Paris and France

Paris – the last day :(

This morning was quite sombre;  rain last night and grey, cloudy skies added to the end-of-a-great-holiday feeling. 

After breakfast, we wandered over for a look at the Place des Vosges just as Dominique Strauss Kahn arrived back from the USA, so it was a riot of television cameras and paparazzi. 

Came back to check out of the hotel and had a quick last coffee in Le Grizzli. 

We say au revoir (not adieu) to Le Grizzli

Headed off to the Gare de Lyon to meet Neil off the TGV from Geneva.  Decided to have a final lunch before going our separate ways – Margaret back home to Scotland, us to La Rochelle on the Atlantic coast.  

Le Train Bleu (the name of the train from Paris to the Cote d’Azur) is a famous restaurant situated above the platforms in the station.  It’s a wondrous piece of French, completely over the top, bonkersville Belle Epoque fabulousness.  We had a superb lunch of a warm smoked salmon terrine with fennel, cucumber & chives – Neil chose the pistachio sausage baked in a brioche. And of course we had a healthy amount of decent rosé wine.The recurring theme throughout our Paris break has been ‘things can’t get any better’.  But they started off brilliantly and just kept getting better  – and the Le Train Bleu lunch topped off the whole experience.A big thanks to Neil for indulging Margaret and me – he  bravely gave us the choice of Le Train Bleu or the rather grim brasserie downstairs when he knew the havoc that could be wreaked with his sporran.  Havoc was duly wreaked, but he bore it well.

Margaret and I had a fantastic time.  Paris had on it’s best dress for our stay – even the Parisians seemed a lot less surly and obnoxious – we had only 2 Franco-Scottish international incidents over 4 days which must be a record :).

Sad to say goodbye but will definately do something similar next year – already looking forward to it.

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Paris – Day 2

A beautifully sunny day.  Not wanting to waste a minute, we met up at 8am for breakfast and decided to head off down the Seine to the Musee d’Orsay.  After overdosing on impressionists, furniture, glassware, dinner services and sculpture,  it all got too much so we detoured to the little cafe on the ground floor, where you sit with your coffee and muffin, surrounded by all this art.  It was fabulous.

We left just as it was getting really busy and walked through the Louvreto the Place de la Concorde, past the Hotel Crillon and up to the Place de l’Opera.  We were heading for lunch at the Galeries Lafayettewhere there’s a Bar a Bulles (champagne bar) on the first floor. We only went to appreciate the interior decor – nothing to do with champagne of course.

Lunch

Back to the hotel, via an ice cream at Alberto Gelati again, and back out at 7pm to get up to Sacre Coeur.  It was mobbed of course, as was the Place du Tertre, but we sat and had a glass of wine and people-watched.I had booked a table at L’Esterel, a little Montmartre restaurant that I used to go to. I don’t know who I booked a table with, because L’Esterel was no longer in existence.  Instead we found a tiny little place and had a decent meal at a reasonable price considering where we were.

We got a taxi back to the Marais, which was in full swing at midnight.  But we were knackered – we’d done a lot of walking and had absorbed a lot of art.   A brilliant day :).

Paris – Day 1

I’ve met up with my friend Margaret in Paris for 3 days.  We’re staying at the Hotel Andrea Rivoli in the Marais, right on the Rue de Rivoli but tucked up a quiet side street.  

This is a great little hotel – I’ve stayed here several times over the years.  I have a tiny room built around the old central staircase with a typical Parisian view:

At least I have a window…

For 82 euros a night, it’s fine.  We dumped the bags and went out for a glass of wine. 

Deux kirs svp jeune homme...

Following the sound of music, we arrived at the Pompidou Centre where a brass band was playing – not the old-fashioned sort of oompah brass band – this lot were playing Lady Gaga and dancing around at the same time. Then headed to Le Grizzli on the rue St Martin for dinner – duck breast with maple syrup and pear poached in red wine, followed by salted caramel ice cream from Alberto Gelati

Margaret and her French Duck

Spent the rest of the evening wandering around like a tourist  – over to the Hotel de Ville, Notre Dame and a bit of getting lost over on the left bank.  

I learned a lesson today though:  don’t try and drag 20kg 0f luggage through the metro in the middle of summer.  Not fun.