Preface: although we are back home we ...

Trip Start Jul 27, 2000
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Trip End Aug 17, 2000


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Flag of France  ,
Sunday, August 13, 2000

Preface:

Although we are back home we didn't have a chance to add our Paris entry while we were there. So here it is... our Paris and Normandie entry ... The last destination

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-- Paris, Oui, Oui!

In the late morning, with 3 days left in Europe, we arrived in Paris on the TGV. We had reserved a room in a relatively inexpensive hotel, spitting distance from the Louvre, all we had to do now was find it. Dripping with sweat, backpacks digging creases into our battered shoulders, we stumble our way through the maze of the incredibly efficient yet disgustingly smelly Paris metro lines to finally find our final place of rest ( for the trip at least ).

Without wasting much time, determined to see a short list of sights we had set aside for that day, we took a few precious minutes to catch our breath, washed up and assaulted Paris' dizzying array of sights.

Champs Ellise... Check!
The Louvre... Check!
The Arc de Triomphe... Check!
The Eiffel tower... Check!

The postcard picturesque sights of Paris are always fun to see in person. A gigantic metal monstrosity, the Eiffel tower with it's swarms of tourists buzzing around and Napolean's monument to victorious battles during his time of conquests, the Arc de Triomphe located in the middle of one of the worse traffic circles in Europe are always worth a visit no matter how many times they have been seen, either in postcards or in person.

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The wine... check,
The bed... check,
The sleep... check....

... Content with our successful trek through Paris, it was all we could take in for the day, besides, we had to get to sleep to get ready for tomorrows day trip to Normandie!

-- Normandie

The last day trip... Having missed the concentration camps in Poland we were determined to go north to the beaches of Normandie and visit some authentic WW2 sites. If you've seen Saving Private Ryan, then you know what happened on these beaches. Although hordes of sun starved tourists swim in these beaches now, on June 6th 1944 the Allies of WW2 invaded the beach in a bloody assault which would secure a foot hold in northern France and eventually feed enough troops into Europe to free it from it's oppressors, the Nazis.

The coast line is extremely long, almost stretching from end to end of northern France. The quickest and easiest way to see all of the beaches in one day seemed to be to take a tour, this time I would hold on tightly to the tickets though :) ... A short train ride to Bayeux, a tiny little town in Normandie, and we were off to the beaches in our tour guide's mini-van.

Canadian, US and English flags hung from almost every street in the little towns which run the coast. It's almost impossible to forget all of the history which happened here just a short 55 years ago. The many sites along the coast include German gun turrets, WW2 landing Museums, cemeteries, WW2 memorial stones, and of course, the DDAY beaches themselves. Our tour took us from end to end of the coast stopping at various sites. The attached pictures give you an idea of what we saw but it's hard to convey the solemn feeling while visiting the sites through pictures. It *really* makes you appreciate living in an era and area ( North America ) which is not in a major military conflict.

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Aside from WW2 attractions, Bayeux, and Normandie for that matter, doesn't offer very much to the tourist. The only other site worth visiting was a tapestry museum which showed some insight into the people of the early years here in Normandie. The Normands were the only people to ever have conquered England and they have recorded this event on a 200+ meter long tapestry which is 900 years old and on display in the city center. Rarely do our ancestors record history so well, the tattered cloth and sewing was a unique sight and worth the 5$ admission.

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Sun setting and ready for bed we caught the train back to Paris for our last day in Europe.

-- Last day

Wanting a nice breakfast we left our hotel with a street map and empty bellies. After 30 minutes of combing the streets of Paris looking for a cafe that served more than just... well.. coffee, we stumbled upon a nice looking cafe which served, among many other things, eggs... ( which is hard to find in Paris )

"2 coffees and 2 eggs please" we said in a starved groan

It wasn't until Julie found the Cafe in our "Let's Go Europe" guide book under the header "EXPENSIVE" that we got a little worried. Then the bill confirmed our suspicions.

The bill read...

2 OMLETTES
4 COFFEES
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200 Francs

"Ahhhhh" the quick math revealed a shocking 50$ breakfast... ouch!

-- Cemetery

With our delicious 25$ omelets in our bellies we set off to pay homage to Jim Morrison. The Pere Chaise cemetery is a massively gothic cemetery is a site by itself. The main attration though, for fans of course, is Jim Morrison's grave. Like in life, Jim is still buried in drugs and alcohol. His tombstoned was carefully decorated with a bong, a half lit joints, flowers and various other symbols of ... ummm... affection from devoted fans of the Doors.

The heat and the cemetery walk did it to us... we had finally started to run out of steam. It was time for drastic measures. Air conditioning, fine beers and a enough food to gorge yourself to death... a fine Parisian restaurant? No, McDonalds of course. Nothing recharges the batteries better than a little grease :) ...

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Wine, Cheese and Bagette in the setting Parisian sun completed our 18 day Euro-Jaunt...

1 Metro, 1 Train, 2 Airplanes, 1 taxi and we were home to laundry, stacks of mail, dozens of voice mails, hundreds of emails but one nice warm shower later none of that mattered...

Clean, tired and back home,
Luc and Julie
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