for awhile. We ended up in an Irish pub (on accident) for a beer. While in the pub, Tim noticed that his phone was missing. We thought for sure he had been pick pocketed but decided to walk back to a restaurant that we had previously sat down at outside but had left before we had ordered anything. We poked our head around outside and a nice group of people asked us (in French) if we had lost a phone. Sure enough, it was sitting at the host stand!

    At this point, we were ready for dinner! We ended up at a restaurant back on Rue Mouffetard where Ernest Hemingway used to live! The place was packed with Parisians and had a TripAdvisor sticker and had a prix fixe menu so we figured it would be amazing. The wine was amazing, the food was just mediocre, but we had a blast. We each ordered off of the prix fixe menu. We both started with the duck salad, which was fantastic. Then I had the seafood plate (shrimp, scallops, and salmon) and Tim had the flank steak. Both of those plates were okay. And I had a delicious creme brûlée and Tim has a delicious chocolate mousse. The whole meal took about 3 hours (and 2 carafes of wine)! We had a great time sitting outside and eating and drinking and people watching. We finished the meal off with a couple of coffee drinks and headed home. After dinner, we got completely lost, but eventually found our way.

    To be honest, Paris was never really on my bucket list. I was thinking of this had more of a stopover on the way to Amsterdam. I was completely wrong. Tim and I both agreed yesterday that this may be our favorite city we’ve ever been to. Definitely in the top 3.
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  • Day3

    Paris - Best Day Ever!

    April 1, 2019 in France ⋅ ☀️ 20 °C

    Yesterday was the best! We basically just wandered around hopping from cafe to cafe all day. After we woke up, Tim went to the super market for coffee while I got ready. Then I went to get croissants while he got ready. We sat on our balcony and split 3 different kinds of pastries - a chocolate croissant, some type of sugary bread, and a butter croissant. We sat on the balcony for a bit longer and made a 1:30 reservation for a delicious French lunch. On our way to the restaurant, to kill some time, we sat at a sidewalk cafe and had a beer.

    Next up was our first proper French meal (besides the daily croissants!). We chose Chez Lionel because it had such good reviews and was not super expensive. When we arrived, we saw the Michelin Star sticker next to the front door and got very excited. We sat on a sidewalk table and both ordered the prix fixe menu and split everything. We used our dictionary to translate but still didn’t know exactly what we were ordering. For our first course, we had a yummy green bean and radish dish (we had thought this was going to be a green salad) and an amazing eggplant, olive, tomato, hummus dish. For our entree, we split scallops and chorizo (we had thought this was going to be fish and were very pleasantly surprised) and the “beef of the day”, which was the best beef either of us had ever had. The prix fixe menu also came with a glass of wine and a cafe (decaf for me)! The waitress and chef were so nice too. This was one of the best meals we’ve ever had.

    After lunch, we wandered around, passing by the Luxembourg gardens again, and made our way up to the river, stopping in another couple of sidewalk cafes on the way. We then went to check out the stained glass at Sainte-Chapelle. This was probably the coolest thing we’ve seen so far. The glass was absolutely beautiful. We wandered around the city for a little bit longer and then started to head back towards home. Once we got back to our cool little neighborhood, we stopped at a walk-up crepe bar and ordered dinner. We ate our crepes in the middle of a little roundabout intersection surrounded by cafes and people watched for awhile. Then we were both exhausted. We came home and got to bed early. It was a perfect day full of yummy food!!
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  • Day4

    First day in Paris

    February 4 in France ⋅ ⛅ 8 °C

    Well what can I say

    Today has been busy but amazing. Arrived at 12 to my hostel and then went sight seeing. Ticked off so many things on my bucket list today.

    Paris is incredible but I couldn't live here that's for sure. The architecture is stunning and the people are nice enough. Best thing I done was to get a day ticket only 12.50 and it got me round the entire city all day.

    Met my roomates there lovely and from venezuela so we're gona have a few drinks tonight Before tomorrows day trip to versailles

    Hope you like the pictures.
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  • Day2

    Touristy Day!

    March 31, 2019 in France ⋅ ☀️ 20 °C

    Yesterday was our day to check off some of the “must-see” touristy Paris stuff. We woke up late, and still pretty tired. We both could’ve slept for another several hours, but forced ourselves to get ready and to get out the door around noon. We made it to a cafe just before they stopped serving breakfast. We stood at the bar and ate chocolate croissants and Tim had an espresso. Then we wandered along Rue Mouffetard, bought some fruit from an outdoor market, had a beer from a pub, and made our way over to the Gardens of Luxembourg. This is huge public park/garden filled with people picnicking, relaxing, playing sports, and more. We walked around the gardens until we worked up an appetite for lunch. We headed towards the Seine River and looked for somewhere to eat lunch outside. Since it was almost 3:00, restaurants were starting to close for the afternoon. We had to make a quick decision and jumped into a Napoleon pizza place. Not exactly French food but it was delicious!

