Thursday 28th May, 2015
Friday 29th May, 2015
Saturday 30th May, 2015
Sunday 31st May, 2015

Thursday 28th May, 2015

Drop Cap his afternoon we arrived in Paris. It took about four hours including stops for morning tea and lunch in motorway services places. We got salad baguettes and diet coke for lunch and I ordered in French and the lady spoke to me in French, whereas when Leigh (one of our friends from the boat) came up and asked for a number four, she switched effortlessly into English.

Hotel Room Paris photograph
Our Room,Hotel du Collectionneur, Paris

Drop Cap e are staying at the Hotel du Collectionneur Arc de Triomphe and it seems very nice. Should be - the rates posted on the door were extortionate. The room is very spacious (compared with our cabin) and has an Art Deco theme, like the Alcron in Prague. Even some of the same pictures!

Rosemary in Paris Hotel photograph Rosemary in our Paris Hotel Room

Drop Cap eigh and Kyra dropped by and told us they had made a booking for four in a local restaurant, Le Monceau, recommended by our guides. We have been sharing a table with Leigh and Kyra all the way through on the boat and hit it off very well, so we happily went along with it.

Drop Cap he meal was enjoyable, the patron gave us complimentary glasses of kir (white wine and blackcurrant juice, very nice) and several other members of the tour came in as well.
Leigh, Kyra and I all had sliced grilled steak and salad and fries, Mac had beef bourguignon, then, in spite of good intentions, Mac had tiramisu and the rest of us had creme brulees. Yum!
Afterwards we got a few necessities from the local Monoprix supermarket and came back to unpack a bit. A full day tomorrow.

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Friday 29th May, 2015

Parc Monceau photograph

One Entrance to Parc Monceau, Paris

Colonnade Parc Monceau photograph

Colonnade in the Parc Monceau

Columns in Parc Monceau photograph

Columns in Parc Monceau

Drop Cap fter breakfast Mac and I went for a stroll in Parc Monceau, a neighbourhood garden with some lovely stone features, bridges, temples, arches and lovely flowers and grass. It was very pleasant. Many others seemed to agree as the paths were full of joggers and power walkers. But we managed to avoid them.

Paris Opera Garnier photograph

Paris Opera Garnier

Drop Cap n returning to the hotel we joined the group for a coach tour of the highlights of Paris - Arc de Triomphe, Champs Elysees, Louvre, Palais Royale, Eiffel Tower. We only saw some of them from the bus, like the incredible Opera house, (the one the Phantom lived in).

Palais Royale photograph

Strange Garden in Palais Royale

Drop Cap he Palais Royale was very unusual. Instead of the usual formal gardens these places usually have, they had been modernised into some rather peculiar columns and statuary. In the midst of the old stone buildings it was almost jarring, but I quite liked it. Unfortunately my camera stopped short and told me to change the batteries. I only changed them in Prague, I think, but they had been in the fridge for ages. So I didn't get many pictures, boohoo!

Drop Cap t the Eiffel Tower we had been supposed to have the ascent to the second level which gives the great views, but Jude had not been able to get the group tickets because of enormous group bookings from China and Japan which shut out other groups. So she said. She said the Chinese tour directors employ people to just sit on the phones and bulk book and don't even always use the bookings!
However, it seemed as if the world and his wife were there this morning. We were warned to be very careful of bags and pockets because pickpockets have staked out the Tower, crowd scenes being their preferred working environment.
Because we were not able to get up to the second level we went up to the first Level of the Tower and APT shouted us lunch in the restaurant, which was not on our brochure, to make up for it. For a group effort, set menu, it was quite OK - salad, melt in the mouth pork (I think) and lemon meringue tart. Quite nice.

Drop Cap e came back to the hotel and asked the concierge where I could find a shop which sold batteries. I also wanted a new memory stick and a wristband for my new purse. He directed us to a local version of JB HiFi about fifteen minutes walk away so we went there. No luck getting lithium batteries but we got two sets of high powered batteries which will do, I guess, plus a memory card and a little phone case which had the sort of wrist strap I wanted. So, OK.


Dinner and show at the Moulin Rouge.

Moulin Rouge Programme photograph

Moulin Rouge Programme Cover

Drop Cap uch a crush! Lots of coachloads of tourists like us and some people who just bought a ticket and came! The meal was surprisingly adequate and served quickly and without fuss. The only problem was trying to find the room to wield a knife and fork! We were jammed together, six at a table and some of us were rather large! Trying to get comfortable and a good view of the show was difficult.

