Au Revoir Charlie

Today is a relocation day. We are leaving Paris and heading back to London for a night so Sharon and Emma can get their flight back to Sydney tomorrow night, and I can get my flight to Copenhagen.

We had mostly packed yesterday afternoon so we would be ready early. We had to checkout by 11 and our train wasn’t till 3 so we had a few hours to look around. We used to find somewhere near Gare Du Nord to keep our luggage for a few hours whilst we looked around. I’d been super stressed about our ability to get across Paris on Bastille Day, but need not of worried as the traffic was less than normal. Apparently it doesn’t get crazy until sun down. It will also be insanely crazy on Sunday with France in the final for the World Cup. I expected to see tri-colours everywhere but it seemed quite subdued and really just felt like a normal Saturday morning.

Gare Du Nord was its usual eclectic mix of grimy streets, strange smells, throngs of people, back packers, dodgy characters, beggars and shite souvenir peddlers. One dodgy looking bloke was just hanging around the subway entrance looking to push past someone and get through on their subway ticket for free. I’d seen a few people do that over the past week and could spot their MO getting close to people and trying to follow them through. I blocked him from trying this as Emma went through.

As soon as we had dumped the luggage we got a train back to Gare Saint Lazare to check out the Primtemps Haussmann department store. The less time I spend at Gare du Nord the happier I’ll be.

This department store (Primtemps Haussmann) is wonderful. The true Parisian shopping experience and prices to match. They have a roof garden with a great view but unfortunately it’s closed today. We settled on coffee and a cake. Again sigh….. this was a commercial Nespresso machine. Ok and consistent as Nespresso always is, but not worth €5 a pop.

This store also has a pretty spectacular food and grocery area which we wandered and oogled all the nice looking food products for a bit. For lunch we grabbed some packaged sandwiches from the local carrefor supermarket to take on the train and avoid paying Eurostar prices for substandard food, and also to avoid joining the expected far-queue at the restaurant car on the train.

Cookie kit in a glass jar!

Not sure I’d want to explain “happy plants” to the guys at customs in Sydney.

View from the cafe

Inside Gare Du Nord looking down from the Eurostar check in area.

We started the check in process just before 2pm. Took a while to get though but thankfully not as bad as the trip to Paris. For some reason our seats were reassigned and we lost the table seat we had and were across from each other on the train. Eurostar experience overall is down on my expectations given the great trips I had last year and in 2016.

Bastille Day M&M’s for sale today

Just in time for the World Cup….

I picked up my copy of Charlie Hebdo from the station to browse through on the train back to London. I do wish they would do an English version, oh well some entertainment for the next few days over coffee with google translate to fully appreciate it

Train arrived in London on time but they screwed a few people around by not stopping at one of the designated stops (Ashford) and had to organise other transport for them. London has it all over Paris as far as arrivals go, St Pancras is clean and well maintained. We took the tube from St Pancras (Kings Cross technically as that’s the tube station attached to St Pancras international) to Paddington where we have a hotel so we don’t have to relocate across London in the afternoon tomorrow to get to Heathrow. Just jump on the Heathrow express.

Our hotel in London is right on the “CS3” cycle super highway where it’s mostly separated from traffic and crosses London. I wish Sydney could do something like this.

Our room has a mezzanine level

Café Procope and a Cruise

On Friday night, our last night in Paris, we had dinner at Café Procope which first opened as a coffee house in 1686. It’s billed as the oldest continually running restaurant in Paris. It has lots of historical items on display, including one of Napoleon’s famous hats which he left once as guarantee of future payment for a meal he had there. They are obviously still waiting.

Most walking and cycle tours will go past here as the street is on is equally famous as it’s where the guillotine was first tested on sheep. There used to be steel markers in the road where it stood but they have been removed with recent road work.

Voltaire, Franklin & Jefferson all drank at the Cafe here and some of the first drafts of the US Declaration of Independence were written here. As well as Napoleon’s hat they also have Voltaire’s desk.

I was thus keen to have dinner there to try it out and take in some of the historical ambience. It’s more expensive than the other restaurants around it. The food was nice but not as amazing as some of the other dishes we have had elsewhere and overall I was a little disappointed in the experience, perhaps I’d overhyped how good it would be. Service was certainly on the galacially slow side.

After dinner we grabbed a uber over to the Eiffel Tower to get on a night tour of the Seine. The tour lasts about an hour and to make the most of the night cruise we aimed for the 10.30pm boat to see Paris all light up. This was a fantastic cruise, well worth the €13 tickets. They take the boat under 22 bridges where everyone makes as much noise as possible when passing under. This got annoying very quickly. Once the cruise was over we took the Metro back to the apartment. It was quite a long day, didn’t get back till close to 1am.