We don’t often find ourselves in Paris on a sunny Sunday in August without our bikes, so after a leisurely lunch on the balcony, testing a new vinho verde, we went for a walk along Berges de Seine from the Orsay Museum to the Floating Gardens. I have to say we were a little disappointed compared with last year, perhaps because there was nothing new. But the sky was amazing.
In this week’s bloggers round-up, fellow Aussie Andrea from Rear View Mirror shares five beautiful parks to visit in Paris, Heather Robinson from Lost in Arles brings us some stunning photos from the Fête des Guardians in Arles and Mary Kay from Out and About in Paris gives us an update on an archipelago of floating gardens soon to be opened on the banks of the Seine. Enjoy!
Top 5 beautiful parks in Paris
by Andrea from Rear View Mirror (formerly Destination Europe), a fellow Australian who, after 6 years of living in France, has given up herParis apartment to live a nomadic life slowing travelling around Europe, experiencing each destination like a local
I’ve never met a garden in Paris I didn’t like but here are my top 5 parks when it comes to spring flower displays. Read more
Details at La Fete des Gardians
by Heather Robinson from Lost in Arles, an American writer and photographer living in Arles who offers us meanderings through all that makes life in a small town in Provence worth while
How I am entranced by the swish of silk and shine of satins at the Fête des Gardians, held each year on the First of May in Arles. The women sway like tender reeds under the weight of their finery while the men clench their jaws as they guide their horses through the maddening crowds. We all gather and pull to catch glimpses of a past and present mingling, sighing wishes just for a little bit of better, a mist of more mystery. Our everyday garb says much of the times we are in–of uncertainty, of fatigue. So how wonderful to get lost in this particular dream. Read more
An Archipelago of Floating Gardens on the Banks of the Seine
by Mary Kay from Out and About in Paris, an American by birth, Swiss by marriage, resident of Paris with a Navigo Pass for the metro that she feels compelled to use
“Paris is the most beautiful city in the world, n’est–ce pas?”, announced the driver of bus number 62 as he eased to a stop behind the rush hour traffic on Pont Mirabeau. Pointing towards the Eiffel Tower in the distance, he let out a long sigh that was clearly audible over the public announcement system. Like a group of jet-lagged tourists visiting Paris for the first time, all of the passengers automatically swiveled their heads in unison to admire the sweeping view of their city. It is stunning. I can’t fault Parisians for being so proud. And thanks to Mayor Delanoë’s plan to “reclaim one of the most beautiful urban and river landscapes in the world”, the cityscape is about to become even more remarkable. Read more
By the time we leave Australia, I am starting to feel less of a foreigner. I can understand most of what people are saying and know what to do in a restaurant or a bar. OK, so I still can’t recognise the coins but Relationnel is looking after that most of the time anyway. We arrive back in Paris on Sunday, after a 13-hour flight from Hong Kong, one suitcase less, six kilos heavier between us (4:2 in my favour of course), tired and frazzled.
Outside, it’s cold and rainy. As we come back from the airport in a taxi, I try to imagine an Australian arriving in Paris for the first time. What would they think of all that mournful suburbia on either side of the motorway? We arrive from the north, of course, and even though the buildings become more Parisian and less ethnic as we near the centre, the empty Sunday streets are hardly enticing.
We climb the four flights of stairs to the apartment and open the door to the living room. The balcony renovation is not finished. We didn’t expect it to be, but the gloomy day is made even worse by the scaffolding in front of the windows. Not to mention the layer of stone dust. We put down our single suitcase and wade through the mound of mail including 30 copies of Le Monde, buoyed up by a couple of colourful postcards but depressed by the bills.
The fridge is empty so I add a bottle of sancerre and we set out for the Saint Eustache market in the rain. We cheer ourselves up by buying our favourite spéciales oysters and fill the shopping trolley with vegetables and chasselas grapes which are the only fruit we eat from September to November. I then go and buy yoghurt, fromage blanc and butter from the little supermarket while Relationnel takes the heavy trolley back home and up the stairs.
After delecting the oysters, we crawl into bed for the rest of the afternoon, emerging about 6 pm in a jetlag daze. It’s 3 am in Australia, the worst time for waking up. I still feel lightheaded – you know that sort of spaced out feeling when you first arrive after so many hours of travelling. Relationnel busies himself putting things away and doing things at the computer, annoyingly chirpy, while I recline hopelessly on the sofa incapable of doing anything except look at my iPhone from time to time.
We have a light dinner of fresh plaice and spinach and I try desperately to stay awake until 8.30. Amazingly, I sleep until 6.30 next morning, admittedly with a few wakings but I manage to go back to sleep each time. It’s depressingly dark and still rainy but the jetlag haze seems to have cleared.
After reading my emails and checking out my Facebook and Twitter accounts :), I start the urgent translation due that day (my clients very nicely waited until I came back from holidays instead of getting someone else – there’s nothing worse than getting back from 5 weeks’ holiday and having no work). At 8 am, I hear the first workers arrive on the scaffolding.
“It’s not so bad. I can put up with this”, I think, until they turn on the radio. Loudly. A woman’s voice appears and there is loud discussion. I can hear every word they’re saying. A drill starts, followed by hammering. My concentration disappears completely. How can I possibly come up with advertising material for anti-aging cosmetics with this in background? It’s depressing enough to know that I never remember to use any of these miraculous products.
When Relationnel comes home at lunchtime, I tell him that I am definitely going to Blois next day. But I hum and ha all evening because I really don’t want to go there by myself for a week. Next morning, I get up at 6.30 again (hoping this won’t become a habit – it’s dark outside) thinking I might stay in Paris after all. At 8 am, the workers arrive and I buy an on-line ticket for the 12.38 train. The only thing that consoles me is that my friend Françoise is picking me up at the station.
On this week’s list are two very pratical posts for those who will be travelling to France shortly. Holidays to Europe looks at the question of the best travel money card to take with you while Abby from Paris Weekender explains the best way to get to and from the different airpots in Paris. And, on a very different subject, Andrea from Rear View Mirror (who is also the author of Destination Europe) and taken to living the life of a nomad, describes a road trip to Berlin.
Which Travel Money Card is best?
by Holidays to Europe, an Australian based business passionate about sharing their European travel expertise and helping travellers to experience the holiday in Europe they have always dreamed of.
by Abby from Paris Weekender, an American living in Paris who offers suggestions for Paris weekends, either staying put or getting out of town
Unfortunately there is no perfect way of getting to and from the Paris airports, but below are my suggestions. Note that for the Air France bus (Car Air France) to and from Charles de Gaulle and Orly you can nowpurchase tickets online, and doing so will save you 10%. Read more
Road Trip Paris to Berlin
by Andrea from Rear View Mirror (formerly Destination Europe), a fellow Australian who, after 6 years of living in France, has given up herParis apartment to live a nomadic life slowing travelling around Europe, experiencing each destination like a local.
Driving directly from Paris to Berlin would normally take around 10 hours but there are so many fantastic places worth visiting along the way that you can make a great one to two week road trip out of it or even more if you prefer to travel slowly. I took around 15 days for the trip and stopped in seven cities between Paris and Berlin. The road trip looked like this:
Paris – Trier – Bacharach – Heidelberg – Schwabisch Hall – Nuremberg – Leipzig – Dresden – Berlin. Read more