April in Paris

This time last year we were setting out on a trip to London and York in the UK, with a few days in Paris via the Eurostar.

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The cherry blossoms were in full bloom around Notre Dame, a brass band played under the bridge by the Seine, the metro was distinctly more punkrock and less restrained than the tube back in London (we called it the party train.) And it poured rain and HAILED almost every day.

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Nothing a glass of bourgogne and a plate of escargots on Rue Mouffetard couldn’t fix, but still, as the trip-organiser of the duo, I had real bouts of misery, feeling guilty and somehow responsible (yes, even for the weather) when things weren’t picture-postcard-perfect. Which of course, they always are for everyone else, at all times.

paris at night
The lows really accentuated the high points, though- and our theme was high and low, from the 2nd etage of the Eiffel Tower (CHEAP TICKETS FOR THE STAIRS, helllaaaaa) to the catacombs.

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catacombs castles
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We climbed up to Montmatre and the Lapin Agile, we ran the gauntlet down through a weird group of scammers/muggers who mark their marks with a bracelet. Try the sex museum (I blushed more than I expected), the Arc de Triomphe and the film museum. Sit out cloudbursts in a cafe, or on the free ground floor tour of Notre Dame. Screw the overcrowded Louvre, and head straight for the laid-back Musee D’Orsee. Why try to get a peek at the Mona Lisa over a busload of cranky tourists, when you can stand two feet away and see all the layers and brush hairs on a Van Gogh?

montmartre

notre dame interior

Rainy wine and cheese and baguette picnics in the park…one-euro cafes if you stand up at the bar instead of sit-down service. They charge about six euros for a cup of tea in all the tourist hotspots- I like to think it’s a dig at the English. Oh, and cider is cheapest of all.

I ditched some of my clothes to fit more foie gras and cheese and wine bottles into my backpack on the way home. London Underground tip of the day: carry around a bag full of stank cheese on your way home. You’ll even get a seat during rush hour. Liz Lemon was right.

Took refuge in what turned out to be an ancient Roman amphitheatre when we were caught by yet more hail at the market. Accidentally wandered through the Jardin des Plantes while trying to find our hotel without using the touriste map- As you do, n’est ce pas?

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Beautiful accidents.
street art
Cold and rainy and full of promise and green shoots, if not actual perfect blooms.

Happy April. xo

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