Day 13 : Travel to Paris

An early start for the 5am taxi to the airport, and we get there just before the buses. A quick check in, and some breakfast in “Europe’s Favourite Airport” (still expensive food, rest assured) and we board our plane for Paris. Cannot believe how much carry on luggage people get away with – handbag plus hiking sized rucksack plus IKEA sized shopping bags, on you go, sure you can stow it overhead!

We arrive at CDG (probably Europes least favourite airport) and wait over an hour for the bags to come through. No customs check, no passport check, and no stamps for us from iceland nor france. Bit sad really – probably my next passport will just be a card rather than bothering with pages. And on to the trains.

Charlie was a bit horrified with my approach. I figure – I have to walk for a long way – with my dodgy shoulder I can’t carry much in my right hand for long so the handbag is slung across my body, the big pack is assembled for my back, and the little pack is across my front, koala style. Hands free for train tickets and maps. Perfect. Just not pretty. Chuck had to drag his bag – turns out not only do wheels suck going up or down stairs, they also suck on the footpath. Fearlessly navigating the metro and the streets, we change at Gare du Nord, then pop out at Galleries LaFayette for the walk to our hotel. Through the crowds at 3pm on a monday, trying to get orientated so I know which direction to go in. We get there, and lug our gear the remaining few hundred metres to St Augustin’s hotel.

We walked out towards Place de la Concorde, enjoying the Parisian streets and the glorious autumn weather – 18 degrees and sunny. Lots of places are closed on mondays – we need to remember that for next time 🙂 Jeu de Paume, a photography museum in the Jardin des Tuilleries isn’t open, nor the Orsay, but the Orangerie is – so we went in there to admire Monet’s waterlillies, commissioned especially for the building. They are huge. And beautiful. Our plan for the evening was to get to the Eiffel Tower, so we crossed the river and sat in a little bar, finding out first hand the price difference between not only the ‘terrace’ vs inside, but the tables vs the bar – twice the cost in some instances. Wandering the backstreets, as we get to the Invalides, Charlie spots the old Aerogard Air France – there used to be an Air France terminal, right in the middle of town, where you could check in for your flight, then travel out to the airport and board. Very civilized. He had enjoyed a dinner there on his last (work) visit to Paris, so we decided to try to eat there tomorrow.

According to my trusty Lonely Planet guide, there was a casual bistro on level 1 of the tower. We thought we’d try there. The girl at the information desk laughed at me after I enquired which Pillier to go up, and she asked if I had a booking. Oh well. Trusty guide book also suggested the new restaurant at the Musee de Quai Branly – the museum of the colonies, with the plants all over the outside wall. Not open mondays. We ended up at one of the tourist trap brasseries that are on most corners, in a room filled only with foreigners. Not quite the experience we were after, but the food was nice enough, and the service was good. We walked back to the Eiffle Tower. I had never been up it, so we wanted to do it at night. The line up was 45 mins or so, in the increasingly chill air,and as we made our way up, it got windier and colder. We were the only ones wearing t shirts (bloody Australians) and half the others had parkas on! The view was pretty cool, though.

We crossed the Pont d’Alma, took a pic at Diana’s flame (tomorrow is the 13 year anniversary of her death in this tunnel) and caught the metro home 3 stops.