Bishops Visit – France and More – Gay Paris and New Years Eve

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.


Bishops Visit – France and More – Gay Paris and What happened to New Years Eve

December 31, 2014, five o’clock we walked out of our hotel with backpack, thermos, box of liquour chocolates, champagne (Verve Clicquot of course), AND most importantly two blankets kindly (but unknowingly) supplied by our hotel. These blankets were to prove essential.

We entered Monmarte from the north and came up through the village and its square. The place was alive with tourists and particularly walking tours. Our goal was to get a strategic positon on the steps of Sacre Coeur.

When we arrived there were still tours going through the church, so we took up a position on the western side of the steps near a sign board which every bloody tour wanted to view. We ducked and weaved many photo opportunities.

The crowd waxed and waned. Sometimes it appeared the forecourt was filling up and then the crowd would drift away. We had a group of musicians playing Spanish style music for a while – we even shared our liquor chocolates with them. There were the ever present Africans selling shit and scampering whenever the local police turned up but never afraid of the squad of armed Gendarmes that regularly patrolled/strolled through our area.

Bu 11.00pm more people started to arrive. Our blankets were proving invaluable to protect our bums from the cold of the stairs and to provide extra warmth as the thermometer dropped to -1C. The crowd became noisy and restless so that by 11.50pm someone decided to send up Chinese hot air balloons. At first they rose successfully and floated behind us to the north over Sacre Coeur then one got caught in a tree threatening to set on fire the tree and the street performer beside it doing the worst statue impressions ever.

11.55pm others below the forecourt got impatient and decided to launch their own fireworks and a few rockets went skywards and others went off course into the crowd. That heated things up a bit. Of course no Gendarmes nor any police appeared. Then the magic moment, 12.00 midnight NEW YEAR – NOTHING! NOT A BLOODY THING! No evidence of any celebrations in Paris not even at the Tour Eiffel. The pyromaniacs had a few rockets left but a miserable show of a water fall of coloured balls is all we got and that was probably courtesy of tourists who had bought up fireworks for the occasion. Ah well, we had an interesting night, met some new people, drank champagne after sitting 6 hours in the cold and all now had a desperate need to pee.

We set off the way we had come except that we had found a set of steps that appeared to offer a short cut (or so said Nerida). We headed down then around then down more stairs and Nerida appeared to be uncertain and now guessing as to the way home. Kerry in particular now needed to get back to the hotel so we set our own course and left the others. Kerry and I must have made it to the hotel in record time fortunately.

And so to bed, to dream of fireworks everywhere else in the world but Paris.

Thus ended our tour of Scotland, the Midlands and France. The next morning we headed for Calais and our ferry home to Long Eaton. Back at Long Eaton, over the next few days, Doug and Nerida caught up on their washing, repacked, regrouped said farewell and then we dropped them at Manchester for their return flight. It had been a very full tour as my many blogs attest.

Bishops Visit – France and More – Gay Paris

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.