20 May...Paris 2nd day exploring...night cruise and Moulin Rouge

I awoke gingerly to a very early alarm and crawled out of bed....THEN.....I remembered that I was in Paris and this was going to be another big day of adventure.....little did I realise that it was really going to be 3 days rolled into one!!!

• Continental breakky @ Hotel dining room ....sparse but quaint and ample choices....managed to score some cheeses, baguette and patissiere for lunch!

• Off on my adventure..caught L’Open Tour bus opp. Gare de Lyon near all the restaurant/cafes. Blue tour = Bastille – Bercy
 •Crossed Pont d'Austerlitz. Travelled waterside along Le Seine on Quai d'Austerlitz. Learned of the travel and trade done during history on the water ways.

• Passed Bibliothequé Nationale, Palais Omnisports De Paris-Bercy (Multi sports complex...nice!!)
• Along Boulevard de la Bastille...Circled the erect monument @ Place de La Bastille as we learned of the battles.Saw Opera de Paris Bastille, Place des Vosges, the house of Victor Hugo (author of Notre Dame),

• Rue de Rivoli....Hotel Sully, St Paul’s Cathedral, Hotel De Ville: Marie de Paris,
• Cathédale Notre-Dame de Paris...My destination nestled majestically on the island in Le Seine...surprised @ free entry but audio tour = 5 Euro...beautiful architecture...reminiscent of St Paul’s in London. A functional Catholic church, housing familiar long term historic events... a moving peaceful encounter with history and the present.

I walked on the lower path alongside the Seine, away from the hectic rush of people. The tranquility was unexpected but welcomed!

Arriving at Le Louvre, I was puzzled as to how to enter the Museum...so, when in doubt, ask someone....preferably an English speaking person! As I knew the collection of arts was extensive, I limited my visit to 2 main exhibits: Mona Lisa and La Vénus de Milo....and seeing all the other exhibits on my way to discover my chosen 2, were a bonus and certainly appreciated!

• Crossing Le Seine on the continuation of Pont Neuf (the oldest bridge in Paris ), caught Tour Bus=Orange route: Montparnasse – Saint Geramin.

• Travelled Rue St-Jacques – Colleg e de France, past the imposing Panthéon, along the extensive Jardin du Luxembourg in which the Palaise de Luxembourg Senate is situated .

• Both the Boulevard Saint-Michel and Boulevard du Montparnasse boast kms of restaurants and sidewalk cafés to the delight of the many people making the most of the warm Spring weather which had been a long time coming to France this year!!
• Cimetiére du Montparnasse, Musée de LÁrmée, Tour Montparnasse, Gare Montparnasse....Musée de L’Armee, Hotel Des Invalides....Avenue Winston Churchill and passed both Le Grand and Petit Palais.....amazingly impressive architecture and grandeur everywhere I looked!

• Palais de L’Elysees...along Avenue des Champs-Elysées for a short distance then around Place de la Concorde..to the Theatre de la Madeleine where I changed tours and set myself up for an unforeseen adventure along the Yellow bus route= Montmartre Grands Boulevards
• .......Shopping centre of Paris.....WOW.....Rue Tranchet....Rue Auber... then.......PRINTEMPS....not unlike Harrods in London....housing all the big names in retail....bigger, better, grand, impressive.....amazing....!

• Passed Opera Garnier...

• Rue Clichy.....Boulevard Clichy....(the bawdy district......)
• VOILA!!!!!....MOULIN ROUGE.......by daylight.....another lifetime away and I would be there @ night!

• Boulevard de Rochechquart.... then suddenly I was a trendy, alternative.....intriguing precinct filled with markets, a gala atmosphere, quaint little corners and pockets of alternative culture.....but rising high above this busy activity rose the Basilique du Sacré Coeur...............I definitely needed to immerse myself in this unexpected world.....Which I did!
• Montmartre markets, sidewalk shopping, people, people, people...shopping, shopping, shopping for bargains...and being drawn upwards along the narrow alley towards the imposing Basilique. Carnivale atmosphere...buskers....everyone basking in the warmth of the afternoon...stairs and more stairs to the top of the hill and a chance to enter Sacré Coeur. Beggars at the door....How can I ignore them?...I couldn’t...”There but for the grace of God go I” Another very moving, powerful, yet unexpected experience.

• As time had been spent exploring, I devised a plan which involved: alighting at Place de la République, riding the Metro, taking an unknown route back to my hotel, dressing for a night out and finally arriving at Tuileries station with time to find the meeting place for the night cruise as well as relaxing at a sidewalk cafe for dinner.....Mission accomplished ...perfectly executed...only minor scenic routes taken!
• Bus to the Eiffel tower as this is where the cruise departed from. As I waited in line, I acknowledged that the girl waiting beside me spoke English with a Kiwi accent....We started to chat..as you do when you are waiting in queues....Victoria had been in Paris working as an au pair...caring for 2 young boys but was now exploring France with her parents Sue and Roger, also in our queue....I adopted Victoria for the inevitable boarding picture...then her family adopted me for the night....and so began a wonderful evening cruise along La Seine and a wonderful meeting of new friends! As the cruise concluded, the Eiffel Tower burst into life as lights snapped on and off, up and down the entire Tower....What a spectacle...and I am sure it was done especially for ME!!

• Leaving the waterside, we headed to Montparse and left the bus in great excitement. The lights drew us towards the famous Moulin Rouge Theatre where the current show: Féerie was to be our entertainment for the night. I meet people easily when waiting in queues and it was here we met the newly weds, Bernadette and Travis from Hobart....we adopted them as well and shared a table for a night of bawdy, feisty, clever, skilful dancers and performers who presented an exceptional production. The entire 1 ½ hours of pure cabaret entertainment drew laughter and applaud from the delighted audience. We celebrated our fun with glasses of complimentary bubbly.....then sadly farewelled my new found friends to be driven back and safely deposited at Hotel Paris 2:30 Friday morning!

• My What another smashingly wonderful day in Paree!!!

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