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Brian’s Travel Diary

Tuesday, 09 Aug 2011

Location: Paris, France

Map(Saturday, 6th August)
After almost 30 years since we visited Paris, it was a strange feeling to walk the deserted streets of Paris at 8am on a Saturday morning. In doing so it was overwhelming and almost impossible not to embrace the grandeur and magic that makes this such an amazing city.
We wandered up to the Galleries Lafayette in Montparnasse (not far from the Avia Saphir Hotel, which is our Paris “home”) to buy some French SIM cards for our “France/Spain” mobile phones, only to find that it didn’t open until 10am on Saturday, so we headed towards the other most visible icon on the skyline near us - the Eiffel Tower. (BUT we did stumble across the Waldorf Hotel where we are staying when we return to Paris on our way home!!)
On our way we came upon a number of places that we noted for a longer visit at a later stage. Napoleon’s tomb; the Rodin Museum; Ecole Militaire (The French Military School) – to name but a few.
It was ironic that opposite the Ecole Militaire was the Mur pour la Paix (Peace Wall) which was built in 2000 to proclaim, in 49 different languages with 18 different alphabets, the single word “Peace”.
So we wandered through the Peace Wall (on Hiroshima Day!!) and along the Champ du Mars to the Tour Eiffel. It was now around 9 o’clock and being the height of the tourist season the lines at the tower were absolutely humungous!! As we’ve “been there – got the T-shirt” we strolled on down to the left bank of the Seine to do an “under the bridges of Paris with you” ramble.
As we wandered along we thought it might be nice to take up one of the Seine River cruises. We opted for an all day hop on – hop off at 8 prime locations for 14 euros each type cruise.
First stop was Musee D’Orsay. We wandered up and after a .... “Look at the queue!!” we wandered back down to catch the next boat!
BTW. As we sauntered along to the entrance of the Musee D’Orsay we struck our first “scam” attempt. A woman called us back as we passed by her and held up a gold ring – between her poor English and my basic schoolboy French she basically said that it wasn’t hers, it didn’t fit and that I should take it. I was reluctant but she continued to say I should have it. When I said I would and began to walk away with this “gold” ring she came after us and asked could I give her money buy food for her and her children! This was done in a mixture of Italian, French and German. So I gave her the “gold” ring and we marched off to see the queue!

From there we then went to St Germain (didn’t get off at this stop) and on to Notre Dame. The queues there made the ones at Musee D’Orsay look miniscule. So we wandered along the stalls along the bank, had a beer/wine and got back on the boat.
Then came the Louvre (more enormous queues); the Gardens of Tuileries; the place de la Concorde (where Marie Antoinette did her block); the Grand and Petit Palais; and back to the Eiffel Tower. We browsed the market seeking to buy a Tour de France flag – but had no luck.

As my camera had used up its battery we jumped on the Metro and went back to rest our legs and recharged the camera. We mapped out our afternoon which included a visit to the Paris Tourism Office to buy a Museum Pass which allows you to go to the head on the line and/or has special entrances to 80 museums and monuments.
Then DISASTER!!! The camera didn’t charge!! The battery charger didn’t work.