Bookseller along the Seine © Engelsman in Afrika
Day 4 – Leaving on a Jet Plane
Today was sadly our last day in Paris, but with a flight that only departed at 11:30pm, we effectively had the entire day to mill around and visit anything which we’d missed and/or felt like revisiting. We prepped for the day and then arranged to leave our luggage in the hotel’s bag store until our return. Rue Cler was on the menu for breakfast, where we sat and ate and watched the Parisian world go by one last time. We also visited L’hôtel des Invalides and lounged on the Esplande des Invalides (aka the big grass patch out the front of des Invalides).
Strolling across the Esplande, we turned and walked along the south bank of the Seine towards Pont de la Concorde, where we crossed the river into the square – Place de la Concorde. We’d visited here on our Day 2 Segway tour, where our guide informed us that the square had been where guillotine executions were hosted during the French revolution, with two of the most famous beheadings being those of King Louis XVI and his wife, Marie Antoinette.
Last day in paris (top Left clockwise) L’Hotel des Invalides; Luxor Obelisk; Fountains in Place de la Concorde; Grande Arche; Vélib (free) bikes scheme; Arc de Triomphe down the Champs-Elysées; Lounging on the Esplande des Invalides © Engelsman in Afrika
Guillotines long since removed and a gifted Egyptian (Luxor) Obelisk erected in the centre of the square where one particular ‘Louisette’ once stood, Place de la Concorde is a now a tourist hotspot and the finishing point of the Tour de France. It has unrestricted views up the Champs Elysée to the Arc de Triomphe and marks one of the entrances into the Jardin des Tuilleries. It also has two matching maritime themed fountains.
Mega bubbles; Place de la Concorde © Engelsman in Afrika
Original artwork © Engelsman in Afrika
Day 2 – Segway!
My wife addiction to Segways began following our first Segway tour of Washington DC whilst on our honeymoon. Ever since then she’s wanted to buy ‘his and hers’ so that we can take the dogs for walks around our estate and/or pack them in the back of the Navara should we go somewhere where we ‘might’ need them. I had visions of us cruising around the Kruger Park being stalked by hungry predators who weren’t in the least bit interested in testing out our toys. At a maximum speed of 20km/h, there is no way that we’d be able to outrun anything!
Out of interest, I logged onto Segway’s South African website and found out that you can lease the units for R2500 per month (£190 in real money), with inclusive maintenance plan and insurance. This isn’t at all bad considering that petrol prices are increasing and SANRAL is trying to push forward with open-road tolling in Gauteng. With a claimed 38km range I could actually make it to work (21kms using back roads) in approximately 1 hour, ensuring that top speed is maintained throughout. Whether or not I’d be able to make the return journey alive is another question – there are potholes, taxis and other oblivious road users to contend with, as well as prospective thieves who might attempt to jump me (no anti-hijacking accessory is listed under the optional extras); and finally my wife’s non-supportive ‘NO’ when it came to actioning my idea (such a party pooper).
Anyway, on with the story! I booked a Segway tour of Paris as part of my wife’s engagement present, which incidentally coincided with a public holiday in France (the streets were much quieter than usual). It is an awesome way to get around a city without expending too much energy and you can map out any sights you’d like to visit again on foot. Stefanie our Canadian guide, who works as a part time Segway tour guide and art teacher was excellent and made the 3 hour tour informative and fun. In our small group we whizzed around Paris, stopped to listen to the history behind many of the main sights, statues etc. take photos and perform ‘extreme traffic manoeuvres’, whilst Stefanie controlled that traffic with her ‘palm of power’.
Paris Day 2 Activities [left to right] Segway touring, lunch along Rue Cler (2) Arc de Triomphe, Crazy Horse © Engelsman in Afrika
Photographs of horse sculptures in Paris.
Whilst on a short break in Paris to celebrate our first anniversary, my wife (let’s call her X) and I deliberated over whether or not to attend a show. By this I’m referring to one of the three top cabarets which the city has on offer (my guidebook references a number of others for those reading who are ‘did-you-knowers’). All three were similarly priced, famous in their own right, and featured elaborate costumes and a sprinkling of topless nudity, but an overall tasteful portrayal of the feminine form. Each show could also be teamed up with dinner, or simply a bottle of champagne (€ ±100 with just champagne and ± €175 with dinner).
And so our deliberation, in its most basic form, came down to which show was really worth our hard-earned Rands. On offer, ‘Féerie’ at the Moulin Rouge, a production at the Lido de Paris on the Champs-Elysees and ‘Désirs’; a slightly risqué (they describe it as ‘avant-garde’) cabaret at the Crazy Horse. I’d seen the Crazy Horse advertised in Vegas a few years back but had never been to one of their shows.
TripAdvisor is my trusty phone-a-friend when faced with tough travel decisions involving a not so insignificant amount of money. There is usually a clear-cut lean towards a particular attraction, or in this case choice of show. It has never failed me in the past, however on this particular occasion viewpoints were quite literally split in a bi-polar manner. Some users rated the Moulin Rouge as a tacky production, with costumes borne of a circus tailor rather than a famous Parisian show seamstress; where patrons are packed into the venue like cattle herded to meat market and more importantly the production was left somewhat lacking. Others said it was the best show they had ever seen; worth every penny and a ‘definite must’ for first timers. Similar reviews appeared for the alternative venues. After reading these, I was left feeling as if I was about to partake in a game of cabaret roulette where the loser (aka me) would be faced with sheer disappointment from my wife (I am a firm believer in the ‘Happy Wife, Happy Life’ philosophy).
One of my photos of the Moulin Rouge