Walks and Thoughts

of Michael Simes

An old Man's Tale:



West Vale

Clay House


Cragg Vale



Pecket Well

Luddenden Dean

Jerusalem Farm

Catherine Slack

Stone Chair

It's Just Like Home:

Hong Kong





Marlborough Sounds


Milford Sound



Blue Mountains

Northern Beaches


A City Of Revolution:




Notre Dame

A Weekend Holiday to Paris, Sacré Cœur and Versailles

Travelling Round Paris Sightseeing and Exploring


A City Of Revolution

Paris by Eurostar to the city whose genealogy’s seething with rebellious fervour and commotions. Booked with Riviera Travel from Burton-on-Trent. A Guardian Readers offer advertised as four days in Paris from only £229. In mid August it stretches to £637 for two. It includes train travel from Leeds and other metropoles. You have reserved on Eurostar from St Pancras to the Gare Du Nord in high speed 2 ½ hours. There’s no reserved from Leeds to London. Who could stand for over 2 hours? It is parsimony which forces you to reserve your own seat. Maybe they’ll get dragged to the level of Ryanair.

It’s an excursion promised for years as a birthday treat for Carolyn – a Francophile and French speaker starved of the opportunity to absorb and practise.

Paris in August when French desert their capital, side stepping heat and congestion. The first inhabitants here were the Celtic tribe who settled in Paris by (3rd BC). This Boatyard on the river captured by Franks and made the capital of France in 476AD).

We depart with our northern contingent on the 13.32 from St Pancras. We mingle with Guardian Readers in the flesh. They’re just like us, grey middling liberals, refuges from the neo-conservative disciplines of work.

You can have 3 nights B&B, coach transfers and trips to picturesque Montmartre, Royal Versailles Paris by night and Sailing on the Seine. An experienced French speaker tour manager, Richard, orchestrates our leisure.

France as a flag A metropolitan area of 11 million people and 45 million tourists each year. The name Paris derived from the ethic group, the Parissi. It has been an important settlement over two millennium. France and England attached in a symbiotic embrace and enmity. An umbilical chord stretched to the entente cordiale. A fractious and fragile connection. We reigned over them with Henry and they sent their Normans.

Paris has an oceanic climate affected by North Atlantic currents with no extremes of heat or cold. Paris, son of Priam, appears in several Greek legends famous for elopement with Helen and slayer of Achilles. His name means “backpack”. There’s a namesake in Paris Hilton, millionaire socialite, heiress and body. A New Yorker jailbird from the Los Angeles pen and self-styled marketing genius.

We are ahead of ourselves. Timings perfect in school holidays. Traffic becalmed as we sail through to the train station. Time enough to buy our regular Guardian and Mirror for the journey. The Mirror for ongoing contractual saga of publicity Pete and priceless Katie. The Guardian for your greens and latest instalment of double dip depression.

Leeds Station customers are not bustling and galloping, merely a sedate canter. There’s no rush, your unwinding starts here. Time for a leisurely Starbucks overlooking the tracks. It’s all like clockwork with carriages full of reservations but few bodies. Later to be filled as we station towards London. Sharing tables with personal trappings of laptops, web wires, mobiles, blackberries and urgent e-mails. It is hot desking for the autistic. One is loudly monitoring statistics of football referees. Apparently they cover as much ground as the players. It’s all crucial stuff.

There’s strident, urgent, strained public posturing. “We could have opened an office in Paris, we looked into it, it’s the employment situation” . You can’t just sack at the drop of a hat there’s a price to pay. Britain is the cheap and cheerful sacking zone. It’s only when people talk that they become objectionable.

Anxiety and forced pretentions, their transference works only one way. Agitation wins over relaxation. In solitary they become tolerable beings, allowing you to drift serenely in the calm.

Jolted awake by reverberating intrusive bells. It’s his dog suffering separation anxiety “he wees and poo’s as a rebellion – “don’t we all.” He’ll have to go away to boarding school for a week. They come back as angels” Disinhibited by anxiety they cannot stop themselves talking.

Paris cafeCocaine snorting, heavy drooping eyes and plummed conversation. They have apartments in New York and cleaners on £7 per hour. “I wish the cleaner could do the garden. I need the car washing” It’s a script written in the conversational style of Harold Pinter. “There’s a preponderance of insider trading, you could end up in jail”. They are a different breed, alienated in their relationships, bombarding everyone with their disturbance. We had done a heavy shift as we arrived in Kings Cross. Loud broadcasting to the public should be restricted to one great stage where in-mates can feed of each other.

We cross the road to St Pancras where you need to check-in at least 30 minutes before Eurostar departure. As part of the orientation many of the staff are French and polite. Quickly and efficiently through check-in, security and passport control.

We set off on time underground across the Thames. Our tall friendly whispering tour manager introduced himself in our carriage. We’re sat amidst the Riviera Travel gathering. Rattling and swaying along at high speed. Ours is a quiet coach with the grey generation nodding their way to Paris. We never saw the Chef du Bord.

Agnes Poirier suggests Britain is a scary place for women in their 30’s. Worried they’re facing a fertility time bomb and implored to pay for a fertility M.O.T. They must run away from the camembert, brie, mayonnaise, shellfish and claret. Women are treated like retarded, immature schoolgirls. Let them make love in peace! There’s much less teenage pregnancy in France as they perfect the art of gazing and French kissing before they copulate.