A Short Train Ride To Paris!
Trip Start Jun 08, 2005
68Trip End Ongoing
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Luckily for me I stayed with local French friends who introduced me to the true Parisian life style. I soon slipped in to the accepted kiss on the cheek greetings (abit different from New Zealand culture), we lounged in café's, sat on deck chairs in the central gardens and roamed historical streets. Paris is seeped in tradition, with squat toilets still in some of the older cafes, ice cream and sorbet on sale, steps into the metro (not the usual escalators) and most food being prepared from scratch without preservatives and supplied from specialist stores or markets. In one of the metro stations, one of the few escalators was actually wooden, not metal, never in my life had I seen a wooden escalator
The hospitality I received in Paris was outstanding, thanks to Charlotte and Xavier, Fleur, Julia and Julian (all local Parisians). I stayed in Xavier's bed sit apartment on the outskirts of central Paris. The Eiffel tower was in view from the front window, putting on a shimmering light show for 10 minutes on the hour, every hour, at night. Each morning I would get up and go to the Patisserie at street level to get breakfast which would make all sorts of beautifully presented goods, momentarily I would feel guilty about eating each miniature work of art, however it never stopped me from eating more than my fair share of delectable goods, each one would taste as good as it looked. I love to walk, explore and watch local life in cities though so I am hoping that I still burnt more calories than I consumed.... I am not convinced that was the case though!
On Sunday morning I crawled out of bed to find the local market in full swing - wine, cheese, fish, meat and fruit - all immaculately presented on their little stalls. Even the grapes on sale were presented in colour coordinated fashion with pride. It was lovely, local people going about their leisurely Sunday routine
Xavier (Charlotte's boyfriend) took me on a tour of the city on his Vesper! His tour included all of the major features of Paris and a trip to the fire station (Xavier is a fire fighter); something a little different from the normal tourist route and it was great. I loved having a small insight into something abit different.
A picnic one evening beneath the Eiffel tower, complete with red wine, baguettes and a huge variety of Cheeses proved to be lovely. The atmosphere was fantastic with so many other people also out enjoying their own picnic, music and the tower itself. It's a must do if you're in Paris, a really lovely experience! One old wino did attempt to steel our wine though, apparently using plenty of French expletives directed at Charlotte and Fleur when they wouldn't hand over the wine... funny that!
I relaxed with a coffee at the café where the film 'Amilie' was made, one of my all time favourite films. The café is exactly as it was in the film. Lunch at the café proved interesting as I ate raw beef for the first time in my life! Recommended by Charlotte the thin slithers of raw beef covered with olive oil and a sprinkle of black pepper proved to be really nice..
There are plenty of lovely parks and gardens in Paris Jardin du Luxembourg (really posh) and around Lac Daumesnil are both very different but beautiful and have lovely atmospheres. It's also worth taking the time to explore the Seine at great length to see Notre Dame and all of the fantastic bridges.
For a change from the routine Paris sights the Mosquee de Paris is worth visiting for a mint tea, some delectable Moroccan cuisine and a Shisha, only you need to watch out for the birds because they poo everywhere (on my bag, on my head, on the table... you get the picture)! The mosquee is beautiful, a tiny version of the great Mosque in Casablanca but without the sea side vantage.
I did get to a few of the major sites but they weren't on the top of my agenda - I saw the Mona Lisa at the Lourve and crawled to the top of the towers at Notre Dame. In many respects the people and the less elaborate things were far more memorable.