    Next stop - the Louvre. Woah. I had heard that the museum was huge but I had no idea it would be this big. Fortunately, there was no line and we walked right in. We had a guide on the “must see” rooms/paintings and stuck to that but were still pretty overwhelmed. We started off in Napoleon’s apartments, which were stunning. Then made our way to the Italian Renaissance paintings and saw a bunch of Botticelli and da Vinci pieces, including the Mona Lisa. Next was French History paintings, Greek statues, and the Egyptian galleries. We finished off the trip with a visit to the basement to check out the original walls of the fortress. People spend days in the Louvre. We were in and out in under 2 hours, which was enough for me.

    After the Louvre, we walked down the street to Musee d’Orsay, but it was about to close so we didn’t go in. We stopped in at a little wine bar and had a couple of glasses of Rose and tried to decide what to do with the end of our day. We decided to just knock out the last major tourist attraction so that we could spend the rest of our time in Paris wandering around doing whatever we want (besides the Catacombs that we’ll do tomorrow!). Off to the Eiffel Tower!

    At this point, we had probably walked 5-10 miles already and we were too exhausted to figure out the metro so we hopped in a little bike taxi and made our way to the tower. Once we got dropped off, we popped into a little market and bought a couple of beers and sat on the lawn, looking at the tower. It’s pretty amazing. I was definitely nervous to go to the top but I think the beer helped a little with that! It was about 7:45 at this point so we headed over to the tower, thinking we could get to the top for sunset. Unfortunately, the line for the elevator was pretty long and the stairs were closed for some reason. We waited for about an hour, bought 2 tickets, and got to the elevator around 9:00 just as it was starting to get dark. The first elevator takes you to the second floor. As soon as the doors opened and I realized that it wasn’t enclosed, I pretty much panicked. I was about to get back in the elevator and go down, but changed my mind and we walked over to the elevator to the top. When the guy went to scan our tickets, he said that we only had tickets to the second floor! The ticket lady had sold us the wrong tickets!! I was so upset and he was so nice and let us go anyways. We got in the elevator and rode for what felt like hours to the top. Fortunately, up there it was completely enclosed and I wasn’t scared at all. We used the 20 Euros we saved by accidentally buying the wrong tickets and bought two glasses of champagne! We hung out up there for awhile. The views were incredible. But it was very windy and we were very cold so after the champagne, we headed back down the elevator to the second floor. There was a long line for the elevator, so we took the stairs all the way down. The whole experience was pretty amazing. But now it’s checked off the bucket list and I could definitely go the rest of my life without going up there again.

    By the time we left the Eiffel Tower, it was 10:30 and we were starving. We tried to walk to a restaurant that we had read was very good but it was closed, and so was everything around it. The only thing open was a Vietnamese pho restaurant that was actually pretty crowded so we went in. Unfortunately, this was our second non-French meal in a row. Fortunately, we are obsessed with Vietnamese food and it was some of the best we’ve had. We split shrimp spring rolls, Tim had pho, and I had a beef and egg dish. After dinner, we took a taxi back home. Yesterday was a very long day, with so much walking, but we had a great time and were able to do so much. Excited for today, with no plans at all!
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  • Day56

    Final Day in Paris

    October 15, 2019 in France ⋅ ⛅ 13 °C

    Yesterday we decided to begin our day with a rather unusual activity - getting new glasses from a French optician. It turned out to be quite an experience, but we both agreed that the end result really was worth it. The glasses were great and the fact that we got them in Paris will make them a great souvenir of this trip.

    Today was our final full day, so we had to decide just how we were going to use our final hours in this incredible city. We had so many options to choose from you might be quite surprised at the decision we made. After a lot of thought, I decided that I would go back to the opticians to get a third pair of glasses. I needed a pair specifically for using while I was sitting at the computer and I couldn't think of a better place to get them.

    So off we went back to the "10 Euros in 10 Minutes" shop. They seemed a little surprised to see us back again, but were happy when we told them the reason. After a new eye test and some selecting the frames, I was soon the proud owner of another pair of computer glasses.

    Since the area around Las Halles was rather unfamiliar to us, we also took the opportunity to explore the large open spaces and fascinating buildings that were there. We finally returned via the Louvre and across the Seine to our apartment. Since my GPS has been inoperative for the past couple of weeks, I could not measure just how far we walked in the past coiuple of days, but I would estimate that it would be at least 15 to 20 km each day. It was enough to make us thoroughly exhausted.

