In Paris when it sizzles.

Posted on July 30, 2012

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Devon – London – Paris – Barcelona – Lorca – Las Piedras

Stage three: Paris to Barcelona

And sizzled it certainly did.

We had a train to catch to Barcelona at 2035, so we were up early and out exploring Paris as soon as the sun rose.  A quick pain au chocolate and then straight to the Louvre.  Luckily, we had bought tickets on line, so we walked straight to the front of the long, hot, queue.

It seemed like the Louvre knew we were on a tight timescale, neatly signing the route to the Mona Lisa and the Venus de Milo, so that we didn’t waste time looking for them.  It made me think that perhaps the Louvre was just another notch on a travellers luggage strap ‘yes, we’ve see the Mona Lisa in the Louvre’.

But did they explore the whole place?  How could they, unless they were in Paris for a year.  What a place.  Seemingly never ending, full of masterpieces, history, discovery, creativity and passion.

I loved the Egyptians, particularly with a ten year old’s explanation of the gods and burial traditions (fascinating) ‘we’ve just done this at school, Mum, did you know …..’, it was great to see the medieval foundations – I’m also glad I saw the Mona Lisa, and amazed at the crowds of folk jostling to have a look.  I hope they had time to do more than just that.

I also particularly loved the accessible lift, what a feat of engineering and an art form in itself.

A quick look at our watches and a wave goodbye to the fantastic pyramids.  Next stop, a walk through the Tuileries gardens, lunch on the Champs Elysees, then on to the Eiffel Tower, the funky fountains at the Pompidou centre and finally, Notre Dame.

Feet throbbing, wishing we had more time, to go off the beaten track, but realistic enough to know that a) we had no time and b) we may have seen it all, but the ten year old had not and he was soaking it all in.

It was hot, it was expensive, it was Paris, and you can’t help but love it.

I’d just read an article about Parisienne’s being tired of their ‘rude’ label.  I’ve always enjoyed visiting Paris, as a kid on school exchange visits, New Year’s Eve celebrations on the Champs Elysees, and business trips promoting various English destinations.  I’ve never found the people rude, sometimes brisk, but always with a large dose of gallic charm.

This time was no different, and if the article I read is true, their focus on customer service is working.  The best experience was with the staff on the metro, charming, complimentary of my attempt to speak French and genuinely nice.

Time to say Au Revoir to Paris.  Luggage and a weary ten year old gathered together and off to Austerlitz Station for the Elipsos Hotel Train to Barcelona.

I won’t bore you with the 2½ hour delay, the shock of seeing ‘retard indetermine’ on the departure boards, the worry that we’d never get to Barcelona and the knock on consequences of that. Suffice to say hearing the Elipsos Train Manager shouting ‘Barcelona, passengers for Barcelona’ was a sound for sore ears.

The weary, but very excited ten year old ran along the platform, bagged our cabin and the top bunk, and we opened a bottle of wine.  The fabulous Train Manager took our passports ‘you don’t want to be woken at 5am for a passport check’ and we settled down for our first ever overnight train journey.

Fabulous. Thoroughly recommend it. We were late leaving, which meant we woke up in France rather than Spain, but who cares? We had a great breakfast on board, and watched the fabulous Catalonian countryside come into view.

Stage four: Barcelona to Lorca

(See all images of the great train adventure on the facebook page)

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