We awake at eight to get our continental breakfast at the hotel. We were warned on the way to France that Parisians classify a single croissant, a coffee and a cigarette as a superb breakfast so I wasn’t expecting much. Instead, our Tour Manager was just managing our expectations (something I should be familiar by now) by under-promising and over delivering. We find crepes (more traditional thinner ones), buttery bread desert thing (thats what I call it anyway), croissants, chocolate danishes, baguettes, cereal, toast, ham, cheese and an endless supply of Nutella. Needless to say I was satisfied and made sure to eat as much as I could so I could have a light lunch, a lesson I learnt from my mother and will be published in her book, Cheapskates on Holidays.
The original plan was that the coach would take us to Arc de Triumph (I have gotten really good at saying that) but because of missing going up the Eiffel Tower the night before, it was decided to take a second chance at that. We were lucky and got 10am group booking to go up to the second level. As we were there a bit earlier, we were the first inline for this session and were going up the elevator almost on the dot.
The view was magnificent, the city is truly a sight to behold, but I have gone on about that enough in Paris Part One. We didn’t spend too long, took some selfies, panoramic pictures and soaked up the view. Because of my proficiency of efficiency, Colin & I’s group were done in under 30 minutes and we wanted to see as much as we could so we decided not to wait the additional 30 minutes for the bus to take us to the Arc de Triumph but to make our own way their via metro.
We needed to get our bearings to navigate to the nearest station, obviously we had the Eiffel Tower but we needed another to create a vector. We took an educated guess on a nearby building with a 50/50 shot of being right, we were wrong. We had only realised the manifestation of Murphy’s Law when we had committed past the point of no return. Colin & Grace were being what the Tour Manager refers to as, BMW, Bitching Moaning and Whiners. However the rest of our group were enjoying getting off the main touristy path and seeing Paris from street level.
Eventually we make our way to the metro station and we buy a book of 10 trips and head underground. Because of the earlier misdirection, we had to change trains at a subsequent station. I was pleasantly reminded of our ability to get around in a foreign country, I guess I have done a bit of it recently. We arrive at the majestic Arc de Triumph after just 35 minutes, beating the bus considerably.
One of the reasons we managed to arrive so much earlier is because a little known event called Tour de France, was on and a lot of roads were closed. Not only that, but going up the arch was also prevented, which was a massive disappointment for me as I really wanted to do that. We walked down the Champs de Elyisse, navigating past cyclists and crowds excited to see the finish of the race. I don’t know if I am lucky or unlucky, but managed to be in London for the Royal Birth and the Ashes and the Tour de France in Paris, none of which I give a damn about.
We stopped for lunch at a pizzeria and I shared half a pizza as I was still full from breakfast (thanks mum). We continued to the river, past the Luve, across the Love Bridge and then collapsed with heat stroke on some steps on the river. I have been told Europe has terrible weather but what we have been getting is beyond awesome, though a touch too hot. Giving up exploring on foot, we took refuge in a bar and ordered some cocktails (I got a capricosas spelt the Finnish way).
Talking a little bit about the French people; we were warned they often come across as arrogant and anti-tourist. Learning a little more about the history and culture of the place it makes much more sense and therefore not as intolerable. That being said, it is noticeable especially in the service industry where we are accustomed to such a high level back home. The waiter taking our drink order was clearly displeased with our lack of French, even though we were very pleasant and making an effort.
After our drink we buy some pre-mix vodka at a grocery store and keep the buzz going back in our hotel room. This only lasted for an hour until we need to start getting our dapper on for the Moulin Rouge. I partially suited-up, with slacks, button up shirt, tie and shiny black shoes, looking awesome. About 90% of the Tour Group went to the Moulin Rouge, boarding the coach and heading to the red light district. On the way there was a broken down bus blocking the road. The drivers are very crazy here, not China crazy but not sane. Two people at the same time were parking in separate spots and were ramming the parked cars either side!
The Moulin Rouge was spectacular, a visual overload of colours, sets, costumes and most importantly boobs & butts. I was shocked when a pool containing two giant python arose from the stage and a topless woman starts swimming/dancing with it. The intermission acts, a juggler/comedian and a ventriloquist were very talented and added another dimension to the performance. The food was delectable, the wine was tolerable and the Champagne was nice. After the show we went next door to a bar called O’Sullivans a.k.a Sully’s and drank and shuffled the night away.