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Aahhhhh, Summer in Paris

Survived the flights and stop-over in Dubai. First night in Paris was a visit to the Moulin Rouge (Red Windmill). Only expecting to see topless female dancers, the show was very much a delightful surprise. While there was plenty of bare female flesh, there were also plenty of male performers, a dazzling acrobatic show by two roller skaters, an aquarium ascended from the stage to reveal a woman frolicking with half a dozen, huge pythons. A ventriloquist had the audience in stitches along with a fabulous juggler. Costumes were colourful and flamboyant. A bottle of Mumm champagne, however, didn’t help either of us overcome our lack of sleep as several ‘power naps’ needed to be taken towards the end of the show. Our first French culinary experience was at a bistrot adjacent to the Moulin Rouge, but was most disappointing when a mixed salad arrives in a soup bowl and consists of a shredded half lettuce and one tomato quartered. Some ground has been recovered with the delicious offerings at the patisserie and local bakery. The French macaroons are beautiful!  Parc Morceau, near our apartment, has been a favourite venue for a picnic lunch.

The Metro and Paris sites What a fabulous transport system that runs throughout the city. No place in Paris is more than 500 metres from a Metro station…..so fast, efficient and punctual. After a much welcomed sleep in, we headed for the Arc de Triomphe which we were able climb via a winding staircase and view the expanse of the Parisien tree lined boulevards as well as the thirteen roads that feed into this junction, one of which is the Champs Élysées. Having only seen this monument on tv, I had no concept of the size and beauty of the statues and carved friezes that adorn it. The Louvre was our next destination and while we were unable to enter as it was closed, we were more than content to wander the massive expanses of the courtyards found within the walls. While the glass pyramid is a modern addition to the museum, to my mind, it does nothing to enhance this most magnificent structure, Noelene begs to differ. Our next stop was a boat trip along the River Seine followed by a visit to the Eiffel Tower and a night tour of Paris. In the short time we have been here, our impressions are that Paris is a city of grandeur with its stunning historical buildings in pristine condition. The height of the skyline is so even, with the odd cathedral spire or dome bursting from this consistency, except for a single zone where a conglomeration of glass skyscrapers of varying shapes and sizes appears to have been dumped into this wonderful sea of architectural beauty. Using the Metro in a different direction, we visited the cathedral of Notre Dame. It is a awe inspiring construction when you look at the height, the curved ceiling made of bricks, the large buttresses and the intricately designed and colourful stained glass windows. The “treasury” was full of absolutely beautiful golden, bejeweled chalices, boxes, crosses and statues among other items. After waiting in line for an hour, we climbed the winding stairs to find ourselves on the roof amongst the gargoyles, overlooking the view of the city again. An early morning saw us on the metro yet again travelling to the Palace of Versailles. Vast is the size of this palace which began as a hunting lodge (albeit complete with gold leaf guttering and decorative features!). Enormous paintings  and gold leaf cover the ceiling, while the walls are covered in silk or velvet depending on whether it was a ‘summer’ or ‘winter’ room. The gardens, covering hundreds of acres contained many statues and 35 lakes! Many of the paintings and statues were depictions of Roman Gods somewhat at odds with the Catholic religion we would think. In fact Napoleon crowned himself as Emperor despite inviting the Pope to his coronation, which apparently upset the Pontiff!

We have enjoyed our taste of Paris…in fact it has been delicious!