Friday, 25 January 2013

Snowy Paris


Our trip started off with a bang! Due to heavy snow in Cheltenham, there were no taxis running, so from 5:10-5:50am we RAN in snow and ice in the dark to Cheltenham to catch train only to have it pass our house in CK and stop at the bus stop 5 minutes from our house. Lesson no. 1 take the bus from Charlton Kings!! Once in London we took a taxi from Victoria coach station to St Pancreas International terminal. 20 min 20£ but it was so EASY.

Trains were running late due to snow, so while we waited we bought a 3 day metro pass in the Eurostar ticket office which was great and a bargain at 22 €. We went everywhere on it, and it is good for RER, bus, and Metro, We also invested in an Oyster (travel) card for travel on the tube when we get back to London on Tuesday.  The  Eurostar left 45 min late and did not travel as quickly as normal, so we arrived in Paris at the Hotel Parisiana around 4pm local time. Hotel was just ok, won't stay there again or recommend it to others. It was convenient to a metro and breakfast croissant, coffee and fruit, was good, but that's really all it had going for it IMHO.

We needed a walk after all the sitting, so towards the Seine we went, and walked around making our way across a bridge to Notre Dame and saw the nativity crèche, which was a very detailed scene during Vespers service. 

Walked across bridge to the Rive Gauche and had dinner in St. Germaine at Le Relais de l'Entrecote a after a 45 min wait outside in the cold!! Totally worth it. Steak with green peppercorn sauce, and frites, all you can eat. That is all that's on the menu, and it is fantastic. The waitress asks how you like your steak, and what we would like to drink. Red wine, of course! For dessert we had ice creams caramel, toffee, delicious!
We walked around a bit soaking in the atmosphere, and came home on metro, after a very long day.







Sunday: Musee d'Orsay

After breakfast in the hotel, croissant and coffee, we took the metro to Museè d'Orsay and spent the morning there. We saw the amazing collection. It is not a big museum, but we took our  time and saw quite a bit of it. We had lunch in the museum cafe, designed by the Campana brothers.
very nice and the food was delicious.
Clock in Cafe Campana

 It was after 3pm when we left there. The snow was beautiful and we thought it would be neat to see the Eifel tower in the snow. A short walk and we were there snapping picture after picture, we took lots of photos.

Hotel des Invalides

Walked under the tower and took some photos of the Hotel de les Invalides and stopped in an Irish pub for refreshments.
It was the Polidor for dinner, an old Hemingway haunt also in the movie Midnight in Paris. Recommended by s friends daughter, a student who spent 2 semesters studying in Paris. After dinner we stopped at Cafe de Flores for a night cap, walked around this arrondissement and stumbled upon the Sorbonne and a beautiful church.



Monday: Le Louvre


After breakfast, we went to the Louvre and spent several hours there, mostly in the ancient art sections of the Denon and Sully wings. The Charles Vth palace rooms built in 1360 were very impressive and were a striking contrast to the sarcophagi and other antiquities housed in them.

Arc de Triumph

Pont Alexandra

Pont Alexandra
Petite Palace

We didn't leave there until 4pm and wanted to find somewhere to watch coverage of the inauguration. We thought Harry's American Bar would be the place. Cool bar, with American college banners (the Ivy League schools were represented as were Clemson, Oklahoma, Wake Forest, Texas AM, and UM) hanging throughout. Boxing gloves hang over the bar, a nod to Earnest Hemingway, but no TV. Normally, no TV in a bar is a good sign, but today we really wanted to see one. Harry's is famous for having invented the Bloody Mary so we had to try one, very good. The bar itself is very "old Paris", the bartender was an older gentleman in a white coat and spoke formally. After a drink there, we picked up some macaroons and headed back to the hotel to watch the inauguration. We got there just in time to see the benediction and then the actual swearing in (translated into French!)

Dinner was mussels and frites at Leon de Bruxelles in L'Opera. Saw L'Opera at night lit up, tres jolie!

Tuesday: Monmartre

Moulin Rouge
We had a few hours before our train was to leave so we tried a Discover Walking Tour. These are free walking tours given in English.  You pay what you think it is worth. Tours last between 1 and 1 1/2 hours. We did the tour of Monmartre with Flora and she was excellent. She started the tour at the Moulin Rouge and ended at Sacre Coeur. We saw things you would probably miss otherwise. For example, we saw the Bateaux Lavoret which translates to washing boat. This was an artist studio, and Picasso painted  "Les Demoiselles d'Avignon" there which was the first cubism painting. He was inspired by African masks that Matisse brought back from a trip.

I would recommend these tours and look forward to doing one on our next trip as they operate in many European cities.

Train trip from Paris to London was uneventful and ran smoothly.
From St Pancreas, we took the underground from Kings Cross to Victoria and walked to the coach station. Also very easy and it was rush hour! It snowed hard all the way home, but we made it home by 9pm to MORE snow