Saturday, 18 October 2014

Wandering about Paris after a long time…

Wandering about Paris after a long time…

The last week before this trip, me and Garima made an impromptu decision to grab this chance to visit Paris. Garima’s only memories from her trip as a child to Paris were of Disneyland, and it had been 9+ years since I went back to that city in the Summer of 2005.
I don’t usually like stuffing all tourist spots of a city into a few days of tourism, but there’s so much to see in Paris…and Garima wanted to see it all! So we took an overnight bus from Brussels, slept as much as we could and prepared ourselves for 3 full days of walking/biking and seeing as much as we can.

Now, I’ll be upfront…I’m biased about Paris. Even though I don’t fully understand Parisien culture, language, traditions (or anything fully, for that matter!), I like Paris despite the general annoyances for the obvious reason that I spent 2 years & 2 full summers there learning things with my dad and growing up. Fun times.

But we needed a plan! And how to enjoy the enormous amounts of stuff we thought we needed to see?? Enter Velib. Velib is Paris’ bike share program (like Bixi of Toronto) but it has probably 500 stations scattered every few hundred metres in every corner of Paris. This is how its done, Toronto! Costs a meager 1.7 euros per day for unlimited rentals up to 30 mins each trip, after that its still very reasonable at 1.0 euro for the next 30 mins. Damn. I don’t care if any of you are not cyclists or endurance junkies like we are…this is the best way to get around Paris. Period. Just one trip by the public transport is 1.4 euros, which also boasts great connectivity. Are you listening, Rob Ford?!?!

From Wikipedia

Paris is divided into numbered districts (or Arrondisement, in French). These spiral outwards from the centre of paris and generally speaking, the lower the number, the more expensive/exquisite the area. People in Paris also pride themselves of the arrondisement they belong in, and each has its own charm and attractions.

Once we settled into our room conveniently located on the same street as the one I used to live on (thanks to for this amazing find at the last minute!).

The bridge I crossed countless times every day to school...
We freshened up and headed to my old hood: International School of Paris (ISP). Here, I met with Mr. Kerr and Mr. Collett (and sadly didn’t take a picture with them! L ), Mrs. Sharma, along with my classmate Mari and other ISP staff. 

The school had changed a lot so we got a nice tour of the whole place. Garima also got to see it first hand and couldn’t resist comparing the modest number of 450 students at ISP with the 3000 students at DPS RK Puram in India she graduated from.

After seeing ISP, we walked with Mari till Champs Elysees and enjoyed some crafty Crepes along the way:

 This street is always bouncing with life and because of the awesome summer-like weather, there was plenty to enjoy and see. Its essentially a very wide street of showrooms, restaurants and theatre/cinema halls. Of course, this is also the place of the final stage of Tour de France every year as the pros repeat laps of ~9 kms around this street for the sprint to the finish.
This one's for you, dad!
Good times at the Peugeot showroom like always!

Next up was Concorde, Tuilleries, Louvre:

…and Place Vendome: undoubtedly for the crème de la crème of Paris with the Ritz Hotel and stupid $$$$ showrooms. Very fittingly, it is in the 1ere arrondisement of Paris.

Very complicated indeed...

Oh and also...nearly every meal we had an awesome delicious sandwich at a different bakery mixed with treats throughout the day:

Sacre-Coeur & Montmartre

We didn’t go up the  Eiffel tower, Montparnasse, or the Arc de Triomphe, but we saw a lot of the city by foot, experienced new things, saw untraditional sights and unknown streets, ate a lot of yummy Parisien foods and loved every minute of it (Well, except the foiled dinner plans of Sunday night!)

Notre Dame:

After Sacre-Coeur, we ventured towards Notre-Dame and stopped by Hotel De Ville and Centre Georges Pompidou in the evening

It happened to be Nuit Blanche that night, which meant a lot of museums and city attractions were open to the public for free showcasing some art and culture. We really wanted to stay up and explore as much as we could, but after such an exhausting day, we came back to the B&B for a "short break" near midnight and ended up just sleeping in!!

On the final day, we went around to see the 16th Arrondisement Sunday market, a flea market and back on Champs Elysees for dinner:

In the end I think we walked a good 10-15+ kms in a day, along with about the same distance by bike going in between city attractions.

This was meant to be a vacation from working out but in the end I imagine we walked about 60-80 kms and biked around 150 kms (on a cruiser city bike!). And yes, I do have files from my Timex/Garmin to prove it!! We both returned to Canada with severely sore the last day, we had to resort to walking in our running shoes to tolerate the walking.

Lots of stuff changed and lots of stuff remained the same!

Goodbye old friend…see you next time!

Keep pedaling.

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