Bonjour, bonsoir, G’day, Howdy folks!!!
The first Sunday in April sees Paris come alive with activities. It is the awakening from the cold winter. All museums, gardens, chateaux, etc are open for free (first Sunday of every month). There was a garden/flower show in our area, horse racing carnival at the Hippodrome “La Dimanche Gallope” and the famous Paris Marathon.
We cycled to a part of the marathon near us. It was a great spectacle with 50,000 runners who earned lots of encouragement from the spectators & “dancing girls” at the 40km mark.
We continued cycling in Paris where we found the perfect picnic destination at the Trocadero gardens in front of the Eiffel Tower. Vin rouge, fromage & baguette complete with picnic blanket & magnificent view! C’est magnifique! We must have looked like Parisiens as the “tourists” even took our photo!?! They obviously didn’t hear us speak.
Due to the Pick-Pocket incident, we had not explored Montmartre like we wished, so we returned. (Mark doesn’t have a wallet for someone to steal this time!!) From the Metro, we headed up the hill, past the Moulin Rouge which looks much better at night, to the beautiful Sacre Coeur cathedral perched up high.
Walked many Kilometres discovering interesting monuments hidden in small laneways!
Enjoyed delicious crepes in small cafe in St Germaine area — baguette au poulet, crepe de pommes & cafe creme for just 6 Euro!!
We joined a “Walking Tour”, given by a uni student to learn about the Notre Dame & surrounds.
Feeling adventurous & again with a sunny forecast we biked off to the Palace of Versailles, 50km return trip with our paniers full of delicious nibblies for our picnic lunch. Not completely flat ……. we headed up to St Cloud (like name suggests) & rode around a mini version of Versailles & so close to our camp. Stopped there for our obligatory morning cafe creme where we chatted to the friendly restaurant owner. Her daughter recently spent 6 months in Australia.
Continued cycling through a forest and before we knew it, were at the town of Versailles. The palace grounds are enormous & we explored on bike many of the “secret” gardens & dirt tracks.
The cycle home through the small picturesque villages was lovely and managed to get up to 33 km/hr on the downhill stretch!!.
A trip to Paris without a bateaux (boat) experience is not acceptable!! Friday was predicted to be fine and sunny so we joined a combined Seine River / Canal Bout cruise (see their website here). It began at Musee D’Orsay, passing the louvre, Notre Dame, beautiful historic bridges on its way up the Canal St Martin. This was a great way to rest our weary legs and watch the scenery pass us by! Cold but sunny, it was an interesting 2.5 hr journey passing through 7 locks, 2 swing bridges, and long eerily dark tunnels – including under Place de la Bastille.
Meandering through the streets of La Villette after the canal trip we found a perfect little restaurant for dejeuner (lunch). Yes, we will have the “formulae” which included a choice of mains and desert for 12 Euro!! Tres Bon!
Friday night at the Theatre des Nouveautes, we experienced “How to become a Parisian in one hour!?!” Olivier Giraud is a one man comedy show who had a packed house laughing from the moment he appeared on stage! He begins with ….”You love Paris but think that Parisians are rude! You’re right, they are!! You are too nice, & you need to become arrogant too! ” His show is hilarious – imitating the french mannerisms and body language with great accuracy and hilarity! All in English. How to act Parisian at a restaurant, on the Metro, in a taxi & in a nightclub!! Great night of laughs for all.
Having had minimal contact with English speaking people for more than a week, it was a highlight of our weekend to strike up a conversation with our friendly neighbours Marc (fluent in many languages) and Marie-Christine from Brugge, Belgium. They have travelled France, Spain and Portugal extensively in their motorhome and were most informative & encouraging about our adventure. It wasn’t long before we all had our maps out on picnic tables and Marc and Mark were discussing our future travel routes and “must see” villages, etc.
Marc & Marie-Christine had one week in Paris with their caravan club (17 motorhomes and caravans) and are on their way home now, about 300km. We look forward to visiting them in Brugge later in the year!
Sending a special birthday photo and wishes to Graeme and Amber!!