Gypsys, Tramps & Thieves

Trip Start Apr 25, 2010
Trip End May 18, 2010

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Flag of France  , Île-de-France,
Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Awake early again and go down stairs for an early breakfast, as we are going to get tickets for the Hop on Hop off bus, which circuits the city area and includes all the main sights. We figure it is a great way to save our sore legs.

Today our main aim is to visit Notre Dame and climb up to the top. We get to the bus stop and within 5 minutes a bus arrives.  It is a double Decker open top bus, so we pop upstairs and grab a seat.  We head past the Concorde, which is where the beheadings took place.  Over  2000 "off with their heads"  by the Guillotine.  We see the area that poor Marie Antoinette had her parting with her body and head.  Apparently  the family of the inventor of the Guillotine, changed their name, as they didn't like being associated with the image of death. I wonder why?

From there we pass the Obelisk that the French stole from the Egyptians – the French said it was a gift and now Egypt are asking for  the sucker back and the French say “no way you Indian givers” – you get the picture.  It is quite impressive and takes pride and place in the centre of the Concorde.  From there we went through the high end shopping, past Maxims restaurant and then through the massive tunnelled entry to the Louve.  You just gasp when you see it.

We eventually stop at Notre Dame and there are plenty of people here, including the Gypsies.  This is a rag bag bunch, that are supposedly from Romania and their talent is for ripping people off with scams, begging or pick pocketing.

There are a few scams to watch out for; one is the Gold ring scam.  A person comes up to you and picks up a gold ring that is on the ground in front of you.  He tries on the ring and says it doesn’t fit him.  He then tries it on you and declares you might as well keep it.  The ring feels pretty weighty and you are led to believe that it’s gold.  He starts to walk off and you are now the owner of a ring of some value- supposedly.  He then turns and asks you if you could spare a few dollars for a coffee.  Sure why not,  as you now own an expensive ring thanks to him.  You hand over a $5 note and he asks for more.  You are lead to feel guilty if you don’t give him more etc.

The other one, is a guy comes up to you with a piece of string and wraps it quickly around you finger.  Whilst you are trying to tell him to let you go, he very quickly makes a bracelet of string around your wrist, tied off in a knot and wants you to pay for what he has just made.  One guy tried this on me but I kept walking and luckily he didn’t manage to loop my finger.

The female gypsies ask you if you speak English and when you say yes, they hand you a card with a big sob story on it about their mother dying of some weird and wonderful disease and asking you for money.  I wanted to tell them I was a doctor and had just released a vaccine to cure their mother and then stand back and see what happened.  I would have tried it but I was worried about getting a gypsy curse put on me, after I fell into a fit of laughter.

Ok so we enter the church of Notre Dame, which was first started to be built in about 1167, WOW and it is magnificent.  The height of the ceilings and the detail in the lead light was amazing.  On the outside of the building, there are all these statues of Saints.  One is holding his head in his hands and he apparently had his head chopped off but somehow managed to keep living – Yep, uh huh!

We then queue for about 45 minutes to tackle the climb up to the top of the church.  Now ,two problems here.  1.  There are about 400 stairs and they are very steep and a tight spiral. 2. I am claustrophobic.

We head up the stairs and I am glad to see a couple in front of us are smokers and heavier than we are.  Before long we squeeze past them on the climb upwards, as they have already carked it.  We finally pop out onto the gargoyle level and we have an amazing view, not only of the gargoyles but also Paris.  Then Drew says there is another level – crickey I am stuffed already.  Ok let’s do it!  We make it to the bell tower where Quasie Modo (no idea how to spell it and am too tired to even try to fix it)  Then we see another level.  Here I am thinking we were on our way down, when we go right up to the top.  Ok I realise that sounded stupid as I knew we were going up  but was hoping it was an exit point when I got to the next set of stairs.

From the top the view was amazing, we took a few pictures and then began our decent.  My thighs felt like jelly when we finally got to the bottom but it was worth it and we can now say we have done it.

From there we just wanted to sit down and have a drink and bite to eat.  So we stopped off at a near by cafe for lunch.  After that we tried a French crepe, with lemon and sugar.  Then back to the bus and we headed past the Arc de Triomphe and back to our hotel to have a quick rest before getting ready for our next tour.

Tonight we had organised dinner at the Eiffel tower, a cruise down the river Seine and then onto the Moulin Rouge to see the can can.  This was all part of an organised tour and if you ever want to feel like sheep, this was the tour to do it.

We met up with other Aussies on the tour.  2 couples from Warrnambool and another couple from
Chirnside Park, the later couple  we stuck with for the night.

Dinner was a fresh salad, followed by a chicken dish which looked like someone had sneezed on it (but was actually quite tasty) and desert was a chocolate torte thing.

The river cruise was a shocker ,as the boat held about 200 people and next to your seat was this metal thing that looked like a telephone and when you held it to your ear you heard a commentary in your selected language.  Well this was all well and good but the thing was connected with a metal cord like you see on telephones in public booths.  Now imagine over 200 people pulling this out and the noise that the metal cable made whilst it was being pulled, retracted etc.  It didn’t stop and was so loud. People just didn’t pull it out and be done with it no, they had to do it about 50 times each.

From there we were herded onto buses to get to the Moulin Rouge area which we then had to queue outside for another 30 minutes or so.  We then were shown to the worst seats in the house, you couldn’t of gotten any further back if you tried.  Ok if you purchased at a low price but we paid about $250 each for this tour. We were ripped off well and truly.

Now the Moulin Rouge show is something of a classic but I have to say that I felt like I was watching a cabaret show on a cruise ship.  Nothing to wow me and I was wishing it would end half way through.  All I wanted to see was the can can, and get out of there.  So by 2 am we finally get back to our hotel, tired and exhausted and a little let down.

The following day, I was planning our big adventure to the louve but our late return time from the hotel through things way out and left us running well behind when we finally got up and ready.  If you are not at the Louve early, then expect to stand in a queue for an hour to get in.  As we were tired, the queue option wasn’t appealing and we decided to spend our last day using the Hop on Hop off bus and seeing other parts of Paris. 

So we checked out of the hotel and stored our luggage and then went about seeing other areas, stopping at a market and then going to a art market.  We then had just enough time to walk around the outside of the Louve and see the pyramid, before collecting our luggage and heading to the Metro to get to Paris Bercy station to wait for our Sleeper train to Venice.
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shelley herbert on

aww shucks and I was hangin for another installment ! have fun!

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