Friday 14 June 2024

A weekend in Paris - June 2024

I travelled to Paris on the weekend to meet my friend Dorette, who I met in 2011 when we lived in South Africa. She was there with work and as we haven't seen each other since 2019 it was an ideal opportunity to meet up after 5 years. it felt like 5 minutes since we'd last seen each other. 

We had the most amazing weekend. Our feet didn't hit the ground, other than the 15 miles walked on Saturday and the 10 miles walked on Sunday.

Paris is getting ready for the Olympics and with Joe Biden's visit, the streets were closed for traffic and in places for pedestrians. We were unable to access the Place de Concorde, hence a lot more walking than anticipated.

My journey started at Birmingham Airport and after hearing tales of massive queues for security, I left work an hour earlier, but walked straight through security and arrived airside 3 hours before my flight.

I was joined on my trip by Yoda, the learning base lego figure, that I spent the whole weekend looking for in pockets and the bottom of my bag and to my horror, discovered this tiny piece of lego was also 2 pieces joined together.

Having checked I didn't fall foul to the 10 year + date on my passport, I was horrified to discover I was getting stamped on arrival. My passport is almost full with visas and with 5 years left to run I'm reluctant to surrender my Burgundy cover in exchange for the new blue ones.

I'm also annoyed I had to sign up with a PAYG contract for 2 years as I couldn't get 3g in Europe with my current top up monthly subscription.

No luggage, so straight to the RER.

One way ticket purchased 11.80 euros and a 1 hour ride to Garde de Nord to meet my friend Dorette.

The air b&b was on the canal, a short walk from the station and an idea point for exploring Paris.

It's been 14 years since I've been to Paris and I was amazed at how much it has changed. So many more tourists, so many more queues and menus and guides in both French and English, almost everywhere. There were a few places I spoke French to order drinks and food, but as soon as I said 'Bonjour' most people could hear the English accent and replied in English.

First stop, after coffee, was The Louvre, for a 10.30am visit and straight off to see the Mona Lisa.

The queue to visit filled the whole gallery, but people moved on quite quickly.

This was the closest we could get now, last time I was here, you could stand almost side by side and take a selfie.

The view from the windows of the court yard is stunning.

We worked our way around the whole of the museum, stopping to take photos of things that interested us. it was difficult to get a lot of photos due to large tour groups that dominated most pieces.

After The Louvre, we headed for the Eiffel Tower.

A court yard of designer shops.

Lunch stop.

Free entertainment at lunch, with the streets being closed, due to Biden's visit, this bus got stuck and the furniture delivery guys refused to move their vehicle and just walked away.

I love a bit of street art.

Place de Concorde closed whilst Paris prepares for the 2024 Olympics.

Our route closed due to Joe Biden's visit.

Finally made it to the Champs Elysees. I do love a good building design and this Louis Vuitton building is one of the best yet.

The last time I was at the Arc de Triomphe, I drove round it.

The first real sign that the Olympics aren't far away, viewed from the Trocadero.

Ready for our cruise down the Seine.

Notre Dame.

One too many glasses of Champagne.

We finished the evening off at Montparnasse.

Day 2 in Paris.
We started to see more signs that Paris is almost ready for the Olympics.

We started the day early with a visit to Sacred Coeur. By 10.30am the queues to get in were huge.

I insisted on a climb to the top.

Lunch stop.

A visit to Galleries Layfeyettes.

Another roof top view.

The afternoon spent exploring the neighbourhood where we were staying and a few drinks.

Back at Gare de Nord and the end of the trip.

I arrived back in Birmingham and Peter collected me and got home around midnight.
Lets hope it's not 5 years until we see each other again.

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