Paris (smells)

Cheryl got her visa back at long last on Thursday. Straight away we spoke about jumping on the Eurostar and going to Paris. I’ve been wanting to do it for weeks.

When I got home on Thursday night we booked ourselves two tickets on the 06:52 to Paris Gare du Nord on two days later. Cheryl sorted out getting us some Euros from the Post Office on Friday and I set the alarm clock for 04:15. Never a nice experience.

We got up and ready in time and the journey to St. Pancras was easy because the tube is quite empty at 05:30. We went through security in about 5 minutes. I was surprised how fast it was compared to the difficulties of air travel.

We boarded the train nice and early and set off for Paris on time. We both napped a bit on the way. Some annoying middle-eastern businessmen woke me up with their 7AM heated debate on expenses (the only word I understood). I turned around and shushed them. Don’t bother Sleepy Stu.

I woke up in the channel tunnel. It’s not so exciting when you’re used to the underground. Cheryl woke up and didn’t believe we were already in France. It is SO fast!

We got to Paris and looked at all the delapidated buildings and graffiti. You’d think they’d put some effort in, but no.

We got away from Gare du Nord as soon as we could and headed into Montmartre for the Sacre Coeur. It was quite nice, but the surrounding area was like being in a shit area of some northern English city.

A short walk from Sacre Couer took us to Anvers metro station where we encountered the quietest, least helpful customer services person in the world. After a short disagreement between Cheryl and me we found our way to one of the platforms (not the one we planned, but we made it work).

The train we got on was fairly nice compared to some London trains. There are lights showing you which station you’re at and which ones are still left. There was also a guy playing violin on there. He was pretty good.

We gradually made our way to Le Champs Elysses and walked along it to l’Arc du Triomphe. There were some annoyingly loud people protesting about Orange outside the Orange store, but what else would you expect in France? I was just glad nobody was on strike for a change.

Eiffel Tower

The Eiffel Tower

Just to the side of the arc was a road leading to the Eiffel Tower. We walked quite a long way down it before I spotted the top of the tower over a building. We were both hungry though, so we stopped for some lunch in a little café.

Being in Paris I of course went with a cheeseburger. Cheryl had a nice steak and we both had French French fries.

Once we’d finished with lunch we walked the towards the tower. We reached a place where we could see the river between us and we decided not to bother going any closer. Instead we walked along the Seine and found the spot where Princess Diana’s car crash happened.

We walked along the river more and more. We went as far as Le Louvre and then stopped in to admire the pyramids. We didn’t have a great deal of time and so we didn’t go in there.

We found our way back to the river via another little café and continued our trek to Notre Dame. It is a cool-looking building. 🙂

It was starting to get dark so we walked hack to the closest Metro station and caught a train to Gare du Nord. The stop on the metro is about a fucking mile from the actual train station entrance. That was confusing and annoying as it was getting dark.

We walked through a really shitty area of Paris to reach the station entrance. We went and got a sandwich and a drink so we’d have somewhere to sit in the station. To our disgust there was a woman in there who decided to change her babie’s soiled nappy while sitting at her table. She threw the used nappy into the bin next to some other unimpressed customers. Then we sat and watch the police stop and search a few folks outside the station. Nice.

The last hour in and around Paris really ruined the whole experience for Cheryl and me. I don’t think either of us plan to go back any time soon.

I honestly can’t believe Gare Du Nord was selected to be the arrival point for international rail to Paris. It stinks of piss, as do most of the metro stations and about 50% of the whole city.

Glad to be on the train back to London. It will never have felt so clean to me.