    One thing we have noticed over our our recent visits to Paris is how quickly the city is progressing towards being more and more bike friendly. Many of the major roads have now been narrowed considerably to create safe separated lanes for cyclists, scooter riders and joggers. The shared electric scooters are used by people of all ages and are obviously a very popular alternative for convenient commuting around the city. Paris is still nowhere near other famous bike cities, such as Amsterdam, but it is a long way ahead of Melbourne in this regard.

    After a brief rest we ventured out again. This time it was for a much more mundane reason - to do our laundry. Although the first laundromat we found was out of action due to some sort of malfunction, we did find another one that we had used on previous trips. An hour later we had bags of clean, dry clothes. If nothing else, it might help to make our luggage just a little bit lighter, since clean clothes must weigh a bit less than dirty ones.

    Tomorrow morning we will be cramming our bags for the final time, before catching a taxi to Charles de Gaulle airport. By Friday morning we will back back home in Melbourne. This trip has been one of the very best I can remember, but we are now both more than ready to be back with our family and friends. I hope you have enoyed sharing some of the adventure with us.

    And a final comment - we will surely miss those fresh baguettes every day.
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  • Day26

    Most spectacular show.

    October 12, 2019 in France ⋅ ⛅ 18 °C

    Well... what can I say.. we spent last night at The Moulin Rouge and were blown away. We had an amazing 3 course dinner with free champagne and then had the best show. The dancers were amazing and even though we didnt understand a word it was wonderful. Getting in at 3am was a first and £70 for a bottle of wine was a shock but wouldn't have missed it.Read more

  • Day54

    And Finally .....Paris

    October 13, 2019 in France ⋅ ☁️ 17 °C

    It was rather strange "checking out" of a hotel when there was no one at the desk. In fact there seemed to be no one anywhere. We had been the only people at breakfast in the downstairs cafe and we noticed that the cafe closed as soon as we left.

    With no sign of a soul at the desk, we had no alternative than to just leave the key on the desk, manhandle our luggage down the stairs and out the door and then just let the door slam behind us.

    The sun was already shining brightly and the morning felt like summer again. Since we were still a little early for our train to Paris, we decided to sit in the sunshine doing crossword puzzles instead. The main Gare de Tours was only a 5 minute walk from the Hotel Linxa, so we had plenty of time on our hands. We calculated that we had already stayed in 29 different rooms so far on this trip. We were now about to proceed to the 30th and final room, before we caught the plane back to Melbourne.

    Soon we were seated on the train to Paris, the scenery was flashing past in a blur and we had even been able to find place for our luggage. This had been a long and complicated trip and it is always a relief when every single arrangement along the way goes exactly according to the plan.

    It was only when the train pulled into Montparnasse Station that things took a slightly weird turn. For some reason the train had been diverted away from the main station and we found ourselves climbing out in a completely unfamiliar part of the station complex. In spite of following the "Sortie" signs, we could not find any way to get out of the building (and neither could a group of French people who had the same problem). We even had a couple trips in an elevator, looking for an exit without success.

    By the time we eventually escaped via a construction zone, we were right around the back of the building and had a long walk back to the main entrance. Of course the inevitable happened - Maggie needed a toilet. I waited with all the luggage while she went back inside the station in search of a toilet. I stood outside and fumed.

    About 30 minutes we were finally in a taxi and heading to the apartment we had booked near the Seine. After some difficulty the driver found the place and we rang the owner to let her know we had arrived. The location of the apartment is exceptional - right near the Seine and opposite the I'sle de La Citie. The apartment itself was wonderful. Not only did it have heaps of room, it was brand new and fully equipped. It was easily the best accommodation we have ever enjoyed in Paris. We had arrived at the 30th room and everything had gone as planned.

    After settling in, we went out for a walk. Since we were so close to Notre Dame Cathedral, we went to look at the damage caused by the huge fire earlier this year. Although the entire region is now fenced off from the public, you can clearly see the stabilisation works that have already taken place. The beautiful flying buttresses have now been reinforced with huge wooden beams. Where the stained glass windows used to be are now sheets of clear plastic to keep out the weather. A large wooden roof construction is also taking shape, but we do not know if that is a temporary or permanent feature. It certainly was heartbreaking to see the damage at close quarters. We can only hope that those in authority will act wisely when choosing the best course of action to take in the history of this ancient building.

    We now have two days in Paris before beginning the flight home.
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  • Day1

    Les Delices D Amour....

    February 7 in France ⋅ ☁️ 7 °C

    Fantastic dinner at the side of the Canel St Martin. Had greek tonight or maybe Turkish... bloody good either way. Kebab, salad, rice, yogurt and turkish delight for pudding... bottle of wine and loving all things french...Read more

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