Walks and Thoughts

of Michael Simes

An old Man's Tale:

Shelf

Brighouse

West Vale

Clay House

Ripponden

Cragg Vale

Todmorden

Heptonstall

Pecket Well

Luddenden Dean

Jerusalem Farm

Catherine Slack

Stone Chair

It's Just Like Home:

Hong Kong

Auckland

Rotarua

Napier

Picton

Marlborough Sounds

Kaikoura

Milford Sound

Sydney

Manly

Blue Mountains

Northern Beaches

Thailand

A City Of Revolution:

Paris

Versailles

Sacré-Cœur

Notre Dame

A Weekend Holiday to Paris, Sacré Cœur and Versailles


Travelling Round Paris Sightseeing and Exploring


Destination Paris

A City Of Revolution

Paris skyline
Jean-Marie Le Pen, granddaddy of European fascists could be invited to a field in Derbyshire where the B.N.P’s holding a hate fest. A sort of Glastonbury with ethnic cleansing. Fascists at play may herald the storming of the festivities. Le Pen the aspiring heir apparent to Nazi conquerors of Paris.

We slide into the Gard De Nord, familiar in name and remembered from school French lessons. In between beatings, forced to listen to repeats of grainy, scratched 78’s with heavily accented tones of the 1940’s. No wonder Mr Cox’s failed our French “o” levels.

After a snake march to the rear of the station we have a 20 minute coach drive through Paris to our hotel. The Hotel Mercure in Parte De Saint-Cloud is a modern pleasant and air-co0nditioned hotel at the confluence of the residential and business area. Conveniently situated for the Metro and bus station where the number 72 passes all the tourist sites. The Metro is efficient, regular and cheap. There’s zoned travel passes with concessions for students and elderly. You could easily be independent and let off the hook.

The hotel is built on the site of demolished film studios which hosted Moonraker and The Longest Day. There’s no tea making facility unless you’re in a privileged room. There’s a safe and empty fridge. Its a few minutes walk to the Seine with long distance views of the Eiffel Tower.

Eiffel Tower The Eiffel Tower stands at 1050feet high built in puddle iron for strength. Aerodynamically designed and shaped by the wind it offers panoramic views of Paris. At night there’s an hourly lighting display making the whole edifice twinkle in the dark. It has stood the test of time. Parisians have successfully resisted the siting of McDonalds under the Tower.

The nearby Parc De Lille St Germain opens at 7.00am for joggers with interweaving trails and dog park for canine introductions. There’s even a few roasted pot bellies to observe.

Our evening meal is in a small local bar and restaurant. We disturb staff and patrons who have just had Pizza Hut collection delivered for their consumption. Choice is limited to Steak and Chips. Our women chef takes orders but decides for herself. Well done steaks arrive rare. We exchange a few words in French. You cannot convince her you need a cappuccino so a shot of espresso is delivered with a smile.

George Orwell, a bohemian dishwasher in Paris, was not impressed with the hygiene habits of French chefs: “the more one pays for food, the more sweat and spittle one is obliged to eat with it”. He found French waiters likely to be spies. He was suspicious that they found servility rather congenial. The flotsam and jetsam of life could be observed in the raw. Orwell’s inside advice was to avoid restaurants frequented by foreigners. We enjoyed our delicious steak and chips.

Breakfast at the Mercure is a disorganised scrum. Too many guests and too few staff to replenish greedy grasping. Queues for reinforcement and aimless wondering for plates, cutlery and eatables. When it is all there it’s a good spread. Ham’s, cheeses and breads secreted for lunch. There’s nothing wrong with culinary heists.

In the morning it’s our coach tour spotting the sites with running commentary from Richard – the Keith Floyd of tour guides. He shares details of trains and buses as he assumes you can explore independently. There’s Paris walks like Jardin Des Tuleries where you can wallow in the shadow of Aristos peacocking the latest fashions.

A Sunday walk along the Left Bank by the riverside quays of the Latin Quarter. You can discover the garden of children where you’ll find ponds, fountains, squares and a miniature statue of liberty. In the Bagatelle Gardens in the Bois de Boulogne join the great escape for Parisians amongst the 2,135 acres of paths.

Richard blossoms with microphone and authority. You can have fleeting images of the icons of Paris. The Sorbonne named after Robert de Sorbon, confessor to Louis IX. The Scholastic centre of Paris for over 700 years. Established in 1253 of humble origins where the poor were taught latin. Hi-jacked by the rampant bourgeoisie and re-created in its own image. Famous students include Thomas Aquinas, Dante, Calvin and St Ignatius. It was the intellectual inspiration of the 1968 revolutionary turmoil.

Champs ElyséesWe drive up the Champs Elysees, the famous street bristling with wealth and power passing the seat of the French president where the diminutive Sarkosy adorns himself with raised platforms. It’s the route of the state processions, parades and funerals. Where Bastille Day is celebrated annually of the 14th July to mark Parisians besieging in 1789 of the fortress prison and the embodiment of brutal tyranny and despotism. Here feudalism was smitten at the hip. The Tour de France climaxes here. You can see the École Militaire were Napoleon was educated and the Hôtel des Invalides where he is laid to rest alongside his old soldiers.

We creep round the Arc D’Triomphe, commemorating Napoleons victory at Austerlitz on December 2nd 1805, now the title of the world renowned horse race at Longchamps. The viewing platform can be reached by lift or 248 steps. The setting sun creates a halo around the structure.

There’s opportunities for sunshine and mass photos. It’s all disciplined, well behaved and controlled. You could spend all day coaching on sedentary excursions.