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Paris – Day 6 – Chateau de Versailles and the palace gardens


Sleep in. Go for a walk and look in local stores.

Afternoon –

A trip to Chateau de Versailles.

Chateau Versailles

Chateau de Versailles

Versailles, built 12 miles from Paris, was the residence of Kin Louis XIV, Louis XV and Louis XVI. The first phase of building works took place between 1664 and 1710. Each king the enlarged, enhanced and re-decorated the palace.

In its original conception, Versailles served three purposes:

  1.  Get the court out of Paris, which was still a cramped medieval come renaissance walled town; and
  2. Force the nobles to attend the court at Versailles, and to maintain multiple residences, thus draining the wealth and resources and keeping the nobles busy with court intrigue and fashion close to the ears of the King and his spies, and not hatching plots far away from the courts.
  3. Drain the resources of the nobles so that the king could buy up their debts and lands.

The gardens look very pretty (hordes of tourists aside)


Chateau de Versailles – Main Axis of the Gardens



Nice dinner at the hotel stake house.


Paris – Day 5 – Expedition by metro and on foot

Sunny again. This means we made another walking tour of Paris:


West Rose Window, Notre-Dame de Paris

A quick trip by metro to Hotel de Ville and then a nice tour of Ille-de-Cite, including the Notre Dame de Paris Cathedral, and a visit to the Latin quarter on the left bank of the Siene.

We has some lunch in Latin Quarter. It was much cheaper than the cafes and restaurants around the hotel and closer to city centre, and as a bonus, the guys on the left bank appear to be able to manage a good up of tea. Must be the Sorbonne education showing …

After lunch we walked over to the Pantheon. It is an impressive edifice, but I was very disappointed, because the Foucault Pendulum (which is an experiment that I used to illustrate the rotation of the earth) is down for renovation works and will not be back up for a little while (3 years).

Take a stroll from the Pantheon to the Luxembourg Palace (which used to be the residence of Marie de Medicis, mother of king Luis XIII, and now the seat of the French Senate) and the surrounding gardens.


Luxembourg Palace

On the way back we made a loop around the Louvre. Then we took a quick trip on the Metro back to the hotel and a crash out.


A rainy day in Paris.

Rainy day in Paris

A very good day to sleep in, organise a little.

In the evening, a get together with Bart, the cruise manager and listen to the initial briefing.


Paris – Day 3 – An expedition on foot

A foot expedition:

The route

Our route today was a loop around 6.5 Km in total.

Starting from the hotel we headed towards the Trocadero and the Eiffel Tower, the took a river cruise along the Sienne, then walked from Eiffel Tower along the river shore to Place de L’Alma, and along Avenue Geroge V to Champs-Elisees. From there we took a left turn and walked along Champs-Elisees toward Arc de Triomphe and then along Avenue De La Grande Armee back towards the hotel.


Art Deco Cafe

Towards Trocadero

The walk form our hotel towards Trocadero and Cite de L’Architecture took us through the quite parts of the 16 Arrt. The streets are lined with trees and these provide nice shade and good amount of green. And there is some very nice 19th century architecture along the path.

Cite de L’Architecture and Eiffel Tower

Cite de L’Architecture is an imposing complex of buildings across the Sienne form Champs-de-Mars and the Eiffel tower.

Sienne river cruise and more walking

A quick trip up and down the river, just to see the city from the river Seine.


Notre-Dame cathedral from the R. Seine

Camps-d’Elisee has a ‘special’ memory for us – “The grand tea disaster on Chmaps d’Elisee” –  but that is a story all in its own right, and we will link to that later.

Overall impressions

Paris is great. Many museums, many things to see and many places to visit. In all it needs about two weeks to experience and see a good portion of the city, monuments and museums

For those looking for “the authentic” historical sites, that the modern Paris is not the Paris of Louis XIII, Louis XIV, the French Revolution and Napoleon Bonaparte. Modern Paris, with its wide avenues, and grand houses, is was created by Napoleon III, and Baron Haussmann, his chief architect, in the 1850’s



Eiffel Tower


A lunch with friends at Moret-sur-Loing

A day-trip to Moret-sur-Loing

How did this come about?

One work colleagues, Steven Firth, has decided that as pert of his retirement and break from work, and the real world, he will get a yacht and go around various places in the world. As it happened he purchased a yacht in Gibraltar. The yacht is a Hylas 44 called Short List, and is (officially at least) she is based in Sydney. I am sure she will make it to her home port, all in good time.

