Paris City Focus
After another border crossing from Switzerland to France and a long day driving (approx 8 hours driving not including 3 stops) we finally arrived in Paris to a traffic jam – welcome to Paris…!! This seems to be the norm here, perhaps too many cars for the city but everywhere you went you got stuck in traffic – classic example was on the way to Moulin Rouge, I’m not sure of the exact route/distance we took but shortest route is approx 7kms and this took us 1 ½ hours. I thought the French countryside was not dissimilar to New Zealand – riverside trees similar, flat open framing areas with either crops or stock and quite a few wineries.
On the menu tonight was another included dinner and this was our farewell dinner. Coming up were some typical french dishes including Escargot!!! Yay something I have been looking forward to trying and it was really nice, although it was smothered in garlic and parsley sauce. Also had Leg of duck and orange with potato rostii, cheeses and nougat icecream – YUM!!!
Then we took an ‘illumination drive’ around the city to see the lights – approx 75% or Paris is run by nuclear power, which the French are trying to change but at present this means there are lots of lights at night. Firstly we drove down the Champ des Elysses to the Arc de Triomphe then onto the Eiffel tower where each hour they make it “sparkle” which is a nice sight. We then drove back to the Hotel through the tunnel that Princess Diana was killed in (which is actually really short).
Following morning we embarked on a city tour and drove past the Notre Dame Cathedral which is built on an Island in the middle of the Seine River and onto the Eiffel Tower to make our way up to the 2nd floor. Which is still really high and offers a great 360 degree view of the city – all you can see is buildings in every direction as far as you can see (was a little overcast day). Then we took the 700 or so steps back down to the bottom. The Eiffel tower is painted every 7 years and uses 62 tonnes of paint.
One of the tours Alana and I wanted to do was to Montmarte and this was one that was cancelled so we decided to try out the Metro in Paris and get there ourselves. Once we found the metro station on Champ de Elysses we were fine. The metro itself is really easy, just like underground in London, however it was quite hard to ask for directions to the nearest Metro station (as they are not as obvious at underground stations) when you don’t speak the local language. Montmarte is a cute little artistic district on top of a hill, where we brought some paintings… We managed to navigate our way back to the Hotel eventually, after having another small problem – we got off the Metro at the obvious station of Bercy (as we were staying in Bercy), but didn’t have a map with us and got lost once again. It turns out Bercy station is actually quite a distance from Pullman Bercy…
Ok off to Moulin Rouge we go… Upon arrival we had dinner and drinks first which was included, until the show started at approx 9.00pm. What an amazing cabaret show!!! The costumes and choreography was great, however not intended for younger viewers as most of the women are topless (except for the costumes which rarely cover much). You were not allowed to take pictures in here, for obvious reasons, so brought the programme which explains the story and each act. Very well done and worth doing something iconic like this while in Paris.
While in Paris we also had some other traditional French food including crepes from a hot dog cart and these were very nice with chocolate (nutella) and banana EUR4.00 (approx NZD$7.00), also the pastries at breakfast were divine.
Another city that we really needed more time to explore, however would definitely recommend the metro as the traffic here makes things a little tough.