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Paris, October 2006

Paris, October 2006 |

A friend, Antonia, and I combined my culturing and her visiting a sister into a Paris sightseeing extravaganza.

We caught the Eurostar early on Saturday morning and after dropping our bags at Nathalie’s (Antonia’s sister) apartment hit the Paris streets and headed up Montmartre to see the Sacre Coeur church, the amazing view of Paris, and the surrounding markets and street artists. We then came down from Montmartre physically and in taste as we hit the infamous Boulevard de Clichy - the red light district of Paris and home of the Moulin Rouge.

Not to be too distracted we continued the tour, walking past Galeries Lafayette and Primtemps, the impressive Opera, St Augustin, and a pantheon-esque La Madeleine.

On the way home we detoured through Place Vendome complete with the Ritz and a big green column capped with Napoleon dressed as Caesar.

Still on our detour home we came across the Palais Royal - funnily enough, an old royal palace with an impressive garden and random black and white pillars. Nearby was an area called Jardin des Halles which contained another church, St Eustache, and further on, the Fontaine des Innocents.

We attempted to go to the Centre Pompidou, but unfortunately it had started raining and the terrace was closed. It poured down on our way to dinner at Le Tambour later that evening, but luckily the rain had passed by the time we arrived at the Eiffel Tower and caught a cruise down the Seine.

We kicked off Sunday with our standard crepes and a trip to the Louvre. We soon agreed with its claim to be the biggest museum in the world after struggling to gain our bearings in the Egyptian exhibit (not quite what I was after having seen the country itself!). There were some impressive art works on display from classic paintings such as the Mona Lisa to sculptures such as Venus di Milo. The 16th century French/Italian sculptures and Napoleon’s apartments were other favourites.

We then ambled down the Tuileries Gardens passed numerous fountains and statues towards The Orangerie, home to eight of Monet‘s Water Lilies, and a few other names I recognised such as Matisse, Cezanne, Modigliani, Renoir, and Picasso.

We then walked along the Quai des Tulieries and Quai du Louvre towards the Notre Dame on Ile de la Cite. The Notre Dame was one of my favourites probably due to the classic novel and numerous gargoyles watching from its ancient roof. I’m pleased to say that it lived up to all expectations - inside and out. We continued on to the Ile St Louis and sustenance in the form of Berthillon ice cream - which is apparently the thing to do there.

There was no stopping that evening, and after an ill-timed attempt to go up the Eiffel Tower at dusk we instead opted for a quick walk up the Champs-Elysees to the Arc de Triomphe and to our cabaret show at the Lido - after a quick stop at McD’s (I know, but we only had half an hour…and they sell beer!).

I didn’t quite know what to expect from the cabaret show. It turned out to be one of the best shows I have ever seen. If you’re planning on going, skip to the next paragraph, as the surprise of the variety of acts was half the experience. The sets were amazing - things flying around the ceiling, an ice skating rink, a pyramid, and fountains; the dancers, including a dressage horse, trapeze contortionist, strong man, mime, and of course the perfect feather clad topless dancing girls!

A quiet walk back towards Concorde was required to collect ourselves after the amazing show.

Thankfully we still had Monday to finish off a few more sights. First stop was the St Chapelle church - the most amazing stained glass windows/walls I have ever seen. We then climbed the Notre Dame to enjoy the view of Paris with the bells and gargoyles.

We wandered around the St Germain area for a while and managed a fleeting visit to the Jardins du Luxembourg.

As well as its history, Paris is, of course, also known for its fashion. Being one for a well rounded Paris experience, and being Paris fashion week, I was very excited to be invited to Nathalie’s fashion show for Sharon Wauchob at the Sorbonne. It was an excellent show and probably the closest I will ever come to be fashionable.

We eventually made our way up to the top of the Eiffel Tower for an amazing view of Paris. By this stage we were flaking and after a lame shopping attempt it was time for dinner at Café Baci to celebrate Nathalie’s show.

A proud effort for a three day trip. Thanks to Antonia’s French, Paris is one of my favourite cities to date.

Many thanks to Antonia, and Nathalie for a fantastic long weekend.

Locations Visited: London, Paris, London

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