Thursday, 31 May 2012

Montmartre Stair by Stair

Up to Sacre Coeur

With some rain predicted in the coming days we decided to take advantage of the sunny day and go to Montmartre. This area has been portrayed in many paintings and movies. I should have been forewarned when the walking tour had a little note: “This walk includes many staircases and steep hills”. Understatement! Well, at least Paul’s way of doing it anyway – all PVB shortcuts in France and Netherlands involve stairs and/or hills.
I took the easy start with the funicular railway up to Sacre Coeur basilica while Paul took the stairs – of course he had to beat the train just to prove I should have climbed too.
I mentioned the basilica in the previous blog. After that we wandered through the cobblestoned streets looking at a few shops before getting to the artist’s market square. Paul kept pushing me to have a portrait done but I thought a caricature of the two of us would be more fun – it was hilarious. People stopped to laugh and make comments and the end product was pretty ugly – the artist said he would make me pretty and Paul ugly! If you are nice to us we might just show you.
Then lunch at a quiet little bistro just off the market square before more stairs and hills, past various buildings used in the film Amelie to the Montmartre cemetery where many famous philosophers, writers, republique-thought leaders, performers and other artists are buried. There was a funeral procession walking down the centre road as we sat in the shade. (Unlike other tourists, we showed our respect by not taking ‘happy’ snaps).
On to the Moulin Rouge with its long queue (at 1500 in the hot afternoon sun) and then a hot subway (more stairs) back to our B&B. 
In the evening, another walking tour from the Louvre to Rue Cler (cobblestoned tourist trap/historic arcade) then a walk in the rain by the Eiffel Tower before Batobus back to the Marais and a well-earned sleep in a blissfully cooler night.



Anything to be able to sit down!

Cute Wall Art

Paris Foot by Foot

Blog writing on the terrace

We have done many many walking ‘tours’ in the last couple of days and quite a bit of other meandering through the streets and lanes. Despite each of the last three days being up around 28-29oC we have resisted queueing for ice cream.
From the City Walks Architecture Paris cards and from Rick Steve’s Paris guide:
Bercy and Rive Gauche, Haussmannian Paris, Cinematic Montmartre, Jewish Paris, Medieval Paris 1 and 2, Latin Quarter and St Germain des Pres, and Marais.
We have walked through many of the arrondisements, including 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, and 18. We are based in 3. We have also occasionally caught the subway, buses, and the Batobus (boat bus).
Some of the highlights of the last couple of days:
·      catching glimpses of the Eiffel Tower and other landmarks down lanes, through windows, between trees
·      Printemps store and its spectacular domed restaurant, with rabbit and snail made of roses and also its rooftop lookout (with no stairs)
·      Galeries LaFayette with its amazing spice display and another great dome
·      Opera Garnier and the gorgeous art deco cafés around it
·      the ‘pomp’ of the service at the Notre Dame
·      listening to the nuns beautiful voices in Sacre Couer while looking at the amazing mosaics on the ceilings and walls
·      becoming a ‘sideshow’ at the Montmartre market while having our caricature drawn
·      returning to our stunning and cool B&B with its spacious room and even larger terrace garden
·      also, just looking at the shop window displays (much more inventive than ours), the artwork (and graffiti) on the buildings, and the wrought iron terraces filled with flowers.
Paul was cunning – the day we walked through St Germain was a public holiday so many of the shops and antique stores were closed. We did enjoy the Jardin du Luxembourg with the kids playing with little sailing boats on the pond.

Restaurant window display

Galeries La Fayette dome 
Galeries LaFayette spice hall
Someone asked where the Jackie shop
was after all the 'Pauls'

Printemps Rose Rabbit and Dome

Printemps Rose Snail

Small sailboats in Jardin du Luxembourg

Wall art

More wall art

Wednesday, 30 May 2012


I'm here at last!

Ah! Silly Jackie. Imagine setting the blog password as “hepromised12yrsago”!
It was my third attempt and, success, I’m in!
Jackie is far too much enjoying the Parisian c’est la vis and I am afraid to report that after 4 weeks of stellar performance, Jackie has yet to meet expectations on the KPIs (Key Paris Indicators). As a result, she will need to re-sit the ‘exam’ next year as even with 4 sleeps left we have not, and have no intention of seeing Versailles, Venus de Milo, Louvre, climbing the Eiffel Tower or the Arc de Triomphe, the 300 steps of the Sacre Couer basilica, dancing at the Moulin Rouge.
Our B&B recommended the market Aligre and the antiques at Carre Rive Gauche so being a loving husband in 30oC heat, we set off on a walking tour of the Left and Right Banks.

What the?!!! Time for a password change. Take time out for a nap and look what happens!
At breakfast on our 2nd day in Paris, our lovely B&B host Genevieve couldn’t believe how far Paul got me to walk – she thought maybe 8-10km! and in such heat!

We walked through the Jewish area to the Bastille and on to the markets. Then to the Bercy village where an old wine market area had been turned into shops and outdoor cafes. Back through the largest park in Paris following an architecture walk trail that was OFF THE MAP! After not being able to find a taxi, we walked back many more blocks along the Seine to the Batobus (boat bus in Jackie language).
After a well deserved ‘feet up’ we took the Batobus to the Eiffel Tower and back via the Notre Dame.
Here are some of the pics:

Hi Allison, Happy Birthday -
here is an "Allison" magasin next to a "Paul" cafe

Monday, 28 May 2012

Hot in the City

My second blog entry for the day – have to catch up so I can rave about Paris!

About 1/8th of the armoury collection at Cheverny
We left the comfort of our lovely hotel in Amboise and drove towards Paris. For a stop along the way we visited Cheverny, a beautifully furnished chateau that is still being lived in by the original family. It had an amazing collection of armoury including for a 4 year old, and only one flight of stairs.
Then a lunch stop at an interestingly named place (see pics).
We dropped the car at Orly airport and then took the train and subway (with our luggage) into the Marais. It was very hot, and even hotter and stuffy on the trains. It was great to get to our B&B that is at least as good as the photos on the net.
We had a walk to the Seine and a Moët to toast me getting to Paris at last! Then ‘home’ to cool off before out again for dinner. After dinner we walked over a number of bridges and down to the Notre Dame where there was a service (pre-Pentecost). On the way back, I caught a minute glimpse of the Eiffel Tower.
The heat is expected to stay for quite a few more days, possibly all of the week. We will have to buy more summer clothes as we hadn’t expected this – what a shame J

Lunch with Paul

Part of our beautiful room

A Toast to Paris!

Look hard and you can see the top of the Eiffel Tower

Sunday, 27 May 2012

Food, Glorious Food

A fairly quiet day before travelling to PARIS tomorrow.
We walked around the town of Amboise a little then Paul tortured me with MORE stairs, this time up the Pagode de Chantaloup – small rickety low headroom spiral timber stairs in the heat! About 34oC today!
All this to earn a special dinner – at Domaine des Hauts de Loire – a 2 Michelin star restaurant in a 4 star hotel about 20 minutes from our hotel.
Amazing place, amazing food – see pictures.
They were not lying or under-stating!

only a couple of the 7 levels, ouch!

Asparagus and spanner crab entree

Chicken and foie gras with 'pea' sauce -
this is a plate not a bowl, the food is not 'swimming'

Pre dessert taster!
Chocolate Sphere with caramelised bananas:
two types of chocolate mousse inside, yummy