I'm just a shy romantic with my eyes on the loose
Now, I will concede that quoting James Reyne is an odd way to commence a post about Paris, but since we arrived at our apartment, the "Unpublished Critics" song has been pretty much constantly in my head. This place is in the 6th Arrondissment of Paris, very close to the River Seine, and directly opposite the small island upon which sits Notre Dame Cathedral. It is, understandably, an old building. We are on the 5th floor in an attic (read garret - hence the 'Reynesness' of the place) apartment with sloping walls and low beams. It's utterly charming, in a quirky, cosy, historical kind of way. The wooden stair-treads to our apartment (yep, no lift!) are worn with the traffic of a million footsteps over the centuries, and have a distinct reverse camber which throws one to the outside of the staircase. Fortunately, speeds dangerous in relation to the camber are rarely reached on the ascent!
Eurostar from London to Paris was pleasant and hassle-free. We departed from St Pancras at 11.31 British Summer Time and immediately put our watches forward one hour to Central European Time. Within an hour we were in the Channel Tunnel, and within 90 minutes we were in France. We arrived at Gare du Nord in Paris at 2.50pm to find Rob, Jeannie and Tom waiting at the station for us.
After hauling our bags up to the garret, we were guided by Rob across the Pont Neuf Bridge and into the central courtyard of the Musee du Louvre. A left turn at that point reveals the Avenue les Champs-Élysées, a wide and arrow straight avenue of about 2.5km through the Place de la Concorde and on to (and beyond) the Arc de Triomphe.
It was and is one of the most spectacular walks of my life!
It's impossible to convey the immensity and grandeur of The Louvre, and we haven't even been inside it yet! The extent and quality of the works of art on display along the Champs-Élysées are astounding: it is an outdoor, public gallery of itself. To stand in the Place de la Concorde feels like being in a movie set - it is so familiar. And the Arc de Triomphe is a spectacularly grand and beautiful monument.
We also had a lovely personal moment along the Champs-Élysées when Ella, who had sworn not to partake of her first macaron until we arrived in Paris, spied patisseire 'Laduree' where we purchased enough for all and had a small ceremony nearby.
We returned to the garret, but knowing the cupboards to be bare I went in search of some provisions to facilitate evening cups of tea and breakfast. To say I failed is an understatement. I could have purchased a thousand bottles of wine, a meal of any cuisine you care to name, cigars, jewellery, souvenirs, clothing - but no milk. Eventually I went to a crepe stand near the garret where, through passable English and appalling French, I negotiated the purchase of 4 chocolate crepes and a take-away plastic tea cup of milk (no lid) which I carefully conveyed back to our building and up the 5 flights of reverse-camber steps without spilling a drop!