Pastimes in Paris

Le pique-nique dans le parc:

An impressive supermarket merlot and bordeaux added to the picnic in the park at Parc Montsouris, where we were entertained by some jugglers practising their art, and amused by a guy who wanted to join us, probably because he saw the bottle/s of wine.

Afternoon naps are becoming de rigueur for us, to refresh us for the evenings. Oh well, we are on holidays.


Welcome to Moulin Rouge, where the women are scantily clad and the men are over-dressed. A most expensive evening, but one experience that we felt we must do. I had already seen Folies Bergères twenty years ago, but hadn’t seen this one. I think since the movie with Nicole Kidman and Ewan McGregor, Moulin Rouge became the most sought-after of this type of venue. For €102 each, we also received half a bottle of champagne, but the glasses were only wine glasses, not even flutes!

The show, 1¾ hours, was entertaining, with all cameras banned and checked in at the door. Scanning the room, we estimated it to hold about 700 people. It would certainly cost a lot to produce, with its huge cast and spectacular costumes, but value for money is questionable. Again, like Madame Tussaud’s in London, it’s a once or twice in a lifetime event. However, I found it a bit sexist that we saw a lot of bare female breasts but only one or two glimpses of male chests for the entire performance.

Divine decadence:

While in Paris we have been buying a “carnet” of ten Métro tickets, meaning a one-way trip costs €1.25 instead of the individual price of €1.60. Today we chose the day-pass for €6.30, as we knew we were going to be taking at least five trips. Our first stop was at Plaisance, to re-visit our favourite patisserie in Paris from last May, “Ellini” where we bought a selection of deliciously divine decadent cakes to share later with Audrey and Leslye. Then we went to Montparnasse to have a look at the Tour Montparnasse and share a millefeuille and a réligieuse accompanied by some tea from my thermos.

Toilet humour:

By this stage I needed to go to the toilet, so we went in search of them at the station, which is a large station as well as the Métro. Using them costs money, in this case €0.5. I handed over the money and the woman gave me a token in exchange, but I tried to find a slot in a door. Someone had to show me that the token was for the turnstile to get into the toilet area. Well-policed, if you wanted a shower it would cost (I think) €4. I suppose that helps maintain the amenities. Actually, last night I was surprised that after paying all that money for Moulin Rouge there was a woman sitting outside the toilets happy to accept tips. No way Jose!

Curry in a hurry:

After spending time finding the “passages couverts” which I thought were something secret, but turned out to be arcades, we were disappointed to find that most of them were closed, again due to the summer. We wonder how many businesses survive with their lengthy summer closures.

In one, called Passage Brady, there were many Indian restaurants. We settled for one in the open air, which was set up in a cobble-stoned laneway with green “grass” carpet, ornate chairs and plastic flowers. It was quite comfortable, and although Dutchy’s chicken tandoori was a bit dry (Dutchy adds that it spent its last three weeks of life in the Sahara Desert), my chicken curry was delicious and tender, and the accompanying “nan fromage” which was a cheesy naan bread, was really lovely.

J’arrive, j’arrive!!!

That cup of coffee nearly caused a divorce…

Leslye and Audrey came with their car to take our suitcases to Strasbourg to make it easier for us when we caught the train. It’s amazing how a series of events can lead to catastrophe. They were a little late, which meant we lost a little time. Then I decided I’d like a cup of plunger coffee before we left, as if you buy coffee it can cost $6. Another trip to the toilet and cleaning the plunger and cups added to the delay, and suddenly we were running late. We still had to get to the Métro, then get to Gare de l’Est and then make our way to the area for “Grandes Lignes” where the TGV would leave from. Because we had finished a carnet of tickets, we still had to buy two singles. Of course the machine was full of coins and wouldn’t accept ours. A woman was using the other one so we had to wait while she finished. So €3.20 later we had our tickets and were racing down the stairs (being careful not to fall) to the platform, where fortunately there was a train almost ready to depart.

