Archive for the ‘France’ Category

Paris Pt 4

Posted: August 10, 2012 in France

Our last full day in Paris.  Saving the best for last we planned to look around Montmartre for the day, visiting Sacre Coeur, Moulin Rouge and the grave sight of Jim Morrison on our way home.

Starting at the bottom we walked along Boulevard De Rochechouart to Moulin Rouge.  From there we just wandered up through the different streets checking out the little shops and street markets as we went.  There were some great cheese shops, crepes and pastry shops – you could just hang out all day eating if you wanted.

Moulin Rouge.

Street market with fresh sea food and snails.

It was really great getting off the tourist path a little and just having a good look around – you can’t really get lost because as long as you move up hill sooner or later you come across the Sacre Couer at the top.

The busy streets of Montmartre.

We made it up to the artist’s corner and this was really busy.  All the artists were all hustling the tourists to do a portrait or caricature.  There were cafes and bars around the outside and just people everywhere.

Browsing the artist’ work.

After having a browse at the different artists and their work we continued to the Sacre Couer.  Another really impressive building.  There were buskers and other entertainers out the front all attracting huge crowds and the views back over Paris were amazing.

Our first look at Sacre Couer.

Paris from Sacre Coure.

Looking up at Sacre Coure.

There is no photography allowed inside but it was an incredible building to see.  We walked through as a service was taking place, silently taking it all in.  We spent a while looking around here and then again in the artist’s corner before making our way back down to the station to catch a train back home.

Still needing to pack our bags before moving on to Germany the next day we unfortunately completely forgot to call past the cemetery where Jim Morrison’s grave is.  Oh well, I guess that gives us an excuse to come back one day.


Paris Pt 3

Posted: August 10, 2012 in France

This morning we split up and did a couple of different things.  Neil and Lea took off to the Catacombs, down past the Latin Quarter.  We went to St Regis for a look around before getting a bit of retail therapy for Tina.

St Regis Street.

The Catacombs sounded interesting.  Years ago they had a problem in Paris with getting rid of the bodies of the deceased, there were that many of them that it was causing outbreaks of disease and if it flooded after heavy rain human remains would wash into peoples houses.  So it was decided that the bodies would be put in the site of an old quarry that a lot of the rock used to build Paris had come out of.  There were thousands of bodies put in there and then forgotten about.  Years later during some construction work it was rediscovered.  Now you can go down under the city and walk about 2km and see all the bones stacked up and organized on display.

While they toured the Catacombs we walked through St Regis, which is a great little street on one of the islands around Notre Dame.  There were some nice cafes and plenty of shops to browse.  We had an early lunch at one of the cafes then headed off for an afternoon of shopping.

Shaun’s preserved duck – very, very good!

Tina’s French onion soup – very, very good!

Tina enjoying a day exploring Paris.

Shaun trying to figure out which way to go next.

Tina had done her research and of course we headed straight to the main fashion streets of Paris.  We toured through heaps of different shops and after seeing some of the price tags I’m so happy we are backpacking and can’t fit anymore items in our bags – although Tina has entertained the idea for sending things back to Aus……

Tina shopping…




At one point in our travels we came across a bridge that couples had put a pad lock on.  It was originally for newly married couples to clip a lock on and throw the key into the river, symbolising a long lasting relationship.  Now lots of couples and travellers put a lock on with a small message or their names.  There were thousands of locks – hardly any space left on the bridge at all.



Locks couples have put on a bridge.

Lots of locks.

During our shopping tour of Paris we caught back up with Neil and Lea in the afternoon.  We had once again all done a lot of walking so we ended up having an early dinner and calling it a day.

Paris Pt.2

Posted: August 9, 2012 in France

Today was a big day of walking.  We went along the river Seine making our way towards the Eiffel Tower.  There are some really nice bridges crossing the river the whole way along and some amazing buildings built along the banks.

Buildings along the Seine.

Paris Apartment s on the Seine.

We took our time wandering along marveling at the architecture of the buildings as we passed by.  We ended up down at Hotel Invalids.  This is a massive building that had been built initially to act as a hospital for any soldiers wounded in battle.  It is now a large war museum that has Nepolean’s tomb within.  We hadn’t planned on going inside however we took a quick look around and checked the opening times incase we wanted to come back to it.


Moving along further we were now almost at the Eiffel Tower.  It was another great day with sunshine and blue sky’s so we decided to grab some lunch and eat it in the grounds around the tower.  We all ended up with a baguette each – Neil thought he was ordering a chicken 1 but it was snails and by the time he realized it was too late.  He just ran with it and said it tasted pretty good.

We eat with the tower looming over us.  You can see why some people don’t like it – apparently it was almost pulled down not long after it was erected, however non of us seemed to mind it.  I guess it is such an icon of Paris now that most tourists are pretty happy to see it for the first time – and it apparently looks spectacular at night when it is all lit up.

Us standing in the gardens after lunch.

We walked to the bottom of the tower after eating to find again, huge amounts of people and massive cues.  It turns out that only 1 of the lifts were operating, the others out of action due to maintenance.  Tina has been up a few times before and Lea is not great with heights.   Shaun and Neil weren’t keen on taking the lifts anyway so jumped in the much shorter line to take the stairs.

