Paris

Stunning, Amazing, Phenomenal; these words still can’t even come close to describing Paris. Culture and art oozing from every pore and orifice starts to get close, but it was still more, dare I say, “magical” just being there and breathing inn the lush majesty of this remarkable city.

While we had quite enjoyed driving around Europe, we all looked forward to Paris, and exchanging the car for subway rides everywhere. Claudette had booked a nice little hotel directly across the street from the Eurostar station (the chunnel train). It was old, and quaint; and thankfully had an elevator to get our bags up to the fifth floor. There was no restaurant in the place, but they served breakfast inn a little sitting area in the lobby. A croissant bun, a bit of cream cheese and some jams with juice, coffee or tea for $12!!! Dropping off the car was a synch, and they didn’t even balk at the smashed up bumper with mangled side panels and backup sensors. We submerged into an adjacent subway station, bought three day passes and then found our way across the city pretty easily.

We had a wonderful three full days wandering around Paris. We also managed to meet up with Greg & Monique (Claudette’s sister) again and toured a few places with them. The Louvre was particularly interesting. Not just because of the shear vastness of it’s amazing galleries and their world renown contents; nor only the stunning beauty of the buildings and architecture. Almost just as amazing as these aspects, was the accessibility of everything! Well, everything but the Mona Lisa (cordoned off and behind bullet proof glass) and the Venus De Milo (viewable only from behind a setback roped cordon). All other paintings, carvings and tapestries one could actually walk right up to for an extreme close-up view, (or even touch, if one was a “bad” person). We also managed to meet up with Claudette’s Aunt, Uncle & cousin again in Paris. Walking around downtown between our hotels and seeing the sights and all kinds of neat things in the nooks and crannies was great fun. There were numerous street performers out with all kinds of acts that we stopped to enjoy as well. The weather for pretty much all of our time in France was mostly sunny and very little rain. Paris did not disappoint either as we had all sunshine for our three and two half days there.

I believe that some senior French government tourism bureaucrat must have watched “French Kiss” several years ago and then set about a complete reformation of the services industry attitudes. The aloofness and extravagant arrogance in dealing with English speaking tourists that I’d so often heard of seemed non-existent to me. We had fairly enjoyable dealings with everyone and the infamous reputed superior attitudes must be a thing of the past. The only hint of conflict that I encountered was actually from the English customs/immigration agent at the chunnel train station as we departed. He was making fun of the ridiculous overbearing guards near their desk and the unnecessary hassle they were giving passengers. He then went on to elaborate with some other discouraging comments about the French people in general. And while the comments were pretty accurate, they were still pretty unnecessary.

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