Singapore to Paris

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We boarded our flight from Singapore to Paris a little before midnight and settled down for the long night. Majella and Sam were asleep by the time supper was served and missed that meal which I ate before trying to catch some sleep. When we awoke, 10 hours or so later at about 5:00 am, we were over the Czech Republic and waiting for breakfast to be served. We had all managed to catch some sleep and, with breakfast of baked eggs, sausage and beans on board,  thought we were ready for the day ahead.

Our flight touched down at Charles de Gaulle airport about 20 minutes early. That seemed like a good start to the day but for some reason the front wheel on the A380 was in no condition to taxi and we had to wait to be towed to the terminal. By the time the engineers examined it, worked out how to attach the tow, and got us to the terminal, an hour had passed. So much for any value from the early landing.

Fortunately most of the rest of our airport activity went smoothly. Immigration was the merest of formalities and, once we had waited for our bags to arrive on the carousel, customs was even more cursory. Unlike our 2006 experience in Rome, there was no queue at the Europecar desk. Our car arrangements flowed smoothly and we found the car, a Renault Modus, in the car park easily. There was a solution to the jigsaw puzzle of fitting the bags in the boot but we were briefly lost in running the maze to get out of the car park.

It took a few minutes of blind navigation on the roads out of the airport until the GPS found the satellites. From there our trip to the New Hotel Candide went smoothly, but for a single wrong turn from which the GPS eventually extricated us. Parking near the hotel was scarce. Being Sunday, we could park for free in the streets and after a trip around the block managed to find a spot that Majella felt comfortable squeezing the car into. At shortly after 9:30 am, we were much too early for our 10:30 am check in time and had no expectation of doing more than confirm that we had a room for the night. The hotel staff were very helpful and managed to get us access to one of the pair of rooms that made up our triple so that we could drop our bags. We did that and headed out to explore Paris.

Majella had previously discovered that Le Cimitiere du Pere-Lachaise was at the end of the street that ran just below our hotel. We headed off to see what famous graves we might find. A sign near the cemetery entrance offered plenty of choice but Majella opted to visit Honore Balzac whom she credited with having stunted her French language development at university because of the trouble she had with his prose. Along the way we found some other famous people and many interesting monuments.

Despite walking close to 20 km, Sam thoroughly enjoyed his day in Paris, especially the Eiffel Tower and the Louvre.

From the cemetery we headed back along the street to the Voltaire Metro station where we managed to work out what tickets to buy for the day and headed off to the Trocadero for a view of the Eiffel Tower. We had thought of eating lunch some time soon but it was still just 11:30 am and we decided to venture across the Seine to see how the queue was to go up the Eiffel Tower. It was long but we decided to join it and wait. Majella and Sam wandered off briefly to search for food while I held our space but the best they could manage was ice cream for Sam. It was a few minutes after 1:00 pm, and a bit more than an hour in the queue, that we made it up the lift to the second level of the tower. The top level had been closed in the interim because of overcrowding and, though it may have been open when we got up, we decided not to risk the extra wait. We walked around the tower taking photographs and paused to call Nick, for whom the Eiffel Tower has important romantic associations with Simone, and Jane and Lea to let them know that Sam was doing well to that point. Sam persuaded us that it would be a good thing to walk down the stairs rather than wait for the lift. We made it down safely from the equivalent of about 40 stories and headed back toward the Trocadero.

Sam had observed people wading in the fountain pool and decided that he needed to do that. He did, getting his shorts wet and cooling off in the process. From there we headed back to the Metro and caught a ride to Franklin D Roosevelt station near the midpoint of the Champs Elysees where we went in search of lunch. By that time it was after 2:00 pm and we were famished, not having eaten since our breakfast on the plane. Sam was determined to try the Croque Monsieur recommended by one of his teachers. In the end he pronounced the ham sandwich toasted with cheese, not to his liking, on the outside to be a crock. Majella and I shared a baguette with ham, cheese and salad. That was good enough to take the edge off our hunger.

We walked down the Champs Elysees through the Tuilleres gardens to the Louvre. By that time it was close to 3:30 but we decided it was better to see what we could of the Louvre then rather than gamble on coming back the following week. We headed for the Mona Lisa first, enjoying a variety of paintings along the way. From there we looked at some more paintings in the same area before heading off to see the Venus de Milo. By the time we had done that, and seen some other art works along the way, we were all exhausted and looking for a way home. We found the nearest Metro station on a map, headed there and took a train back to Franklin D Roosevelt where we changed to our original line and headed back to Voltaire station near our hotel.

On the way back to the hotel we picked up some nectarines, a baguette loaf, and a can of beer. The latter was a 0.5 l ‘blonde’ which clocked in at 7.2%. Back in the room none of us felt like doing much more for the day so we decided to eat a very simple meal in the room. The beer had something to do with that. Even with Majella helping out, on top of the long flight and close to 20 km of waking, it had slowed me down more than a bit. I slipped out to pick up some ham and cheese and a bottle of wine to make up the balance of our meal with the baguette and nectarines.

After we had eaten and rested a little we eventually felt more like taking a look around the local area so we went for a walk around the Place Leon Blum, the open square near Voltaire station. We enjoyed looking at some of the stores, though they were mostly closed, but were back in our rooms and ready for bed shortly after 8:00 pm.