Paris will always be Paris

The morning after the Fête Nationale we packed quickly and sped off by fast train to Paris where we had booked four nights in an AirBnB not far from Montmartre and Sacré Coeur. Our goal was to explore parts of Paris that we'd never seen and, perhaps, to kindle that affection for the city that we see in so many others.

We live just 10 minutes walk from the station so we stopped off at McDonald's to buy salads to eat on the way, our train left at noon. The place was very crowded indeed and salads are not the most high volume sellers, so we waited rather longer than we felt comfortable with before charging off to the platform, where there was nobody to check our tickets, and installing ourselves in our upper-storey seats. The train gives you a good view of the changing French countryside, vines giving way to sunflowers, then to pastureland, then to wheat fields that you just long to run through.

Bordeaux is just two hours from Paris by train - if you choose the right train. Our, cheaper train would take three hours by stopping at Angoulême and at Saint-Pierre-les-Corps before arriving at Montparnasse.

We thought we'd walk across the river before getting on the metro, passing the Grand and Petit Palais, but the route we took meant that we ended up trying to walk through the Elysée palace. Oops. The charming policewoman with the submachine gun explained our error and we took a detour via the Place de la Concorde then back down the rue Faubourg Saint-Honoré where quite by chance we fell into one of Paris' coffee shops, Honor. Suitably refreshed we gazed at the other side of the Elysée before hopping on the metro for our area.

We booked our apartment on AirBnB and the rules are that you book the place before you know the exact address, so we were pleased to discover that we were staying in Rue Davy, in the middle of a busy and crazy area filled with bakers, cafés, restaurants and shops of every kind. In fact Napoleon had a bare-faced cheek calling England a nation of shopkeepers. I guess he never took a bus in Paris. It's shops all the way!


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