Tue 3 Dec - Paris, France

Big day - out and about for close to 12 hours.

We had booked tickets to Musee D'Orsay today, but given that it is closed on Mondays and therefore likely to have a crowd on Tuesday morning, we decided that 3pm or so would be a good time to go there.

So, that left us with ample time to explore and wander the area from La Defense to Musee D'Orsay which is what we did and took the metro to La Defense and walked towards town from there.

This is what Runkeeper told us we walked on the way to Musee D'Orsay, a very straight line, but we think that the distance is inflated as we were inside buildings a couple of times.

Map of the La Defense area.

Well, this monument, the Grand Arch of La Defense may be familiar to Mr Bean fans as he was here at the beginning of the movie "Mr Bean's Holiday".

Part of the 8km straight line from La Defense, where this picture is taken, to the Louvre, with Arc de Triomphe in the distance.

Looking back at the Grand Arch from a distance.

Two thumbs up for the area...

Wading pool with art in the La Defense area. We bet it is busy here in summer.

Di doing her best "prepare to dive" impersonation although it may not be a good idea here as the water is very shallow.

La Defense appears to be the CBD of Paris, but perhaps without the C, being central, and they are still expanding and building more.

Walking towards town, we crossed the Seine at Pont de Nuilly.

We found a very nice little Boulangerie on Avenue Charles de Gaulle where we went French.

In fact, the Boulangerie's offering was so delicious and great value for money that we also purchased lunch, a baguette for Hans and a quiche for Di.

You could tell that we were coming into an expensive and posh part of town. Graffiti is almost non existent and you suddenly see an obelisk like this on a side street.

At Place de la Porte Malliot, a really dull open place with a gigantic conference centre, we suddenly saw this Cycleway among all the motorcycles and Vespas. Very UnFrench to not block anything...

However, on the other eastern side of Place de la Porte Malliot, things started to look more interesting and certainly more classical French. We think we got a few French symbols into this shot (no, Di is not one of them).

Just in front of Arc de Triomphe, we saw the most classical and common Parisian con in action, the dropped ring (by the bloke with his back towards us).
For anybody unfamiliar with this con, it is one where the conman pretends to have found a ring on the ground (Hans saw him picking it up) and asks a bystander whether he had dropped it, and then insists that the bystander should take it.
Of course, the end result is that the poor bystander is either asked for money (more or less forcefully) or had his or her money removed anyway through pick pocketing as the conman's hands will run over the bystanders clothes. We don't know how this stunt ended as we moved on.

And turning away from the event above, you see the Arc de Triomphe. Impressive!

The unknown soldiers grave with an ever burning flame.

Spot Di...

There is a bit of an embarrassing story around the building of this arch; it was intended as a grand triumphant gateway for Napoleon Bonaparte to use when he returned from war, except that the builders knew it was unlikely to be finished on time. So they quickly built a much smaller arch in front of the Louvre for him to use on his return to Paris. Napoleon died before this was completed. Oops.
OK, we just had join all the other punters and do a selfie with the Arc de Triomphe.
What other place could beat Arc de Triomphe for lunch?
We sat in the sun and away from the wind, taking in the traffic mayhem and Hans even took off his jacket as we enjoyed the lunch we bought earlier in that Boulangerie.
And from another angle...
Well, we must say that we expected the traffic to be much worse. Yes, there was honking, but generally the traffic was surprisingly well behaved.
Of course, there were no lane markings or markings if any kind around Arc de Triomphe or towards any of the 12 streets that exit from it.
The good thing for pedestrians is that you get to the middle or across by a subway footpath, so no Vietnamese-style road crossing required.

And on the eastern side of Arc de Triomphe is another street you, dear reader, may have heard of.

Looking down Champs Élysées towards the Ferris wheel with the Louvre further behind.

You see all sorts of things along this famous strip...

A running Santa... Yes, the legs moved in a running style.

On Champs Élysées you can also find PSG's, that is Paris Saint Germain, football team's shop. And yes, Zlatan Imbraminovic can be found at the center in the top right photo.

Made it to the end without being tempted to buy anything - too easy as most shops seemed to be selling luxury items.