Drop Cap owever, the show was spectacular, loud and quite skilful but we both thought it was less precise and synchronised than it should be. And went on just a bit too long. Everything after the CanCan was a bit of an anti-climax. But the girls were good-looking and their costumes (such as they were) were colourful , the boys were pretty but a bit lacklustre. A couple of the specialty acts, the roller skaters( who I swear we saw in Cirque du Soleil last year), the acrobats and the mime were excellent and good foils for all the dancing. I bought a program for ten euros, for a souvenir.

Moulin Rouge photograph

The Moulin Rouge (two days later)

Drop Cap hen we came out there was a huge line for the second show - the girls must be worn out after two shows a night! But generally I enjoyed it. It seems we have been hearing about the Moulin Rouge for so many years, it was interesting to see it finally, even if Marissa is no longer there.

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Saturday 30th May, 2015

Drop Cap oday we met the Mona Lisa! Not exclusively, alas! hundreds of other courtiers as well. We had a group tour of some of the highlights of the Louvre. Our guide was good, very knowledgeable about the artwork.

Outside the Louvre photograph

Outside the Louvre

Arc du Carrousel photograph

Looking up the Champs Elysees from Arc due Carrousel

Drop Cap e had some time to wait before our group entry so we strolled around the forecourt of the Louvre, where there are fountains and the Arc du Carrousel. From where we stood we could see through the Arc, right up the Champs Elysees past the obelisk in the Place de la Concorde and up to the Arc de Triomphe. A fantastic sight.

Us at the Louvre photograph

Rosemary and Mac
Outside the Louvre

Inside the Pyramid photograph

Inside the Pyramid

Drop Cap e started in the courtyard where the new - ish Pyramid entrance is located. It is funny, outside I thought it was an excrescence among all the ancien siecle buildings surrounding it but when we got inside the entrance hall flooded with light looked really impressive and spectacular.

Louvre Statuary photograph

In the Sculpture Court

Venus de Milo photograph

Venus de Milo in the Louvre

Drop Cap ur guide took us first to some of the courts where, he says, nobody ever goes and it is a shame. There were spectacular panels and figures from ancient Iran and Iraq, an Egyptian sphinx and some wonderful Greek statuary among whom in pride of place was the Venus de Milo. She was great (in all senses of the word) and our guide explained what her arms would have been doing, quite interesting.

Winged Victory photograph

The Winged Victory of Samothrace

Drop Cap he next star was the Winged Victory of Samothrace, standing on the prow of a ship to commemorate a sea battle against much superior odds.

Crowds at Mona Lisa photograph

Crowds at Mona Lisa

Drop Cap hen the early Italians, Giotto, Botticelli, etc, until we got to Leonardo. And the crowds. Everyone says that the Mona Lisa is smaller than you expect, given the fame, but I thought it was pretty much what I expected, a bit larger than A4 and the frame makes it bigger. They keep her behind heavy glass and her colours seem a little dimmed but it is really beautifully done. I love portraiture and Mona Lisa lives! Then a quick jaunt through French monumental art of the Napoleonic era (Wall sized ceremonial paintings) then we got out.

Drop Cap e decided to leave the group here and see a bit more of the city by ourselves. So we wandered off towards the Ile de la Cite, intending to look at the Sainte Chappelle. We stopped for lunch at a café, de la Colonnade, and had their plat du jour which was a Spanish omelette with chorizo, potatoes and onions. Very tasty with salad and chips.

Love Locks Pont Neuf photograph

Love Locks on Pont Neuf

Drop Cap e found our way to Pont Neuf and crossed to the Ile passing the hundreds of "love locks" attached to it (a fashion taking over most well known bridges in Europe).

Bateau Mouche photograph

Bateau Mouche on the Seine

Pont Neuf photograph

Pont Neuf Paris

Drop Cap e enjoyed a stroll beside the river, watching the river traffic and eventually found the Sainte Chappelle. Unfortunately, their security would not let Mac in with his penknife so he left to wait outside. However, there was such a long queue just to pay entrance fees so I decided not to bother either.

Drop Cap was getting pretty footsore by this time so we found a Metro. Mac bought the tickets, figuring out the machine and paying by card, and we headed off for Courcelles, the nearest stop to the hotel. He managed this remarkably efficiently, even negotiating a change of line with no problems. It was very quick.

