Thursday, September 6, 2012

Gullible's Travels pt neuf - pass the Imodium

It wasn't how I'd pictured our first day in Paris, charging around desperately searching the base of the Eiffel tower for a loo; but they don't call it 'the runs' for nothing.
We'd arrived the early evening before and decided to just get an early dinner which, considering it had been in the very high thirties all day, perhaps taking  a plate of assorted meats, sausage, cheese and pate wasn't the smartest choice.
OK travelers' tip number one: if extensive travels have given you a sensitive stomach, don't order dairy and deli platters at the end of a very hot day.

Paris old girl, you are so photogenic, even your metro signs are pretty :0)
Travelers' tip number two: if you are exiting the Paris Metro, at the Eiffel Tower and you need the loo, don't even bother with the automated chemical public toilet outside the station. You may not even be able to see it, but there is one, behind a crowd of desperate looking crossed legged tourists.  If you travel around the path behind the Metro, you'll find a proper toilet just below the third foot you pass of the tower. This one with a human attendant is reasonably clean (as in not strewn in wet toilet paper from the function laughing named "auto-clean"). And it's free.

Let me tell you, after that little episode, I KNOW my Parisienne toilets, and most of 'em aren't pretty. How much time do you think that French 'male' waiters are going to invest in the cleanliness of any toilet let alone the ladies'? So stick to the bigger cafes & restaurants is my advice, call it wine-o-clock and stay put for a while.

So back to the tour, Lucie was so very excited about the Eiffel Tower. The only thing is that perhaps it would be prettier painted pink is all. What IS it with girls and pink?
Our dilemma was that in our pre-Eiffel Tower visit build-up, we had promised we would go up the top. If you find yourself on a family holiday to Paris...NEVER, EVER SAY THIS TO YOUR CHILD. 

by 10am the base of The Tower looks a lot like the base of an anthill - over-run with tourists.
Have you SEEN the queues to go up that thing? Worse than the toilet queues and that is saying something! There were about 200 people ahead of us in the queue for the elevator (l'assensuer). That's only my best guess because it snaked around the base of tower, out of sight behind the ticket office and other random buildings and back in view again.  There where only about 100 people waiting to climb the stairs, and Lucie decided stairs would the best fun anyway. Mummy and Daddy where exchanging desperate glances at this point, between Mummy's 'indelicate condition' and the inevitability of this vertical excursion turning into a ride on Daddy's shoulders, (from about the fourth step up) this was NOT going to be the best fun at all.

"Pretty tower" :0)

After unsuccessfully pleading our case to the jury and with Judge Lucie about to throw the full weight of the tantrum at us, Daddy spotted our saviour: "Look Lucie! A carousel!" And that was it,  case dismissed. 

Mic here is a hitch-hiker we picked up in Spain: turns out he's a celebrity with his own show on Catalan TV..

However, during these delicate and intense negotiations, we discovered that at 11.30pm the Eiffel Tower web site offer tickets for purchase for the next day whereby you can turn up at 9am and go straight on up avoiding the queues. However Lucie, not being much of a planner, (tomorrow's a bit of an abstract concept to four-year-olds) decided a few dozen rounds on a carousel with fine ET views was 'more fun and straight away'.


The Daddy person did us proud on the accommodation too, since our old favorite boutique hotel La Villa in Saint Germaine had priced itself out of our comfort zone.  He scored us a self catered studio apartment in Citadines Prestige Apart'hotel, right on the banks of the Seine opposite Pont Neuf .  So in the heart of Paris sandwiched between Saint Germain and Saint Michelle, and a mere bridge stroll over to the Louvre,  cost only 200 euros a night: more than reasonable for a premium location.

Nice and new, practical and not one bit of moldy silicone sealant in the bathrooms :0)
So being in the thick of Paris's coolest districts, we spent four days, shlepping about the Louvre; Soaking up the austerity of Notre Dame...
looking through the arches at The Louvre

Sipping our coffees in Les Deux Magots...

Slumming it in Les Deux Magots.. two tables down from a fashion photo shoot..

Ambling and clicking our way (cameras) along the bridges of the Seine...

Love locks on the Seine bridges look amazing glittering in the sun and have become a tourist attraction in their own right.. But of course in Sydney we're not allowed anything so frivolous..

Sydney city council takes to ours with bolt cutters...where's the romance in that?

And giving our sandals a good powder-coating in Jardin du Luxembourg's fine white sand. 

I didn't think I'd been shopping all that much on this trip, until my poor Samsonite's zipper burst. (And just out of warranty wouldn't you know it :0/ ) 
Woe is me (so not) I was forced to buy a bigger suitcase and I shopped some more :0) 
Pretty store but out of my fiscal comfort-zone
But you know, you need to fill these things right up, otherwise all that loose stuff will get seriously wrinkled from flopping around the open space...

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