Saturday, October 13, 2012


Took a 3 hour train from Brest to Paris, my cousin Elaine (lives in Brest) joined myself and my cousin Rosemary(who was flying in from Glasgow) for the first 3 days of our 5 day Paris stay. This was great not only to spend more time with her but she speaks fluent French and she was very helpful in getting us orientated to the city. I am amazed at how much French I can actually read - guess all that French in school was not wasted after all.

Once Elaine and I arrived in Paris we made our way through the subway system (with baggage) to our accommodation dropped our bags off and made our way to the Charles de Gaulle airport to meet Rosemary. The apartment we rented is in the 9th district of Paris - a one bedroom with a living room (pull out sofa bed) kitchen and bathroom on the sixth floor of an old walk up building - however it does have an elevator, well sort of, it fit my one big bag and myself!

Paris is the capital of France (and largest city) located in northern France on the Seine River. It is divided into 20 districts or arrondissements (if you visit paris and would like to walk the city you are best to stay in accommodation in districts 1-9 closer to the major attractions). 2.3 million people live in Paris and 12 million live in the metropolitan area - much less populated than the cities in China. Paris is one of the world's major global cities especially for business, arts and cultural. The weather has been mostly overcast, relatively mild but we have been rained on a couple of times.

The first day in Paris we walked for 10 hours - my cousins were exhausted from the Lorna version of touring a city! First stop below to pick up a few souvenir bobbles - just kidding!

The construction of the Paris opera house below was started in 1861 by Charles Garnier for Napoleon but was not completed until 1875 due to the discovery of a small lake underground. This small lake still exits today and was the hiding place of the 'Phantom of the Opera' in the famous play. The opera house costs 200 million euro to operate per year and 100 million of the comes from the French state. The house can seat 2200 people and presents 380 performances per year at a 94 percent sell out rate.

The Place de la Concorde is the largest public square in France (21 acres), it is located at the end of the Champs Élysées. Two enormous fountains are located here as well as one of the major interchanges for the metro system which opened in 1900. The metro system is fabulous and extremely easy to follow We have used the metro system extensively to explore the various areas of Paris. There is a whole other world under the city with miles and miles of subways (wear good walking shoes), shopping and music playing.


Of course I always manage to spot shoes when touring.

Next we headed to the Seine River to catch a 15 euro hop on off boat which included stops at 8 different sites - little did we know it would be dam near impossible to visit all the sites in one day.







First stop the Eiffel Tower built in 1889 for the universal exposition and was suppose to be dismantled after the exposition but this never happened and it has become the major landmark associated with Paris.



At night the tower is a glow with twinkling lights - adding to the ambulance of the most romantic city in the world

There are many bridges which connect the right and left banks of Paris. Under the Seine are a number of tunnels for traffic - it was one of the tunnels close to the eiffel tower Pont de l' Alma where princess Diana was killed in the accident.




Next stop the museum d' Orsay on the left bank which houses mainly French art from 1848 to 1915 (paintings, sculptures, furniture and photography). It was thrilling to see paintings of Monet and Van Gogh while lots of art students are sketching the 1800 clothing exhibits. The tiny waists the females had in those days - I think Hannah has a bigger waist at 2 years of age! I now realize where the Americans copied the bustle on clothing from, but somehow the French do it much better and much more dainty. I am certainly no art expert but I did learn a few things such as French impressionists paintings were much more about catching the details of the clothing, light, movement, experience and surroundings rather than the details of facial expressions (the clothing details are amazing but often the faces are expressionless). We spent two hours wandering the museum but to really appreciate the vastness of this collection one would need to spend days.

In Paris there are a number of gypsies wandering the streets looking for unsuspecting tourists to con. I cannot believe I almost was taken in by one as I was walking along a girl coming towards me bent down and picked something up - it was a gold ring. She looks at me and asks if the ring is gold and I say I do not know - she says the ring is too big for her and gives it to me as a souvenir of Paris. I was showing it to my cousins and then the girl asked me for money for the ring and I immediately remembered hearing about this con , handed her the ring and told her to go away. A while later we observed her doing the same con to another English tourist who we immediately informed of the con - the girl was not happy with us and actually swore at us in French - how unfriendly!

Off to Nortre Dame de Paris (Our Lady of Paris). Roman Catholic cathedral construction started in 1163.

Streets of Paris


Hotel d' Ville (city hall)

View from our accommodation



Believe it or not this post does not complete our first day of touring Paris but I think this enough for now . . . Stay tuned!

No comments:

Post a Comment