Sunday, April 04, 2010

The Champs Elysee and Autos

Friday morning was a slow start after celebrations the night before. A slightly heavy head was difficult to raise from the pillow and the Doona was comforting on a cold and wet morning.

Today’s plan was to promenade the Champs Elysees in the 8e, something we had not done before on foot. We’d passed by in an open top tourist bus in a past visit to view the Arc d’Triomphe which gives a fleeting sight of the monument as the bus rushes through avoiding the traffic going in all directions. I'm sure I heard the driver saying, " I'm BIGGER than you, move it" back then.

We walked down rue Etienne Marcel to the local Metro station and once again did battle with the commuting population. To me its out of my comfort zone, travelling intimately, shoulder to shoulder with persons unknown. One has do this sometimes to get where you want to go I guess (yes, that’s the snob in me!!!)
Brrrr, its very cold, hurry up and take the photo.

The relief sculptures of the Arc de Triomphe intrigued me the most. Napoleon commissioned the monument in 1809, yet it took to 1836 to be completed. By this time his empire was nearing collapse.

We emerged from station Metro George V after a change of trains at the dreaded Chatelet changeover. Chatelet I believe has a population of lost tourists wandering the tunnels down there that have never found their way out.

Although the sun was not out, it was nice to at least see sky. The Champs Elysees, a different world with the top fashion houses promoting their brands, not that I know much about brand names. I’ll leave that to Sue to tell you. I think she visited most of them.
What did amaze me about the grand boulevard, knowing that this is where the Tour de France final stage is, was the uphill gradient to the sprint finish. Watching it on TV at home, you don't get the full feeling of the indurance that would be required to win this last stage. For final chance sprinters like Robbie McEwan, an Assie now living in Belgium, it is perfect.

He even writes his name like me - which worried me a little when I signed the credit card receipt. I thought they might consider it a bit of mischief on my part.

Feeling a bit peckish, we decided it was about lunch time. We came across “Leon of Bruxelles”. We don’t have this chain of eateries in Australia. Their specialty is mussels in all forms, curried (Sue‘s choice, and with pasta, shrimp and calamari, my choice). I watched a young Asian woman eating this dish and it looked tempting so ordered it. As I was waiting for mine to come, I realised that this young lady had never eaten a shrimp before, well not with clothes on, the shrimp - not her. Normally you would attack the shrimp with your fingers, firstly ripping the head away, then peeling away the body shell along with the legs. By holding the tail, you would pop the tasty morsel into your mouth and throw the tail into the bowl supplied. My "object of interest" was on a very steep learning curve. She knew to break the head off, a good start, but with the shrimp sitting “on a fork” she studied it for what seemed like several minutes before popping it into her mouth with the tail hanging out between her lips. I watched as she began to crunch the body of the shrimp and swallow shell and all, except for the tail. The second shrimp, she carefully undressed before swallowing, but still delicately using her fork to hold it with.

Yes, I imagine eating at Leon’s of Bruxelles was quite an experience for her.
Our frites moules were washed down with a Pelforth Blonde for Sue and for me a Pelforth Brune. I have never seen these beers in Australia but are a favourite of ours since our first trip in 2006.

The Peugeot showroom seemed to attract the most traffic with people taking pics of this futuristic concept car. Having owned a Peugeot 505 GTI and a 307, I've never thought of Peugeot more than an Australian Holden but I have to admit this was something else.

In the land of OZ during the 70s, Peugeot bikes were big, not outstanding but certainly popular due their great rider names. Can anyone name a few???
The fold up bike from Mercedes-Benz was to my mind more innovated than their well designed cars.

And now ready to ride the streets of Paris and then take to the Metro - and all for only 1500 euro. In Oz luka, about $2200 maybe. I really want one Sue, can I, can I, can I, pleeeese.

Back out in the Champs after lunch saw the skies start to cloud over and the thought of an afternoon bike ride started to fade for me. What did appeal to me though were the showrooms of Citroen, Renault, Peugeot, Mercedes and surprisingly Toyota. Being a Citroen fan, I was really impressed with the way they displayed their range. All four marques showcased their competition vehicles as well.

This was the most intriguing THING that Toyota had to offer, not quite sure what to make of it. Does it go on the road or the footpath? Maybe I could use it on the Velodrome!!!!! Or is it a Grand Prix wheelchair?

As I was absorbed in the Citroen showroom, the weather had really changed for the worse and so did the traffic - gridlock on the Champs, umbrellas turning inside out and driving rain. While cosy in the Citroen showroom, I pondered on what would be our next car. The  new C4 Diesel appeals, just that little bit quirky to suit my nature, and so frugal on fuel.

An offering from Renault. My past Renaults were a Renault Dauphine which I truly loved as my first real car and a Renault 16 which was boringly practical.

I really want one of these - Citroen C4 with GRUNT!

And Citroen's concept car. Black, orange and pink, hmmmm - not quite sure about that. Looks like a Toon-Car doesn't it?

The Citroen showroom was I think on 3 or 4 levels and you climbed by spiral staircase to the concept cat at the very top. The glass front of the building was like a stained glass window with the abstract image of Citroen's double chevron logo.

The stained glass window looking down on the Champs Elysees while the rain pelts down on the cars and people below. Sue is down there getting terribly wet, POOR SUE.

And this is what it was like from the outside - they were out to get us.

Ooops' need to go now, I see Sue outside looking very unhappy.

What Leon fails to mention is that I had a small umbrella and he had none. So while he spent his 3,978 hours looking at all things Citroen, I decided to pop down to Monoprix just a little bit down the road and buy him one to protect his poor head. No good deed goes unpunished. While I was inside, the bad weather turned nasty, with the wind turning the rain into a horizontal force to be reckoned with. Umbrella went from outside out to inside out and back twice and I went from damp to sopping in the space of seconds! The trip home on the crowded Metro was a thing of wonder. Everyone was at least damp, most were somewhat smelly and close, and of course all were in grand humour.
I've run out of Arty-Farty, going Whimsical for a while


  1. "Citroen's concept car. Black, orange and pink, hmmmm - not quite sure about that. Looks like a Toon-Car"

    It certainly does Leaping, especially the 'eyes'! All those headlights need is eyelashes, and that'll justify the pink! ;-)

  2. I thought a little more makeup wouldn't be tooo much more over the top!

  3. Are you guys going to bring anything back from France? (except for some cooking utensils).
    Sorry the weather is so horrible!

  4. Nadege,
    yes but I might need to leave my bike here.
    CDs, books, shoes, handbags.
    BTW, weather is never horrible, just different. It gives you the chance to to see Paris in a different light. Today the sun came out, until it hailed, then the sun came out again. Then I went for a ride and got home and Sue had cooke rabbit (Lapin) which will figure in a blog in two days.
    Don't postive people make you sick???
    We are having an absolute fabulous time.

  5. It is always good to be positive and have a good attitude about life. What is bad is to be in denial, but that is not you.
    You guys are "bons vivants" and as they say in Louisiana "laisse les bons temps rouler". That weather pattern is typical of "giboulees de Mars", except that we are in April.

  6. Hey Leon, nice self portrait at the end of this post. Just because you're on holiday doesn't mean you can't have a shave!!
    I loved the citroen and renault displays when I visited it too. We only get to see a sample of what they produce. I believe our very own Phil Anderson rode for peugeot ????

  7. I forgot to mention that I also had a meal at 'Leon's'. I had the house specialty, Belgium style Mussels washed down with a belgian beer of course!

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