Big day today! We got an early start, the cab picked us up from our hotel at 06:30 and dropped us at St Pancras station, to catch the Eurostar at 08:03. The Eurostar was great fun; comfortable, easy and soooo fast. In fact hectically fast - at one point we were doing 312 km/hour!!
I had pre-arranged a transfer from the station to our hotel and I have to tell you, either Oliver Martinez is moon-lighting as a Paris cabbie or he has a twin brother who is one. Our driver was mighty pretty!
I had spent quite a bit of time on Tripadvisor before booking our hotels and had read so many good things about the Hotel des Grands Hommes and for once the reviews were right on the button. It's a small hotel, where the staff greet you by name (thankfully they all speak English too!) and the decor is traditionally French and absolutely beautiful. The hotel sits right on the edge of Place du Pantheon, in the Latin Quarter, with a stupendous view of the Pantheon itself. Really lovely, I think I'm in love!
View from our windowFor lunch we found a little bistro in the area and then the fun began.... hell's bells, it is not easy ordering off a menu that you don't understand, from a waitress who has no idea what you are saying! Paula and I managed to order toasted cheese sandwiches with a minimum amount of fuss (croque monsieur, in case you were wondering - I remembered that from last time we were here - clever hey!) , but somehow when I ordered Dad's toasted cheese with ham, I changed Paula and my order to the ham sandwich too... fun and games! BUT it's all part of the experience, we had a good laugh, the waitress had a good laugh and my soul, but they served a good creme caramel, so it was all good.
After lunch we went on a Classic Walk, of the Latin Quarter. The tour guide was so much fun and the walk was really interesting. I was so glad we did it. A couple of pics from our walk:
The church of Saint Etienne du Mont, just around the corner from our hotel
The spiral stair-case in the church
One of the stained glass windows in the church
Part of an old Roman wall
A bridge across the Seine - couples write their names on the locks and then attach them to the bridge and throw the keys in the river - sooo romantic!
The palace in the Luxemborg gardens
Tonight was the annual Fete de la Musique - I'd read up about it while planning the trip, but I had no idea it would be so much fun! Basically it is a night when anybody who has a band/plays an instrument/ thinks that they can play an instrument/sings etc can set themselves up on the pavement and make music. While we were eating a band began playing nearby - they were really good and played mostly recognisable music (think "I love Rock 'n Roll", REM, that sort of stuff...) After supper Rox and Dad jumped ship, but Paula, Grant and I decided to make the most of the free entertainment on offer. There was a stall selling plastic cups full of a homemade brew of sorts - it called itself Citron Vodka, but quite what was in there I don't know, it was really good though, so I had a cup of that, Grant bought a beer and we began to wander up and down the streets, listening to the good bands and by-passing the others. It was absolutely wonderful! There was all sorts of music on offer, many bands playing main-stream stuff, but others that were quite different. We found a couple of young guys playing traditional French songs that I particularly enjoyed. At one point we sat on the floor outside the Pantheon and Paula and I gave the French our particular version of "Our Last Summer" by ABBA, they seemed verrrrrry impressed by us!
Unfortunately we were pretty tired after a good few late nights and early mornings and we knew we had a hectic day ahead of us on Wednesday, so we had to call it a night quite early. The party seemed to go on till the early hours, but we headed up to bed and crashed.