Friday, September 20, 2002

Summer 2002 in Paris

Two weeks in Paris! Sounds great, right? And it was, it was. Just that we hadn't planned for it!

This year we tried to go to Iceland, Australia and in the end even any place by the sea in the south of France. But no luck! So, when we received an offer to exchange houses with a family in Paris (Nation area), we thought, why not? Paris is, after all, an all time classic. Plus we hadn't been there together before except for only two or three days. And so we went.

If you haven't been to Paris (yet), you have missed a lot. It is a metropolis with so many things to see and do. We tried and succeeded! - to do a lot.

Here're some of the best:
-watching Amelie, a French film, at Monmartre, under the stars, in an open air cinema, created just for that night! We remind you that we don't speak any French (more on that later...) although we understand the very basic. Still it was a unique experience!
-eating out at the Bercy village.
-attending a classical music concert at the Vincence Park, while laying comfortably at a chaise longue.
-visiting (most of ) the Beaubourg's excellent collection of modern art.
-having fun at the attractions of the Disney Studios (just don't tell any French person that we liked it...)
-trying Creme Brulle wherever we found it! (actually, this is something we really miss now - it just isn't the same here!)
-seeing the Eiffel tower at night from the Palais de Challot, across the river, on our last night.
-riding the tram from the Defense to the end of the line, crossing nice villages and having the view of the river.

And here're some of the worst:
-being ridiculed by the patron of a bistrot for trying -without much success- to speak in French. (As this was our first attempt, it became also our last - in general French didn't like others not to speak French - but one has to speak perfect French to be sort of accepted!)
-having to change plans because of the rain for the most of the first week...
-waiting for hours! under a very bright sun to enter the Versailles (Queue A). As if that wasn't enough we had to do the same again to enter the second half of that visit (Queue C). However, as we found out, we could have eliminated the second waiting if we had started our visit from Queue C and then proceed to Queue A. (at least that's what people at the information office told us - just a little too late!)
-arriving at a RER station, late at night, only to find out that a) we were the only ones at the station b) the station was in the middle of ... nowhere c) the shuttle to the airport (and our last night's hotel) had stopped operating a few hours earlier (needless to say that no such notice was given anyplace at the departing central station in Paris) and d) the radio taxi operator wouldn't accept the name of the RER station as a valid pick up point, without a street and number! (luckily her colleague of an other radio taxi company had no such problem!)

As for the weirdest:
-strolling by the Parisian ...beach! (Paris plage). The city of Paris had organized an imitation of a seaside by the Seine river, in central Paris. Everything was there: the sand, the palm trees, the sun beds, people having fun! Everything except the sea of course, and the chance to swim! It probably was a good idea - but not if you can actually visit the sea, as we did when we returned home...

In the end we agreed that visiting Paris in two weeks is not enough and is well worth more visits! Not next year, though.