Exploring Paris and Bordeaux

Posted by Kirsten Smart on 11 July 2011

Paris

The first stop on our EuroTrip was Paris. We went there for two reasons; firstly because Roger Waters (Pink Floyd) is performing “The Wall” at the Palais Omnisports de Paris-Bercy, and secondly because we wanted to check out the Louvre.

Of course we did climb up the Eiffel Tower (we made it on foot to the first floor) and I was amazed at how industrial it is – just heaps and heaps of metal stretched and bolted and soldered into perfectly proportioned triangles within triangles within one massive triangle. I always had a romantic vision of the Eiffel Tower as something more feminine, dolled up in fairy lights. In actuality it’s a very real building, designed and constructed to perfection.

Speaking of perfection, the Roger Waters concert was everything we expected it to be and more. It was spectacularly entertaining, with pyrotechnics and props and visuals which, instead of detracting from Waters’ absolute amazingness, only enhanced the overall experience. Waters is raw and crude and honest and makes you feel like you’re a part of something bigger. After the concert I was fired up to chain myself to a tree and burn my bra. Instead I bought a concert t-shirt for 30 Euros.

Something else that made us feel like bricks in the wall was Lafayette, a department store of colossal proportions. Everything was on sale so there were hoards of tourists scavenging the racks- my advise would be to go to individual shops or boutiques, if you know what you’re looking for. Though I’m sure department stores have their purpose, there’s far too much choice and chaos for me.

We sought refuge in the Louvre and spent the rest of the day wandering through every single room and hall until our feet were blistered. Everyone visits the Louvre to see Da Vinci’s “Mona Lisa”, but it was surrounded by crowds of people, so we focused more on the less populated wings and it was a pleasure to see the less famous but no less beautiful parts of this amazing building.

Bordeaux

After three exhausting, but satisfying days in Paris, we made our way by rail to Bordeaux. The train was beautifully clean, quick and comfy and now has the added bonus of extra sun protection, as I left my beautiful, but ridiculously large straw hat in the luggage compartment. I was crushed. My husband seemed relieved.

We spent our time here strolling through the markets, sampling wines, cheeses, crispy breads, colourful veggies and cakes stuffed with custard and fresh strawberries. The French have a fantastic market culture; they have a way of laying out their produce that entices you to not just want it, but need it. I’m not normally a fish person, but I ended up buying a big sosatie of salmon, prawn and some other white fish that was divine. I also bought a replacement, hand-made straw hat. A smaller one this time.

Bordeaux was also where we rented our little blue Renault convertible. The Eurocar people said that there were only about three other “Wind” models on the roads of France. We soon found out why; there’s no cigarette lighter (smoking seems to be a national pastime here). But a car cigarette lighter, as you know, doesn’t just have the one function. We had specifically invested in a receptacle that plays your ipod tunes through the car radio via the cigarette lighter as well as a rather expensive GPS, the battery of which only lasts about an hour- that’s because it needs to be plugged into a CIGARETTE LIGHTER to charge.

The car is also pretty tiny, but we have managed to just squeeze all of our bags into the boot and behind the passenger seat. The good thing about having such a small car is that the French roads seem to be extremely narrow (not to mention almost all of them are one-ways). Let’s just hope the roads in the south are well signposted….






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