Two days in Paris

Ian,Lisa and the Eiffel TowerParis Syndrome is a real, documented phenomenon, especially amongst the Japanese, of tourists who, upon arrival in the world’s centre of fashion and sophistication, find the reality so disappointing that they have a nervous breakdown and have to be very expensively repatriated back to their home countries.

Now, neither Lisa nor I had any sort of incidence of Paris Syndrome during our 32 hours in the French capital, but I can understand where it comes from. One of the things I immediately noticed about Paris is how dirty a city it is–to the touch, to the nose, full of an organised syndicate of gypsy beggars and of men who happily stand behind a waist-high bush and relieve themselves whilst still making eye contact with you.

That said, we also had a great time. Our first afternoon was spent at Versailles. Two days later, we went to Hampton Court in West London, the palace that William and Mary apparently attempted to rebuild in an effort to eclipse Louis XIV’s achievement at Versailles–and, having seen the original the day before yesterday, I’ve got to say they failled. Versailles was a stunningly beautiful place, not just the palace itself but the hugely expansive grounds. And Versailles is also the location of the McDonald’s where Lisa and I ordered a Royale with cheese (actually, a “Royal Cheese”, paired on the menu with a Royal Bacon).

Getting to our hotel was an adventure. It was located on the Boulevard de Grenelle, a few streets south of the Eiffel Tower. The Bd de Grenelle has three Metro stops, and I had no idea which one was closest to our hotel. One of those stops lay on the line we were riding back into the city from Versailles, so we chose that one.

It disgorged us at No. 1 Bd de Grenelle; our hotel was at No. 140. So we decided to walk. Turned out to be a mile. In the 85-degree Parisian summer, with a six-month pregnant woman.

Then when we arrived, we were informed our room had been subject to massive water damage, but they’d booked us a room at another, nicer hotel. Fair enough. The desk clerk whipped out a map and told us our new hotel was on the Rue de Vaugirard. He Xed the intersection of the Bd de Grenelle and the Rue de Vaugirard and said, “Is a five-meenut walk. Maybe seven.”

The gardens at VersaillesSo we decided to walk. Turned out to be another mile. But then we arrived at the intersection of Rue de Vaugirard and what had been the Boulevard de Grenelle, though by that point was the Boulevard Pasteur. And it turns out the intersection was at No. 185 Rue de Vaugirard, but our hotel was at No. 403. At that point we hailed a taxi.

The following day was spent on trips to the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre and Notre Dame, where we attended Mass and Lisa took Communion.

Lisa mentioned how the girls in England always go to such trouble to make themselves attractive–seemingly always very stylishly dressed and nicely put together. I can’t comment on that for Parisian girls, because honestly, any individual person you pass on the streets in Paris is apparently more likely to be foreign than they are to be French. But I can say that French girls are, simply put, pretty–they just all seem to be beautiful girls.

Lisa would like me to add to that, that Parisian men, on the other hand, are always sleek and well-groomed, and that they know just how to dress to accentuate that.


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