Monday, 9 April 2012

Je t'aime Paris

For a trip that had me worried I would spend March eating canned beans and walking to work because I really couldn’t afford… it was worth every cent plus more and I am glad I am a person that sometimes acts on impulse and just books things!

Another trip with an early start… 5.30am rise and shine and off to the Busabout depot to set off on our 6, 8 wait is it 12 hour ride to Paris, we were told a lot of horror stories about what we were in for by taking the coach option to. As it turns out the trip was not too long and mostly sweet. We travelled via the tunnel at Dover. Some Family Guy on the TV screens helped along the way… Not every day you are in a bus in a train under the ocean watching Family guy on the way to Paris.

On the bus, driving into the train to go through the tunnel

Some French countryside

There were a lot of turbines out in the country

We arrived at the St Christopher’s Hostel in Paris which is situated on the Seine and settled into our 12 bed dorm, it felt like some kind of NZ next top Model set up, 12 girls mostly strangers all thrown in together… Lucky we are all a bit older a cleaner, definitely not quieter.

Our hostel, right on the Seine

We kicked the first night off with some drinks in the bar down stairs making the most of their happy hour along with a dinner provided by the tour, cold meats and cheeses, yum.

Our coach took us on a tour of Paris by night time, on the first evening. Easter is one of the busiest weekends in Paris so we had to battle the traffic. We stopped at the Eiffel tower. It is an amazing spell binding piece of human construction and every hour it lights up and sparkles for about ten minutes putting on an amazing show for us, I was blown away.

The beautiful Eiffel Tower by night

We travelled up Champs Elysees also known as the street of Ruby’s and Diamonds to the Arch De Triomphe and took on the 12 lane un marked roundabout with 12 streets coming onto it, the only rule being, give way to oncoming traffic. And accident happens on this round about every 6 minutes, easy to understand why out coach wasn’t insured when driving around it.

The Champs Elysees is a street with restaurants cafes and specialty luxury shops. There were lines to get into Louis Vouiton and the McDonalds has to have White arches because the typical yellow ones are to offensive for this fancy street, the government said so!

The reason it is called ‘The Street of Ruby’s and Diamonds’ is self explanatory.

The street of Ruby's and Diamond's

We then travelled into Pigalle the more ‘red light district’ area with the Moulin Rouge (wee fact for you, it means Red Windmill) and plenty of sex shops. It sits in front of the Marmont area where all the artists tend to live, even Van Gogh spent time there back in his day.

Real life Moulin Rouge

After a tour of the city we headed back to the hostel for a good nights sleep, shame about the wounded warthog in the top right bunk snoring our ears off…

Day two we did a Fat Tyre Bike tour of the city, this was a great way to see the sights and we felt completely safe! It was also a great way to get some bearings of the city too.  Half way through the bike tour we parked up and did a river cruise along the Seine. It’s always good to get a perspective of the city from a different angle, but I never seem to dress warm enough for the occasion, I will learn my lesson!

Kelly and I in fron of the Eiffel Tower before the bike Tour

Kellys sweet ride named Poodle

My sweet ride Nuit Blanche meaning All Night Long so I'm told

Kelly & I on our bikes

Some of the sights on our tour, that is real gold

One of the many epic statues in Paris

Cleopatra's Needle

Beautiful tree lined streets to ride down

Our bike gang

Us again in front of the Eiffel Tower

We had lunch at an Italian restaurant as you do, where some of the girls feasted on yummy snails, I played it safe with Pizza, have done my dash with snails back at Iguana in Hamilton. After lunch we headed for different view again of Paris. We went up the Montparnasse for 360 views of the city!

Delicious snails


The view from the top, poor quality photos, from the rain and grey

After heading across town to line up for the Catacoombs we were told we were too late to line up, it would be closed by the time we got to the front… Have added this to the next time, list.

Back to the Hostel for plenty of Malibu in the dorm then off to Pigalle for a pub crawl, love a good pub crawl, takes all the hard work out of finding bars, this to be honest wasn’t the best I have done.

Friends! Kate & Lisa

Nicole & Kelly

Kelly & I

Kelly, Lisa & Lisa

Lisa & I

Kelly, Dax (our tour guide) & Haylee

We rose and shone and hopped on the bus out to the city of Versailles for a picnic and look around the gardens at the Palace, very beautiful and we were lucky enough to have the fountains on and the orchestra playing through the speakers in the gardens. We were lucky enough to have a treasure hunt put on for us being Easter and all.

Dax, our very own Easter Bunny

Some of the gardens and a lot of a tree...

The Versailles grounds span 20,000 acres

Some Babes at the gardens

One of the fountains

One of the gardens

My favourite feature at the gardens

This afternoon we had more free time so we were dropped at the Arch De Triomphe, then walked the very long Champs Elysees to the Cleopatra Needle and then through to The Louvre. We then walked along the river picking up some pictures from the book sellers set up along there and ended up at the Notre Dame. The line was ridiculously long, as was every line in Paris this weekend so we opted for a average coffee at a café that had terrible manners, that is the French for you!

The Arch De Triomphe

Stopped for a quick bite

The Louvre

A busker playing some French music on the bridge of locks

When people get married they put their own engraved lock on the bridge

The Notre Dame church

After a nap we dolled up then headed to the Sacre couer on the hill for, you guessed it, another view of Paris, this time we watched the sun go down and the city of lights light up with 2 Euro champas, and yes it was delicious. This church on the hill is quite majestic, a beautiful white building. It is a shame about all the sleezy men and touts that surround it but there is a lot of that in this beautiful city unfortunately.

View from the Sacre Coeur

The Sacre Coeur

Lisa & I at the Sacre Coeur


Marmite for dinner

We ended the night with a lovely meal at a restaurant in Pigalle. Quite eventful, one of the rookie redhead kids on our tour got a wee bit too excited after his champs and red wine, it obviously didn’t agree with his belly let’s just say if it wasn’t for our guide saving his butt, the restaurant owners would have taken him round the back and sent him back a bit black and blue.

We also had some gypsy kids try to scam us by asking for donations, carefully placing a sheet of paper on our table and picking an IPhone up with it then trying to take off, lucky we have a tough Lady not afraid to man handle a gypo kid to get it back! Thanks Lisa!

All in all an amazing trip and I haven’t even mentioned the lovely wonderful girls we had with us to make it that much better!

Paris I really have grown quite fond of you in the last few days, I can picture myself living in one of your beautiful apartments with a view of the Eiffel Tower out my window. I will be back as there is so much more to see, The Moulin Rouge, The Catacoombs and not to mention the cemetery that houses Jim Morrison and Oscar Wilds bodies. Easter weekend was simply not enough!