Sunday, July 13, 2008

Last Day in Paradise... err, Paris

Today was our last day in Paris and we made the most of it. After a late start this morning, we packed up our big red suitcase and headed out to see some more sites with suitcase in tow. From our hotel, we walked east to see Montmartre, a beautiful area in the north end of the city. In Montmartre, we saw the Sacre Couers (the cathedral pictured above), Moulin Rouge, dozens of seedy looking 'adult' shops, and a fantastic little alley that led up the hill to the cathedral. All of this was done lugging our big red suitcase.

From Montmartre, we hopped onto the Metro and headed back toward the Arc de Triumphe. Our goal was to walk down the Champs de L'Eysees all the way to the Louvre, where we could catch the same water taxi (the Batobus) that we used yesterday to explore the city. While this was a great plan in theory, it was hindered by police barricades that essentially shut down the entire region around the Grand Palais, which was directly in our path. As it turns out, France was hosting some kind of international summit today with Prime Ministers, Presidents and foreign dignitaries from many European countries. While the streets and sidewalks were barricaded for regular folks, there were many police processions leading the vehicles from each country around the main arteries in the city. This resulted in us needing to take an hour long detour to reach our destination. Still, we lugged our big red suitcase along with us :-)

We made our way back to the Eiffel Tower, caught the Batobus, and headed for the Jardins de Plantes, which we thought was a giant green space based on it's appearance on our map. It looked like it might be good for photo ops and feeding the pigeons our leftover baguette. There was, in fact, a huge formal garden, but this area also featured three or four large museums and the 'menagerie' (Zoo) in Paris. Since we only had about two hours until we had to catch our train back to Brussels, we decided to push on a little further to find a place to eat. We discovered Place d'Italia, the Italian quarter, just around the corner from Jardins de Plante, had a bite to eat and an espresso, then caught our train. Our big red suitcase followed us loyally throughout all of these adventures ;-)

Once we arrived back in Brussels, Greg met us at the train station and we returned to the house for another five star meal. We could get used to those! We had a wonderful visit over dinner. We got to share our Paris experience with everyone, then Greg and Ross shared their stories about the weekend that they had in Nimes (in the south of France). In addition, Julien (Ross' 20 year old son who's here for the summer) and his two friends shared their experiences of taking the train to Amsterdam on Saturday night. They arrived in Amsterdam at midnight and left at 7:00 a.m. Those young kids seem to think that they can do anything! All I want to know is -- could they have done it with a big red suitcase in tow ;-)

Thanks for reading,
BTW, we won't be able to post tomorrow as we're spending the night in a little town called Oostende on the North Sea in Belguim. Don't worry, we'll have lots of pictures ready for our next post...

Looking into the window of one of the many 'patisseries' that we walked past today... mmm :-)

The famous Moulin Rouge, at the edge of Montmarte, a district in the northern part of Paris.

This alley in Montmartre had a tonne of character and was absolutely packed with people by midday.

These carousels can be found all over Paris...

A typical view as we walked down the Champs des L'Eysees toward the Louvre

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