Saturday, 4 March 2017

Travel Notes: Paris, 10-13 September 2007

Moulin Rouge, Pigalle
On a trip to Glasgow for a conference in 2007, we did a whirlwind tour of London and Paris. Using Wotif, we took a mystery package in London, but we were deliberate in choosing our hotel in Paris. 

Atlanta Frochet Hotel, Pigalle
We stayed at the Atlanta Frochot Hotel on 9 rue Frochot in Pigalle, just up the road from the Moulin Rouge.

It was not the best time to be in Paris. The Rubgy World Cup was on at the same time, and there was a huge football suspended in the middle of the Eiffel Tower. It was a bit like rocking up to see the Sydney Opera House for the first time and someone had wrapped it in a Best & Less flanny shirt.

The noise of rugby revelers was endless, and, at times, walking around Pigalle late at night was disappointing, as it was full of either zombie-like or aggressive drunks.

To put things in perspective, when we hired a boat on the lake in Hyde Park in London, a South African worker there noticed my accent and started talking about the rugby. When I told him I couldn't care less about rugby, he seemed deflated and said I was the only Australian he had ever met who didn't care about the rugby. So not the ideal time to be in Paris, but aside from the noise, we were focused on the other highlights.
Mona Lisa, smaller than I expected!

Arc de Triomphe
But the hotel was quaint, and suited our student budget. The hotel was renamed Le Pigalle recently. It appears to have gone all hipster but it was mostly quaint and old-worldly when we were there.

I have recreated parts of the journey from my scrapbook of receipts, museum maps, bus and train tickets, and business cards, because my diary stops abruptly on 4th September in Glasgow, misses London, and commences again on 12th September.

That's because, on arriving in Glasgow, we faced a spot of illness, some lost luggage, and then turned up at the conference about 5 minutes before my wife's unannounced but rescheduled presentation was to begin.

I pick up the diary notes from here.

L'église de la Madeleine, Paris
Paris, Monday 10th September 2007

Fly to Paris. Moulin Rouge [too expensive so we walked past it], pizza [from La Scuderia Del Mulino]  organised the open top, hop-on, hop-off bus, ate at a sidewalk cafe, did the yellow then green routes [bus sightseeing routes around Paris]. I recall a furphy that if you walked around late at night, the bouncers at the various seedy joints would force you into their club and then make you pay the cover charge. A bit like razor blades in the soap at high school. We never had any soap at high school, and I never saw any bouncers.

Paris, Tuesday 11th September 2007

Arc de Triomphe, Metro, boat trip [Seine], Notre-Dame. I am sure on this day we went to the Musee d'Orsay and saw From Cezanne to Picasso: Masterpieces from the Vollard Gallery. One exhibition included black and white film footage of the various artists (it may have been the Musée d'Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, but I recall we went to other smaller places, too.
Eiffel Tower, with football

Paris, Wednesday 12th September 2007

Visit Louvre. We woke with the alarm at 7am and after much consternation decided to visit the Louvre first. We entered with our Paris Museum Pass. For some reason, we walked all the way there (2.7km) - we were too early for the first bus at 0930. I had a pastry breakfast at the hotel. [My wife] waited until we found the bakery and had brioche and we both had a chocolate eclair. The perfect eclair remains elusive, but these were close - the chocolate custard seems to spoil it. Another boat trip, Musee de Orsay, coffee at Notre Dame, another bus trip, Arc de Triomphe. I bought MacDonalds. [My wife] had eaten goats cheese and crackers and then felt unwell. I watched BBC until falling asleep. The pillows were hopeless! At about 3am we woke to the sound of the Scottish [rugby fans] singing - it was later evident that they won something in the soccer as well as the rugby. A while later, we were woken by the sound of bagpipes again.

View from Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Paris
Paris, Thursday 13th September 2007

Venus de Milo, Louvre
We woke after 0900 and spent time packing so we didn't have problems with the luggage again [like having clean underwear in one's carry-on]. The one bag rule was ludicrous - there needs to be consistency! [At the time, depending on the airline and the route, you could either have one large bag or two smaller bags, and changing airlines often messed up one's luggage]. We walked about after leaving our luggage at the hotel to find somewhere to eat. A while past the Moulin Rouge we saw a little bistro in a quiet street but the service was crap so we left the menus sitting on the table and found somewhere on the main road. This place was owned by a Christian Lebanese [man and] we were looked after well. We paid €50 (a tip of €5). We walked back to the hotel and ordered a taxi. My wife's bag had almost disintegrated and we were both too tired to walk. The taxi was going to cost €10-15, but [the Moroccan taxi driver] said he would take us [all the way] to the airport for €35... The aeroplane was delayed, what a f***ing surprise.
Eiffel Tower, Paris

The whole trip was a blur, but the diary doesn't show how much we saw or how much walking we did. But my scrapbook shows we went to the following:
Arc de Triomphe, Paris

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