this post is only slightly cabbie related in as much as this cabbie (moi) just spent the weekend with his fantastic girlfriend in Paris.
We left on Friday morning and were picked up at my house by my mate Chris aka titaniccabbie's brother. He dropped us at Saint Pancras railway station to take the Eurostar train to Paris. We had to check in in pretty much the same way as you would at the airport, well maybe not as severe. After a short wait in the departure lounge we boarded the train and were soon on our way. I was very impressed with the speed and smoothness of the journey. The time spent in the tunnel under the sea was about 20 to 25 minutes and the French country side on exit was pretty much the same as England. After another hour we reached the suburbs of Paris and were soon pulling into the Gare Du Nord. From there we boarded the metro (having previously purchased a book of 10 metro tickets on the Eurostar) and headed to the La Defense area in western Paris where we were staying at the Ibis Hotel. After checking in and getting our bags unpacked we set off for some sightseeing. We went straight to The Louvre and spent a few hours checking out the famous and not so famous paintings. If you're not particularly an art lover (like me) it can become a bit monotonous after a while so after only having really seen a quarter of what was on display we left for a bite to eat.
The Mona Lisa at The Louvre
We crossed the Seine via one of the many bridges and had a meal in a pretty non-descript restaurant on the Boulevard Saint Germain. We had French onion soup, Lasagne, crepes, diet coke, brandy and a coffee for the princely sum of €78 plus a few more Euros tip. That's a lot of money in my book for somethinng that would have cost half of that here in England. With a full belly we walked on to the Eiffel tower and marvelled at the fantastic awesome structure that has stood there for almost 150 years.
The Eiffel Tower
Later that evening we headed back to La Defense and sought out a shopping centre to buy some goodies to have at the hotel. There is an enoumous building there called the Grande Arch and next to it there are plenty of shops and a supermarket.
We bought enough food and snack items for a few days and left there with 2 carrier bags each. The distance back to the hotel was enough to warrant a taxi ride so we headed for the nearby taxi rank. Being a cabbie myself I know some guys get pissed off at local journeys but they still do the job. The first guy on the rank point blank refused to do it citing that he was busy waiting for someone. The next guy started to refuse as he said it was too short a journey and that we should walk but when I offered him €10 for what I thought would be a €5 journey he accepted. The route he took seemed a bit suspect as we passed our hotel on the left and headed in towards the Arc de Triomph and then back out again. The meter total was €9.20 but I gave him the €10 I had promised him. Needless to say after all the walking we'd done that day we slept soundly.
The following day we visited the beautifull Cathederal of Notre Dame. I'd wanted to come here for a long time and I wasn't disappointed. This is where "Gothic" was invented for sure!!
Notre Dame Cathederal
More walking followed and we ended up at The Bastille memorial where the French Revolution kicked off.
The next port of call was the Sacre Coeur Basillica in Montmartre. We took the funicular railway from the bottom to the top and entered the church where there was some sort of service in progress with a choir of nuns doing their thing.
The Sacre Coeur Basillica in Montmartre
There are lots of little winding streets behind the church with gift shops and restaurants and artists vying for your custom. After another major trek we made it to a Metro station and headed back to the hotel. Sunday morning was my birthday (49) and check out was to be at 12pm.
We took the metro to the Gare Du Nord and checked our bags into to a locker as we had 8 hours to kill. We had another expensive meal at another non-descipt restaurant then went walkabouts down the Rue La Fayette and Boulevard Haussman to L'Opera and Place Vendome where the Ritz Hotel is and into the Tuilieries gardens where we had a chocolate waffle and coffee. We bought a few souvenirs, took more pictures, crossed another bridge and picked the metro up at the Nationale Assemblie station back to the Gare Du Nord for the last time. The Eurostar took a bit longer on the journey back and for whatever reason wasn't as smooth a ride but it was nice to be back in London where Chris picked us up in his Mercedes Vito Taxi and took us home. So all in all a pleasant if pretty cold weekend spent in a lovely city other than London.
Back to work in a few hours.
Check back soon.