TOUSSAINT: DAY 6-7

Day 6 – 30th:
Since many new travelers joined on day 5 we were now 12 people. We therefor had said 0900 sharp as a rendez-vous and left 5 past. Of the 12, 7 joined the first group going to Versailles.

At 10h30 we ate breakfast in front of the main building (I don’t think that was legal – but we’re Erasmus and didn’t understand). Tom and I bought the cheap ticket (13,50€ without Marie Antionette’s building) and spent most of the day by our selves.


Illegal breakfast on the coldest Toussaint day. The view was ok though

The audio guide was nice to have when we visited the numerous impressive rooms in the main building. After visiting the main building we met Annika and Victor who were going to see the Marie Antoinette building a kilometer from the main building. Tom and I joined and found out that the Versailles garden would be a great golf course (or four)! The 18th hole straight toward the main building (the club house). The name of the course? VRGCCC – Versailles Royal Golf Course & Country Club. Something for France to consider.


The rooms of Versailles. Each one beautifully made and with different colors on the wall


A room in Versailles. The statue is a self-portrait of the artist Jeff Koons
who had an exhibition at Versailles (Jeff Koons @ Artsy.net)

The weather this day wasn’t the best so we (Tom and I) didn’t eat lunch with Cate, Juha, Nina, Fie and Geir. Instead we got our part of the food and went back to Paris.

We tried to got to Hôtel des invalides and Musée des armées, but we came 15 minutes before it was closing so we figured we could do the visit the next day. It was still freezing and wet, so we went home and bought some beer and crisps at Monoprix When we passed our metro station on our way back someone tried to pickpocket me again! (Last time was the first day in Paris – at the exact same location). Both compartments of my backpack were opened, but I had made my valuables hard to get so nothing got stolen! Pheww.

The others came to the hostel shortly after and we had a nice evening  with vegetable soup, bread and some wine.

 Day 7 – 31st:
It was hard to get up. I didn’t sleep very well this night because of my coughing (I finally managed to spell it correctly, thanks Tom). I fear that I kept some of my other room mates awake as well, in that case: sorry!

No famous monument to eat breakfast in front of today – we ate baguettes (without jam) on the metro. We got to Louvre and left our bags and jackets in a storage room below the famous pyramid. Once again Tom and I spent the day together. We visited the Antique Egypt, Roman and Mesopotamia exhibitions and of Course Mona Lisa. We then saw the Renaissance exhibition before we met the others under the pyramid and ate lunch at 13h30. Le Louvre is extremely big, we had covered less than 1/10 of the museum!

 
Tom is excited to see the Mona Lisa

At 15h Tom and I went back to Musée des armées and this time we had time to look around. 6€ for the ticket wasn’t too bad and we got to see the World war 1 & 2 exhibition and Napoleon’s tomb before the museum closed. It closes annoyingly early – 16h45! Bad business!

We tried to get into Jardins de Luxembourg (Gardens of Luxembourg), but it was closed. We ate a ‘Royale with cheese’ and two milkshakes on McDonalds at Place St. Michel. Yes I know it’s bad to eat at McDo, specially in France. No excuses. Sorry.

We went back to le Louvre around 18h where we by coincidence met the others (who  had been there all day). They recommended Napoleon III’s chambers. The chambers were absolutely magnificent, way better than ANY room in Versailles!


Napoleon III’s chambers: The best room ever! 

Annika turned 23, so we bought her dinner at a Chinese restaurant. I wasn’t really hungry and didn’t go for the three course menu as the others did. Amazingly enough I still managed to pay more  – and they got the same food as me and a beer plus a starter AND dessert. Obviously a bad choise.




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TOUSSAINT: DAY 5

Day 5 – 29th of October:
By now we had a good system for getting up. Every day we met outside the Hostel at 0900 (Zulu time). My head felt better this day than the day before, but was filled with snot. Our plan today wasto walk “The axis of France” – the distance Louvre – Place de la Concorde – Arc de Triomphe. I looked forward to the sights, but understood it was going to be hard.

Axis of France as seen from Google Maps

We did the normal shopping round of baguettes, today I bought vitamin juice and candy to make my day easier. We ate breakfast in front of Le Louvre (the world’s most visited art museum), it was cold – really freezing! Luckily the sun raised and shined when we had eaten, which helped a bit on the cold part.


There is always a line to Le Louvre.


A cold, cold, cold breakfast

We passed Le jardin des Tuileries before some of us ate a crêpe (pancake) or a gaufre (waffle) in front of Place de la Concorde.