We waited in line for only about 20 minutes before starting the climb to the 1st level.  Once on the platform we got a great view out over the city and began to get an idea of the size of Paris.  We picked out a few of the major building we could recognize, took some photos then kept climbing to the 2nd level.

Looking out over the gardens from level 1.

The 2nd level had a platform that runs around all 4 sides and we got some great views and photos from here.  There is also a restaurant which would be spectacular to eat at after dark.

The gardens from level 2.

Montmartre and Sacre Coeur.

We checked out the lines for the lift to the top and they were again ridiculously long so opted against going all the way up.  The views we got from the second level were great and after having a good look around – even picking out Tina and Lea down on the ground we made our way back to the bottom.

Another view from level 2 – Trocadero.

Lift shaft in one of the legs.

We met back up with the girls and continued back across the river and on to another large building and garden area called Trocadero.  There were, again people everywhere.  Some street dancers and other performers had attracted large crowds, cheering them on and there were good views out across the esplanade back towards the Eiffel Tower.


Looking back at the Eiffel Tower.

From here we made our way towards the Arc De Triomphe.  Having a look around here we then started walking back towards our end of town along Champs Elysees.  This is where a lot of the fashion shops are near which had Tina wired looking in every window.


Arc De Triomphe.

Paris looks amazing at night, so earlier in the day we had booked a night cruise along the Seine.  It didn’t start until 9:30 so we planned to have dinner first.  After all our walking we were all getting really tired so we ended up getting a taxi back to near where we had to board the boat for the cruise.

After having a quick bite to eat at another very nice traditional French café, we walked to the dock for our cruise.  We got some great seats up on the top deck in the open air section and could see both sides of the river really good.  Taking off towards the Eiffel tower, an English tour guide gave us information as we cruised along.


Eiffel Tower at night.

We could see the Eiffel Tower emerging, all lights blazing as we got further along the Seine, we rounded a bend and there it was.  A very impressive sight.

At the start of every hour there is an additional light show, where they flash and look like lights are running up and down the tower for about 5 minutes – we saw it just as it was ending.

The boat turned around in front of the tower and we headed back up the other way.  As we turned there were a few drops of rain beginning to fall, then kind of misty rain.  We had umbrellas so we toughed it out as the guide stood there and kept talking about the different buildings and bridges we passed by.


Hiding from the rain.

Then the sky opened up and it really began to rain, we all made a dash for it down stairs to get under cover and continued the cruise.  The view was not as good from down here but we still got a great look at the lights of Paris from the Seine.

As luck would have it just as we got back to the dock and it stopped raining.  Oh well it was very worth while doing anyway – being quite late we called it a night and all walked home in the non rain.


Posted: August 6, 2012 in France

We have just had 3 days back in Esher to wash some clothes, return the car and re-pack the bags.  We booked some accommodation which was a cheap little apartment that seemed to be in a very good central location, close to 1 of the underground rail stops.  By now we were all prepared for France.

After an early start we got to the station and boarded the Eurostar for Paris.  After a bit of a sleep on the train we were there in no time.  When we got off at the station we made our way to the taxi rank and got a car to our apartment.  It was hot – probably 30+ degrees.

Once we arrived at the place we were staying, we found it was a large square plaza with some nice gardens in the center.  Of course our apartment was on the opposite side to where we jumped out of the taxi but we figured it out and dropped our gear off.

It was about mid day so we figured we would go for a walk and grab some lunch.  We had a few different walks planned out and 1 of them – ‘The Old Town’ walk was not far from where we were staying.


Our 1st look at the streets of Paris.

A painted facade on a building in old town Paris.

Following a tourist map that we had marked out the walk on we spent about an hour taking photos and exploring the various streets.  Along the way we stopped in a Crepe shop for lunch and all indulged in our first of many crepes – Mmmm very nice.


Hotel De Ville

The path we went on did a large loop and bought us out back near the Seine River which runs through Paris.  Just across the bridge was Notre Dame so we continued over to have a look.


Notre Dame.

Along the side of Notre Dame.

There were people everywhere.  It was so busy, the line to go inside stretched from the main door right back across the large public area in front of the building.  We spent some checking it out from the outside then continued exploring the other side of the river.

Following the tourist map we walked further into what is called the Latin Quarter.  Here we found the Pantheon.  It was once a church but is now like a large tomb.  We decided to not go in, so we had a rest on the steps for a while then continued on.


The Pantheon.

We walked around the Latin Quarter a little more and got an idea of the size of the city beginning to nut out how long each of the walks and other things we had planned would take.

We had filled in the afternoon comfortably by now and it was getting towards dinner time.  We were making our way back to our area of the city, looking for a place to eat at on the way.  We ended up coming across a small street away from the main shopping area we had just walked through which had a number of street cafe’s, bars and restaurants.

It looked very busy, with lots of people dinning and street entertaining etc.  We walked down and browsed a few menu’s looking for some traditional French cuisine.  Most places had set menus, so we picked a good looking option and pulled up a table.  We all made our choice of food for dinner and sat back enjoying the entertainment around us.  Ever keen to sample the local cuisine Shaun could not resist ‘Escarogt’ snails – and was not disappointed.  All finishing off with Crème Brulee for desert – except Neil, he had the usual ice cream.


Shaun’s Escargot.

After an early start and a full day of walking around – it was home to the apartment after dinner for an early one.