Monday, May 23, 2016

The JW Club and two Paris landmarks

Okay, now that I'd gotten things together and was starting to enjoy this whole holiday business, I had a few things to sort out. I had to go to Orange (telecommunications company) to get a SIM card – but it didn't open until 10 (like so many things) so I wandered around the Tuileries Garden, a little way up the Champs-Élysées, the Alexandre III Bridge, the Grande Palais, the Petit Palais and the Place de la Concorde first.

Got myself a SIM card and 1GB of data (20€ - France is more expensive for this than the UK, plus they took a photocopy of my passport; in London I just walked into a store and out with a card in my phone) which I'll need to reload in a fortnight (or when the data runs out). Walking back from there I spotted a patisserie, where I hoped to find a madeleine (blame Proust), to no avail; I had to settle for a pain chocolate. Which I thought was okay, but not by any means brilliant.

From there I went to the Paris travel bureau to pick up my museum pass – a handy purchase that counts as a ticket to most of the major Paris museums, particularly the Louvre and the Musee D'Orsay, both of which I intended to visit. Oh, and the Arc de Triomphe and Versailles as well.

Next was lunch with John Wells, a friend from Adelaide who, by amusing coincidence, happened to also be in Paris (obviously). He'd picked a place he'd been before – Le Fumoir, a lovely restaurant just near the Louvre and looking out over a church (Saint-Germain-l'Auxerrois).

I had soup of nettle, poached egg and garlic; pork of some kind (it's not on the website menu) and a dessert combining lemon sherbet and licorice foam – which I tried simply because I couldn't imagine how it would work. But it did. In fact, all the food was wonderful; very French, with a lot of flavours I've not had before (either at all or in that combination). And we sat and drank wine and remarked how odd it was we were having lunch in Paris together. And I even have a picture of me (those aren't easy to come by):

This post has its title because John and I refer to each other as 'JW' - because, duh, our initials are both 'JW'. I jokingly referred to this event as the first meeting of the JW Club, Paris Branch.

Then it was time for more sightseeing. I went to Arc de Triomphe – getting my first taste of the Paris metro, which is impressive. The Arc is a spectacular structure, both inside and out. And the view from the top (after climbing all those damn stairs) is wonderful - though it will be bettered by the one from my next destination, the Eiffel Tower.

I walk from one to the other – it's about half an hour by foot – and joined the queue to get a ticket. Then joined another queue to get the elevator to the second level – there are three levels; you can climb to the first but to get any higher up you have to get an elevator. From the second level you can buy another ticket and go all the way to the top, but I'm not so wild about either heights or extra queueing, so I was content with the second level.

After enjoying the view for a while, I lined up (again!) to get the lift back down. After consulting CityMapper for advice, I caught a bus back to...somewhere near my part of town and walked back to the apartment. I wasn't especially hungry and definitely didn't feel like braving the bistro set again, so on the way home I bought some bread and cheese from a nearby store and had that, which was a whole lot better than it might sound if you've never had French bread and cheese.

I regret nothing. Pics below:

The Pont Alexandre III

Le Petit Palais.

Le Grand Palais.

A fat Paris pigeon.

The underside of the Arc de Triomphe.

Views from the top. It's on a giant roundabout, so all the nearby streets stretch out like spokes.

A view of Montmartre and La basilique du Sacré-Cœur, bathed in light.

I like the one random super-tall building.

The journey to the Eiffel Tower.

Now we're up on the second level.

 Looking over Place du Trocadéro.

The gold dome is part of the Hôtel des Invalides; it will feature in an upcoming post.

 Camembert. It was very oozy.

The Musée d'Orsay. It, too, will appear in a forthcoming post.

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