Paris, Fair Thee Well
Our last week and a bit in Paris was basically a blur of cycling, picnics, walks and trip planning sessions in our favourite cafes. A great little cafe right near the girls called Le Petit Indices and our local Cafe Audjourdui, where the urinal and hand basin are side by side in the unisex bathroom. Pretty awkward, but of course I had to give it a go. Weird that Heidi had to wash her hands twice while I was in there though?
We also went and saw the cabaret at Lido. It was quite entertaining and the costumes were just lovely. No more explanation required. Which reminds me, hi mum. Riding home at 3am was slightly less entertaining. We had to walk to six different bike stands before we found two bikes. Somehow Clare still managed to look human.
After our earlier failed attempt to picnic in Jardin de Luxembourg (blog reference) we decided to have another crack. This time we made it through the gate, but the second we sat on the grass inside, some blokes whistle went bananas and we got booted off! Eventually we did find the spot where you are allowed to site on the grass. Three big rows of grass in between some tall trees. We made ourselves comfortable and settled in. Sadly only to be told the section we were sitting on with 25 or so others was now closed and we were all shifted onto one of the three rows with approximately 5cm space around you each. I decided something had to be done to frighten some of the kids off for a bit of space. Worked a charm.
You may be surprised but it turns out the Eiffel Tower is actually pretty freaking high. I didn’t think it was all that tall and it was all fun and games till we got about half way up and it was majorly scary. Awesome view though apart from a bit of haze. Short vid of our trip up the tower here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RSL8QGqNRts
One morning Clare and I decided to go out for breakie. Should be a fairly easy thing to do in Paris, yeah? After trying two restaurants that didn’t do hot breakfast we were back at Cafe Audjourdui with our favourite ‘not really grumpy but just very to the point’ waiter. We asked if they did hot breakfast, which they did. So fried eggs coming up. However he clearly didn’t understand what ‘on bread’ or ‘avec le pain’ meant and we were served fried eggs with a salad, but it came with a baguette and a croissant so it actually worked ok.
From breakfast we rode out to the periphery of Paris to explore some more of Parc de Vincennes. It was really cool fun and was a pretty dense woodland. Who knew Paris had woods?
Now say you didn’t speak much French at all and could understand even less than that. Where would you like to get a job in Paris? What about one of Paris’ busiest bars? Well that is exactly what the girls have done. And what’s even more absurd than that is the fact they are actually surviving. Clare and I payed them a visit last Sunday afternoon after they worked 7pm to 7am Friday and Saturday night. What we saw when we arrived was very strange indeed. Not only was Carmen way too spiritely when she greeted us but Heidi had been baking, as you do after a few hours sleep over two days, and served us delicious apple crumble. It was hilarious hearing their stories of being yelled drink orders in French by people three or four deep at the bar. Not everyone’s idea of fun, but definitely my idea of funny!
For certain my favourite day in Paris was the day we visited our new best friend sister Charlotte. An amazing woman of 70 odd completely house bound by MS. For someone who has suffered with such a debilitating illness from the age of 18 she has the most amazing outlook on life! She was just such a laugh to spend time with. It all started with a very funny phone conversation to arrange the visit which involved a lot of very average French from my good self including a very funny “nous visitée vous” (we visit you) which was responded to with a very abrupt “pourqua?” (why?). we battled on until about 5 minutes in when Charlotte just started speaking pretty reasonable English. The next day when we first arrived at her unit we knocked on the door and then just waited five minutes so, and just when we thought we had the wrong place, it opened. Once inside we realised all this time had been spent just physically getting to the door. So I provided an arm to lean on for the return journey to the lounge room. We had brought some baked treats and asked Charlotte if she had some small plates we could serve it on. She told us to look in the oven, which seemed an odd place for plates. Heidi opened it and found, not plates, but a delicious looking freshly baked tart. It took her about 5 minutes to walk to the door and yet she had baked us a berry tart. She told us she wanted to bake something to show us how much she appreciated our visit. Absolute legend. We had so many laughs, tried to read a book she has written in French about living with MS and she even insisted we take a bottle of red wine with us as another thanks for visiting. Very humbled!!
After quickly getting rid of the vin ruage (as instructed by Charlotte), we headed to Bistorot Du Coin for a farewell dinner with the girls. It was all going splendidly until I started to order. I ordered in my best french accent and it wasnt until I was almost finished that Clare said “umm Jono you have the English menu”. So I had just been saying english words with a french accent. Mildly embarrassing! It was a great night though that included many laughs and a couple of additional bottles of wine. Very funny farewell. Gunna miss those crazy kids.
Our last day was all about getting packed and sorted. So after a massive cook up breakfast we headed to the old Laundromat. Unfortunately it was being inhabited by an interesting odour. It took a few minutes to notice that some bloke who I geniusly dubbed Sir Stinks-a-Lot was not actually washing any clothes , and was just there to hang in the laundry. Nothing funnier than the look on Clarie’s face when she walked in. She thought Sir Hidden-Rotting-Wound-Alot was a more appropriate name for the poor fella. She actually had to leave the room due to her great sense of smell (or what I refer to as ‘the nurses curse’). I did ask him in french if he would like to have a shower in my apartment, which majorly freaked him out, as I suppose it probably would, and he left the laundry immediately.
We also decided to post our winter clothes to Net as it is getting warmer finally! A feat that is surprisingly difficult with a serious language barrier as no one in the post office spoke English. Luckily there was a super helpful lady who tried her best to explain everything and showed us what boxes we needed. It was all going so well until she showed us a calculator that read 161. A slight bit more than the 30euro each we thought the boxes said they cost. We were very confused and the lady couldn’t think of the word she wanted to tell us, so she walked around asking people if they knew the English word for something she wanted us to know. Then over comes this older guy thinking he had solved everything and said “amount”. Thanks captain obvious. We cracked up and left the queue of people to talk over the cost. We didn’t know what to do as it was a serious ‘amount’ of money. Anyway eventually the line dissipated and we were back at the counter. So she started processing our packages again. Then she said 60euro please. So we payed and got the hell out of there. Still no idea what the 161 was for and hopefully our stuff will make it to Manchester?
Now when you are a povvo traveller and have bought the 6am train ticket out of Paris to save 20euro, you will certainly not pay for a taxi because the metro is not running yet, you will indeed just hire a bike, backpack and all!! So yes that is what we did at 5am to get the train for Hossegor and Biarritz. Bring on the sunshine!