A Travellerspoint blog

Our little village...

Every morning we walk up to the little village of Saint Jean de Marsaq to get our baguettes and croissants for the day...

It is a beautiful quiet village with a school, a shop, a restaurant/tavern, a few buildings and houses and of course the beautiful church.

It is a lovely walk to start our day with...

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The windy roads to the village

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Our Boulangerie / shop

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The church

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Some of the local wildlife...

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The Birthday Boy...Hugh!

Posted by thewoodsies 08:10 Comments (0)

Arrived at our french villa in the town of St Jean d'Marsaq.

The adventure continued with navigating my way to the Gare Montparnasse train station ...no taxis as it was fairly close so I walked there suitcase in hand...fortunately it was relatively easy to find...working out what to do and how to find the train was another story!!

I arrived at the station and it was very busy as it was almost lunchtime on a Saturday. I found the board listing the train numbers and departure times but not the platforms they were leaving from...hmmm...when in doubt ask!!!

I asked a gentleman if he spoke english and he didn't but he wanted to help me...so I tried to ask how to find the platform and showed him my ticket...we then played charades for a couple of minutes and I still couldn't understand him so I thanked him in french and tried to move away...he would not let me...he grabbed my arm and was insistent on us communicating what I needed to know...we eventually understood each other and I found out that they don't put up the platforms until 20minutes before the train leaves. I thanked him again and moved off to wait the 40 minutes till deprture.

Meanwhile I struck up a conversation with another young man who did speak english... a word of warning...not all people who live in a country know how their transport system works!!! The timetable clicked over and my train was boarding on platform 4 and so was his so we decided to head off together. Before we could move more than a couple of steps the gentleman who had helped me earlier came to find me to make sure that I was aware that my train was boarding and to tell me the platform number...amazing!!! The young man and I both headed off to platform 4...I then asked if he was on the same train...NO he said...so how could we both be leaving from the same platform??? He then told me to get on a train on the next platform that must be mine...was it....NO!!!! The 2 trains were behind each other...asking someone else proved to be a VERY good move indeed!!! Hahahahaha

I managed to get on the right train and get settled in my seat and found I was surrounded by American and English tourists!!

I arrived at Biarritz at the designated time of 5.20pm and was met at the station by Dan...Janene, Tristy and Hugh were at the villa getting settled. Dan assurred me it was only about a 40 minute drive back but there were roadworks on the main highway so we might try and detour to avoid the delay...oh and we had to stop off to get a few things from the supermarket. We stopped off and got the supplies and then as we were driving we saw that the highway was bumper to bumper traffic and it was not moving...now, as Dan had flown from Singapore to London then to Bordeaux and then driven from there 1.5 hours he was a little tired and frazzled...we decided not to sit in traffic and try to work our way around it and get the GPS to recalibrate and send us a different way...hahaha she (GPS) kept telling us incessantly to turn around when possible as we were going the wrong way...Dan was amazing and very persistent...we kept driving despite the voice warning us of our demise!!! Finally we made it to the highway past the road works and it had only taken us about an hour fifteen...we were on the right track...by this time I was totally confused as to where we were!!!

The gps was locked in to take us to the villa...or so we thought...next we turn off the highway and Dan announces OMG it has taken us to the supermaket not the villa!!! I am horrified because I think we are back in Biarritz at the supermarket and gone in full circle...unbeknown to me they had done a supermarket shop near the villa before they picked me up!!! whew...what a relief!!!

BUT...the villa was not programmed into the gps because the gps didn't pick up this destination...and Dan couldn't recognise the roads to get there...we drove up and down and round and round...eventually with Tristan's help on the phone we managed to find our way home...only 2 hours after the train arrived!!! hahahahahahahaha

We arrived still in daylight...and the villa was amazing...room after room and a beautiful swimming pool and great grounds...oh what fun we will have here...

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Our Villa

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The pool area

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My bedroom...one of 5 main bedrooms

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The view from one of my bedroom windows

Posted by thewoodsies 08:04 Comments (0)

Notre Dame

I had briefly seen Notre Dame from the shuttle after arriving in Paris on the way to my Hotel and the people were thick outside waiting to go in!! This morning I arrived at about 8.15am and there were very few people around at all...

My first glimpse as I came around the corner of the beautiful facade was breathtaking...more stunning than I had imagined!

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I walked into the church and they had beautiful music playing and the sense of presence inside was overwhelming...it was truly magnificent, I was inside a church that was built in the 13th Century!
I wandered through and saw the amazing arched ceilings. the circular rose windows, the statue of the Virgin and Child known as "Our Lady of Paris" and the stunning alter. I have to say it was truly spectacular. There were those who had gone to pray as well as the growing number of tourists.

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Afterwards I investigated outside and around the buildings to try and find the steps up to the towers as I wanted to see the famous gargoyles and chimeras that adorned the edges of the buildings. These had originally been built to help the runoff from falling rain stay off the stonework of the walls to protect them. I couldn't find any open gates...only a sign written in french which I found out later was the entrance.

I explored around the entire area and found at the rear of the church there was a beautiful park with fantastic views of the architecture of the buildings.

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Eventually I made it back to the front and asked about the tower climb...it didn't open until 10am. The gates were still closed and no one was there so as it was now 9am I decided to go across the road and have a cafe au lait. NEWSFLASH...Don't buy anything across the road from a tourist attraction in Paris...haha...A coffee cost me 5.60 euro ($7.50)...the earlier one had cost 3.50 euro ($4.60)...a bit of a mark up for the view!!! Luckily it was a nice coffee!

