Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Aahhh! Back in Paris

Our journey was coming to its conclusion. After flying out of Malpensa, Italy on Ryan Air, we would have two nights in Paris. We decided on the Bastille area for some reason. Not sure why but we did return close by the area in 2009 for one whole week in an apartment with a lovely leafy garden.
Our flight out of Malpensa was delayed by 30 minutes and then on arrival at the airport, our shuttle bus was late to the point that we were in stop/start peak hour traffic. It didn't matter! We were coming back to Paris and the magic of the city excited us as it would in our future trips since 2006. Coming and going, we've enjoyed Paris on eight occasions and it never ceases to seduce us.

Although tired, we did walk the streets in search of dinner and then an early night. I'd decided on an early morning run in search of the Paris Velodrome. I'd read of this particular Velodrome as being the venue for the finish of the Tour de France before the Champs-Elysees took on that role.

One of the few medieval buildings that Baron Hausmann didn't destroy.
On the map it seemed not a too daunting run but I didn't take into account my lack of athletic fitness. As I ran through the autumn streets of Paris, kicking the leaves aside to Vincennes I found myself zig-zagging my way and adding further kilometres to my journey. I finally reached my destination and imagined the great Eddy Merckx winning the TdF while I sat all alone on the grassy verge of the Velodrome. On subsequent visits, I had the opportunity to actually ride many laps here with my two friends Michel and Leigh. The run back home was horrendous. Blistered feet, being lost many times and again adding extra distance, I arrived back at the hotel almost two hours late. I was not well received, but we won't discuss that any further.

On first impression, Bastille was a frightening experience - there seemed to be no system to the traffic's movements. On later visits, I found that its a bit like a well conducted orchestra. I've even negotiated it on bike and now have a true understanding of how things work..
An unknown artist's painting of the Bastille.

One of the sites of Paris I just needed to see was the Crypte Du Paris - I'd read about it in our DK Eye Witness guide of France. Early history has always excited me. To be where humans established a city 2000 years ago it was too good to miss. The foundations of Paris is a must see experience and yet the many visitors to Paris that I've met have never been there.

From the Paris Pass website

Under the Parvis of Notre Dame where the tribe of the Parisii settled Ile de la Cite.
 The Crypte Archéologique de Notre-Dame is an atmospheric time capsule which explores the lives and artifacts of the tribes and civilizations that dwelt in Paris long ago. Here are located the telling remains of a house from Lutèce, the precursor to Paris. There are numerous Gallo-Roman artifacts, which provide a fascinating insight into the lives of the mighty Roman Empire and how they lived in Paris.
This fascinating attraction includes a splendidly recreated settlement of the Parisii, the Celtic tribe that first settled on the site of Paris 2000 years ago and from whom the city takes its name. It is a powerful reminder that the city of Paris has stood for thousands of years in the centre of a great cultural storm, and that countless people have fought and died to make Paris their home.

We also had our first visit to Place des Vosges, well mine really because Sue had been to Paris before and been there. What a relaxing leafy place to be on a sunny autumn afternoon in Paris. Today a square of peaceful tranquility, it's hard to imagine that pistol duels were held here and it eventually degenerated into slums before being renovated to it's former exclusive splendour.

Entering Place des Vosges
Although Victor Hugo lived at number 6, I knew that Jim Morrison of the Doors spent his last days here before being buried at Pierre Lachaise cemetery with Oscar Wilde, Sarah Bernhardt and other greats of entertainment, science and academia.

And once inside, the bustle of Paris subsides.
Our time of returning home was drawing near and we decided on one last extravagant meal on our last night. It was another Kir Royale for Sue before we both ordered our favorite, Confit de Canard with a bottle of Bordeaux naturally!!!
After dinner we caught up with one of our Bayside Bandido cycling mates who was living in a broom closet in Paris. It was so nice to meet with Marcus who now lives in Thailand. He's a bit of a nomad really and runs bike tours there.
It was a lovely way to finish our France/Italy experience before flying out for home the following morning.
Oh how we looked forward to the 30 hour trip back.
Marcus, Sue and I enjoy a bottle of red on our last night.
I'll leave you with this last typical Parisian scene - well to me anyway.
Our Wednesday travel blog doesn't end here - we have returned to France a further three times since 2006 and explored many parts of this enchanting country and met many wonderful people who will remain in our memories for ever - share them with us each Wednesday.


  1. How could you be in trouble when you had blistered feet, only 2 hours late:-) Great post. Diane

  2. Thanks for sharing your memories, note to self must visit Paris again soon.

  3. Diane - I'm always in trouble, that's what us blokes do!!

    LLM - Put Paris in your diary, the channel is a lot smaller than the pacific and Asia to get to Paris.
    Enjoying your blog on Italy.

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