After walking Avenue Charles de Gaulle earlier, we suddenly saw Charles de Gaulle, ahem, walking.

Now on our way to Musee D'Orsay, we crossed the Seine on easily the prettiest Paris bridge that we have seen so far, Pont Alexandre III.

Pont Alexandre III looks like the classical Parisian bridge...

... so we took a selfie there.

Hmm... It may not be appreciated that you kiss that fish, Di...

Sorry, one more of Pont Alexandre III, our favourite (no kidding...)

The romance of the left bank of Paris on a lovely sunny day was getting to us...(yep you can gag now...)

Don't read anything into the timing of this..we stopped at the first public loo, which looked like a bunker underneath the left bank.

The nicest, cleanest public loos we've seen and used for a long time. And the great news is that Paris has removed the cost of peeing - seems to be all free now. Yippee.

Now into Musee D'Orsay - we had pre paid our tickets so we walked straight into security check and then to the cloakroom without waiting. Excellent.

We had deliberately timed our visit because we heard there were less crowds from 3pm onwards and it seemed to have worked. We certainly thought it was very easy going - except the "no photos" rule which we worked around a few times...like, as soon as we entered...

A few location shots inside Musee D'Orsay, an old decommissioned railway station. Can you tell?

The old railway clock?

Fantastic clocks on the outside of Musee D'Orsay too, with Sacre Cœur in the far distance.

Yep, amazing views to the north.

First up, the earlier impressionists. Lots of Manet, Monet, Pissaro, Sisley and then into Renoir.

Renoir's most famous piece was set in the restaurant of Moulin de la Gallette, which we saw on our Montmartre tour on Sunday night. A sneaky "no photo" had to be done.

Fantastic renovations since Di was last here in (ahem) 1985! This cafe with the clock outlook looked really good.

On level 2 we saw heaps of Gaugin and Van Gogh, very famous so you will know them, like Vincent's self portraits and Gaugins Tahitian women, but we only took a few sneaky photo to show how great the Musee was laid out rather than famous paintings.
This room in particular was grand and a lovely setting for some "naturalism" paintings which we liked.

Hans was quite keen on the "symbology" rooms as being French they nearly all seemed to feature naked women and nymphs. Unfortunately no photos but we were admiring the brush strokes... And more...

On the ground floor we enjoyed sketches and paintings by Toulouse-Lautrec, particular of "dancers" at the Moulin Rouge, his favourite haunt.

We also liked this under floor model of the Opera Quarter of Paris, which we could easily recognize from our visit yesterday - particularly the Apple Store immediately to the right of the right dome of the Opera.

Musee D'Orsay was closing between 5.30 and 6pm so we grabbed our cloakroom items and headed out into the evening. Di with the Musee entrance behind her.

An entrepreneur very cleverly set himself up, outside the Musee exit, with a basket of water bottles that he was selling for 1€ each. It's amazing how thirsty you get after 2 and 1/2 hours in a museum and we could not resist supporting his enterprise. Far better initiative that the countless beggars you see on the Parisian streets everywhere.

Our final event for the day was to see the sparkling lights of Eiffel Tower that start at 6pm and run for a few minutes every hour on the hour from then.

Paris looks great at nightime too, surprise anyone?

We made it to a good viewing location on a bridge by 5.55pm and took a few happy snaps while waiting. Di was lost to the view...

Completely understandable when this is what you see...

Hans, the Eiffel Tower is over there...

And then the lights on the Tour Eiffel sparkled. Even lovelier and we watched to the end.

As the 5 minutes of sparkling finished, we wandered back towards Champs Élysées and the Franklin D Roosevelt metro station where we took the metro back to Republique.

Dinner was calling and we were both tired so opted for dinner out at a local bistro recommended by our hosts, La Marine. Every time we've walked past it on the way to and from Republique metro station, we've looked in and thought "how nice, good karma".

First, a drink...

And it was a great meal in a great location.

And the charming end to a great day, our caretaker in the apartment block had put up the Christmas tree.

A long but very rewarding day and we were not far off bed as we arrived home around 9pm. Good night.


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