You have to hand it out to the French – they have no sense of embarassment at all. Allthough shock would have been a more likely reaction, happiness over French entrepreneurship and sense of business was what filled me when I paid 11 € for 1 liter of pure water in the park at Chateau de Versailles.
ParisThey claim that Paris is a city you always come back to. I don’t know if this is true for everyone, but for some strange reason I’ve been here a few times now and I still find it a very agreeable place to spend some days. It has the air of history, sadly mixed with the air of car pollution.
The Paris airports are a rather complicated story in themselves. Getting around them and especcially meeting up with people arriving at another terminal could potentially take hours. Air France loading the luggage on to one belt and indicating that it is going to arrive on another doesn’t really speed up things either… Despite numerous attempts to delay our progress we arrived in Paris in the end.
Paris hotels are also worth a paragraph. Everyone having spent time in any of the hotels belonging to the affordable category among Paris hotels, knows that all though these hotels might be neat, tidy and even clean they are almost without exception small! This was also the case with our one. It was a pleasant – but not overly luxurious – little hotel near the Gare de Lyon, called Hotel du Midi.
There are a number of mandatory things to do when you’re in Paris and then there is a number of optionals. As with most of my trips, decisions on what to do were made along the way and not according to a larger and well thought through design! The selection of activities were therefore a little random!
Taking a walk along one of the main axis of a city is a great way to get a feel of its layout, or so I think anyway. Paris provides lots of axis for you to choose among; the most obvious one spanning between the Musee du Louvre and the Arc du Triomphe. Setting out on a walk along this line will take you through the Jardin du Toulleries and onto the Place du Concorde. At this point you might – as we were – be tempted to take a closer look at the river Seine and cross over to the left bank where the Eiffel tower rises high above the busy street below!
When you come back home people have certain expectations to what you should and shouldn’t have done while in Paris. In order to satisfy the potential inquests from friends and family it could be wise to pay Mona Lisa a visit, take the elevator to the top of the Eiffel tower and pop by Quasimodo and Esmeralda for a quick hello in the Notre Dame cathedral. In order to conform to public oppinion all these criteria were met on this trip.
Versailles is also a place you might be told that you ought to have visited and hence should visit so you can meet the critics with a disapproving nod and say that you didn’t find it all that interesting. The parks around Versailles are nice though – and large – and with expensive restaurants which offer water (still) at 11€/bottle.
I always find city parks to be interesting places. Not exclusively because of their outstanding nature – which often isn’t that outstanding at all – but rather because of the contrast they provide to the very busy and non-natural life of the surrounding or neighbouring city! Paris has its own forrest the Bois de Bolougne. Contained within this park there are numerous smaller parks among which Parc du Bagatelle was chosen for a visit this time. This park is a beautiful sculptured park with lots and lots of flowers, the odd lake and waterfall plus several mazes in which you can ponder at your own pace looking for the way out.
Too many days of Paris life might wear on anybodys strength and energy. The perfect way of restoring it is exposing yourself to the manifestation of the “American Way” in Europe; Parc Disneyland. Taking a brief travel in time back to childhood and doing the four Disney worlds in Euro-Disney is just plain fun!
NiceThe exclusive retirement spot for the rich and elderly on the French Cote d’Azur is a pleasant spot for younger visitors also. Allthough unremarkable regarding its sights and activities the old town – Vieux Nice – and the Cours Saleya (both in daytime and at night) are good places to sit down, eat and wath the world go by.
Monte Carlo is vulgar, but visiting the city to see the casino and the castle rock is mandatory if anyone in your company hasn’t been there before. There are many things to marvel at besides these two sights, but they make out the most prominent landmarks for tourists.
The most pleasant and unexpected pleasure on this trip was the visit to the small village of Grasse some 15 km inland from Cannes which has the reputation as the worlds perfume capital. Now perfume isn’t something which to a great extent interests me; but the narrow streets of Grasse and its pleasant speed and atmosphere got to me and I liked the place.
The perfume capital of the world is a small medieval town. Despite of being terribly narrow, many of the citys streets are open to cars as well as pedestrians. As a cafe visitor you might have to flee the side walk in order to give way to a passing car. Wonderful!