Friday, 11 July 2008

One day in Paris....

Despite having a long lie in and not leaving the campsite until 12pm we managed to cram a fair bit into our first day in Paris. Buying a travel card at Porte Malliot we hopped on the metro and then wandered past the Tuillery gardens and the Louvre to the Isle de la Cite. Crossing Pont Neuf, the oldest bridge, we made it to the very centre of Paris, an island in the Seine where this great city began in 300 BC.

Paris is full of parks so we stopped off in one to eat our lunch and watch the river traffic go by, before heading on towards Notre Dame, with its twin towers, three ornate doors and massive organ (which was in the process of being cleaned as we entered - the result sounded like the intro to a song by Crippled Black Phoenix).

After wandering through the Latin Quarter - clearly the place for cheap eats and outrageous view taxes on the drinks - we made it to the Luxembourg gardens, admiring first the exhibition of Le Figaro photos (that's photos from the magazine Le Figaro) on the railings outside. All beautiful, many moving and compelling. Inside the gardens the activity of choice was clearly playing with toy sailing boats in one of the fountains; it seemed like fantastic fun. Somebody had got really ambitious and had built a huge, stately, but slow, marine creation out of rubbish - the result was somewhere between a galleon and a junk that was quickly colonised by ducks while all the little ships whizzed about in the breeze.

A metro trip later and we were in Pigalle, the red light district, before mounting the hill to Montmatre to admire the view, watch the buskers, have a drink, play some backgammon (which never fails to attract curious comments) and check the menus. We eventually plumped for a Tibetan restaurant - partly out of curiosity, partly because, as usual, veggie options were thin on the ground. It was very nice and very filling.

Finally we ended up at Champ des Mars to see the most famous Parisian landmark of all, La Tour Eiffel. It was quite beautiful, all bathed in blue light, and quite staggeringly huge. Even though I'd seen it before not all that long ago, I was still taken aback by how massive it is. There's something about the thin top and the squat frame that makes it seem so out of perspective and yet so very THERE.

It had got quite late by now, so we headed back to bed.

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