New found friends ...I chose to sit outside the cafe to have my coffee and chose a seat at a table near a couple who were chatting and two men who were sitting together...as I sat down the two men began talking loudly to each other...they were two very "Ocker aussie blokes" whose language was very embarrassing for this australian who was sitting near them...I decided to sit very quietly and pretend I couldn't understand them and just drink my coffee. I glanced at the other couple sitting nearby and caught the eye of the lady who was listening to her brother make comments in english about our two friends...he of course got caught out because he had assumed I would not understand him but I smiled at his comments and then a smile of recognition passed their faces and we whispered to each other to ask if we were also aussies...which of course we were!! A conversation about the image of the australian tourist that these fellows were portraying made us all laugh and cringe!! We began our own conversation and the two aussie blokes realised that we were speaking english and their conversations became much quieter!!! Hahaha..it was a very funny experience indeed.

The positive spin from all of this was my introduction to Lesley, from Adelaide and her brother Peter who had come from the States to visit her and celebrate her birthday... We sat and chatted for almost an hour and I thoroughly enjoyed their company.

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As it was now 10am I left to go through the gate to climb the towers....or so I thought!!
Had I waited at the gate while it was empty I would have been first in what had now become a very long line or so I thought! Chatting to people near me I discovered that this was really only a very short line...the previous day they had arrived to find the queue going down the street and around the corner...so I was thankful once again for starting the day early.

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The queue waiting to climb the tower

I waited for about 30 minutes to gain access to the tower and began climbing some stairs...the pace was fairly slick as people from behind were coming and they didn't want to go slowly...the stairs went on and on and on and on some more...getting steeper and narrower as we travelled higher and higher...400 steps in total...huff, puff, huff...I must do my research a little better next time!!!
I was thankful that it was a fairly mild day, about 24 degrees, but unfortuately the humidity levels were very high...by the time I got to the top I was dripping wet!! (and puffing, just a bit) The interesting thing was that once you started up you couldn't turn back and they didn't check peoples ability to be able to make the climb...the lady in front of me tried to climb with a cast like boot on one ankle...fortunately for her...and everyone else... she found a little space to stop and have a rest on the way up...I have no idea whether she made it down again or if she is maybe still there!!!

Fortunately the climb was worth it ... the views from the top were spectacular despite the cloudy skies! And I was very excited because I got my first glimpse of the Eiffel Tower in the distance...

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The Montparnasse Tower is almost where I began my day's walking...

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The gargoyles and chimeras were just as magnificent as I had hoped they would be!!!!
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My favourite!

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Now for the 400 steps down again and to try and find a drink of water...I'm thirsty!!!

Posted by thewoodsies 14:12 Comments (0)

My first morning in Paris...

After a great night of sleep I awoke about 5.30am...due to daylight savings and it was of course still dark outside, but I decided to get up and see Paris awaken.

I was out the door by 6.30am and headed down to the concierge and get a map to find my way through Paris and make sure that I could find my way back again! I asked the girl on the desk if I could walk to Notre Dame...she was horrified...NO NO take the metro, it is too far...I assured her I was up for the walk and she reluctantly gave me directions. Turns out it was about 4km!

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Paris coming to life

I headed off...and it was delightful...I had the streets of Paris to myself except for the shop owners who were setting their wares on display for the day...the many Boulangerie's had taken their baking out of the oven (A hot, freshly made croissant is to die for!) the coffee was brewing and the smells were divine!!

Well almost!!!!

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Bins lining the streets of St Severin early in the morning

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French rubbish trucks are just as noisy!

Thursday morning was rubbish collection day...so all the green bins lined the streets with some not so nice smells wafting from them! Hahahaha I managed to cross the street a number of times to avoid them and their odours and enjoy my walk anyway.

PS...Turns out every day is rubbish day due to all the bins available for public and market use...they are everywhere. They hang fresh large clear plastic bags out every morning which is great because the city is very clean...except for all the cigarette butts!!!!

Of course I got lost! So I stopped for a coffee and directions, but the waitress didn't speak English so after a very funny game of charades she managed to get me back on the right track...this turned out to be amazing! If I had followed the original directions I would have been walking along very busy roads but instead I got to walk along very tiny one-way streets, find beautiful little parks and see the people of Paris start their day and the sun came out to shine for my first full day in Paris!

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A delightful church and small playground found while I was walking.

Posted by thewoodsies 09:15 Comments (0)

And the journey begins...

Departure from Perth was on time and the flight was totally full with no spare seats at all!
Lots of families travelling with little ones who didn't enjoy the experience as told by their loud crying for much of the flight. Very distressing for everyone around and most of all the parents.
At 5.30am we arrived at a very different Dubai airport to what I remember from my previous stopover...the new airport is slick, clean, extremely efficient and HUGE! A two hour wait allowed me time to explore only a small portion of the shopping available. I was very controlled though and only window shopped as I want to save my money for the Paris creations that I am sure are waitning for me to find them... hahaha.
Now another 7 hours or so till I get to Paris...

Arrived safe and sound in Paris...although about 40 mins late. Then I managed to find my shuttle bus and we headed to Paris city centre. Unfortunately because it was a shared shuttle with 7 of us it took another 2 hours to get to my hotel.
My hotel is all I expected...small, clean and comfortable. They tell you the rooms are small and the lifts are tiny but it still doesn't prepare you for the reality! Hahaha.
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The view from my bed in the morning...

I got settled in and then decided to go for a walk and wandered down the street to find a fantastic market area just close to me...with a Boulangerie that even had a queue out the door and down the street so I had to go in and buy a "petite baguette" just to try it...mmm devine! Might have to be the breakfast stop in the morning...

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I then bought the obligitary bottle of red and some cheese to go with the bread to celebrate my first night in Paris!
Tomorrow I plan to at least get a glimpse of the Eiffel Tower and maybe visit Notre Dame.
Now for some sleep.......

Posted by thewoodsies 12:13 Comments (0)

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