Wednesday, January 31

P A R I S - Day 3

Sunday morning we wandered up the Champs Elysees to the Arc de Triomphe, and decided to go up top and have a look. This is the spiral staircase going up.

Great view from the top to the Eiffel tower, La Defense, back up the hill to Montmartre and down the various streets radiating off the huge roundabout around the base of the arc. It was also quite fun watching the traffic negotiate the roundabout, seeing as there are no demarcated lanes or any lights to guide the it.

We then proceeded to the Eiffel Tower, stopping off at the Musee de l'Art Moderne on the way. Picked up some baguettes from a bakery near the tower and had a picnic on one of the benches below, polishing off some more of the leftover cheese from the day before.

Having seen the queues and seeing as it was very windy, cold and overcast we decided not to go up the Eiffel this time. We had a good look at it from below though. Then headed back into town on the Metro getting off near the islands. We began on what turned out to be a very long walk back to the hotel, along the river, over the bridge, through the Marais district, past the Opera and back to the hotel.

This is what the back of Notre Dame Cathedral looks like.

That evening we ventured out for dinner and went for a walk up the hill to the Moulin Rouge to see the thing at night. To be honest, the area around it is pretty seedy and run down and not that french. The streets leading back down the hill were nice though.

P A R I S - Day 2

On Saturday morning we headed up the hill to Montmartre. This is an area with some old windmills (there used to be about 40 on the hilltop, the Moulin Rouge now being the most famous), quaint little streets and old apartments. here is an interesting sculpture in front of one of the apartment blocks:

There is a small market place at the top and quite a few souvenir shops.

As you can see it was pretty foggy up on the hill that morning.

Fran in front of Sacre Couer

We wandered down the hill and caught the metro to the Musee Rodin, Rodin being a famous french sculptor and artist at the turn of the century. The museum collection included some of his most well known works including 'The Thinker' (above) and 'The Kiss' (below) and a temporary exhibition of some of his sketch work.

Having seen the museum, we headed back towards our hotel and checked out some of the big department stores. The Galleries Lafayette have a big gourmet section, so we stocked up on some fresh baguettes, lots of cheese and some red wine, which we took back to the hotel where we had a feast!


P A R I S - Day 1

Our trip to gay Paris started with a very comfortable and hassle-free three hour journey on ze Eurostar. Getting there was tres easy and we have already decided we will go via train again. It was snowing in Kent and in the north of France as we blitzed by, so we had a very pretty view out the window. We arrived at Gare du Nord at mid-day from where we caught le Metro to our hotel. This was located on Rue St Lazare just down the hill from Montmartre and near the big shopping centres Galleries Lafayette and Printemps.
After checking in we headed to a nearby cafe and had onion soup for lunch. After this we caught the metro into town to the islands, picked up some crepes to warm us up (Paris being several degrees cooler than London) and proceeded across the bridge to check out Notre Dame, the massive gothic cathedral on the central island.

Fran having a very yummy crepe (with about half a jar of Nutella inside!)

Front of Notre Dame

The huge central chandelier of the cathedral (currently being restored)

Some of the wooden carvings

Having checked out the cathedral, we headed north east to the Centre Pompidou, a big exhibition centre for modern art. We spent about two hours there but only got around two levels. There were some very funky installations...The one below is a fish tank with floating mirrors which has a spotlight on it and the whole thing reflects on the black wall behind.

This one consisted of a number of suspended coloured plastic discs and a moving projector light, which created interesting coloured shadows on the wall.

And this room featured very trippy and colourful floor to ceiling patterened carpet and a central sculpture.

We then wandered back to the hotel and had dinner at a chinese restaurant (we were too tired to explore any further afield for real french food!) just across the road.

Tuesday, January 2

New Year's 2006

Over the long weekend over New Years we headed down to a wee cottage near the historic small town of Rye on the Southdowns (the south coast). There were eight of us and there was plenty of space to relax and play board games, read, eat lots and chat. It was a really nice weekend and a great way to see in the new year.
The house we stayed in (note the blue sky which we had on the last day)

New Year's eve dinner

Left-to right: Neil, Jess, Paul (obscured), Ange, Graham, Amy, Andrew

The boys piling up on Jess

The infamous 'Underground Game' - it was played a lot

Down at the nearby beach - the wind was really cold!!!

It was pretty though!!!

Monday, January 1


Fran and Maria

Graham Ribbonhead

Fran's Oma and Graham

German Christmas cookies

Christmas dinner

Fran and Sara

Maree, Fran and Anna

Fran, Paul and Amy ice skating