A Travellerspoint blog


New Year's Eve in Paris

... skull, skull, skull.

semi-overcast -3 °C

We were full of expectation as we booked our trip to Paris for New Year's Eve. We could vividly imagine the colourful fireworks shooting from the Eiffel. We knew where we wanted to be positioned to take in the midnight spectacular. Only one slight hiccup... they don't do the NYE fireworks thing in France. I know, I know... we should have checked before booking but hey, we love Paris so we were happy to be back there to welcome 2009.

We spent a very relaxing few days enjoying good food, good coffee and romantic strolls in the freezing cold, can't feel my hands anymore, evenings. We saw the irony of us watching the film "Australia" in France, whilst on holiday from London. We joined the masses on the Champs Elysee and counted down to the new year. We finally remembered, being veterans of Paris metro travel, that you can save a whole lot of time in queues by purchasing the 10 ticket deal when you first arrive. Ha!.. take that travel gods... how do you like me now? After a mandatory high 5 we used the first of our twenty tickets and headed for the hotel. Next day we found that all public transport for new year's eve and new year's day was FREE OF CHARGE. Touche Travel Gods...Touche.

About the only sightseeing activity we did was a fascinating journey into the catacombs. Skeletons are always going to be somewhat macabre and confronting, but we didn't have the sense of sadness we experienced in Cambodia. There was no air of injustice and evil. Anyway the photos will do much better than my words can to describe the scene.

All in all, we had a nice relaxing time and Paris always looks beautiful, no matter what season.




Posted by StephenJen 08:03 Archived in France Tagged family_travel Comments (1)

A few days in Paris

another eyefull of the Eiffel

all seasons in one day 10 °C

The one thing we love about living and working in London is how it helps you appreciate getting away from the hussle and hassle for a few days abroad.

Our short trip to Paris started with a mad dash to Kings Cross-St Pancras to catch the Eurostar. Once onboard though, we quickly settled in and the unwind commenced. We heartily recommend travelling to Paris by train rather than by plane because you don't have all the hassle, or cost, of getting to and from the airport and delays are very rare. Also, we have more space and you get to watch the scenery as you speed by. We feel like our holiday starts as soon as we take our seats.

That said, we were still really eager to emerge from the tunnel on French soil. We had an early train, so we arrived at Gare De Nord at about 10.00am. The metro is great in Paris and very easy to understand and navigate. We purchased tickets at the machine and were on our way to Cambronne station. We had booked a room at a very well positioned, affordable, hotel called The Baldi. We checked in to a small but comfortable double room on the top floor. Dumping our luggage, we grabbed our cameras and headed out the door for breakfast. We were lucky with the weather. Whilst it was very cold for the duration of our trip, we enjoyed extended periods of clear blue skies and occasional sunshine to warm our faces.

This trip to Paris was in strong contrast to previous trips. The city had a very different aspect. Bathed in green, brown and gold. It really is a beautiful part of the world.

Here are some of the sights of Paris in Autumn.

Gare Du Nord Railway Station

Autumn in Paris




















Posted by StephenJen 01:20 Archived in France Tagged family_travel Comments (1)

Our anniversary in the city of love (part three)

following a hunch

semi-overcast 9 °C
View Our Big Adventure on StephenJen's travel map.

Day three we wanted to hit a couple more of the iconic Paris landmarks. After yet more crepes we jumped on the metro to Cluny-La Sorbonne and walked about two blocks to Notre Dame. It is an impressive building and we were excited to see the famous gargoyles on its facade. We arrived in time to witness midday mass and the organist belted out a few slightly eerie tunes. It was magnificent. We could feel the history of this place, plus I'm sure I saw a hunchback... (may only have been an old woman). We wanted to climb up to the bell tower but, on this occasion, the line was lengthy and, after realising it was'nt moving, we decided to move on.

Notre Dame

After quick stop for coffee, IMGP1117.jpg we headed to the Hotel for a quick kip and camera battery recharge.

As the afternoon light was fading we began our walk to the Obelisque at Place De Concorde. Evening fell as we strolled with the crowds along the Avenue De Champs Elysees. Arm in arm we were acutely aware how fortunate we were to be together, on this special day, in such a beautiful part of the world. The experience seemed more the stuff of movies, books or other people's lives, yet here we were... we had to pinch ourselves.

We could see, in the distance, Arc De Triomphe.


It was bathed in light and looked magnificent. When we arrived we headed for a traffic crossing where we were able to pause and take this photograph


We climbed the steep stairs to the top of the arc and, legs like jelly and gasping for breath, we took a look around the surrounding area. The Avenues looked amazing.


We spent some time just taking in the view before heading for home.

We stopped at a smallish restaurant for dinner, followed by some of the best cheese we have ever eaten and a good glass of merlot. On the way home we passed over the tunnel where Diana Spencer perished. People had left all manner of tributes there, and had written tributes on the bridge rail. We headed home via the Eiffel. At night, on the hour until ten past, the Eiffel lights up like a christmas tree. Hundreds of sparkling lights light up the city, reflecting off the windows of all the adjacent buildings. It is wonderful. Upon arriving at the tower, we waited for a few minutes and were lucky enough to end our evening with this photo.



