Day 1-5 - Paris

In nearly four years living in the UK I have been to Paris only 3 times, once for work and twice for not work (surely there is a word for that?). I say “only 3 times” because it is pretty close and easy to get to when you live in London, and it is a really cool city.

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Our long trip home didn’t initially involve going to Paris, but our other ideas of going to Morocco didn’t fit in with later parts of the trip so we decided we would be able to kill a few days having fun in a city we haven’t explored much. As we were booking things we then realised our dates lined up with the French Open, and also an Arctic Monkeys concert so that gave us a few things to do while there.

We caught the Eurostar early on a Monday morning (I am relatively sure it was a Monday, but at this point days of the week mean nothing to me) and arrived in Paris to a beautiful sunny day. The sun wasn’t actually a great thing given we were carrying big bags with us, but once we reached the hotel and ditched those we were off to Montmartre one of the many places we hadn’t been. It was pretty busy, but seemed an overall cool place. We wandered around, had some drinks. There is also a pretty neat view from the Sacre Coeur (which probably has lots of accents in it).

The next day we braved multiple forms of public transport (one thing you can rely on is a French strike) to get out to the Palace of Versailles.

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The Palace itself is pretty neat, but also smells a bit weird when it is packed with sweaty tourists - which unfortunately is all the time when you are there in the summer. The gardens on the other hand are really cool and so big it is easy to get your own space. We wandered around there for quite a while, and even in the rain it was pretty enjoyable.

That night we went to see the Arctic Monkeys play in a hot and sweaty venue. They put on a decent show, if I had to rate it I would give it four stars out of five (and that’s unheard of). Turns out the rain came back during the show and flooded the area outside which made for a fun walk back to the metro as hundreds of people tried their best to walk around the giant pools of water that the path had become.

Our last two days in Paris we were at the French open all day, and it was glorious.

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The weather was great the whole time, and the atmosphere of Roland Garros was really cool despite the fact it was somewhat difficult to find a beer (as that is clearly the most important thing). One thing that was a little strange was the crowd that between every point would have someone yelling out “Alllllllllllleeeeeeeeeez” or a call and reply “ba ba ba ba badabada - Ole”. It was funny at first (and actually most the time too) but it was equally kind of annoying, and at times looked to be pissing off players.

Anyway, we got to see Rafael Nadal play on the second day, and though that was a very quick match it was really cool to see him play there.

Other quick things that “happened” while we were in Paris (Footnotes to Paris? Eh?):

  • The couple next to us at dinner one night smoked more than a pack of cigarettes each. They didn’t eat, just drank wine and smoked. It felt like an authentic Paris situation.
     
  • At the concert there was an extortion racket being run (best I can tell). They wouldn’t let you in without being escorted by some lady to your seat. She then demanded tips and yelled at you until you gave her money. But they wouldn’t let you go to your seat without the lady, even if you aren’t a moron and can follow signs/letters/numbers to find a seat.
     
  • I really liked the Paris Metro and plan on writing about it. Will it be interesting…?
     
  • We sat next to an old Welsh couple on the first day at the French Open. They had been before but somehow didn’t expect it to be sunny and got really sunburnt and by the end of the day were just sitting outside in the shade looking not well. We also saw some lady just pass out on the second day - turns out jeans and a sweater were a bad choice in 30 degree weather.

And that’s Paris! On to Cairo...