Festival of the gawk
12/11/2009 15 °C
Our Paris experience was kicked off in high roller style - bargain last minute deal 1st class seats on the Thaylis ‘light speed millennium falcon’ train. Prior to leaving Amsterdam we had acquired a new Decathlon super ‘2 seconds’ tent so we head directly to Camping du Bois de Boulogne - a giant forested park within the city limits with the camp ground approx 7km to the Arc de Triumph.
We caught 2 metro lines from the millennium falcon station, then a bus, then a short 200m walk to the camp ground. Setting up the tent honestly took all of 2 seconds - the tent we bought comes packed in a disc shape with the poles permanently installed bent into circles and figure 8’s. To set up you just throw it in the air and it pops into shape. So cool, but so small. The camp ground is leafy and overlooking the Seine. The facilities must have been nice once upon a time but are a little smelly and worn nowadays. The ridiculously cheap supermarket “Leader Price” and McDoonalds (for wifi) is just 500m across the bridge.
We camped in a designated area for tents (most the ground is set up in slots for vans) which was occupied by various shoe stringer travellers just like us. Many a night was spent huddled together drinking 1Euro poppers (bubbly) discussing free things to see and do, where we had been or where we were going, or the other mysterious residents of the camp ground (will explain back home as it involves a group of people that it is probably not safe to slander on the net!).
On our first venture into the city Steve was so excited at the view of the Arc de Triumph that he dodged through 8 lanes of roundabout traffic to stand underneath it. Immediately questioned by the local authorities about his state of mind he managed to smile his way out of it.
We spent 5 days gawking at the marvels of Paris. Jess the tour guide, Steve the idiot, as Jess had visited Paris previously in her marching band days. Blessed with sunny mild weather we attacked Paris by foot. A 5km walk through the forest, another 2 to the Arc de Triumph then usually another 5km or so through the city before walking back to the camp site. To conserve our endangered Euro species we walked everywhere and took a packed lunch (3-4E) each day consisting of baguette, tomato, mustard, olives, tuna or lentils and French cheese. This, of course, was all washed down with very cheap French wine and eaten in one glorious grassy park or another. The best area was right in front of the Louvre.
Our starry eyed fun came to an end when we rose at 4am in the cold dark to make our early train south. The glory tent was not so glorious to pack up - you wrestle with it Steve Irwin crocodile tamer style to get it back into a disk and into the bag. But good news, we made our train, with our tent, and were headed to Nice, on the French Riviera.