Paris 5 & Orainville

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We found after 3 days in Paris that we were using the Velib in a rather profligate manner that chomped through more euros than we had anticipated. The best strategy is to exploit the ‘first 30 minutes is free’ rule and do lots of short trips and return the bike to a station. This keeps them in circulation and allows you to keep your costs down. Seems obvious doesn’t it?

Observations of Paris: clean, safe, few homeless people, few Roma, air quality pretty good, not outrageously expensive, tap water good, standard of fashion seen on the street comparable to any other city. Ian made his own fashion statement which is sure to influence the Parisiens. Watch next summer’s designs! It’s easy to get lost in Paris because the height of the buildings, mostly 6 to 8 floors, conceals landmarks. The uniformity of building style and material is pleasant. There is little high rise, at least within the Boulevard Peripherique.

Our last breakfast in Paris – le petit dejeuner formule. This consists of orange juice, cafe au lait (or hot drink of choice), a croissant and a baguette with butter and jam. Sometimes it includes fromage blanc (like yoghurt). Our boulangerie had a window display of giant meringues in a range of pastel colours. With breakfast you can’t really go wrong. A good lunch is a cheese plate – an assortment of cheeses with bread. They bring out more bread if you need it to finish off the cheese, but they don’t bring out more cheese to help you get through the bread. Dinner can be risky and we’ve achieved about 50% success there.

We departed Hotel Les Argonautes and took a bus to Gare de l’Est, then with time to spare we both had haircuts. It costs twice as much for feminin as masculin – not much egalite there! On finishing the haircut, Ian’s barber told him that he looked like Bill Clinton.

Then, with 20 minutes before our train, quelle horreur! I remembered that our passports  were at the hotel. A rapid rearrangement of travel plans ensued. Ian to Reims, me to Velib for a quick return trip across town. Lucky we didn’t leave Paris without them! Gare de l’Est has armed guards wandering around. It’s for le securite since 9/11.

Back in Reims, Alex and Claire took us to see the Basilique Saint-Remi de Reims, a magnificent church in which is buried the remains of St Remi who baptised Clovis, the first king of France. History is important to French people.

Then home for a family dinner with Alex’s parents, Alain and Christine, and his little nephew Theo (3) and niece Sam (18 months). Too tall to be Asterix but with his red hair, moustached and esprit Alain is one of those indomitable Gauls, bien sur! This was a lovely evening with great food, wine and company. Thanks Alex and Claire for everything!

Alex, Claire and family in Orainville

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