December, 26th to 31st, 2012
Wednesday, December 26th
I have allowed myself a small winterbreak in Paris. I start out by train to Vejle – then bus to Billund. From there a small Embraer-plane from Air France take me to Paris. I arrive at chaotic Charles de Gaulle Airport slightly past 2 pm. Then I take a RER B to just as chaotic Chatelet and from there the more modern Metro no. 14 to Madeleine. It’s a short walk to Hotel Alison and a check-in for the small but very comfy room 42.
I have been to Paris a few times before. But I have never visited Louvre. I will do that on this trip, and to make sure I remember I start out with it. I walk down there – passing the Place de la Concorde and the Tuilleri-gardens. Then I’m there. Louvre is enormous and you have to select parts of it if you will have a chance to stand it. I check out Mona Lisa and Venus but use most of my time on a special exhibition by Enki Bilal – mainly known for cartoons. The exhibition is about ghosts at Louvre.
Enough culture for today. I leave Louvre, grab something at a fast-food joint. It has started to rain, so I head back to my hotel – getting reasonable wet on the way.
Thursday, December 27th
A great start to the day. The housekeeper knocks on the door at 8 am, and breakfast is served in my room. Now it’s time for baguettes, croissant, café, jus orange, confitture – and everything else that is part of a French breakfast-table.
Then I’m ready for a serious walk. I have downloaded some walks to my IPhone. They are nice – but technically it doesn’t work. My phone loses power and I cannot use the walks at the end. But I have drawn them to a map in my Lonely Planet guide – and that doesn’t need power.
First walk is to Montmartre and Pigalle. First I take the Metro to Anvers. Then I climb the pretty sick street of souvenir-shops to Funicular de Montmartre. That will take me to Sacre Coeur – which is a tourist-trap. I skip that and head for Place de Tertre. This is a really idyllic Montmartre – but still with a lot of tourist. And there’s the stupid guys making cartoons as well. “You have a funny nose” – he tells me – to have my attention. I wonder how many “funny noses” he sees every day.
Then I head on to street with fewer tourists. I pass the famous vineyard of Montmartre, told to produce the most disgusting wine in the world. Maybe that’s the reason Picasso and other artists chose to drink Absinth at the inn Au Lapin Agile, just opposite.
I head on to Cimatiere St. Vincent, which is almost hidden in a backyard. Then I head on to the lovely little park Square Suzanne Boison. There’s a nice statue of St. Denise. He was a missionary, that the romans where told to take to the top of Montmartre to behead. Rumors are that they thought the walk was too long, so they did it on the middle of the hill instead. But St. Denise wasn’t happy with this, so he took his head under his arm and went for the top. The statue shows him standing with his head under his arm.
From there it’s downhill. And it has started to rain again, so things get a bit quicker. There are more nice squares and streets, before I end down at sleazy Pigalle and head for the Metro that will take me back to the hotel.
Trip 2 – later that day – starts on the uncharming Place de la Bastille with the ugly new Opera of Paris. First I go for a classic – Place des Vosges. It such a charming place – I have to go here every time I get to Paris. I take a look around the very rich Marais-quarter, before I go to an area that I haven’t seen before. It’s called Village St. Paul, and you have to go into the backyards that are full of antique-shops and other strange stuff. From there I continue to Hotel de Ville – the City Hall. There’s a huge skating-rink outside – and the place looks like Christmas has just been here. Finally I head for Centre Pompidou – another eyesore in Paris. But the Stravinsky-fountain next to it is fun – but unfortunately closed.
I have done my share of the tourist thing today, so I head back to my hotel by Metro, picking up a baguette that will have to do for dinner tonight.
Friday, December 28th
My IPhone has been dumped as guide, and we are back at the old fashioned Lonely Planet book. I start out on the left bank and take a stroll in Quartier Latin and St. Germain. I start at the Metro station at Cardinal Lemoine in Quartier Latin. It’s 11 am and the area is slowly waking up. Bars and restaurants are closed, but preparations for the day – and night – is underway. I walk around a little before I reach Pantheon. It was built in the 17th century, and was originally built as a church to honor St. Geneviève. But when the revolution arrived it lost its status a church, and instead went in to a mausoleum for some of the most famous people in France. You will find tombs for Rousseau, Voltaire, Victor Hugo, Emile Zola and several others. So now you just are waiting for Thevenet, Poullidor and Hinault.
Further on through the streets that is now occupied by tourists. The restaurants has opened, which is nice, since I’m hungry. So it’s time for a pretty nice Filet Mignon at a pretty decent Bistro.
