So I’ve joined my Topdeck tour. We are probably 90% Aussies and everyone is great! We met in London but our first stop was Paris.
Driving into Paris was crazy. Peak hour traffic and the French drivers are insane. There is chaos on the roads and people don’t stop at the intersection and wait for it to clear. It results in a four way traffic jam that slows things down more than waiting behind the line in the first place. Also people cut directions all over the place. We checked in to our hotel and then went on a city lights bus tour through the town. We managed to catch the Eiffel Tower as it sparkled on the hour. The roads were dirty but the streets weren’t as bad as everyone has said. Although people did spit.
There was still some tension in the air following the Paris attacks that happened only 2 months ago. Extra Police and security were on patrol. Most sites I visited had bag checks, metal detectors, and a no glass (or unusual object that could become a weapon) policy. We were told not to make jokes about the seriousness of the situation as they would not react well to our attitude. I wouldn’t do that personally anyway, but it was a confronting reminder of the events that occurred here.
The next day we met in front of the Eiffel Tower (and managed to take the obligatory selfies in front of it) for a bike tour. It was a 3 hour bike tour through town and we learned about the French history and the main monuments/ buildings etc. Being on the roads with those crazy drivers was a little daunting but was OK after I got the hang of it. There was a group of us from our tour that all went together on this, and then a lot of us split up in various directions to maximise our short time in the city with too many things to do!
I personally went to the top of the Eiffel Tower. While there, I took a selfie with the Arc de Triomphe in the background. I then had gluten free crepes for lunch (incredible) and went down to the river cruise. I missed the boat by a few minutes and decided to maximise my time and skip it. I walked the Champs de élysées to the Arc De Triomphe and climbed to the top of that too. Up there, I took a selfie with the Eiffel Tower in the background.
I checked out Notre dame, during a mass, which was amazing! It is probably the only time in a church I have ever felt really moved. The tongue was Latin (I think) and there was the huge church organ playing with a choir of angelic voices singing goodness knows what. I am not a religious person, but for the first time in my life I really understood what it means to have that connection to a church. It was really incredible.
Our Topdeck crew met back up and went to a restaurant for dinner. I had garlic escargot for an Entrée (try everything once you know) and I discovered I can add that to the list of meat that my body rejects. I felt rather ill for about half an hour but came OK in the end, just in time to head over and see a Cabaret. It was a little different to the normal concept of Cabaret, and was a more modern performance including some acrobats etc. Most importantly, free wine! I started to get to know some lovely people a bit better and was engaged in deep conversation between the acts.
On the train home one of the girls in our tour had her phone ripped from her hand and taken on the train by 3 guys who ran out at the station as the doors closed behind them. A good reminder to keep your things close and to leave your phone in your bag on the trains. By the end of the day I was exhausted and welcomed bed.