Thursday, 27 April 2017

Four days in Paris is never enough

After a couple of restorative days with my family in Germany, it was time to pack up my bag of lovingly washed clothes (thanks Auntie!) and head to my next destination - Paris.

I've been to Paris many times, but there is always so much to see and do that I still haven't covered off my long, long list and I was hoping to tick off a few more places on this trip.

On the advice of a friend, I had booked a little hotel on the Champ de Mars, just down the road from the Eiffel Tower and about 15 mins walk from Invalides. It was a charming little hotel and I had a room up on the fifth floor (thankfully they had a lift there!) which looked down onto the street below and even showed a little of the Tower above the buildings around it!

I hit the streets and walked towards Les Invalides, which is dedicated to the military history of France. There is a veterans hospital and retirement home in one corner of the site and a number of different museums which showcase different eras of France's military history. I really enjoyed the display of uniforms and armour through the ages and they had interspersed it with portraits of known soldiers and stories of different battles. They even had displays of decorated saddles for their horses.

The Dôme des Invalides was the most spectacular building, with a large golden domed roof and it's a church with the burial site for some of France's war heroes, most notably Napoleon Bonaparte.

I walked around for a couple of hours and had a hot chocolate in the Angelina cafe in the grounds (another item I'd wanted to tick off my list as I'd heard it was some of the best hot chocolate in Paris. It was nice, but way too sweet for me and I didn't drink much) and then I wandered down to the Siene and along the banks until I came to the Eiffel Tower. The parks around it were full of people enjoying the evening sunset and also all the inevitable touts and beggars so I walked to the far end and settled on a bench to watch the sun set behind the fabulous monument and enjoy the evening. It's such a beautiful structure - I never get tired of looking at it.

The next day was Saturday so I walked into St Germain and wandered down towards the river. I stopped in Laudree for a delicious morning tea with mini croissants and a Madeline (my favourite little scallop-shaped cake treats) and a pot of tea and was rewarded with my only celebrity sighting of the trip. I never see anyone when I'm out and about (or maybe I just don't know who I'm looking at) but the amazing Australian actor Noah Taylor and his family were having tea at the next table and I was super thrilled to see them. I wanted to stop and tell him how much I loved 'The Year my Voice Broke' and 'Shine' but didn't want to interrupt, so I sent a mental message and moved on my travels. I stopped at an art shop to buy some of their beautiful watercolour paint and walked across the Siene and over to the Louvre to watch the crowds. Then I took the metro into Opera, which is in the heart of the shopping district and wandered around the shops for a little, enjoying the bustle of the Saturday afternoon shoppers.

When I headed back to my hotel, I found that an antique market had been set up for the weekend in the streets around the hotel so I wandered between the stalls, looking at antique lace tablecloths, beautiful china cups and saucers and a million different items that I would have loved to take home. But with no room in the suitcase, I bought nothing but a linen handkerchief and kept wandering.

For dinner, I had an amazing, superb picnic; sourced from the traders in the streets around me. I had a petite baguette from the boulangerie, cheese from the fromagerie, some salmon caviar and some jambon (ham) and a nice little salad from the deli. Sooooo good!


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