Yup so this weekend was spent by Joe and I in Paris...it's his birthday today and he finished exams on Wednesday so it was a perfect excuse for me to plan a little trip for us! And, it was wicked! A bit of a flying visit really with quite a bit of travelling but the weather was beautiful (and is again today actually, dry, freshly cold and sunnnnnyyyyy!!!), we fitted so much in and just had a fantastic time together. I guess it wasn't entirely Joe's treat as I was very keen to get back to Paris soon anyway...I really haven't spent much time there, and none at all since I've been properly old enough to appreciate it. We were real tourists and managed to see all the big sights and stuff that we really wanted to but I kinda feel we still only scratched the surface of the city in many ways; will have to go back?!
So yeah I worked Friday morning and then headed to the station for my 13.15ish train to Limoges. Had a half hour wait at Limoges; the station is gorgeous, one of the nicest I've seen (stations are generally pretty crummy places to be no?!)...old and stuff but they've done it up nicely with glass walkways and stuff so thats kinda made me wanna visit the city there! Waiting for the TGV to Paris was funny, once we left Limoges it was 3 hours direct to Paris, and being a Friday afternoon there was a definite excited sense in the air that everyone knew they were hitting the big city (from the "provinces") for the weekend, I guess the weather helped too. The journey was fine (apart from the kindy sleazy French guys I ended up sat next to both ways); 3 hours is quite a long time but the TGVs are fairly decent inside (although look skanky from the outside!) and I had my magasines, books and DS.
Arrived at Paris Austerlitz at 18.10 and navigated to the metro to get to Gare du Nord and meet Joe. This journey was the only bad metro experience we had...it kept stopping and starting because of some "technical problem" so it took me ages to get there but eventually did. Somehow Joe and I managed to track each other down in the massive station....I swear he walked past me...we went up and out for some fresh air and then back down onto the metro and to Oberkampf station, our hotel was just near there. We stayed in a 2* hotel booked through hostelworld.com...it was fine, not amazing, but pretty cheap, friendly staff and a good location. We were in a random unnumbered room up a "dead-end" staircase in the attic; was a bit chilly but clean and we hardly spent any time there anyway!
Once we'd dumped off our stuff and everything we headed to Saint Michel...wandered around, soaked up the atmosphere and street entertainers and checked out Notre Dame (which still had its Christmas Tree up!). We then headed to a restaurant just across the Seine, took a table in the windown, had a yummy goats cheese salad and a pichet of vin.
Saturday morning we were up and out nice and early and headed straight for the Louvre (grabbing a croissant and coffee on the way...of course!). Had lots of fun in the Louvre, was way bigger than I'd imagined and we didn't really have time to see all we would have liked to, but checked out most of the French paintings, Napolean's appartments and I particularly liked a set of statues which were once all in one big park and are now beautifully displayed in this one room. We also checked out the main tourist attractions there; the original Mona Lisa and Venus de Milo.
Then it was across the Seine to a little bistro for a delicious Quiche Lorraine (my French food of choice at the mo...may overtake confit de canard as my fave!), unfortuately they tried to rip us off but weren't prepared for my wicked French; that showed them! Next stop: Eiffel Tower! Queued for a bit, not too long, and headed all the way up to the 2nd and then 3rd (top!) floor. Spent a couple of hours up there altogether I think...had a waffle, enjoyed the lovely views etc.
Later we headed to Concorde for a view down the Champs Elysee to the Arc du Triomphe and, par hasard, hit it right on sunset which was great, just behind the eiffel tower. Like, really weird, there are cars all around you and yet it felt really really beautiful. Ah la ville de l'amour!
Then on to Montmartre. We got to the metro stop and all the locals were waiting for a lift up to ground level, but we were like "blow that! Why bother?! It can't be that far up". It was. A long way! And then we took *the* steps all the way up to the Sacre Coeur. This too was beautiful, all lit up and a random guy was doing an impromtuo concert on the steps. He was singing/speaking in English, French, German, Spanish and Italian and a crowd of maybe 100 people had gathered, all sat watching him (and the random drunken lady who was with him!). We were really were lucky with the weather, it was dark at like 7pm on a January evening but warm enough to sit there and enjoy the atmosphere and view for a good half an hour or so. Then we took the furnacular back down and found a really nice restaurant for a meal. I went for steak and chips; I rarely have steak but makes a nice change when out for a meal, and we had a yummy bottle of 2004 Beaujolais and sorbet for dessert....mmmmm....
Finished off the evening wandering through the Pigaille area, which is apparently famous for "caberet", although there were an awful lot of erotic shops. Saw the Moulin Rouge and had a drink. Headed back to the Hotel at about midnight.
Sunday morning was a bit of a stuggle getting up but we did and hit the cafe next to Hotel to share a Breakfast formule (orange juice and croissant for me, coffee and roll for Joe!). Then we went to Pere Lachaise cemetry (which is the largest in Paris and one of the most famous in the world)...had a nice wander around and saw, amongst many other Parisian rich and notables) the graves of Proust, Balzac, Delacroix, Jim Morrison, Heloise and Abelard and Oscar Wilde (an art-deco tomb which people have covered in kisses).
Then, sadly, it was time to begin our journeys home and now it i time for me to head to bed!
Check out the photos: http://oxford.facebook.com/album.php?aid=2187683&l=63f20&id=36807831