We'll always have Paris...
Trip Start Jun 25, 2012
32Trip End Aug 25, 2012
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We were up early to pack our bags and head off to visit some wineries before our train to Paris.
Eventually we headed on to Tours. The car had to be returned to St-Pierre-des-Corps which is on the outskirts of Tours while our TGV ticket had us leaving from the centre of Tours, but we were luckily able to establish that the train would indeed stop 10 minutes later at St Pierre, which made life much easier. We had lunch in a local tavern and then grabbed our bags, now laden with three bottles of wine as well, and found our spot on the platform.
It was a quick and comfortable ride on the TGV into Paris and Gare Montparnasse. Once we’d arrived we were directed to the Montparnasse Novotel and walked there fairly easily, but they’d never heard of our booking and eventually we established we were meant to be at the Novotel Vaugirard Montparnasse – too long a walk away with all our bags! So we hopped in a taxi and arrived at the right place, pleased to have finally got there. At this point Tom discovered he’d left his bag back in the lobby of the first hotel, so Mike went back in the taxi to get it, and the rest of us settled happily into our room, which was remarkably roomy for Paris!
Michael returned triumphantly with the bag and Tom had fun playing with the Xbox Connect in the lobby, before we headed up to the top floor bar for a drink and card game while looking out at the Eiffel Tower. The people down at the desk were really good and recommended a nearby bistro for us, Le Cap, which was an easy walk away, so they booked it and we wandered off there. Luckily they had room for us on the terrace. It was a beautiful balmy night and the staff were all wonderfully friendly, while the food was outstanding! We had a really lovely night there, and then headed back to our comfortable room for a good night’s sleep.
Our plan today was to hire the Vélib’ bikes, banks of which are scattered throughout Paris. The Concierge explained where there was a nearby bank, but we couldn’t find them and then asked directions from various people who kept pointing us further on. Once we finally found a set we discovered that none were available for hire as they required servicing, so we caught a bus to the Eiffel Tower. Before we got there, Tom spotted a huge bank of them on the street, so we hopped off the bus, keyed our credit card details into the machine and hired four of them for the day.
Finally sorted, we headed off on our bikes, me with the map, and carefully riding on the wrong (right) side of the road, we rode to the Eiffel Tower. It was magnificent as usual and we admired it with a (very expensive) icecream, before crossing the Seine and heading up to the Rue de Passy where Rachel had a ballet shop called Repetto she wanted to visit. The boys had a hot chocolate in a café opposite while Rachel tried on various beautiful leotards before finally selecting a stunning blue one and we hopped back on our bikes.
We headed back down to the Seine, following a lovely bike track along the river, past the Louvre and then across to Boulevard St Michel on the Left Bank where we’d decided to have lunch. We hoped to be able to return our bikes, but this time all the Vélib’ bike racks were full, with only 2 gaps to return ours, so we chained the other two together around a nearby pole and headed into lunch.
The little café was great with a surprisingly friendly and charming waiter – often they are very rude in Paris, but this one was lovely. We had a lovely meal there, although Rachel and Tom couldn’t bring themselves to try the snails Mike ordered. The whole experience was only ruined by me tripping as I went down the narrow spiral staircase to the toilet and really hurting myself. It was lucky I was holding onto the handrail, as even then I ended up with massive bruises on my left buttock, back, shoulder and left arm. Everyone came running and the waiter got me some ice which I put on my arm, but there was nothing to be done but wait for the pain to subside a bit and then get back on the bikes!
We rode up the hill along the Boulevard Saint-Michel, past the Luxembourg Gardens, towards Montparnasse where we had heard you can go to the top of the 210m high Tour Montparnasse for an extraordinary view over Paris.
We had returned our bikes to a nearby bank, so we decided to walk home, which turned out to be about a half hour walk, but it was good to explore this area of Paris a bit more. After refreshing ourselves and having a bit of a rest we went out to dinner at another lovely restaurant recommended by the hotel.