A fortnight ago, my friend Hayley and I went to Paris for the weekend.  Hayley had never been before, and I hadn’t been in a very long while, so both of us were looking forward it it for different reasons.  We had managed to find a hotel right in the shopping district (Grands Boulevards for those in the know), and the shops were calling!
But of course, in Paris shopping isn’t everything.  The food is equally as important as the shopping.  And we ensured that we put their food to the test.

The starters were certainly my highlight.  This tomato tart was to die for!  The chicken was good too, but not nearly as good as H’s tuna steak!

And I was so proud of Hayley that she was so adventurous – here she is tucking into the snails.  She almost chickened out, but once I tried one, she was ready to give it a go too … 

We were there for the final leg of the Tour de France, but to be honest we stayed as far away from the centre as we could on that Sunday, as the city turned into one big traffic jam!  We did spot a few other cycling parties, including this one.  The yellow jerseys aren’t really significant, unless if you count the fact that they had been sponsored by Ikea!
The weather was a little disappointing.  We could see that these threatening clouds were going to dampen our day ….

And the heavens did just open with no further warning.  Thank goodness I had insisted that we go back for our brollies!  Although it must be mentioned that my (Primark) brollie that had cost me £2 about 5 years ago had lasted much longer than I had anticipated.  But it would have been nice if it didn’t decide to die in Paris … in a downpour!  We traipsed around looking for a replacement, and what a mission that was.  I finally found one that I didn’t even like, but I didn’t have the luxury of being fussy, so parted with my €10 (!!) and, you won’t believe it, the first time I opened it, it was broken too!  Not impressed.

Luckily though, the sun didbreak through every now and then.

One thing that really annoys me around the Eiffel Tower, are the hawkers who harrass you and scammers that scam people out of their money.  This time we saw how some of them operate.  They are obviously all hawking illegally, so they set up on the pavement, with all their (unbreakable) goods on a piece of cloth, which has 2 handles which are attached to each corner.
As soon as they see a policeman, they prepare to pick up all their goods in one movement, as the cloth folds around to create a type of bag.

As soon as the policeman has passed, or starts to walk in another direction, the cloth goes down again and all the goods are laid out again, ready to be sold to the next unsuspecting tourist!

During the summer, the banks of the Seine River is transformed as part of their Summer Festival.  Here they have built a temporary swimming pool, which was being used for an old people’s Aqua Aerobics lesson!

On Saturday night we ventured up to the Sacre Coeur, which sits on the hill in Montmartre. Hayley and I were both very tired by that time, as we had been walking around the city for about 8 hours straight.  But, whenever I go, I remember just how social it is.  Everyone brings their own drinks, some people bring guitars and sing, but mainly everyone just sits and waits for sunset.  It is certainly the cheapest way to get the best views over the city!  Just be careful of the pick-pockets around Pigalle on your way up.  I know 3 people who had their wallets stolen there (one of them was my dad) .

Views always command a price, don’t they?  H had arranged some cheap tickets for us to get a view from the 56th Floor of the Mortparnasse Building.  They have built an excellent viewing deck which gives you 360 degree views.

It does have a beautiful view towards the Eiffel Tower, but I don’t know whether I would have been willing to pay full price (€10) for that view …  I think I would rather pay €1.20 for a Metro ticket and go up to Montmartre!

All in all we had a lovely weekend.  Just a pity it was so short.  It never is long enough.  I think at some point we should do a house swap again and go for longer….