Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Paris, day 1 - arrival and the Champs Elysées

Early and chilly start – the street lights weren’t even on when we got up! The full moon was very bright on our way to the station, and we watched the sun rise during our train journey to London. Sunday morning engineering works meant leaving the train for a short coach trip between Witham and Ingatestone – the organisation was a bit of a shambles, to say the least, but we got to St Pancras in time to catch the Eurostar.
Facts about the Eurostar: the tunnel through which it travels is 100m below the English Channel at its deepest point, and the highest speed it reached during testing of the UK high speed line was 208 mph (338 km/h). Going through the tunnel itself takes about 20 minutes (the other 2 hours is overground between London and Paris).

We arrived safely at the Gare du Nord.
And then we had the fun of negotiating the Metro. Once we knew which line we had to take from the Gare to connect to line 1 (our stop was Franklin D. Roosevelt), it was fine. The French Metro is covered in white tiles and there are barriers which only open to let people on to the carriages – and the trains themselves are quite shabby and covered in graffiti.

And then we emerged into the Champs Elysées for the first time. Parisian architecture is just glorious. All we had to do was cross the road (MUCH wider than I’m used to), take the next left, and then a two-minute walk to the hotel – finally arrived at 5pm French time.

The hotel reception is gorgeous.
Loved this ceiling.

Nice firm bed and plenty of room – and a lovely view.

After we’d settled in, we walked up the Champs Elysées...
...to the Arc de Triomphe.
Gerry says it’s the biggest roundabout in the world – and the driving was crazy! There were soldiers under the arch, clearly involved in some ceremony; we later discovered that it was lighting the flame on the tomb of the Unknown Soldier, which is done at 6.30pm every night.

Then we did a spot of window-shopping – amazingly, in Paris, there are car showrooms among the retail shops. This is Peugeot’s electric car. We just loved these neon rope lights.
Bit shocked by the beggars – some of whom looked as if they needed hospital care – and it was a very sharp contrast to the affluence of their surroundings.

Then it was dinner in a lovely bistro. Sadly they’d run out of the risotto de canard et champignons, but the crème brulee was the nicest I’ve EVER had (and it was huge!).

Then back to the hotel, via some of the Galeries.
Spotted a familiar name on a perfume ad...

Chris says he understands now why his dad refused to let Chloe and I come here alone!

Most of today was spent on a train, so we only walked 12,994 steps. But we made up for that the next day...


Anonymous said...

You weren't, by any chance - staying at the Hotel Frontenac, Kate?

from Sharon Kendrick (it won't seem to let me post under anything other than Anonymous!)

Jan Jones said...

Lovely post to wake up to on a cold grey Tuesday morning!

Fab comment from Chris!

Kate Hardy said...

Sharon - yup, we were :) (Mind you, that massive great sign at the front probably gave it away...) The staff were lovely, and the breakfast... sigh.

Jan - we were SO lucky with the weather. And Chris is becoming a master of dry understatement. (Mind you, now Gerry has seen the prices of YSL handbags, he will shut up about my Radleys.)

Nicolettehh said...

Looks great. Shame about the beggars, but I bet Chloe was thrilled with the perfume ad!

Caroline said...

Great photo's Kate (again). (What would I do without your photo's - they brighten up my day!) Looks like everyone was having fun. Caroline x

Katie said...

Love the photos. The hotel looks gorgeous :-)

Anonymous said...

I've stayed there many times.. Sharon x

Lacey Devlin said...

I could live in that hotel reception!