Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Our weekend in Paris

This weekend for Matt's birthday we went to Paris for two nights, arriving late Friday night. and leaving lunch time on Sunday (Matt's birthday). It took under 3 hours to get there by car. We stayed in a good hotel in Montmartre (the highest hill in Paris) near the Sacre Coeur and the Moulin Rouge.

Friday night we stayed near the hotel and went out for a few (expensive) drinks. In most of the places we went to in Paris a 50cl of beer was €8! Wine was fairly reasonable so we mostly stuck to that.

As it was our first time in Paris as adults we visited all of the touristy attractions on Saturday. We started off at the Abbesses Metro station in Montmartre (above). This Art Nouveau station has one of the only two remaining original Hector Guimard metro entrances in Paris.

We walked along the River Seine to the Eiffel Tower, passing Pont Alexandre III, one of the most ornate bridges complete with Art Nouveau lamps, cherubs, and nymphs, linking Place Des Le Invalides and Le Grand Palais.

We had an early lunch picnic under the Eiffel Tower (provided free by the hotel - great idea)! We would have liked to have gone up the Eiffel Tower but pre-booked tickets had sold up, and it would have taken up a lot of our one day of sightseeing so we decided to give it a miss this time. It was lovely weather so we were happy to sit on the grass in front of the Tower. We found a quiet spot away from the hawkers and the deaf/mute girls who want money (yet somehow they could talk to each other when they thought no-one was listening). Not sure whether the army guys walking around with guns made us feel uneasy or safe.

On the way to the Arc De Triomphe we wandered through the Photoquai Exhibition which was next to the river, part of the Musee du Quai Branly. It's aim is to give non-Western photography a chance and compare points of view. We would have liked to have seen more of the exhibition rather than just the displays out by the river, but we didn't think we could fit it in to our day.

We noticed that someone has their house underneath the exhibition....

We unintentionally wandered past the Statue of Liberty Flame, which was offered to Paris in 1989 and is an exact replica of the flame carried by the Statue of Liberty. It's situated above the tunnel where Princess Diana died so the area has now become a sort of shrine to Diana.

Finally we made it to the Arc De Triomphe after spending ages trying to find the subway to get us to the middle of the 'no-rules' roundabout.

The views from the top were amazing! It was interesting to see that people had proper gardens with woods on top of their buildings.

We then briefly visited Notre Dame but decided not to go inside and went for our first beer of the day instead.

Our final destination of the day was the Sacre Coeur (the white church) on top of Montmartre Hill.

The views from the top of the hill were pretty impressive. We looked around inside but only briefly. Due to the number of people we found that we were herded around quickly.

We saw this sign near the sacre Coeur:

We walked back to the hotel which was nearby and caught the end of some carnival with music.

In the evening we went our for a meal somewhere near Montmartre. It's very difficult to find anywhere that does a decent vegetarian meal. We ended up at an Italian called Victoria Station which imitates an old fashioned train carriage. Sounds tacky but it was actually quite cosy. We watched the pizzas being made, the service was good, and we weren't paying a fortune for a simple meal.

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