Thursday, April 18, 2013

Caro's Big Adventure: A Week in Paris

What can one say about a week spent in the most romantic city in the world? *sigh*

I was very glad to have so much time in Paris this time, as I managed to do various standard touristy things, but also had time just to hang out, which was great.

After my first night in the city (an evening at the Moulin Rouge, and staying in the luxurious Radisson Blu Ambassador Hotel near the Paris Opera), I moved to my 'other' hotel, which would be my home for the rest of the week.

The Hotel du College de France, (Website here) on rue Thenard, in between the Boulevard Saint-Germain and rue des Ecoles, was obviously not the Radisson, but I actually enjoyed it much more. It was a smallish hotel, with six floors, with 3-5 rooms on each floor. I asked to book one of their superior rooms with balcony, but that was only available for the last four days of my stay, so for the first two nights, I was in a regular room, which was still ok, and comfortable enough. But my other room, when I moved into it, was not only much larger, it was on the top floor, and had a balcony that overlooked the rooftops of Paris, and even had a bit of a view of the Eiffel Tower in the distance. The bathroom also had a great, deep, bathtub ( as did my first room), but also a bidet! Being the first time having this kind of amenity, I did a quick Google, to figure out how to use it, and by the end of my stay felt I was getting the hang of it.

The staff there were all lovely. M. Sadr, the receptionist, was lovely, and helped me with advice on the best ways to see Paris (eg that Paris L'Opentours -with the green buses-was a much better option of 'hop-on, hop-off' bus, than the CarsRouges-with the red buses; and that the Batobus was a bit overrated, and if I wanted to see sights from the river, I should just book a river cruise/tour). He also helped me to book an experience of the Eiffel Tower one evening, which involved being picked up from the hotel by a driver, conveyed to the Eiffel Tower for dinner in the restaurant, then a river cruise, and driven back to the hotel. Despite the rain, and the rowdy school group on the cruise, that was a lovely evening, and a great experience.

When I was out and about on the green buses, I saw a poster for a concert, 'Gospel Dream', on the Friday night at the church of Saint-Germain des Pres, and managed to get online to book a ticket through fnac (France's version of Ticketmaster etc), and M. Sadr printed it out for me. The concert was great; a group of nine women and four men, all black, singing a great repertoire of gospel songs and spirituals (and a rousing rendition of N'Kosi Sikelele Afrika :-) I bought some of their CDs, so will look forward to enjoying their music for a long time to come.

I also paid a return visit to Sacre Coeur and Montmartre, and enjoyed sitting quietly in the church for a longish time, after spending some Euros in the gift shop (which was closed when I was there on my last visit to Paris). But this time no entertaining adventures with street artists, but that was ok.

I decided not to go inside Notre Dame (or Sainte Chappelle- sorry Heather McK!), but the queues were too much to contemplate, and I did enjoy the inside of a few churches in Paris: Eglise Saint- Germain des Pres, Sacre Coeur and Saint-Severin, which was on the way back to my hotel from the bus stop near Notre Dame. All very old and beautiful inside, and I don't know that Notre Dame could really have added any more (apart from bragging rights that I'd been there). I also chose to enjoy the Louvre and Musee D'Orsay from the outside too. Maybe I'll go inside on another visit - gives me a reason to go back (as if I needed it!)

But I really did love just riding around the different parts of Paris on the tourist buses, which had informative commentary, and it was just great to be able to soak up the atmosphere on the second (and sometimes third) time round some of the places.

I had an interesting conversation with a homeless man at a bus stop in the city. I was waiting for a bus, and he engaged me in conversation, but when I explained that I couldn't understand him because I don't speak very good French, and that I was Australian, he got very excited. "Australien?! Kangarooooo!!"  I think I upset him when I said, "oui. Kangaroo. Et kangaroo c'est bon manger! Myam, myam!" (and made eating gestures). 

He was mortified. "Non!!"
"Oui!" I smiled back at him. Then my bus came, so I had to leave. ;-)

I met many interesting people around the town, and just loved it. So glad I spent more time there this time round, and am already looking forward to my next visit.

Here is a link to some photos that I took around Paris during that time.


Di said...

Have been working my way through your trip a couple of days at a time, what a great adventure. Now just think, if you'd taken me along as your personal valet I could've helped you up and down those cobbled streets, carried your bags when you were getting weary, lugged all those bottles of Bourdeaux etc etc around to leave you free to just take in the sights!! Ah well, next time.

Caro said...

Pity I didn't think of that, Di. Maybe next time ;-)

Patty said...

are you still in Paris - hiding out maybe?