The Scribbler

4 July 2010

Tales of Paris – part 1 Newcastle to Champs Elysees

Filed under: travel — The Scribbler @ 15:13
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Arc de Triomphe, Paris

Arc de Triomphe, Paris

After dithering over long haul plans and eventually conceeding defeat to threatened strikes and rising airfares, Paris was a bit of a last minute choice of holiday. Although I’ve driven through this city twice, I’ve never before had the chance to enjoy its charms.

After the wearing trudge of airport to airport then onto a hot, tightly packed metro, we emerged with relief on a street not far from the Champs Elysees. Our chosen hotel looked lovely, but having over-booked, they sent us around the corner to another, probably even swisher location for the night. A rest, a freshen up and we were off out into the warm evening and onto the Champs Elysees.

France feels easy. We speak a little of the language, understand more than we realise, and always eat well. But Paris is not like the little off-track towns and villages we’ve toured before. Bigger, livelier, more multi-cultural, its wide streets buzzed with early evening energy, of eating, drinking and meeting friends. Sitting outside, eating oysters and watching our neighbours demolish a tableau of lobster, crab and assorted seafood, this feels like a time for indulgence.

Youngsters cruise the wide boulevard in cars and on scooters. One drives up and down in a hot pink Lamborgini – proving that money cannot buy style. And later, with horns blaring, motorbikes revving and flags flying, the street becomes a fiesta. Red and yellow flags draped from cars, vuvuzela’s honking. The Spanish have beaten Portugal in the World Cup and for a moment we could be in Madrid or Barcelona.

I’m fascinated by the gendarmerie keeping a cool eye on the hot Latino passions. Batons tucked into knee high leather boots and shin pads, cradling curiously fake looking rifles beneath heavily armoured shoulder padding; they are Robocop come to life. But seemingly happy just to stand by and let these good natured high spirits run their course.

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