The romantic capital of the world – Paris

On Friday I went into the British Library to attend the National Business Studies Conference.  I caught the train/tube in with Maggie, and met Hilary at the conference centre.  There were some really great sessions, and nice food.  The best, I thought, was a young Scottish lad who left school at 16 to start his own business – making jam.  He has done really well and won all sorts of prizes – his talk was laid back and really inspirational.  Would love to get him in to talk to the Business Studies students.  Anyway on to the exciting stuff …..

I went straight from the conference, via tube and train, to Heathrow Terminal 5, where I met Adrian who had a surprise for me …… he’d upgraded us to business class!!  So we went through security and straight to the British Airways lounge, which is very nice.  Obviously I had never been in those lounges before and didn’t know how it worked (don’t laugh Grant) but it’s great.  There’s free food, including all sorts of snacks like chips and biscuits, and a huge range of drinks (both alcoholic and non-alcoholic), and even hot food for dinner.  You can sit at lounges, chairs or tables, and they have computers with printers and photocopiers.  Then on the plane, because it was a short flight, it was one where there are a few rows at the front of comfy, spread out seats, and then a curtain separating the rest of the plane.  We were in the 2nd row on the right – there were still 3 seats but so much more room, it was bliss.  We basically took off, they fed us, then we landed in Paris.  Being at the front meant that we got off really quickly too ….. I could definitely get used to flying business, mainly for the lounge to wait in comfortably.  We will see how we go with our savings, and keep our fingers crossed that they have an upgrade deal with our points for when we fly home in a couple of years.

From the airport, we got a shuttle that Adrian had organised to take us to our hotel – Villa Luxembourg, quite close to the centre of the city. It was late so we just hit the sack with the plan of getting up early to start exploring.  We stuck to that plan, had breakfast at 7.30 and headed out for the day. We headed off in search of a Metro station, but instead kept walking and found one of the most popular parks in the city, Jardin du Luxembourg. We had a bit of a walk around and then found a train station, RER rather than Metro. We bought a ticket that allowed us to use all the different train and tube/metro systems as much as we wanted for 2 days. We got off at Notre Dame, which is one of the most gorgeous cathedrals I’ve seen. The stained glass windows were just amazing, and so vast. Once we’d finished looking around, we found one of the hop-on hop-off buses, so we hopped on and bought a ticket – again, it allows you to hop on and off as much as you want over 2 days. There were 9 places it stopped, so we decided it would be a good way to see everything. We ended up getting off at the last one (well last for where we started) which was the Louvre.

Because the Louvre is so big, we only got to see a small section of it.  Of course, we went and saw the Mona Lisa, and also the Venus de Milo.  Then we spent the rest of our time in the Egyptian section, looking at all the sculptures, figures, tombs etc.  We found it really interesting – just a shame it took almost as long to find our way out again, coz the place is like a maze!  We went over the road into the Jardin du Carousel and had lunch at a cafe in amongst the trees.  After lunch, we walked to the other side of the gardens, then to the Champs Elysées and the Arc de Triomphe.  We took lots more photos before heading back to the hotel for a snooze.  We were exhausted from the late night flight and walking all day, so had an afternoon ‘nap’ for an hour or so.  For dinner, we went to a lovely restaurant only a block away from the hotel, called Chez Clément.  Adrian had duck and I had a roast platter – chicken, steak and sausage (duck).

After dinner we caught the metro to the Trocadero stop, where there is a view down to the Eiffel Tower.  It is the best way to see the actual tower, rather than going up it.  The view was stunning, and as it got dark, it just got better.  Towards the end of the evening, there was a fantastic group of street performers – a group of young boys doing ‘street dance’ and ‘breakdancing’.  What made them really good though, was as part of it, they had a routine set to music, that was more like acting and dancing put together – it was very clever, and well worth the €1 we gave them!  We were able to get some night shots of the tower, including when it started sparkling, which apparently it does on the hour.  

On Sunday, we got up and checked out, then caught the metro to the Eiffel Tower.  Once there, we bought a croissant and chocolate pastry roll thing for breakfast.  We were in the queue for about 40 minutes or so, before we got our tickets and caught the lift right up to the top floor (stopping to change lifts on the 2nd floor).  The view was spectacular, and so was the wind!  It was mostly sunny while we were up there, which we thought was very lucky.  Of course, we took millions of pictures, and then made our way back down again.  Then we went on the Bateaux Parisian river sightseeing cruise, which lasted an hour.  It wasn’t the best in terms of sightseeing, but was lovely to be on the Seine River, relaxing and soaking up the atmosphere.

When the cruise had finished, we walked back up to the Trocadero, and had lunch at Café Kléber, another gorgeous restaurant with lovely food.  After that, we went and explored the home of Paris Opera, the National Institute of Music.  Unfortunately, without paying an arm and a leg, and because there were rehearsals going on, there wasn’t much to see.  But we did get to see the amazing grand staircase, and the beautiful ‘grand foyer’!  After that we headed back towards the hotel, and went to Chez Clément again, only this time for dessert.  We shared a large dessert platter, which consisted of everything mini – creme brulee, profiteroles, strawberry mousse, warm chocolate cake and fruit salad.  Now feeling rather full, we collected our bag from the hotel and made our way out to the airport.  It took a bit to get there, and then we had to wait to check in coz we were too early, but eventually we made it through and up to the lounge.  Their lounge was nowhere near as good as at Heathrow, but we did manage to watch the tennis (Wimbledon final).  I also watched most of the movie Stardust, before going back to watch more tennis.  In true English style there was a rain delay, and we had to go to our gate.  Once at our gate, we found out that our flight had been delayed by 20mins or so, so I was able to finish the movie (for those of you wondering, I was watching it on the iPhone).  For those who haven’t seen Stardust, I recommend you go and hire it – Brett said it was a good movie, but I was unsure until last night.  

Our flight was fairly uneventful – take off, eat, come in for landing.  Although we were on the left this time, which meant it was just the 2 seats, with even more room.  We got a taxi back to our unit, took our wedding cake out of the freezer and went straight to bed.  Then this morning we woke up and have now officially been married for 1 whole year!!  We exchanged gifts (Adrian got me some new earrings, and I got him 2 sets of cufflinks with matching tie pins) and we also opened our package from Katharine and Steve, which was a European phrase book.  Thank you very much to them for that (we will give you a call when we get a chance) and thanks also to Mum and Dad for their package of goodies.  I am about to go and have a shower and get ready to go out for dinner.  We are going to the Riverside Brasserie in Bray, which should be nice.  When you book with them, they reserve you both an inside and outside table, so that depending on the weather you can sit wherever you would like – you can even sit outside and then move inside if it rains.  Of course being in England, it has been raining on and off all day, and we just had a mild thunder storm as well, so I think I will be wearing trousers rather than a dress, and will be sitting inside.  Either way, the point is that we’re together.

Well that’s all from this side of the world ……. one whole year as Mrs Sutton, and many many more to come 🙂

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