A La Carte Paris

Trip Start Apr 28, 2007
Trip End Oct 26, 2007

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Friday, July 6, 2007

Tuesday - Raining and dreary cold,  we thought the Louvre would be a good option.  On arrival we learned it's the one day of the week it is closed, so opted for the Dali exhibition, but that was closed too.  Paris Culture and history is n/a on Tuesdays except at the Musee d'Orsay. So we headed off to try for Cezanne & Picasso, as did every one else who had missed out on the Louvre it seemed. The queue was so long that lunch at a Paris version of  a pub seemed by far the more sensible option. Shopping was the only viable activity that afternoon since Paris was in full swing with "Soldes", so on to the famed Galeries Lafayette  for Jen & James; Brian went back to the micro-apartment to trade.

Tessa Hogg arrived late Thursday afternoon from the UK where she is spending her gap year, to stay with us for our last few days in Paris. Out to Mont Martre that night for a superb meal at Le Relais Gascon;  Good recommendation again from Lonely Planet. Back up to Sacre Coeur for the evening view, and down to Concorde intending to walk Champs Elysees, but pulled out when we saw how much further it really was.

Wednesday: The Louvre - open this time; after a couple of hours and a passing glance at the Mona Lisa over the hordes of tourists filing past the painting in orderly lines, Brian and Jenny needed the good espresso served cheaply in Louvre;  watched with interest the animated French waiter telling the opinionated Americans that unless they ordered table service they were not able to sit at the Café tables.  James and Tess whose stamina exceeded ours, joined us for a quick fix of food and drink ........then we took in more Louvre, and enjoyed seeing it from a different perspective to many of the visitors as evidenced by our photos. ....

Finally we were Out-Louvred; it is an extraordinary collection of simply amazing and   wonderful pieces, but it felt like Galeries Lafayette - too much choice.  Walked back up the Champs Elysees and called into the Renault experience.  James and Brian changed a tire in 11.2 seconds flat, but in comparison to the accepted pit stop of 6.5 seconds, they will be keeping their day jobs; Tess admired a bracelet at Cartier for a mere 30,000 Euros and put it on the wish list, along with a  job to pay for it ; we enjoyed yet more great food at Creperie in St Michel. Left James & Tess to do the night lights at the Eiffel Tower - the 336 floodlights and 20,000 bulbs the information book tell us are needed. The photo attests to how amazing it must have looked. Jenny & Brian have to admit they weren't there still.
Thursday: we climbed the Eiffel Tower!  All of the 324 metres of it that is climbable anyway, which is 1710 steps.  Again, we weren't counting, but that is what the book said.  (It later proved to be scant prep for the sort of hikes and climbs that Joy was to take us on in Switzerland) The top of the Eiffel is a great place to see the lay out of Paris. James came across evidence of an earlier Kiwi visitor - an Air NZ luggage label stuck to the wire floor at the very top, showing that one Mrs Greenfield of Gore had been there first. 

Walked across the Seine yet again, and grabbed food from street vendors in the Trocadero before heading back up to Montmartre - this time for Brian and Jenny to have an artists impression drawn. Stayed up there for dinner once more, and Tess and James headed back to the Eiffel for more night lights. 
In the week we were there, we walked huge sectors of Paris and touched only a tiny part of it - what an amazing city!
Impressions of Paris; amazing fretwork iron balconies, rampant gargoyles,  "les toilettes" inevitably down or up impossibly steep and narrow curved stairways, and
when you do eventually find them they are tiny - and often dirty. We wondered how you ever ate out if you were disabled?  Everywhere you go there are dogs - they are in the shops, restaurants and on the metro.  They come along for the ride in handbags specially designed for them with air holes and vents at each end.  C'est Paris!
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Re: Schilthorn...
thanks for your suggestion Christo. We checked out the web site for the Schiltorn and it looks really beautiful. don't know if we will make it up that one, but today we walked up about 650 metres in altitude, and time-wise about 5 and half hours for 15 kms with Joy and one of her very fit friends,up and around a mountain on the very edge of the Bern canton, which offers great scenery. We have added it to Joy's 'to do' list.

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