Then I cross Boulevard St-Michel and I’m in St. Germaine – another Boheme neighborhood of Paris. It’s full of small and very special shops. Inside the shop the will be a man or a woman – and hardly never a customer. I’m sure they know a lot about the things they sell, but how on earth can they make a living out of selling tea-pots only? There are also plenty of galleries selling sculptures, paintings, posters – and even autographs. I spend a few hours in this great place, before heading back to the hotel for a powernap.
In the evening I head out for the Trocadéro. Hundreds of people have gathered here to take in the view of the Eiffel-tower on the other side of the River Seine. The tower is lightened up in the evening, and the view is spectacular. Every hour there’s even a small light-show on the tower – almost making your believe that the next thing that will happen will be a spectacular lift-off. They have also set up an ice-rink and a small Christmas-village to cater for the tourists.
Finally I head back to the hotel and relaxing for the rest of the evening.
Saturday, December 29th
It’s almost like a spring-day today, with temperatures around 10-12 degrees and almost no clouds. It’s perfect for a long walk.
And so it will be. I start out in the not so rich part of Paris – at the Metro-station at Republique. Then there’s a short walk down to Canal St-Martin – and that’s the one to follow today. It’s a cozy walk among bridges and locks. The trip also takes you through areas occupied by normal Parisians. Around Republique there are old apartment. Further out – around Stalingrad it’s mixed with small business and industry. By the way – Stalingrad – not a common name anywhere anymore. After Stalingrad the canal changes name to Bassin de la Villette. Here the apartments are new and modern, and a few old wooden ships are left in the canal. It all ends out at the Parc de la Villette. That’s a place where locals go for a stroll – hardly any tourists. The huge Science Museum is out here as well. I don’t go to see that, since the weather is so nice. Instead I take the Metro back to Madeleine, for my usual afternoon-nap at the hotel.
The evening-walk is in my local area. I go to see the old Paris Opera Garnier. This area is full of very fancy shops selling very expensive things. It looks like the finance-crises really haven’t hit here. Outside one of the shops there are 3 cars. One red Ferrari, one black Jaguar and an old cool Triumph sports car. This is not for the poor
Dinner is at my fast food-joint from day 1, and the rest of the evening is spend in front of the TV watching Arsenal beat up Newcastle by 7 to 3.
Sunday, December 30th
It’s market day today. I take the Metro to Porte de Clignancourt here the Marche aux Puces is located. Or markets would be a better way to put it. Because there are several markets around this huge area, where the chance to get lost is almost 100 percent. They all sell different kind of antiques. Some of the stalls sell very fine things. You don’t just go there and touch. It’s like a small shop – and the door is locked. You have to be let in – but when you are – it’s appropriate to be greeted by the owner with a glass of red wine. These are the fancy shops.
In other parts of the market they have a more relaxed way of seeing the word “antique”. Everything older than 10 years seems to be ok. Some will call it garbage – but if you’re a collector, you probably won’t mind.
Around the whole antique-things there’s the usual stalls selling clothes and furniture – and everything else. I’m not sure all Rolex’ is original – well I’m pretty sure they are not. And the suitcases seem slightly used – maybe they are stolen – maybe they are just second hand.
I spend a few hours out her, buying nothing, before heading back to Paris. Of course I’m lost and can’t find my way to the Metro. But I start to go downhill – expecting to hit a station at some point. And finally Garibaldi is there, where there’s a line going to St. Lazere. It’s time for a steak at Hippopotamus, before heading for my hotel and a nap.
My late and final walk is in the neighborhood. There are lots of people window-shopping at the posh shops in Rue. St. Honore. That’s also where you will find the American embassy – and the Presidents home at Elysée. Mr. Hollande seems to be out of town – there’s no light in the building. Then down to Champs Elysées where they have put up another Christmas city. The place is packed by people and cars, and the poor policeman is trying to blow his whistle – but no one seems to care at all.
I buy myself a sandwich and a coke for dinner and return to my calm room at the hotel, to read my book on this trip – Jo Nesbø’s “The Snowman”.
Jeg køber mig en sandwich og en cola og smutter retur til hotellet for at læse videre i turens Jo Nesbø bog. Snemanden er vist en meget passende titel. Den er uhyggelig.
Monday, December 31st
I get up for my nice breakfast – the bread is fresh and very nice in this hotel.
Then I head out to Madeleine, where I know how the ticket-machine works now – and buy a ticket to Charles de Gaulle. I get there by no. 14 and RER B. As usual way too early for my flight home.
Then there’s a nice flight to Copenhagen on board an Airbus. Not like the small one going down to Paris.
In Copenhagen I head for the railway station – and a train to Aarhus. I finish my book just as I reach Aarhus.