I had inadvertently assumed there were only three Métro stops until ours, but oh dear, I was thinking of Gare d’Austerlitz, which is the station we would take to go to Nola and Tony’s in Argenton-sur-Creuse. Gare de l’Est, an enormous station that serves trains heading east, such as ours to Zurich via Strasbourg, is another seven stops away. Now we were really pushing it. Looking at our tickets, the train was due to leave at 10.24 and we were supposed to check in ten minutes prior. If you arrived after 10.19, boarding was not guaranteed. Bloody hell, it was already after 10 and we still had about five stops to go. Stress levels were rising rapidly by this stage. You could see Dutchy getting angry, though he wasn’t actually yelling, and I was upset but not actually crying. He is right I suppose. Leaving early you are always on time, but then you have to wait around, but this feeling of anxiety isn’t fun either, and it’s certainly not good for the smooth-running of a relationship.

Some minutes and many prayers later we made it to the station, but time was rapidly running out, especially when we had to go up stairs and find the Voie or platform, from which the train would leave. It was already 10.18 and I lost it. Imagine me running around trying to find where to go, being calm no longer. Finally, with some help from a workman, we found out the train had been delayed and was due to leave at 10.34. Thank God for that! It hadn’t even had a platform allocated to it yet.

People were milling around, waiting for the notification to appear on the screen of departures. I was then so relieved that I burst into tears. Travelling can be fun; travelling can be stressful; so can life. Deal with it, princess. I said that, not Dutchy, though maybe that’s what he thought, coming from Mars as he does.

TGV Première classe:

We are now sitting in First Class on the TGV (Trains à Grandes Vitesse) which basically means Very Fast Trains, and it’s true. We are whizzing through the countryside at a rate of about 200kms an hour. We are now both calm, I have been typing on the laptop in air-conditioned comfort, and we are still married. My saving grace was reminding him to take the last of the Jim Beam and Coke Zero to have in transit, which he has just poured, at 11.25am. Well it’s after noon somewhere.

Ironically, when we booked the tickets on the internet, Hanis found that if we booked through a French site, the tickets were cheaper, and also we got First Class for the same or less than Second Class. Go figure! Good leg room and wider seats make for comfortable travelling. You can recline the seats without disturbing other passengers, and we even have a power point. However, one needs to actually put the adaptor with the computer in order to use it. I wonder who didn’t do that? At least that one can’t be attributed to moi. There’s 1½ hours of battery which should be sufficient.

Why Princess and Quiquinou?

Dutchy prefers to group things together so they don’t get lost and you always know where they are, thus he packed it in the suitcase, which is with the girls, with all the other chargers and adaptors. Some would call him anal retentive, which is why we call him “Quiquinou”, which is a nickname short for “enquiquineur” meaning fussbudget, which suits Dutchy down to the ground. He even likes it!!

For anyone who knows me, they understand why Princess is my nickname, but for anyone else, the name was coined during my travels with my sister in 2003, when we were at Disney World in Orlando, Florida, USA. We had just enjoyed the Drawing Studio where artists were working on the current animated movie called “Brother Bear.” We then came out to the shop area, where there were all sorts of items you could purchase relating to animation. I had already chosen a book called “How to Draw Princesses” which gave instructions to draw the Disney princesses, when a little girl walked past in a character outfit. I said something to her about being a princess, and you could see her light up.

My sister Nola laughed at me because she remembered me once saying that maybe I could marry Prince Charles to become a princess, as he was the only prince I really knew of, and he had done some schooling at Timbertop in Victoria. She thought he was too old for me, but he ended up marrying Lady Diana, who shared 1st July as her birthday, only five years younger than me!


2 responses to “Pastimes in Paris

  1. Thanks for the Travelogue – I’m really enjoying it, if feeling a little envious. Oh well, next year is looking good for overseas travel for us. Does “Bitches” have a meaning in French? You didn’t mention if you ate Strasburg in Strasbourg. And yes, you are right, to know you is to understand the moniker “Princess”. Coincidentally, I have been working on typing up our 1980-81 travel journal. It must be the age we are at, it now seems to right time! Au Revoir, and keep up the tale telling. x Jenny

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