34 hours after we left our home in Canberra we arrived at our Paris apartment! Long way to come for a holiday but like childbirth, you seem to forget it once it is over… It had been 32 hours since we had even had a breath of fresh air!
It took us a while to track down the right train at Charles de Gaulle airport but once we found the platform, the cold weather soon hit us. I had to drag my coat, hat, scarf and gloves out of my suitcase and they seemed inadequate! It was about 8 degrees.
We made it to Chatelet les Halles station in fits and starts. The train seemed to have to stop and give way to another train every couple of minutes. Then the hurly burly began. We got off the train and were hit with the biggest rush of humanity that I have ever seen in any city that I have ever been to (including New York). It was around 7pm which may be peak time for workers going home in Paris.
The station was one long series of filthy, winding tunnels and escalators with crowds of people rushing behind and against us like tsunamis. We had to park ourselves and our suitcase behind signs and rubbish bins to get out of the flow while we checked our map and tried to work out the exit. In the end we decided on Rue de Rivoli. I can’t even begin to guess how many tunnels we went along or how many turns we took to get out of the station. It ended in a steep flight of stairs, which with the weight of my suitcase, was not what I needed to see at that point. I may have said that out loud as a very kind young man offered to carry my case up the stairs for me. So far so good with the Parisians.
Then we hit Rue de Rivoli and whatever floods of humanity were not trying to make their way through Chatelet des Halles were pouring up and down Rue de Rivoli. Our battles with our suitcases were made all the worse because we were tired and just could not remember to stay on the right hand side of the footpaths. Not that I think that mattered much as people were just filling the paths and spilling over onto the roads.
Somehow, with a few map stops, we suddenly found Place Baudoyer which is a market square in front of our building. The Mairie du 4e (town hall for the 4th arrondissement) and a Bibliotetheque (library) also front on to it. We knew that our street, Rue Francois Miron ran behind the square but we were delighted to immediately see our building number and and not have to trudge down another street. Here is the picture of the building – we are on the top floor (5th) on the left.
The big blue door is the entry. We had the entry code and found a large empty foyer on the inside. We knew that there was a concierge who probably lived on site but there were no signs. We pressed the buzzer on the only door on the ground floor and a lovely lady answered it who was expecting us. Unfortunately she didn’t speak any English but managed to convey everything to us that she needed to. Starting with the fact that we should go up the stairs to get to the apartment. The ‘stairs’ were five spiralling flights of quaint wooden and carpeted stairs. No lift and we know how much my suitcase weighed! The concierge offered to carry a case for us but I couldn’t do it to her. Hubby humped my heavy case up and I humped his lighter case. Just as well I work on the 6th floor of my work building and take the steps each day. OMG we had to pause a few times on the way up. It reminded me of our previous visit to France when we met up with my Mum and Dad. We booked into a hotel in a country town and Dad was carrying their suitcase up the stairs. The stairs went on and on and on and seemed to go through several buildings. Dad said that he just kept following the trail of red carpet up the stairs and along the corridors and didn’t lift his head until he got there. These stairs have the same red carpet!
Our apartment was everything that the website said it would be and we are delighted with it. It is newly renovated with great views and in a fabulous location.
After unpacking and having a shower we headed out for dinner. We did’nt go too far and soon discovered that the streets around where we are staying
are incredibly picturesque small, cobbled lanes We piked and went into a restaurant that had an English menu as well as a French menu. Our tired brains couldn’t cope with trying to translate a menu or even speaking a few words of French. The owner was lovely and looked after us. Still going well with the Parisians.
Somehow, despite flying for most of the day, I still managed to do 13 201 steps (including those taken at Narita airport). That’s 9.5km! Bed was good!