Drop Cap e are having a "last supper" tonight with Leigh and Kyra who have become close friends during the trip. They leave tomorrow as do many of the group. We have our free last day tomorrow and may brave the Metro again to go up to Montmartre and see Sacre Coeur.

Drop Cap he tour is nearly finished - so long anticipated, so quickly over. We have both gained a bit of weight despite all the walking, so normality must ensue again quickly!

Drop Cap e had a good meal tonight at Valois, in the neighbourhood, schnitzel and salad for Mac and me, ducklng for Leigh and Kyra. Both good, and a lovely waitress.

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Sunday 31st May, 2015

Drop Cap he last day of the tour. Most of the group are going home. Leigh and Kyra hugged us and asked us to keep in touch and Chris and Roseanne kissed and shook hands. The four of us arrived together in Munich and have socialised ever since, particularly Leigh and Kyra and Mac and Me.

Drop Cap ur hotel, the Collectionneur is quite nice but the service has been a bit sloppy, considering the base rate is 800 euros a night! The French Open tennis is on and I think the hotel is used by some of the players. Official cars from Roland Garros park outside and I swear I saw Newk in the foyer one afternoon. People carting enormous racket bags wander through the foyer and the equipment firm Wilson has a courtesy meeting room. So far I haven't watched any tennis but we watch very little TV while travelling.

Sacre Coeur photograph

Eglise du Sacre Coeur, Montmartre

Drop Cap oday, after farewelling the group and having breakfast, we went out and took the Metro to Anvers, then walked up to Sacre Coeur. It is the most beautiful church we have seen this trip I think, both externally and internally. On the way up (quite a long climb) we were waylaid by a couple of Senegalese guys who seized our hands and plaited wristbands for us, talking volubly the while. It cost us ten euros to get away. We felt we had paid our dues for the day so ignored the countless Black guys paving the way who sold trinkets of varying quality.

Sacre Coeur photograph

Crowds Sacre Coeur

Drop Cap e admired the beautiful basilica, then joined the crowds going in. It is a working church and it being Sunday they would be celebrating Mass in twenty minutes time. The church was crowded, many people there for the service, sitting in the pews, and many more tourists shuffling around, chatting and taking photos right beside the signs asking for Silence and No Photography. Some tourists seem to think they don't need to follow the rules, they only apply to others. For the first time I heard people shushing others and officials telling people not to take photos. Not that it did much good. The decoration inside was Byzantine style, glorious mosaic pictures in blues and gold, lots of stained glass and domes. I really think it is the best, even better than St. Vitus in Prague.

Paris from Montmartre photograph

Looking over Paris from Montmartre

Montmartre photograph

Hilly Montmartre

Drop Cap fter looking at the Basilica we strolled through Montmartre, through the Place du Tertre, full of artists, cafes and souvenir shops. Wandering artists with sketch blocks touted for portraits. One rather classy looking gent with white hair and beard really wanted to sketch Mac because of his hat, which has been attracting a lot of attention on the Continent. He even said it was like Indiana Jones and it had inspired him. Mac passed, however.

Moulin de la Galette photograph
Moulin de la Galette, Montmartre

Drop Cap s we strolled, around and up and down (it's very hilly there) we passed La Moulin de la Galette, a club and restaurant well known in literature since before Toulouse-Lautrec. It is a real windmill. Apparently there used to be many windmills up there.

Montmartre in Rain photograph

Montmartre in Rain

Drop Cap t started to rain, so after purchasing a couple of T-shirts and a badge, we found a table in an open air (covered with canopies)café where Mac had a mushroom omelette and salad and I had onion soup gratinee (topped with bread and melted cheese) We shared a pichet of rose and had coffee afterwards. Very nice and warming.

Drop Cap hen we took the little Montmartre tourist train back down to Blanche, where the Moulin Rouge is, and took the Metro back to the hotel.

Our last day - tomorrow to London! Like Prague, I would gladly return to Paris, I have really enjoyed it.


Drop Cap e found our neighbourhood cafes were closed, it being Sunday, so we walked to the Champs Elysees (ten minutes) and found a nice family style restaurant called Romaine. Mac had veal sliced with ratatouille and I had veal rossini, unusual but not bad. With a glass of rose and tiramisu and creme brulee it came to 45 euros. Not bad especially in the Champs Elysees. It was raining gently as we walked home. So farewell to Paris.


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