Friday, 4 January 2008

Paris: Part 1

On the lead-up to Christmas we wondered what we were going to do for NYE. We looked into a number of options; Barcelona, Zermatt, but we decided Paris would be a good place to be for NYE and for visiting generally. Linda managed to track down a tiny apartment a couple of blocks from the Champs-Élysées where most of the NYE action would be centred and picked up some TGV tickets just before they all ran out.

On boxing day we packed our bags and hopped on the train to Lausanne, from where we would be catching the TGV. I expected the TGV to go via Geneva, a journey I am by now very familiar with so spent the first part of the trip reading our Paris guidebook, but when I looked out the window I got an unexpected view as we had instead traveled 'inland' to the North and away from the lake.

As we progressed the landscape turned white with frost on all the trees and ground. We were both amazed as we had never seen anything like it, with the whole scene completely white. It wasn't like snow where big clumps hung on everything, but instead it just looked like the landscape had all its colour removed. At one point we saw a fox running through a frozen field, possibly in pursuit of a rabbit or mouse.

We continued on into France, arriving at Gare de Lyon and transferring to a metro towards Franklin D. Roosevelt station. We popped out right on the Champes-Elysees and walked the few blocks toward our apartment. We were early so we grabbed a cafe and some pastries at a local brasserie and waited for the owner of the apartment to contact us. And waited, and waited.

Originally we were going to meet at 4pm, then this got changed to 6pm, and when he still hadn't contacted us by 8pm (despite many attempted calls and text messages) we were really getting quite anxious. This was especially the case as we had found the apartment on craigslist and sent through a deposit but otherwise had no real assurance about who this person was. We did find his name on a postbox which made us feel marginally more confident but still very anxious since we knew it would be just about impossible to find a hotel at this late time between Christmas and NYE.

Eventually he did show up, looking slightly sheepish and apologetic (his return flight was delayed and his phone ran our of batteries), and he showed us into the apartment which was tiny but well laid out and really a lot better equipped than a hotel room would have been (and also a hell of a lot cheaper).

We dumped our bags in the apartment and took ourselves for a walk up the Champs-Élysées towards the Arc de Triomph, admiring the Christmas lights in the trees lining the avenue. Finally, we felt like we were really in Paris.

No comments: