VIVE LA FRANCE! SWAS Visit to Paris, May 2011 – Review by Jan Robinson
Above: Au bord de la Seine
We enjoyed a sunny and brief crossing to Calais. Got very lost arriving in Paris, but on seeing the Arc de Triumph and Eiffel Tower we grabbed cameras and clicked away forgetting the hours wasted while lost. On arriving at the Ibis Hotel we broke into spontaneous applause, after seeing most of the wonderful streets and sights of Paris several times over! Saturday and on our way to the Musée d’Orsay we found ourselves once more ‘lost in France’; we laughed at our position and awed at the wonderful sights passing our windows, many the same sights! A taxi brought us back to earth with a bump! During the 90mins of insurance form filling between the drivers, many left to make their own way to the d’Orsay, Notre Dame Cathedral and/or the Louvre. Others less able waited for our coach to find the wonderful Eiffel Tower – it stood magnificently against a bright blue sky and the Seine shimmered in the late morning sun. No time for painting, we had chosen to take the river bus to the d’Orsay, passing the Louvre and Notre Dame under some of the oldest and most elaborate bridges we’d ever seen. All together again at the end of the day, we chatted enthusiastically about the collections of paintings, antiques and sculptures we’d seen. Queues at every museum, toilet block, café, and boat bus! After leaving the Eiffel Tower for the day, we saw it again and again; no one bothered now with their cameras, and we were once again ‘lost in France’! As a mode of transport the Metro began to sound very appealing. Deliberately returning to the Eiffel Tower for the late night light-show was worth every second. On Sunday morning after a typically French and filling breakfast, we headed for the Palace of Versailles. Saw the Arc De Triumph and ‘our’ Eiffel Tower several times more en route! For some, their bellies rocked with laughter and for others, things weren’t looking up in the ‘coach drivers’ department – unsurprisingly. At Versailles we found more queues, for tickets, toilets and coffee. For those who had not been to Versailles it was a sight ‘out of this world’ and ‘awe-inspiring’. The gardens, canals, fountains and Marie Antoinette’s Petit Trianon all demanded the artists’ and photographers’ attention. We took an evening trip to Montmartre and Sacre Coeur; it took over an hour to get there, seeing Ibis Hotel and Eiffel Tower several times more and the return took only 10 mins, we’d been lost again! With very little time to spare in between eating and drinking, we could only imagine how the bright red, orange and gold sunset would have looked shining on the Sacre Coeur. During late drinks in the Ibis lobby we ‘laughed tears’ looking back at how often we’d see the Eiffel Tower, Arc de Triumph and our hotel on any one route! We wondered how we would ever get out of Paris for the return trip and decided to ask any members looking for us if we don’t return, to look under the Eiffel Tower!
(Yes, we did get lost leaving Paris, but what a wonderfully inspiring and fun trip! Thanks to Tony Batey for organising it.)
Above: In the gardens at Versailles
Above: On the river bus
Above: Out for dinner in St Germain-des-Pres