A couple of months ago, my Swiss BFF asked if I would accompany her on a trip to Paris. She was playing chaperone to a couple of teenagers who were headed to the City of Light for a concert and was looking for a friend to take along for some serious conversation and cultural learning*. Of course, I went! We were there last weekend. We took the TGV from Zürich direct to Paris- four hours- and found ourselves in the Gare de Lyon on Saturday evening. Here’s a photographic reconstruction of our trip. Remember, you can click to make them all bigger.
Arts et Métiers Metro station. A fantastica Steampunk style metro station only a few steps from our hotel. We stayed in the Ecole Central Hotel, a lovely little hotel, very central to a lot of Parisian sights.
Down near Olympiades metro station. China town, I guess. The concert goers wanted to visit a particular shop with all the garb they could buy for their favourite KPop/JPop bands. It was in a suburban shopping centre at the heart of this concrete jungle.
We ended up staying in China town for dinner. And had Chinese. It was very welcome as we were all starving but I have to be honest, my spicy prawns were not spicy. They were also a bit bland. But the Cantonese rice was good. The atmosphere was nice too, once the restaurants all around started to fill up.
After dinner we navigated the Metro back to our hotel and packed the teenagers off to bed. Then, we put on our best flip-flops and headed out to a local bar where we indulged in cocktail hour. Two Foxy Ladies- cocktails featuring chambord, vodka and lemon juice- please. We sat and chatted, drank and watched everyone go by. Perfect!
After a good night’s sleep (for me- my pal was kept awake by my epic snoring), breakfast was first on the cards the next morning. We found a cafe only a few steps away (and with a distant view of Notre Dame) and enjoyed coffee, tea and the butteriest, loveliest croissants….
…before splitting up with the teenagers for the day and heading out for a walk. We walked down to the Hotel de Ville…
…across the Seine…
…sat outside Notre Dame for a wee break in the shade of the massive cathedral…
…. And reached our intended destination, The Pantheon, which has this splendid view all the way down to the gorgeous Eiffel Tower
The Pantheon- which, because of the position of the sun etc, I wasn’t able to get a good picture of the exterior of- is a gorgeous building with a long history of being repurposed as a church, a national monument, back to a church, etc. It serves as a national monument now. It has a vast, open interior, painted on all walls, with stories of French heroes; the patron saint of Paris, St Genevieve; the history of Paris. It is in need of renovation, however and the exterior is currently scaffolded around the massive central dome.
In the crypt, you’re able to visit the tombs of famous French citizens, national treasure, perhaps, who have been “Pantheonised”. ie. their remains have been moved from their original resting place and been given a place of honour in French history, in the Pantheon. You can find the tombs of Voltaire (if I remember correctly, the first to be “Pantheonised” which started the great tradition of using the Pantheon as a place to honour the greats of France, Dumas, Victor Hugo and Louis Braille.
After admiring the Pantheon (which was blissfully quiet with only a few tourists- but I must mention, not very foreigner freindly, the majority of the displays are described in French only, but it is their national monument, after all.) we headed back to our hotel for a wee rest and the tennis. By way of the Pompidou Centre where I especially wanted to see the Stravinsky Fountain. The Stravinsky Fountain has been sculpted by married artist couple, Swiss Jean Tinguely and French Niki de Saint Phalle. Niki de Saint Phalle is the sculptor of my favourite piece of art in the Zürich main station, the big blue angel.
After Andy Murray won Wimbledon, and we’d both had a wee rest, we headed out for dinner. I had asked if we could visit a French chain resto, Leon de Bruxelles, for Moules Frites. I’d eaten at one of their places in Paris before and the mussels were sublime. Luckily, my pal is also a fan so we headed to the resto closest to our hotel, a ten minute walk away on the Place de la République.
I ordered my favourite, mussels in a Roquefort sauce and it was just as good as the last time I’d enjoyed it. My pal ordered Provençal. Both dishes were superb.
And then after dinner we walked another short way to pick up the teenagers from their concert. We enjoyed a Kir Royal in the bar next to the concert and when the concert goers found us, it was clear from their jibber-jabber that they’d both had a brilliant time. We walked back to the hotel, talking and laughing all the way and headed home the next morning.
Short but exceedingly sweet. I love Paris, I can’t wait to go again.
*gossip & cocktails