After a short train ride we had reached Paris for a three night stop. Thinking we might be up against it for time in a city that pretty much everyone raves about, we were quick to go for a walk around a few of the common touristic haunts. Our accommodation was in the Madeleine area, from which we headed over through the grounds around the Louvre, then down to the Seine River and across to Place de Concorde.
Already noticing the much higher prices for a feed after walking around the city, we discovered a nearby Monoprix supermarket, a place we would continue to seek out throughout France when in need of a cheap supermarket lunch or dinner.
In order to knock over a big chunk of the widespread must-sees of Paris, we finally gave in to the idea of using a tourist bus which promised to take us around the necessary monuments etc in just 90 minutes. Fortunately it was very worthwhile, giving a good audio rundown of each highlight, the main drawback being it wasn´t a 'hop on, hop off' service, which didn't really phase us.
We later made a quick walk through the popular Jewish quarter, La Marais, before being sent on a wild goose chase while seeking our tickets to visit Musee D'Orsay. Thanks to one ticket stores system being down, and the alternative they recommended being the wrong place it unfortunately led us all the way back to the Louvre, again! On the plus side it also enabled us a visit to our first French McDonalds, complete with Kronenberg beer as the drink in a McValue meal. Winner.
Our plan to beat the queues by going to climb the Eiffel Tower at dinner time were not successful, the queues even larger than when Elle had visited the previous year. Regardless it wasn´t too long to wait and the climb to the second highest of the levels was a great experience. Then the rain came! We could see the storm cloud fast approaching, as could everyone else, so the rush to get to the top level was on, making the final queue for the elevator the longest. By the time we reached the top we felt kind of like Dorothy when her house is flying in the middle of the twister on Wizard of Oz. Our evening visit fortunately meant that, after the storm subsided (as we came down, of course), we walked away to capture a night view of the illuminated Tower.
We headed out to visit the Sacre Couer to begin our final day, inorporating a delicious nutella and banana crepe and a visit to Elle´s favourite Paris laundromat (strange!). In the afternoon we finally, hard earned tickets and all, visited Musee D'Orsay which had some highlights even for uninterested art nobodies like us.
Saving the best for last, Phill and Brenda Dack insisted they shout us (for Barry's birthday) to a restaurant they'd previously enjoyed, Le Train Bleu. Located in a spot overlooking the platforms of the Gare du Lyon station in the city´s east, it was a pretty swanky, formal affair, certainly too much so for two people living out of backpacks for five months. This wasn´t helped by turning up and finding they didn't have any record of our reservation! That aside, we got a table no problems and, as planned, ordered the six course degustation menu. Once we worked out which of the dozen or so utensils was for what, we enjoyed a great dinner there accompanied by the obligatory French champagne.
And speaking of the bubbly stuff, the next morning it was goodbye to Paris and across to Reims, the biggest town of the Champagne region.