The Eurostar was a freebie, due to the points we had collected on a loyalty card. The hotel was also a freebie! We had booked the Holiday Inn in Opera and had used Priority points that Pete and I had accumulated by staying in many hotels in our past jobs. It’s always nice to get a freebie, though this was tainted by the £35 parking ticket I received on Thursday!
The hotel kindly upgraded us for no apparent reason and the room was huge! The major downside was that the soundproofing was non-existent and we could hear the conversation of the people in the next room quite clearly at 2am. And they weren’t even shouting.
On Friday we mainly walked and took in the city atmosphere, getting lost here and there. We wanted to see the Picasso exhibition, but the queues were huge - despite it being open 24 hours a day! We had a great meal in the evening in the Montmartre area going to our favourite bar Le Progres.
On Saturday we went to the Pompidou centre. This is a truly great museum of modern art (and a stunning building). Surprisingly, I had never been round it properly in all my visits to Paris! We spent a couple of hours in there seeing some weird and wonderful things including some examples of an artform I know nothing about: Futurism. I know when Pete has had enough of a museum when he speeds up and looks at fewer and fewer exhibits. The end of his attention span was the sign to go and get food… So we crossed the river and went to a restaurant on Rue Mouffetard for a late lunch. This road is a narrow long winding road that has some lovely shops and restaurants – and it’s rarely mentioned in guide books… which is a crime! If you ever in Paris, check this road out.
In the evening we attended a concert by Julien Clerc at a theatre. He usually plays the arenas, so this was an intimate venue in comparison. Julien is a singer-songwriter who has been around for decades and his albums still debut at the top of the charts. I first came across his work in the late 1980’s and have been a fan since. I can’t really think of an British or American equivalent singer-songwriter who has lasted so long. He is often classed as a "singer for the ladies", but I think that’s rather unfair. Yes, he does release the odd mushy ballad and occasional cheesy pop tune, but on every album I own, there are a few tracks that any songwriter would be proud of. The show itself was excellent.
BUT… the surprising part of the evening was just before Julien came on to the stage. Pete and I were chatting and then realised that there was a collective intake of breath in the auditorium and everyone in the audience was looking to the back of the theatre. We turned round to see President Sarkosy and his wife Carla Bruni about 8 rows behind us!
The audience was stunned and the camera flashes were blinding! The French President kindly smiled and waved to the selfish people taking photos without asking - he is more like royalty in France. I chose not to spoil their night out by taking a photo, other than from afar that were so blurry, it could be anyone (it was dark OK!).
A few songs into Julien's set and Carla appears on stage to sing a duet! There’s a clip on You Tube here. As a gay guy, even I think she’s a stunner! Pete went to the toilet during one of the four encores and he reported Police and secret service men were everywhere.
On Sunday morning, we did another first and went to the massive Père Lachaise Cemetery. Now, you are thinking that visiting a cemetery is strange, but the place is remarkable - the graves are mostly small Gothic buildings. We tried to find the place where Edith Piaf was buried, but failed. However, we did worship at the grave of Jim Morrison that is a tiny grave stuck behind a much larger monument to some forgotten non-rock god.
A heavy lunch meant an uncomfortable walk to the station. I was also exhausted by this point. I didn’t take my best camera as I have tons of pictures of Paris, but I did take my new compact and took a few snaps. The picture of the graffiti is a favourite… I don’t know why!
On the Eurostar home there was this posh girl, aged about 19/20 who was obviously from a good background. But, as with many young people, she had no intellect! Talking to her friend she said “did you know that the name Gabrel is the French equivalent to the English name George”.
This is not a lone example of the “youth of today”. Are we raising a nation of dimwits, who know nothing more than what the school textbooks tell them and know little about the world around them?!!?
It’s a bit like that loud person of celebrity Big Brother (Tina Scouse-woman) who honestly thought that Churchill, Rousevelt and Stalin had negotiated with Hitler at various meetings at the end of World War 2!!!