Place de la Concorde was the host of a huge happening about 215 years ago when Louis XVI was sentenced to death and then guillotined at Place de la Révolution (as it was called then) on the 21st of January 1793. His wife Marie Antionette followed the 16th of October the same year. The Place is surrounded by huge historical buildings, but we mostly looked at the gigantic Egyptian obelisk in the middle. The obelisk was given to France from Egypt in the 19th century.


Place de la Concorde. Champs Elyssées to the right

Champs Elyssées seen from Place de la Concorde

The famous Champs Elyssées starts at Place de la Concorde and ends at Arc de Triomphe. We walked the 1-2 kilometers to the Arc and visited a large Adidas shop on the way. Juha wanted to get new shoes, but we left without finding anything, a bit expensive maybe? We were all amazed about the Arc de la triomphe, it’s really astonishing! The view from the top of the Arc is best night time so we returned later the same day to go up. Marvelous!

Paris is devided into to parts (ish) the old and the new Paris. The new paris is centered around La défence, the business area of Paris. We took the metro there (it’s a bit far to walk) and had a brilliant lunch in the steps in front of La Grande Arche (a modern arc of triumph).


Lunch in the stairs of La grande arche

Since it was still freezing (the sun was on/off and didn’t really help) so we had a coffee at McDonalds to get warm. We also found a huge mall, Quatre temps, so we went in to shop (the true reason was to get warm). Juha now wanted gloves – his Finnish hands were finally cold!

We strolled back on the Esplanade de la défence and took some photos before we met Fie (our 7th traveler) who had been dropped off at the Arc de Triomphe by her parents.


Front to back: Cate, Juha, Tom, Geir, Nina and me.
Notice Arc de triomphe on the left and Tour Eiffel on the right

We met Victor, Kristofer, Henrique, Kristian and Annika (other Erasmus students) who arrived in Paris the same day. This party of 12 and three additional norwegians (Norginsa students from INSA Toulouse) ate dinner together at Pizza Hut near Centre Pompidou before we went to the top of Arc de la Triomphe (as I told you about earlier).

When we got home I got straight to bed.


The Eiffel tower seen from the top of Arc de Triomphe

TOUSSAINT: DAY 3-4 (PARIS)

Day 3 – 27th:
The first problem we encountered in Paris was the one of finding the correct line to buy the Carte Orange – the metro card. After some asking and pointing we found the correct one an bought the tiny tickets (2x4cm). Day 5 we found out that we were supposed to have a card (with picture) in order to have a valid ticket.. This essential piece of info was forgotten by the man selling us the tickets.

Our hostel in Paris was the Friends’ hostel just next to the metro station Berbès-Rochechouart a few minutes away from Sacre coeur. The first night we couldn’t get a room together so I slept in a different room than Geir, Cate and Nina (Juha and Tom booked room at a seperately from us four).

After leaving our bags we went out to see the city. At the Berbès-Roche station I almost got my wallet stolen. It was completely my fault – I had it in my backpocket. Luckily I sensed the pickpocketing before the wallet had left my backpocket.

 After this somewhat shocking experience we headed for Sacre Coeur, only 5 minutes to walk from our hostel.

Sacre Coeur by night

Two sentences about Sacre Coeur:
Situated on top of Montmartre, the Sacre Coeur basilica is located on the highest point of Paris. It’s building of the Paul Abadie designed basilica started in 1875 but the last tavertine stone wasn’t laid until 1914 due to a “quarrel” about it’s daring design.


From left: Me, Juha, Geir and Tom

After enjoying the view we took the cable cars down from Montmartre (it’s not far down, like two minutes to walk – but it was free with our Carte Orange ticket …) and headed for Moulin Rouge! We wanted to go, but with the cheapest ticket going for more than 70€ we soon figured out that it wasn’t going to happen. Instead we took the metro to the Eiffel tower.


Left: Sparkling every hour at night! Right: Cool car!

There we saw the marvelous sparkling show that is every hour and tried to get a coffee before going home. Once again it was very expensive (seems to be like that around great landmarks), so we skipped it and left for the hostel.

Day 4 – 28th:
A new and beautiful day in Paris makes you smile, even though you didn’t sleep much because of intense heat in your room. I got up at 8h30 and everyone went to buy baguettes. Breakfast in front of Sacre Coeur. We skipped visiting the Sacre Coeur dome (you can get up to roof level) because the crypt (also included in the ticket) was closed.

Dead sad from the fact that we didn’t go to the Sacre Coeur crypt, we took metro line 2 Cimitère du Père-Lachaise, a graveyard with famous people. We actually spent more than two hours walking around in the graveyard seeing the grave of Jim Morrison, Edith Piaf, Oscar Wilde and Chopin himself. I started to feel a bit off myself. A running nose and a heavy head – hoping it isn’t something serious.

