A weekend in Paris
Published: Tuesday 2008-04-08.
And so we are back home again, after having spent the weekend (from Saturday to Monday) in the capital of France, Paris. We booked the trip half a year ago in conjunction with SAS having an advertising campaign for cheap spring flights to various destinations. That it was this one weekend is because it was Thea’s birthday on Saturday, and we thought that a trip to Paris would be a nice way to celebrate it.
After having started the trip with having the flight delayed an hour out of Oslo, due to it not being allowed to start because of air congestion, and an hour of waiting at the airport for the shuttle bus we had booked in advanced, we finally arrived at the hotel at around eleven on Thursday night. We stayed at Hôtel des Arts, in the middle of Montmarte, right above Moulin Rouge. The hotel was a positive surprise, even if the breakfast could have been better the hotel was very nice, and right in the middle of everything.
We brought along a guide book that described different walks you could walk, so we started the Saturday with a “literary walk” through the quarters where, among others, Hemingway lived, and for the night we had booked a guided bike tour, which was a very nice experience, and something we can really recommend. Perhaps somewhat later in spring or towards summer, though, at times it was rather cold, even if it at least did not rain on Saturday night (on the Sunday it was both raining and snowing). Even if the guiding did not cover everything, we at least got to see several parts of Paris, and, last but not least, some exercise at the same time.
Sunday morning we chose to completely ignore the marathon run that took place in the city streets, but instead we went to the Louvre, where we were tempted by the free entrance (the first Sunday of each month, entrance is free). The Louvre is, just like the Vatican museums, much too big for one to have time to see more than just a small fraction, but at least we got around to see both Mona Lisa, at a distance together with loads of other people, and the Venus de Milo. Unfortunately the code of Hammurabi was moved to a temporary exhibition that I didn’t think it was worth paying the entry for, so I didn’t get to see it, that will have to wait until next time. On Sunday evening we went up the Eiffel tower, but the wind and the rain made it a bit of a freezing experience.
On Monday we stayed in the Montmarte district to begin with, where we went to see the Sacré-Cœur basilica and the Salvador Dalí museum. Since we still had a couple of hours to kill before the flight back we thought we should go down to the big Champs-Élysées in daylight, we had been there for a quick look after going to the Eiffel tower on Sunday night, so we took the underground there and ended up in a big sea of people.
It turned out that the torch relay for this year’s Olympic games passed through Paris yesterday. We had heard about it on the news on the TV in the morning, but did not know where or when it was supposed to take place, so it was a surprise that we managed to get there at the right time. It was full of people demonstrating, among other things against China’s occupation of Tibet, their human rights abuses and the lack of freedom of speech, and we got to see by our own eyes at least one demonstrator get arrested after having jumped the security perimeters that were set up on both sides of Champs-Élysées.
I had the camera with me, and tried to take some pictures. Since there were quite a lot of people it was difficult to get good pictures, but I have uploaded the best ones on Flickr.
After the torch relay, we went to what has to be one of the world’s most boring airports, Charles de Gaulle. A miniature tax free shop and a total lack of restaurants, the closest thing was a small coffee bar that sold pre-packaged sandwiches, and that managed to overcharge Thea by 400 euros. Fortunately we didn’t have to wait for too long, and when we landed our baggage arrived at once, so we were home less than an hour after the plane landed. Not bad.
Paris seems to be a nice city, and I can wholeheartedly recommend the Fat Tire guided bike tour, which they also have in several other cities. In addition, I can recommend using the underground (metro) a lot. I have yet to see any public transport system as effective as it.
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