Paris, France

Paris was the next exciting step in our travels and one of the most anticipated. Our train from Amsterdam to Paris took us via Belgium and gave us wonderful views along the way. Will was almost hopping out of his seat on more than one occasion as we past places that he recognised from his childhood. Paris was one of the cities that Will was most looking forward to as he got to play tour guide.

Once we arrived in Paris we jumped on a subway and headed to our hotel. The strange thing about the hotel was that after taking a second look at the reviews they all seamed negative so we were both feeling a little apprehensive. No need to worry though as we were greeted pleasantly and our room although a little small was more than adequate.

Within minutes of our bag hitting the floor we were out the door off to explore. Our first  destination: Arc de Triomphe. Unfortunately the queues were long and the traffic was light (therefore no crashes to view) so we decided to hold off climbing to the top until the next morning. With that decision made we headed down the Champs Elysees to have a look how the other half shop.

Some people say that all European cities are the same. We find there are some huge differences when you look closely. With its tree lined boulevards and parks with manicured finishes, detailed buildings with ornate statues and facades Paris truly is stunning.

On our second day the weather wasn’t playing nice but we didn’t let a little (well, a lot) of rain stop us. We threw on our jackets and headed up the Arc de Triomphe. The view was spectacular and well worth the 280 odd spiral stair climb to the top.

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Will had a plan to follow the line down the Champs Elysees to the Louve. Sam smiling like a Cheshire Cat almost skipped down the street before seeing something shining in the distance (the armoury museum) and headed off in a different direction. Had it not been for our bellies pulling us back in line Sam would have got us completely lost. Lunch consisted of hot dogs and crepes Yum!

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Once our bellies were full we continued along Will’s tour guide route. Just before we reached the pyramid, a detour was made down a random set of stairs and we were suddenly inside the Louve just metres below the pyramid and the huge line that snaked around about 100 metres outside. After a look around we decided that we were not in the mood for a gallery visit so headed out of the pyramid (no queues this way) and explored the area.

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We then headed towards the river for a quiet sit before heading to the island of Notre Dame for a wander around and a look at the stunning cathedral. The island housed a huge court building and as we crossed the bridge we noticed several men in police SWAT uniform, then we noticed a few unmarked white vans full with more swat men, then we noticed more vans and more and more. There must have been at least a dozen vans full with police. We really didn’t want to get too close to the action but damn were we fascinated.

Just as we were heading back the heavens opened. This time our jackets were creating waterfalls down our bodies. Not very pleasant! So two very damp travelling kiwi’s headed back for a hot shower.

The next day armed with umbrellas, well crap umbrellas that no longer pop up but required an engineers degree to erect, we headed out. I know we have said in the past we are not really into art galleries but there are a few things that you can’t miss out on in this life. We headed to L’Orangerie, famous for housing Monet’s water-lillie’s. We jumped in the queue at the door and only waited about fifteen minutes before we joined the security line which moved along quite smoothly. Once through the door we dropped off our bags and jumped in the line to get tickets. Now here is a trick for young players: one person takes the bags while the other stands in the queue. That way you speed up the process and wait a lot less. Once inside we were rewarded with two huge circular rooms with massive paintings running 360 degrees around the rooms. Once we had silently admired the amazing paintings nothing else could come close so as we entered the Lowe gallery we found ourselves uninspired by the still life’s and renaissance portraits.

After lunch we headed to the armoury. It is such a hugely dominant building that you almost feel like you are imposing. And yet again it bucketed down, a theme on every day that we were in Paris.

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Our last day was spent doing the one thing you must do in Paris: going up the Eiffel Tower. We arrived early, but not early enough, and joined the shortest of the queues to the elevator. After a rather long time we joined 48 others in the lift to the main level. The feeling as you move up the structure is rather unusual as you are first lifted on an angle then almost straight up with views of the industrial latticework of the structure through the huge windows as the people below get smaller and smaller.

Once we were on the main level staff shepherded anyone heading to the top into yet another queue. We patiently waited until our turn and squished into the elevator with about a dozen other tourists. This time we headed up at such a rate that it made you a little queazy. Well it was all worth it for the view, with the city looking like a model and people like ants hundreds of meters below. Our afternoon was spend enjoying the last strolls through the city streets.

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Tomorrow we will pick up a car and head south for our France road trip!

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