 Tired of the dead?

 

Tom’s precious Welsh Dragon eating lunch in front of Notre Dame

We took the metro back to the center and ate our lunch in front of Notre dame (We always eat in front of great landmarks). After lunch we entered Notre dame, a beautiful church! Cate then went back to the hostel to rest, the others tried to find coffee, but again it was extremely expensive. But we wouldn’t give in this time and we succeeded – Quick gave us coffee!

Notre dame

We had a fast “been there done that” visit to Centre Pompidou. Tom didn’t like it – at all:

“There’s only one thing I have to say about that, quel bordel!”

(Quel bordel = what a mess)

 Centre Pompidou. Known for having it’s piping on the outside

We didn’t go to the exhibition, which I think was a mistake, looking back on it – maybe next time. We bought dinner at the Les Halles shopping mall. Cate and Juha made a delicious dinner. I went to bed early to get rid of my cold, my head was heavier than ever.

More vacation stuff in a later post!

TOUSSAINT: DAY 1 TO 3 (BORDEAUX)

Day 1 – Saterday 25th of October:
Six of us set of Monday morning from Toulouse to Bordeaux. Juha (fin) managed to forget his 12-25 card (French railroad youth card) and almost managed to miss the train (really close!). We arrived in Bordeaux around 11 o’clock at Saint Jean train station.

We then found out that we had forgot to print out the directions to our hostel. No worries though, we eventually got there. On our way we saw Place Victoire and the shopping street Rue Sainte Catherine. We finally found the hostel after walking a couple of kilometers later.

The hostel was situated in Rue Hugueri, a nice little hostel with double rooms. The girls took one room, the boys the other two. After leaving the luggage, we went to explore the city. The hostel was really close to most of Bordeax, a great base for our stay!

First we saw the Monument aux Girondins and and Esplanade des Quinconces (where there was a huge Carneval which we visited later the same night!).


Monument aux Girondins

One of the most beautiful places to visit in Bordeaux is Miroir d’eau in front of Place de Bourse. Miroir d’eau is a 3 cm thick layer of water, making it a mirror that beautifully reflects the surrounding buildings!


Miroir d’eau while spraying out mist

At night at the carneval we tried all the cool rides. I tasted Churros (fried waffle dough) for the first time, very tasty!

Day 2 – Sunday 26th:
We got up early, nine o’clock and went to Parc Public to eat breakfast. Our breakfasts during this holiday was baguettes with jam and cheese. A bit cold, but very “huggely” (“Def”: Nice atmosphere with good company). We dropped by a botanical garden before heading for one of the city’s Notre dame church. There we encountered a celebration of the new wine (fête du nouveau vin) with marked selling antiques and live bands playing in the street. A great experience! I bought a bottle of the nouveau wine. The wine was consumed along with a pineapple (bought earlier the same day on the border walk marked) in front of miroir d’eau.


“Nouveau vin” and pineapple

 
Mr. Cool and his helpers after wine

After this delicious lunch we headed for the bell tower of the Saint-André cathedral, Tour Pey-Berland. We did all the 231 steps to the top. Juha also joined, conquering his fear of heights – Impressive!


Saint-André seen from the Tour Pey-Berland


Geir, Tom, me, Nina and Cate from the top

We then got a short look at the Grosse Cloche (a part of the old city wall ) on our way to the Saint Michel cathedral. Unfortunately the cathedral was a disappointment compared to the other churches and cathedrals we’ve seen.

We had some wine and crisps in the room before we ate on a restaurant. Cheap, three dishes for 12,50€, but I wasn’t impressed by the food. I ordered Magret de canard (duck) and got it served with fries and about 16cm^2 of salad. Not impressing, even the waiter disappointed – a more nonchalant person is hard to find. Before we went home I got to take the following picture:

Day 3 – Monday 27th:
Rise and shine at nine o’clock. We met 9h45 to buy baguettes for breakfast. Both Geir and I suffered from major mosquito bites during the past nights. Itchy.

We packed our bags to head for Paris – TGV! We ate the breakfast in front of Monument aux Girondins – partly covered from the rain by some huge trees. Took the Bordeaux tram to the Saint. Jean train station. We got there well before departure to make lunch baguettes for the trip.


Making sandwiches

Then we figured that we were 2,5 hours early due to daylight saving that changed between day 1 and 2. Yey …


TGV = Speedy Gonzales

After three hours on the TGV we were in Paris! More about our stay in Paris in the next post!