101 things about me

Monday, 5 December 2011

A taste of Paris...



With just 2 nights in Paris (and barely 3 days), we knew we would be unable to even brush the surface of all this magnificent city has to offer. We knew it would be impossible to do all that we wanted and that compromises would have to be made.

What we did not expect was to leave Paris having only visited ONE of our intended destinations. We did get to see a LOT of the Paris sites from the outside, but queues, closed days and even industrial action were barriers we had not anticipated.

We did not manage to get inside even one of the galleries we had wanted to visit, and given we had a list of at least three, we couldn't help but be disappointed. We made mistakes (which is clearer in hindsight of course) and a few of our decisions then had a domino effect, meaning we missed out on other options also.

But, let me assure you we still had a wonderful time. The Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame, The Musée D'Orsay, The Louvre, The Arc De Triomphe... we saw them all, if only from the outside. Thankfully they are all pretty amazing even on the outside, though of course it would have been nice to take a wander inside too! Que Sera, Sera. We were in PARIS!

We stayed in the Latin Quarter, within walking distance to the Musée du Luxembourg, a short bus trip into The Louvre and close to other attractions. Right next door to our hotel was an amazing patisserie and boulangerie. OMG. The camembert baguette we shared and the amaaaazing chocolate eclair alone were worth the trip across the English channel!!! Seriously, my mouth is just watering thinking about it!

So, you may ask, you didn't get to visit any of these attractions, what DID you see?

Well, we did (on the second attempt) manage to visit the Catacombs. It had been highly recommended, and we were determined to see it. We arrived on our second day, around 2:30 in the afternoon, to be met at the end of a lengthy queue, by a security officer who informed us that from that spot it would take us at least two hours to get in, and that they did not allow entry after 4pm. We were already too late.

We wandered away, disappointed at the latter end of a day of disappointments, and found a seat in a street side cafe and ordered hot chocolates (mouth is watering again!!!). It was nice to sit down and take a break. 

We watched the world go by and enjoyed the (stumbling) banter with the (very patient) waiter. We sat and watched as the skies darkened and the wind changed direction. Clouds gathered as distant thunder approached. And as the wind picked up and the thunder grew louder, the skies opened. It was torrential. It was unforgiving, and it was landing right on top of the queue of people waiting at The Catacombs. From our sheltered position, we thanked our stars that we were not with them, sipped our drinks whilst savouring our good fortune! 

We decided to return the next day, before our trip back to London, determined to see at least something on our 'must see' list. The next morning we arrived to find the queue was already long, though not too long to break our determination. As we were told it would take about 45 minutes to reach the entrance, and the skies were clear, we were committed. TWO hours later we finally started our descent into the Catacombs of Paris. 

The tunnels hold the remains of about 6 million people (removed from the centuries old Cemetery of the Innocents), which now line 1.5kms of old tunnels and mines of Paris. It opened in the late 18th century as a tourist attraction and is an incredible place to visit. I highly recommend it, as long as you aren't too squeamish or claustrophobic. And that you can manage the narrow spiral staircases that lead in and out at each end.

As for the sites we missed, who knows, we may, (one day) return... I could be convinced based on the hot chocolate and incredible chocolate eclairs alone.


Robyn said...

Just to be in a cafe in Paris sounds pretty good to me.
Lucky you ;)

Red Hen (dette) said...

Ah Paris!
I was so disappointed to find the musee d'orsay closed! It was on the top of my list.We did see the Louvre and the Centre Pompidou- that was well worth visiting! I think that every corner has a delightful partisserie because we had one on ours too! I don't think we had a bad meal anywhere in Paris. You are right just to be there was fantastic, I am already planning my return.

Luhlahh said...