At last Paris! After a movie marathon on the plane (7) where I caught up on the latest and was fortunate to be seated next to very pleasant people. They were happy to act in a team capacity when we all needed the toilet as it was so very squashed and I was in a window seat. When one got up we all got up! I haven’t had that experience before with strangers but it made for a most agreeable flight.
I arrived in Paris and my booked shuttle was nowhere to be seen. It turns out they came on the 13 th instead of the 14 th but were quick to reorganise. After finally getting to the hotel I jumped in the shower to refresh, and took what was supposed to be a very quick rest. I woke with a start and realised I wouldn’t be walking to the tour after all! I grabbed a cab ( which came in five minutes- a far more positive experience than my 1 hour wait for a cab to take me to the airport in Melbourne!) to get me to a Jump the queue tour of the Louvre. I was pretty tired because I only slept a couple of hours on the plane and an hour in the hotel but I was glad of the booked tour. If I had had to queue I would have bailed. It was all your worst ideas about travelling in Europe. Crowds everywhere. I almost got the giggles over the crowd around the Venus de milo and the Mona Lisa. I wasn’t too concerned because the tour guide was very informative about those and other paintings and sculptures we saw and rooms we visited which I previously had never seen.
Flagging by now I stopped at a little bistro to have a Croque Monsieur and glass of wine and a delicious Tart Tatin ( essentially a toasted sandwich and fancy apple pie)before walking back to the hotel which is very nice and opposite the Pantheon. It is well situated and it was good to walk the streets.
Paris was overcast and cool but still people were sitting around in the Tuileries gardens relaxing and playing Pétanque. The gardens are just starting to have spring blooms but they look a little miserable yet. Away from the tourist attractions Parisienne life seemed quite pleasant and less frenetic. There seem to be homeless people on the streets that I hadn’t seen when I visited before. Paris still retains its little boutiques and odd shops that we are losing, though the expensive shops like at Melbourne Central are at the tourist places, like the Louvre, where they have added shopping malls . I felt somewhat relieved I would be here only a few days and heading into the country to be free of the crowds. Having said that I did meet some friendly Americans and enjoyed their company while having dinner .
On my return to the hotel I crashed for a satisfying 8 hours sleep. Day one done and dusted. Is this real? This trip has been in my head for so long it feels like I am in a dream.