Somebody has stolen Paris! A place like Paris still exists with its beautiful buildings, stylish shops, glamorous ladies, great restaurants but the telltale Paris characteristics have gone: the dog poo, the angry drivers and Parisians making life as tough as possible for anyone not fluent in their language. We like the new Paris. Everywhere we went people were friendly and helpful and we were able to look up at the buildings and not down at the canine faeces assault course. Fantastic.
We stayed in St Germain at a lovely and stylish place called La Belle Juilette. It was beautifully furnished and staffed by a small selection of French and international staff, including the very helpful Brit, Suzanne, who was very full of beans considering she had flown in from the Olympics closing ceremony.
We did what Paris is best suited for: wandering through the maze of old streets, supping wine in pavement cafes watching the world go by, eating good food, drinking more wine and having a beer on the Paris Plage.
The coup of the trip was a visit to the Louvre which was a first for me. The Louvre can be, and in fact most often is, a mass of humanity. We got some great int that a door called Port de Leones opened at the same time as the main one, didn't really have queues and was close to the Mona Lisa. We got there at 8.30, were the first through the doors (after having to explain the concept of a queue to a Chinese couple) and soon found ourselves giggling in front of the Mona Lisa all by ourselves. Fantastic. This didn't last too long and we soon beat a retreat against the on coming masses.
The Louvre is a great place to spend a few hours; a great building, on a grand scale and with some amazing works of art (we also had the Venus de Milo all to ourselves for a while) but it has to be said that one of the highlights was blagging ourselves onto the disabled lift which is a circular platform that futuristically rises out of the floor in the glass pyramid entrance area. Simple things..............
The only other thing of note about this visit was the Chinese. They are everywhere and probably account for about 70% of the tourists at the main attractions. This isn't a bad thing; it is about time the most populous country got to enjoy more of the worlds wealth and the odd Chinese pushing in is no different to a German or Italian doing likewise. What it is is a very very different situation to the not too distant past and one that we must get used to.
Oh yes, I also shopped whilst under the influence and have some interesting shirts to inflict on Sydney!