Thursday, 13 June 2013

Happy in... Paris. Part Two.

Okay, it's time for a format change for this second part: I've made the photos bigger! Blogging has been an adventure into making photographs 'work' on the web. I don't think the Photoshop frames do much to show the details in the photographs, so back to big images, albeit with big white gaps between.

We hopped on the Metro across to Champs Elysees and took standard tourist photos of the Arc de Triomphe. Unless you're there at an unusually quiet moment, you're basically going to have to risk your life jumping into traffic or end up at a distance away with lots of cars stealing the spotlight). We did spot a bride who didn't seem to be put off by the angry drivers as she braved it into the middle of the road to pose. We then headed down the crowded Champs Elysees at a pace. If I'm honest, I was disappointed. It didn't have any of the sophisticated glamour I'd imagined and we were shoulder to shoulder with aggressive tourists. We were conscious of time and so didn't stop to admire any of the shops but, in my mind, this just means that there's a return visit on the cards! I'm sure if we pick our time of day/ year right, I'd have a different experience.
Saturday evening we had a 10pm dinner reservation at a restaurant in Saint Germain, Le Petit Zinc. We'd manage to book this earlier in the day and it was the last available table in the restaurant. I don't think I've ever had a 10pm dinner reservation! It was great because we didn't have to rush our day and had plenty of time to head back to the hotel and get ready with some vino. The meal at Le Petit Zinc was great and the service was perfect. I had my first snail, followed by duck a l'orange and the most delicious crème brûlée I've ever tasted.
The next morning we packed and then headed out towards Le Marais and wandered through the quiet cobbled streets. It was a beautiful dry Autumn day and leaves on the trees were the most gorgeous shades of orange. We stumbled upon a market, Marché des Enfants Rouges, which I later found out was one of Paris' oldest markets, and ordered huge sweet crepes. We stopped for a bit of cafe culture and people watching; ordered cream filled chocolate eclairs from a patisserie; hired bikes and cycled through a couple of streets before realising we were feeling dangerously unbalanced on them in the busy traffic and returning them; ate even more sweet treats; and visited a squat with resident artists and bought an original painting to remind us of our trip to Paris.

After our morning of food indulgence and wobbly cycling, we walked through Le Louvre. Unfortunately, we didn't have time to go inside and explore; another good reason for a return visit. We did spend a good amount of time in the grounds and nearby gardens, though. The sun was still shining as we walked through les Jardin des Tuileries. Groups of people were sat out with picnics and wine, and children were playing with little wooden sail boats in the fountains. There had also been an art and design festival and sculpture installations dotted around so we made sure we got a good look at those that we passed. We stopped for a quick drink at a cafe and paid 8 Euros for an Orangina!

We had pre-booked tickets to go to the top of the Eiffel Tower and so we headed to the nearest Metro and made our way to Paris' most famous structure. It was a good job we'd booked ahead. The queues were massive and people appeared to have been waiting for hours to buy their tickets. A definite top tip if you're going to make a visit. The views from the top of the Eiffel Tower were amazing. The journey to the top is in two stages: First, take a lift up the 'leg' to the primary viewing platform. Next, queue for one of four much smaller lifts that will take you straight up to the top viewing platform where you can pay a silly sum of money for a glass of bubbly. If you can afford to dine at the restaurant, brilliant; you're going to get your very own lift straight up to the top. If not, well, be prepared to wait a while for your turn in the lift. So we waited and on the top viewing platform, champagne in hand, we watched the sun set over Paris. As we walked away to catch a Metro back to the hotel, pick up our luggage and head to the airport for our return flight, the Eiffel Tower lit up and sparkled away at us. Absolutely perfect way to end our stay in Paris!

I really enjoyed our weekend in Paris. Time went quickly and I felt there was so much more left to see. I hope to make a return trip to Paris and take more time to get right into the cafe culture, eat more macrons and explore new places.

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