Having made the trip across from Dover to Paris on the Thursday 31st May we stayed one night in a cheap hotel near the bus station as it was an 8 pm arrival and we weren’t due to take the keys of our apartment in the 15th till the next day.
We had booked this seven weeks early in 2017 with the idea it would give us plenty of time to really live like a local.
As it turned out it was another lesson in why the slow travel comes into its own.
My mother’s illness escalated so quickly that my trip to spend time with her while she was well enough to enjoy the visit became a mercy dash to make it back in time to see her before she passed.
After meeting Andie the owner on the Friday I booked my flight back to New Zealand for the Sunday evening.
From Friday till Sunday mums condition had worsened to the point I was worried I wasn’t going to make it back in time.
Fortunately I did and I got to say goodbye to my mum both in person and at her lovely service.
Mum knew I wasn’t that great with dates so I knew she chose our wedding anniversary to pass away so I’ll never forget the anniversary of her passing.
Mum was nearly 90 so it was a celebration and congratulations for reaching such a great age that we celebrated on the Tuesday before I left on the Friday to return back to Paris.
I was well supported by family and incredible friends and I got to enjoy some catch up with both these groups whilst I was in New Zealand.
James remained in Paris for the 13 days I was away and really got to know his way around using the transport and his navago pass we had purchased that first day in the city. So on my return he proved a great tour guide.
I was extremely lucky by getting some good rests on both trips there and back and didn’t succumb to jet lag either ends which meant I was ready to start making use of the five weeks we still had in Paris.
On the Sunday 17 th June we started the day by walking to the big market held each Sunday just down the street, covering quite a few blocks you can purchase all your weekly food needs with fish, meat, vegetables, fruits, cheeses,flowers, sweet treats , breads and so much more.
We luckily found it not too difficult buying with our non existent French language skills but a polite Bonjour certainly helps.
We bought quite a lot for our €49 and look forward to using our fresh produce over the next days.
After returning home and putting our goodies away we took the bus travelled into Luxembourg gardens which were just gorgeous with plenty of different areas for people to enjoy including hiring little miniature sailboats to race across the manmade pond.
We ate our baguettes that we had made up with salad fillings at home and walked from there to the Pantheon basilica. We weren’t immediately sure if we would bother paying the charge to go in but decided it would be interesting to see the crypts which held the likes of Victor Hugo, Emile Zola, Alexander Dumas, Pierre and Marie Curie as well as many famous French citizens from the resistance and other circles of French life.
It was magnificent but nothing could beat the 3€ tour to the top of the dome outside with 360 degree views of the city I would easily say it is the best value when it comes to getting the overview of the city. Highly recommended.
By the time we got home we were keen for our dinner which we made from ingredients bought that morning at our market shopping trip and the pork we used in the stir fry was the tenderest we had ever eaten.
The next day we did some office work before we headed out to Montparnasse to look around.
Not as exciting as the previous day but I did manage to buy a couple of pairs of light weight cotton pants at a reduced rate to replace the pairs I’ve been wearing for over a year now and James bought some weetbix from Marks and Spencer’s food market to add to the marmite we got for him yesterday.
Our apartment is very comfortable with a full kitchen and user friendly lounge,dining,bedroom,bathroom and separate toilet. The laundry is in the basement where we have our own washing machine.
The place is full of all the necessities for living long term and our lovely landlords Andie and Georges had James for dinner one evening whilst I was away. They live in the building next door and are delightful Andie originally bodes from New York but has lived in Paris with her French husband Georges for many years. She’s a little pocket rocket and has a warm and friendly manner, just what strangers to town are looking for.
Continuing our exploration of the city we decided to tick one of our list places off by arriving in time for the opening of The Musee d’Orsay to find it was subject to a strike and likely to open later.
We decided to check it out again another day and that we would now walk down to Notre Dame Cathedral and mooch around the Latin Quarter. We spent four hours strolling the waterfront and all around Ile St-Louis before walking around Notre Dame.
As the queues were extensive and we had both been before we skipped along to the Latin Quarter and enjoyed all the restaurants, cafes and busy scene there, whilst looking for The Breakfast in America diner we had read about in a book by the owner whom documented his trials and wins in setting up the business in Paris. We weren’t interested in eating there the prices pretty hefty and it was packed but we were happy to find it and James recognised the author who was hands on working in the diner.
Taking the metro back to two stops before ours we walked through those neighbourhoods and noted that there were a lot of well patronised bistros and cafes during the fairly lengthy lunch time service. May return there for a meal of the day sometime soon.
With such a good length of time we have been able to go out everyday and see different parts of the city without having to race. Some days we are out four or five hours and others more, it really depends on when we feel we’ve seen enough for the day and how many of those hours have been spent walking or climbing stairs to get the view.
We’re very lucky that one of our local buses takes us across the seine, past The Louvre and up to Montmartre.
This is a great trip and we’ve made the most of it and the metro as we get around finding new suburbs to spend time in.
Sometimes what we planned to do hasn’t worked out due to strikes or huge queues so we’ve moved onto something else on our list.
We finally got to the Musee d Orsay and bought a ticket that gave us entry to the Musee d l Orangerie giving us another day trip out.
So we spent the next days wandering around Montmartre and taking the stairs to the top of Sacre Coeur for the awesome view. Took in the Musee d Montmartre.
visiting cemeteries where world famous people are buried including the one at Montparnasse and Pere Lachaise.
walking the gardens of Tuileries near the Louvre and revisiting the wonderful gardens Luxembourg.
To the side of the Tuileries gardens is the wonderful Musee de l’Orangerie one of the best art museums you will find. It is a relatively small Musee but boy it packs a punch. Purchase a ticket combining the Musee d Orsay for around €18.
This Musee then gives you the opportunity to hang in the gardens on one of the many supplied metal chairs some even tilted for more relaxing and taking in that most popular of activities, people watching and just soaking up the sights and atmosphere of life in Paris.
Among other random things we went to the Oz bar to watch the State of Origin football, wandered around our local area and found a great park not far away with exercise equipment and pond,along with just going to the local street food markets to buy produce for cooking at home.
One of the ways we have been able to afford travelling is to live like a local that means eating most of our meals at home and taking lunches out with us. I know this sounds dull to some of you and we certainly shout ourselves a meal out occasionally but we have found that this is one of the most cost saving ways to keeping our budget on track and to also keep an eye on what we’re eating.
It about experiences not always luxurious meals that we are after.
There have been plenty of stays where we haven’t had a kitchen and we found it sometimes difficult to find meals we either liked or were within our budget threshold. Also using public transport in a large city is key to keeping our costs down and most of the large cities if you’re there for a month have some kind of deal. Hiring a car though like we did in the UK for our last ten days gave us the flexibility we wanted at an affordable price and well worth it.
When you take into account what your monthly outlay is at home including entertainment, home and car expenses, we are often living cheaper than we did in Australia.
I’ll leave it here and add the rest of our Paris adventures in a separate post.