Posted by StephenJen 02:52 Archived in France Tagged family_travel Comments (1)

Our anniversary in the city of love (part two)

Fine arts and French tarts

sunny 11 °C
View Our Big Adventure on StephenJen's travel map.

Our first day had ended with a really nice evening walk about town followed by dinner at the nearby brasserie on Grenelle.


Sunday started with petit dejeuner at a local bistro. We only ordered items which I could confidently pronounce, namely crepes with chocolate or jam and vienna coffee, and as a result Jen almost went into a sugar coma.

We decided to head to the Louvre. We took a long scenic route past the tower and along the Seine to the Place De La Concorde. It was another perfect day and it was nice to see the locals seated on the grassed areas or around the fountains, while the children floated old style wooden sailing boats pushing them away from the fountain edges with long thin canes. We continued up Jardin Des Tuileries until we saw the famous glass pyramid of the Musee Du Louvre (a la Da Vinci code).


We had read that it would take about 9 months to see everything in the museum and, as we had some time constraints, we decided to see the big drawcards. After getting a bit lost, we came to a packed room and there on the wall, and as everyone says... much smaller than we had imagined, hung the Mona Lisa. It was quite surreal. Not the painting... the experience. We were not permitted to take a photo, so you can't see it here but let me tell you folks, the Mona Lisa is a hard act to follow. We found a contender though...

Jen (and some chick who likes milo)

We had a look at some of the French painters before heading back to the hotel and dressing up for a special night out.

One of the things Jen had especially wanted to do in Paris was to see a burlesque show at the legendary Moulin Rouge. We took the metro into the seedy part of Paris (Pigalle) and looked for the famous windmill that sits atop the Moulin Rouge.


The room was magnificent. A deep red theme, bathed in lamplight. We were seated at the front of the second tier of tables with a lovely French couple. We had very limited French and they had very limited English but we managed to exchange pleasantries and explained that this was our anniversary weekend. The meal was delicious, complete with the mandatory escargot. Our tablemates disappeared for a moment after dinner before returning with a gift to mark our first wedding anniversary- a moulin rouge keyring with a small windmill which spins - we were very touched. The show itself was pretty cheesy and, to be honest, the dancing was a bit ordinary. The girls were all unbelievably attractive with perfect figures but, as is often the case, tall people can't dance well. The show included a number of variety acts including comics and a magician. The show came to a conclusion with the much anticipated can can. We all clapped along in time and the room was filled with energy and national pride on the part of the French.
It was a wonderful evening out to celebrate our first year of marriage. Just Jen and myself.... and 30 topless women... ahhhh romance!

Posted by StephenJen 13:23 Archived in France Tagged family_travel Comments (3)

Our anniversary in the city of love (part one)

Getting an Eiffel of the French capital.

sunny 11 °C
View Our Big Adventure on StephenJen's travel map.

Our short trip to Paris started with an early departure from Waterloo station aboard the Eurostar. After an informative taxi ride with our driver Hal (itosis). We finally breathed in again and jumped onto our train. We were very happy to receive a stamp in our passports. We want to be able to look back at all the countries we visit.
The eurostar is very comfortable and the journey was very speedy indeed in only a couple of hours we found ourselves in France at the Gare Du Nord rail station. We found the ticket machines for the metro, but found we had no coins. I had done some, very last minute, language study on the train and managed to negotiate the purchase of Coca Cola in order to get change. We worked out which line we needed and were off to Dupleix. Our hotel, the Eiffel Capitol, was conveniently close to the station, so we checked in and quickly headed out for a walk to get our bearings. As we have found throughout our time in Europe thus far, the weather has smiled upon us. We found ourselves in the middle of a glorious, sun-filled afternoon in Paris (note the irony Wayne, AB and other jazz players).

The first cab off the rank was something to eat. On the corner of the Boulevard De Grenelle was a creperie. Feeling full of confidence I ordered in French. Hazelnut chocolate for Jen, same for me but with the addition of Banana. "Britain?" asked the vendor. "Australie" I answered. He looked confused... Jen looked confused..."No thanks, not for me" jen said. He made our food, we paid and kept walking. It turned out he had asked if we wanted butter. Ooops.

We walked about a block and Jen nudged me. She grinned and I looked up over the buildings... at the Eiffel Tower. Man! is it tall.

Look what we found around a corner

We speedily made our way in it's direction. We had heard stories of the enormous lines and lengthy waits for the trip up the tower, but a sunny day in the middle of winter seemed to have caught the public by suprise and in less than 30 mins we were packing into the elevator and heading for the second level. I thought the lift was never going to stop and we were a little freaked out by the height. When we stepped out and caught the sight of Paris from above we were struck by its beauty. We will let the pics speak for themselves. The only thing left to say is that if we thought that was high... the top was like looking out of a plane! An entirely amazing place, in a lovely town.

Jen gets very high

View over the Seine to Palais De Chaillot

View accross Champ De Mars. The large building at the end is Ecole Militaire

View of Arc De Triomphe

Jen at one of the Eiffel Telescopes

Posted by StephenJen 04:57 Archived in France Tagged family_travel Comments (1)

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