Best laid plans....
We had our first French breakfast of croissants and baguettes then headed off to the train station. We purchased the return tickets to VB and then looked up the timetable. The next train was not until 12.30pm - 3 hours to wait! This was just not practical as we planned to be on the Paris train early afternoon. We enquired about a bus but that was not leaving until 4pm! Hire car, scooter and taxi were out of the question even though VB was only 20kms away. Now I really really wished I had a scooter.
After discussing every option I finally conceded defeat and cashed in our VB train tickets for one-way tickets to Paris. Then we looked up the timetable - 12.13pm!!
So instead of spending 3 hours visiting a nice museum and memorial in the French countryside - we spent 3 hours nursing one juice (5 euros!) in the train bar.
Not happy Jan!
We arrived in Paris 2 hours later and easily found our hostel in the lovely Marais area. The hostel is an old aristocrat's building with an inner courtyard and lots of charm and character. It can accommodate over 100 people and most of them seemed to be American teenagers on summer camp. Oh dear...
After checking in, we wandered around the corner to the laundromat and washed everything we owned except what we were wearing. Instead of waiting around, we jumped on a tube and went into the city to the tourist bureau. We collected a thousand brochures and the BOSS had a long chat with a very helpful lady. As it is Bastille Day tomorrow, we wanted to get the best view and be in the right place and not miss the action so the lovely lady drew all over the BOSS's map with explicit instructions and times. We weren't keeping track of the time and it was past 5pm when we got back to the laundromat. Luckily he was still open as I didn't fancy wearing the same dirty clothes for the next two days.
We spent the next two hours pouring over the pamphlets and making short lists of things to do. One of the 'must do' things on the list was the night boat trip on the Seine - but as the sun is not setting until 9.30pm, we had to wait for the last tour of the night. We wandered past Notre Dame and grabbed dinner in the Latin Quarter which is supposed to be a trendy university type area of the city. I just found it tacky with dozens of Greek tavernas and cheap souvenir shops.
Tip: When choosing a boat tour, make sure the commentary is via headphones or it is an exclusive single language tour with a real live guide. The idea behind the "sightseeing boat/bus" is so that you can get a taste of what is available and a little bit of interesting information, then mark it on the map for a revisit in the next few days.
We boarded the boat and sat up on the front deck. Unfortunately, our commentary was via a speaker and in 6 different languages. This meant that when the voice had finished in French, she had to repeat the whole thing 5 more times. Our speakers were so distorted we couldn't tell her German from her Spanish from her English. Also, the time it took to repeat the info 6 times meant that very little narrative could be imparted before we were past the building/ monument/ statue and the next round of commentary started. In the end her voice just became one long drawl and we gave up trying to extract any information about what we were seeing - it was pretty though.
We walked back to the hotel and collapsed into bed. The courtyard which I had found so charming earlier in the day, had the unfortunate habit of channeling all the noise from the guests straight up into our room. The American kids had set up camp there and their dull chatter could have been pleasant background noise except for one voice...
"So who's coming to the catacooooombs? They're soooo coooooool !!"