Some years ago, 1990 to be exact, we spent New Years eve in Paris in our hotel room. We had planned to be on Champs Elysees for all the excitement but when bus loads of Gendarmes turned up and all the shop keepers were boarding up as though a cyclone was about to hit the town we thought better of being there. This year we are older (much older) and wiser so we thought that we would position ourselves to take best advantage of the fireworks we expected for New Years Eve.
We had to visit American Express office to collect a new card. Amex had detected some use of Kerry’s card in the USA and cancelled it. So Kerry arranged that we would go to Rue Scribe in Paris and collect the card. So after breakfast we caught the metro to Place de l’Opera. As we surfaced we saw the wonderful building giving its name to this square and then called upon Kerry’s IPhone to direct us to this unknown street. After a false start we found that Rue Scribe is at the rear of the Opera (this makes sense as a “Scribe” is a writer). We walked in and were told that there was no card awaiting us. This led to Kerry calling Amex in Sydney and whilst waiting on the phone in walks a bloke form DHL and he asks the receptionist beside us to accept delivery of a letter to Madame Young. Of course it was Kerry’s new card.
Fate had intended to delay us at Amex. We then visited Galleries Lafayette Maison; a new 5 story addition providing the best in a food hall and homewares. After going around salivating we exited the shop for a breath of air and ran into Mike, Kate and their family.
After that chance meeting we headed to Galleries for a coffee (very nice and expensive) and view the extraordinary Xmas decorations and visit to the roof top patio to take in the views. There was an exhibition of Chinese artefacts which seemed a little strange so much so that we could not work out if a post in the store was part of the exhibition or not. Anyway I have included a picture of the sculptures or at least I think they were sculptures.
We then meet up with the Bishops had lunch at the cafeteria (more affordable and cheaper than our coffee) and went back to GLM to buy provisions and then to the hotel to prepare our picnic for that night – Bishops went via the bottle shop. Packed and ready for the new year celebrations, we had a nap.
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We arrive at the traffic chaos of Paris around 3.00pm. Thus far our joint effort of navigating and Kerry’s driving was working well. But the Parisiens have an annoying habit of creating lanes where there are none. One knot actually had six lanes of traffic (where there should have been two) trying to push through an intersection where the crossing traffic was trying to do the same but our lanes reduced to one lane on the other side of the intersection. This is not a time for politeness and courtesy apparently as every other driver asserted an apparent right to pass through the intersection ahead of the crowd. Meanwhile the traffic lights flicked from red to green to red ignored by every vehicle choking the intersection. As with passing trucks on the highway during heavy rain and fog – you hold your line and keeping moving. Kerry toughed this out and the traffic spat us out into the relative calm on the other side. We made it to the Hotel amid many sighs from the back seat.
The Hotel Mercure Montemarte is well located between the metro stations of Place de Clichy on the blue line and Lamarck-Cauliancourt on the chartreuse line. It also has “parking available” which means there is a parking station nearby – something we learnt after getting there. It has a modern reception (there is no desk between you and the receptionist who walks around with an IPad and distributes keys). After booking in while Kerry battled her way into the carpark we met (by accident) on the footpath collected the luggage and retired to our rooms. We had been on our bums nearly all day and Kerry and I were itching to get out and walk.
With no particular goal, we walked to Place de Clichy, bought a 2 day metro pass, and caught the metro to Saint Michel. On surfacing from the underground we headed across Pont Michel along Rue du Palais and Pont Change. We could see Notre Dame on the eastern end of Ile de Citie and off to the west Tour Eiffel and the dome of the Grand Palais. We decided to check out the Musee du Louvre. It was not open but still a vision by night. We then travelled west through the Jardin Tuileries onto Place de Concorde and the Obelisk. We sighted the Xmas lights of Champs Elysees and straight away Kerry wanted to walk through there.
Both sides of the Champs Elysees was alight and bubbling with Xmas stalls and food. We enjoyed a truly unusual French delight – Baked potato with various toppings – far more a Midlands/ Yorkshire dish.
Nevertheless on we strolled, passing children’s rides and umpteen shops until we reached the commercial end of Champs Elysees. We were starting to tire so we called it a night outside of the Lido and caught the Metro at George V metro station to Charles de Gaulle Etoile metro station which got us back on the blue line to Place de Clichy, our hotel and bed.
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