It’s been five years almost to the day since we were last in Paris in early April, expecting spring weather. Although this time around we didn’t experience the bitter cold of those days, it was still cool but the sun did shine and we didn’t need all of our winter woollies when out and about.
Landing at 8.30 am, we were easily off the plane, luggage collected and through immigration. Far too early to be out and about on a Sunday morning in Paris. We caught a taxi to our accommodation to drop off our luggage and were promptly charged €50 – ouch! We were thankful to not have to negotiate trains and pavements in a somewhat dazed state so gulped and paid up.
Our B&B, Relais 12bis (a 2-minute walk from the Eiffel Tower) let us in and enabled us to put our bags away securely, gave instructions about access and check-in time. Philippe, our host, was effusive and welcoming, apologetic that we couldn’t have our room immediately.
A short and much cheaper taxi ride brought us to St Michael’s (Anglican, which we aren’t, and Christian which we are) for an Easter Sunday church service on this cool but sunny Paris day. The church building was set amongst what looked like a commercial and residential area, but seemed purpose-built, albeit with no windows. We got talking to what turned out to be the wife of the “reverend”. She was from Canada, he was English and it seemed they had ministered in congregations around the world. We enjoyed a great service celebrating the risen Christ – a wonderful start to our time on this adventure.
We found a café for lunch and then wandered back around the streets and riverfront to our B&B, arriving there well after the check-in time and so, could relax and unpack our things for the next few days we would have here.
The B&B was lovely, we had the “cheapest” room and it was plenty big enough to spread out in and had a fabulous bathroom as well. The breakfasts were well presented with a range of fresh fruits, bread and pastries, and options for cooked eggs as well. I’d certainly recommend a stay there rather than the big name hotels.
We opted for a 10 trip metro ticket shared between us, which was plenty to explore over our 3 days, and to the Gare de Lyon for our onward departure.
Over the next few days, we wandered at leisure – this time we wanted to just walk off the jet lag and explore the streets and areas we hadn’t been before. We caught the metro towards the Sacre Couer and spent time wandering the streets of Montmartre. The Monday was a public holiday after Easter, so families were out doing things together and the lines to get into Sacre Couer stretched along the footpath too far for us to waste time here. We wandered the streets then to find what was called “the Latin Quarter”, and also track down good coffee. We did find two good coffee spots, after much googling and reading reviews. One – OCoffee – was just around the corner from our B&B, run by an Australian, and the coffee was almost as good as home.
Tuesday, we wandered up to the Champs Elysee via the Trocadero and inspected a number of the shops and showrooms. The Peugeot and Renault showrooms always have the most amazing displays.
At the back of our minds throughout was the French rail strike. It was unclear if our train to Avignon would run and we had to wait until the night before for any sort of confirmation. Even then, we couldn’t tell for sure and after looking at alternative options (next day trains would be €350 which was a ridiculous price, and flights weren’t much better) we decided to head to the station and find out, prepared to hire a car and drive the 7 plus hours if we had to.
As it turned out, our TGV train was one of the 10% of trains that ran that day and we much enjoyed a 2 1/2 hour ride to Avignon without the traffic and weather issues of the day. The next adventure awaits…