For their fist expedition, having bought and serviced the yacht in Gibraltar, Steve and Maria (his wife) have made their way along the Spanish and French Mediterranean coast, to the mouth of the Rhone, and then, having taken off the mast (and having it shipped to Calais ahead of them, as it was too tall for the many low bridges)  they have made their way along northwards, the French rivers and canals.  It so happened that the day after we landed, they stopped for a rest and resupply day at Moret-sur-Loing, which is only about 70 KM or so south of Paris, on the river Loing, just south-east of Fointanebleau.

Given that their canal and river trip timetable has been changed by the need to move quickly, due to impeding closure of locks along the canals, this has become the prime, and likely the only opportunity to catch up.

More information about the Short List (the boat) itself, the path taken by the vessel, as well as the exploits, the trials and tribulations (such as are admitted to in a public forum) of the good Captain Firth can be found here.

Getting there: hire a car or go by rail?


Detail on the facade of Gare de Lyon

Finding a car hire place quickly, especially when the address given by Google Maps and the one given by the car hire company website do not
agree  has proven to be a task beyond our tired brains. However,  the French national rail service ( the SNCF) website did provide useful information and the timetable and so we decided that it might well be easier to catch a train from Paris Gare de Lyon to Moret Veneux-les-Sablons, which was only 1km or so from where we needed to drive to.

Travel tip:

SCNF has a well developed, quite efficient and quite a complex system for moving passengers by rail over distances as short a a few kilometres to long distance high speed cross-country train services.

Unless you:

  • speak, read and understand French and communicate easily; or
  • understand the French national rail system really well and have an idea as to the type of train you are after ( and know how to tell a TGV line from an intercity line or a  departmental or a suburban line or a metropolitan transit line); or
  • have a native guide to help you out;

Then, just like us, you will need to rely on the maps, the internet and on the lovely and very helpful SCNF information and ticketing office staff. This however, means you will need to to give yourself some extra time before the departure. to make sure you get your tickets and your bearings right.


1920’s neo-gothic facade on 19th century house in Moret-sur-Loing.

Summer afternoon at Moret-sur-Loing.

Moret-sur-Loing is a small but quite affluent and well preserved little “fortified town”.

In medieval times and later on it used to have walls, and the 3 gate houses are still there and in use. These days the gate-towers seem to be the domain of the pigeons, rather than serving as defences.

There are some excellent food and coffee places in this little town. We do recommend La Gavotte, which is situated about 100 meters form the north-west gate tower, on Ave. Jean Jaures.  La Gavotte serves a good section of food, some very reasonable wines and some very, very nice ciders from Bretagne region of France. The service was excellent.

In all we spent a very pleasant afternoon wondering along the banks of the Loing , sitting on the boat, sipping wine and chatting.

Many thanks to Steven and Maria for their hospitality.


Boats and barges on the Loing


Paris – Day 1 – The Arrival

Flight ZUR to CGD (Paris)

After a short stop over in Zurich we flew into Paris – Charles de Gaulle Airport (CGD).

The flight was relatively short and straightforward, and once again the SWISS International Airlines were very good about getting us here smoothly and in comfort. This is the last of the long haul legs to kick off our holiday. As a pleasant bonus all of our checked-in luggage made it here in one piece. and undamaged and on the same flight as us.

Arrival and Day 1

Having landed at Charles De Gaulle it took us about 40 minutes by taxi to make way to our hotel.

The Hotel

Arc de Triumphe from ave. Foch

Arc de Triumphe – from ave. Foch

The hotel we are staying at is the Hotel Le Meridien Etolie, located on Boulevard  Gouvion Saint-Cyr  in 17th arrondissement ( abbreviated to Arrt  on street signs, and noting that the 20 arrondissements make up the official administrative limits of “Ville De Paris”) . This hotel is not really our style. Its huge and very much a hotel type hotel, rather than apartment style hotel, but it is the same hotel where the Paris to Vienna river cruise starts, so for simplicity of logistics we chose to stay here rather than re-pack and shift hotels.

Also the hotel is close to some of the landmarks.


Sorting out data/internet access.

This has been much harder than in needs to be.

An observation about the European mobile telephone system: It is fragmented across multiple carriers (a good thing for competition) and across many countries. In practice this means that the same parent carrier company is operating as several different companies and therefore different carriers in different countries (bad for clean and cheap portability).  In practice this means that a data only SIM with say… Orange France, does not work as local data SIM with Orange Germany, and is treated as a roaming data SIM instead. Upshot of this is that its hard to find a single data SIM that will work across all the countries we are likely to visit, without chewing up your pre-paid credit (or your budget)

The hotel has wired internet and we have a WiFi router/AP kit with us, so that’s not a problem for now… we will find out soon what the cruise ship has to offer on the WiFi end. We might have to procure a bunch of different SIMs after all.


Some food and sleep

Having gone into this long holiday with a 37 hour long-haul flight. Its now time to crash and get some sleep.