Paris, August 2003
Holiday started in time honoured fashion with me lying in bed and mocking Jason's desultory attempt at packing. I was good and packed the night before but Jason was naughty and stayed out late. My preparations were completed by the arrival of my bottle of Boudoir in the post. Joy.
Eurostar was ace although I had been really frightened beforehand. Not so much by the tunnel but by how fast the train was going to go once it reached France. Was all good however. Reached Paris and were greeted with a blast of sheer heat as we got off the train. Wandered about a bit looking for viable cash points and getting increasingly cross before getting the Metro to Saint Michel - the Parisian ecquivalent of Leicester Square. Nice.
The Paris Metro was to be a source of great bewilderment and anger over the next few days as we struggled to comprehend rudimentary sign posts and so forth. The trains seemed a lot more reliable on the whole than the London Underground but were considerably pikier to compensate.
Anyway, found hotel in
Leicester Square St Severin, luxuriated in air conditioning then sauntered forth to walk to Notre Dame then on to lunch near the Rue de Rivoli before walking to the Louvre which was lot larger than I remembered. Despite the intense heat we carried on and ended up taking the time honoured route from the Tuileries, across the Place de Concorde and down the Champs Elysees to the Arc de Triomphe. Via Sephora for more make up goodies of course.
Looking cross in the Louvre.
Looking jaundiced in the Louvre.
Jason has a weird fascination with going up tall buildings and went to the top of the Arc which I hoped might distract him from wanting to go up the Eiffel Tower which I think is incredibly tacky although it has to be said that it is incredibly photogenic and it is hard not to feel a bit excited when you come around a corner and see it there above you in the sky line.
Got up and had weirdy orange juice for breakfast before deciding that we wanted to be in Versailles and getting a train (by very circular means) to get there. Ended up in Saint Cyr and then in La Defense. It took us ages and ages to get to Versailles but at least we got there in the end. I was very strict with Jason and insisted we approach the chateau in the correct way so that none of the splendour was lost on him. I think he was suitably impressed by the state rooms - although he seemed a bit confused by how short Marie Antoinette's bed was. Went for a wander in the gardens and almost expired from heat and exhaustion. Got there in time for the fountains being switched on to the accompaniment of Vivaldi. Was a bit eerie to be honest.
Marie Antoinette's bedroom. Accidentally photoshopped.
Oh dear. I should have left it alone. Still, I bet Sofia Copolla would approve.
Got back to Paris - feeling a bit bedraggled and had showers and naps before going out for curry. Parisian curry houses are a bit thin on the ground but the couple that we did find were rather more opulent than their British counterparts with silk chair covers and so on. The curry was delectable however although my muttar paneer tasted like it was made with Dairylea. Odd.
The Salle de Paix at Versailles.
Finished off with a walk around the Ile de Cite in the dark and admiring all the pretty lit up buildings and the armed guards around the palais de justice.
Jason wasn't too well so we woke up a bit late. Monday was supposed to be a bit of a quiet one as most museums are shut but there was still plenty to do. Went to Notre Dame first of all to light candles for baby then off to Les Halles to do some shopping - found another Sephora where I acquired a BeneFit 'Kitten goes to Paris' powder thing as a special souvenir and Urban Decay 'big bang' lip gloss. Dragged Jason around FNAC - another of my favourite shops which is a bit like Borders. Except French.
Looking moody at a Metro station.
Bought some art nouveau advertising prints for our future house from quayside vendors then went off to look at the Sainte Chapelle, which was every bit as gorgeous as it is reputed to be. I don't think I have ever seen anything quite so beautiful in all my life especially when we went up the stairs to the upper chapel to be confronted with high stained glass windows and so much vivid colour and gilt. Lingered as long as we could although it was hard to settle anywhere because of the overwhelming heat. Got a good look at the Cour de Mai where the Tumbrils started their journey to the guillotine and then walked to the Louvre where it was late opening night.
Seeing the Louvre collection late in the day turned out to be a really good idea - the galleries were nearly empty and we managed to see virtually everything although my personal favourite the Cour de Marly was closed that night. Jason was distinctly unimpressed by the Mona Lisa which is to be expected as it is not best but we both enjoyed seeing the remains of the Mediaeval Louvre's walls which were really really impressive and actually quite enormous.
By this time we were wilting with heat and a surfeit of culture so it was back to the hotel for showers and then off out for weird pizza with strange vegetables on top. Mmm.
The Pantheon. I was having a miscarriage so was looking understandably gloomy.
Last day so we packed up our belongings and went off for a last wander around the Left Bank. Found a few comic shops and then the Pantheon where we wandered around the crypt, looked at the tombs of famous dead French people and worried about the bits falling off the ceiling. Time got a bit tight so it was back off to the Gare de Nord and back on to the Eurostar for the trip back which was an adventure in itself what with broken mechanisms, an unscheduled stop in Lille of all places, transference on to a train with scary Flemish types and then an achingly slow trip back through the Oast House strewn Kent countryside with extra unscheduled stops on the way and extra whining from me for good measure...
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