Paris 2012

St Michel from Pont Neuf

Last week, we once again enjoyed what has become our annual trip to Paris. Like the UK, it seems that northern France has been suffering somewhat of a lack of summer weather, so we were braced for a damp visit, but as it turned out we were pretty lucky.

Day 1 – Tuesday 10th July

Left home about 06.45, heading for the “Meet & Greet” car parking facility at Terminal 3. We used a service of that name on our trip to La Palma in January (leaving from T2) and were quite pleased, but this time the arrangement was a lot less not impressive. At T3, it’s not really a meet-and-greet service at all: you have to drive into the multistory car park and make your way to the reserved area, park your car and then go to their “reception” to hand over your keys; which sounds OK, until you have to wait several minutes at the barrier before being let into the reserved area, then find it jammed full and poorly signed, then wait to be served at the reception.

T3 check-in was pretty tedious, too: the do-it-yourself machine failed and the queue for the baggage drop was slow; and I’ve decided I don’t like T3 anyway — it’s too small and poky!

Things improved though, with a prompt takeoff at 9.30 and the usual pleasant Air France service. We touched down at CDG 11.40 local, with the inevitable 13 minutes taxiing, followed by endless walking to passport control and baggage claim, then to train station. After an uneventful train journey, we finally reached hotel 14.10!

Much-needed beer and pleasant lunch at Le Depart. Passed the rest of the afternoon with a bit of a wander round and a snooze.

Tea at Le Clou de Paris, rue Danton, just near the hotel: egg mayo for JL, artichoke salad for me, a bit uninspiring; both had magret de canard for mains — OK-ish; decided not risk puddings here! I have concluded eateries in this area are economy class: must try and remember not to eat around here again! Coffee and cognac at the Bar, Brasserie of Hotel Notre-Dame, on the corner opposite Petit Pont, made me feel better; and crepes from a place just around the corner gave a nice finish to the evening.

Day 2 – Wednesday

Breakfast as usual at Le Depart.

Decided to explore a bit to the east of the Latin Quarter.

Up B. St Michel and past the Sorbonne, to approach the Panthéon along R. Soufflot; admired the building from outside, but declined to pay €9 to enter. Chose instead to explore the church of St Etienne-du-Mont nearby — fascinating interior, including some nice stained glass: the Pantheon is dedicated to Ste Genevieve, but she’s actually buried in the crypt of St Etienne, so we got a good deal!

Checked out a piece of the 12th Century city wall in R. Clovis; then along R Descartes to Place de la Contrescarpe for coffee.

On down the cobbled R. Mouffetard towards the church of St Medard. The final part of this street has a delicious-looking selection of shops: cheese, wine, seafood, fruit, pate, foie gras — you name it!

Next, to the Paris Mosque, which was unfortunately just closing for the lunch period, so we manage only a quick glance into the courtyard.

Then on through the Jardin des Plantes, with its natural history museums and zoo, and so down to the river.

Towards home along Quai St Bernard, taking in the slightly scruffy exhibits of the Musee de Sculpture en Plein Air, then across Pont La Tournelle to Ile St Louis and over the bridge to Ile de la Cite, and to the cafe Esméralda for a late lunch.

Afternoon snooze and doss around

Evening aperitif at le Depart. Evening meal at Le Bar a Huitres on R St Jaques: expensive, but very nice; the menu was presented to us on iPads!

 

Day 3 – Thursday

Decided to take to open-top buses for the day — we haven’t done that since our first visit to Paris, and it is a good way to get around a few sights, and generally take in the city. Chose L’Open Tour service, which is not exactly cheap, but does cover just about everything

Crossing Pont Alexandre III

From Notre Dame via the left bank to Place de la Concorde, then up Champs Élysées. Hopped off halfway and walked up to Arc de Triophe, with a stop for coffee along the way. Bought butties for lunch at M&S! Back on the bus to Trocadéro and down to the Eiffel Tower, where for once we didn’t stop (we seem to pay homage there almost every year, though only ever went op once). On past École Militaire, round Les Invalides, across Pont Alexandre III, and eventually to Ste Marie Madelaine, where we transferred to the L’Open Tour yellow route to Montmartre.

Funicular railway up to Sacre Coeur, where we ate our butties sitting on the steps; to Place du Tertre for beer; then back down to B. de Rochechouart to rejoin the bus. Onward via Gare du Nord, Gare de l’Est, Place de la Republique, past Folies Bergère and back to Opéra. Here we swapped back to the Green Line for return home via the Louvre.

At this point the rain set in in earnest, and we just got back to the hotel in time to avoided a soaking.

Wet evening, with excellent meal at Brasserie de L’Isle Saint-Louis

 

Day 4 – Friday

Time to go home already?!

We had an aiport shuttle booked for 12:15, so by the time we had packed our bags and paid the bill, there was time only for a final bit of a wander and a last coffee, at Café Panis just across from Notre Dame.

Although it meant leaving rather early for our 15:50 flight, the shuttle (which we have never used before) was a good idea; probably do this again.

Flight home all OK, aside from having my multitool confiscated at the airport security check — guess I should have known not to have it in hand baggage.

 

Conclusion

Well, of course we had a nice time — we wouldn’t keep going back year after year if we weren’t hooked on the place. What more to say? — only better weather could have made it more enjoyable, and there’s no way to control that.

The full set of snaps is in this google album

 

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