What do you do on your first romantic morning in Paris? Croissants and café latte at a petite patisserie you say? Mais non! Our travelling companions for the next couple of weeks are arriving on the Eurostar around 9:00 so we squeeze on to a crowded early morning commuter train and head back to Gare du Nord station to meet them.
We congratulate ourselves for finding the international arrivals area, though I guess there are just so many places one can park a 400 metre long train. Some huge storms have passed through this morning and the train is predicted to be “retard” by about 15 minutes. No worries, time for that latte.
The train pulls in and we expect to be on our way “toute suite” as Kath would say. OK – where are they? Oh, the Eurostar carries 750 passengers, and of course Murray and Jenny are the last ones off. Their luggage looks heavy and I think of all those stairs ahead. After a not-so-brief stop at the ticket counter to get some train passes, we head for the platforms, thankful that most of the morning commuters have already commuted.
One of the great things about the Metro is the surprise you get when leave an underground station and suddenly find yourself in a crowded city street. We emerge within sight of the Opera Garnier, and it’s just a short drag of the luggage to our hotel.
Check in completed, we head out for a baguette lunch and then, on a whim, I suggest we could go down to the river. As the local said yesterday “It is not far.” We decide the hop-on hop-off Batobus will be a relaxing way to see some of the sights from the river. The trip was a success, however someone might need to explain to the French that it can get a little warm under a perspex dome on a 30 degree C day. We did the obligatory stop at the Eiffel Tower, only to find that one lift wasn’t working and the line for the other one stretched halfway to Belgium. There is an option of stairs, but we quickly decide we’ve done the Tower before and smugly head past the waiting throngs to look for some shade and wait for the next boat.
River loop completed, we disembark and head past the Louvre in what I am sure is the direction of the hotel. There’s a group of about a thousand Japanese tourists heading around the corner into the road we used when we came, so I guide our little clan to the next road to give them the slip. OK – so the roads in central Paris don’t run parallel with each other. After some time, we resort to checking the map and I realise I just might have overshot the hotel by a wee bit. No problem – it is not far. The little side trip takes us through the Place des Victoires, a ring of houses specially constructed around an equestrian monument in honor of King Louis XIV, celebrating the Treaties of Nijmegen in 1678-79. This, however, is lost on us at the time because we have all had a long day and just want to get back to our hotel.
Paris is like that, you are so immersed by the beautiful and the amazing that it is easy to pass through with out seeing anything at all.