On Saturday we set off very early for Versailles. We had been there before but we wanted to see the “Grand Eaux” which only plays in Summer and only on Tuesdays and Saturdays. They play classical music with the fountains playing and it was lovely to watch and listen to. We were the first in the gate and had a wonderful relaxing time wandering around the hallways of the palace before the hoardes decended on the place. We walked for about 5 hours around the beautiful gardens and Marie Antoinette’s palace – the Trianon and Petite Trianon and had our packed lunch in the garden there. There were thousands of people in and around the main palace and the grassy areas picknicking later on but very few ventured far from there so it was very quiet and nice to wander around the outer areas.

At the palace and in the grounds a Portuguese artist was the artist in residence and Maurice decided she must have been on something when she envisaged most of her designs! Some were spectacular and whimsical like the ostrich and swarovski crystal decorated helicopter and the giant shoes made from saucepans and lids. The crochet covered lions were different and so were the giant things hanging from the roof which were very intricate and must have been an enormous amount of work for the minions. The litererature stated that the giant hanging cloth pieces and other pieces were inspired by the women of Versailles?? One had to have a very vivid imagination.

We caught the train back which  is about 1/2 hour to central Paris and then the metro. We picked up a few more delicious goodies for dinner and enjoyed them in the courtyard with more good red wine.

On Sunday we caught the metro to an outer Paris suburb – Sevres to see the “Tour de France” cyclists race past. We got there a few hours beforehand and had a picnic and then watched as the locals came out to get ready for the floats from which merchandise is thrown to the waiting crowds. We managed to pick up a couple of caps and gave the other sweets that we caught to a little boy of about four years old standing near us. The floats were staggered over about 3/4 hour and every time he saw one he got very excited. He was thrilled with all his goodies that we gave him and his mother made him come over and thank Maurice when they left. The riders appeared about an hour later and they were gone in about 10 seconds but were cheered on as they went past by all of us.

After the riders had passed us we walked back to the metro and went into the “Champs Elysees” stop where we joined the tens of thousands of other spectators at Place Clemenceau. We just happened to make our way a bit forward and saw “George from the Goldcoast” who was standing on a chair he had brought with him from the place he was staying. He most generously asked us to get up on the chair when he heard us speak so we got some good shots of the riders and could see the course and where they finished which just happened to be very close to us. It was a great atmosphere and of course there were many British flags and supporters around us. The police were out in force everywhere.

When the race was over we went for a long walk past the Tuilleries gardens and the Louvre down to the right bank of the Seine to have a look at “Paris Plages” which they have been doing since 2002 in the square in front of the Hotel de Ville (city hall) and along part of the Seine. They ship in tons of sand and put up umbrellas and deck chairs so the Parisians can think they are at the beach! It only runs for a month and we happened to be there the day it started. They have ice cream sellers there and you can rent a deck chair or laze on the sand. They also have special showers rigged up and the whole atmosphere is unique and fun.

Monday morning we were up early to catch the underground to “St Lazare” station which is depicted in a Monet painting and has changed little since his time and caught the train to Vernon and then a bus to Giverny to Monet’s house and garden. I had booked the tickets online so we didn’t have to queue which was good and so we wandered in peace for about an hour around the beautiful gardens in front of his house and through an underground tunnel to the Japanese bridge and gardens on the other side of the road. It is a beautiful garden full of every kind of flower and with beautiful large trees surrounding the large lily pond. It is open every day for 7months of the year and there are many gardeners working in it all the time. The colours and varieties of flowers are just beautiful.

The house has been renovated as has the garden as it used to be in Monet’s time (he died in 1926) and it is beautiful. It is full of the Japanese paintings that he loved. He had a Japanese architect design his first bridge which later had to be rebuilt.

We wandered around the village of Giverny and had our picnic on a bench and then had a coffee in a lovely little cafe garden where Monet used to go and meet his friends. We caught the bus which took 20minutes back to Vernon and then the very modern train which took about 1/2 hour back to Paris. We then walked around “Place de L’Opera” before heading back to the appartment. The metro is very easy to use in Paris and we bought them in lots of 10 tickets which worked out at about $1.30 a time, so very reasonable.

We were very glad that we had this little studio appartment to stay in as we were told that as of a few days ago hotels doubled their prices to cash in on people stopping over on their way to the Olympics.

There are so many areas of Paris to explore so we will be back onen day to continue the exploration.

On our last day in Paris we went to the Rodin museum which Nancy and Bill recommended to us. Again we got there early which is vital if you don’t want to queue for hours at every museum.  There was a long queue by the time we left. We had a good look around the museum and the garden which was being set up for a large function the next day. He captured the human form so well and his style was also quite varied over the years.

We then found our way to “Les Halles” and to a restaurant which was recommended called “Au Pied du Cochon” (at the pig’s foot) which has been open since 1947 and is open 24hours a day. There were only French people eating there so we thought it should be good. It was! We both had beaujolais to drink and a traditional French onion soup with the cheesy crust on top. Maurice had a lovely piece of salmon and I had pork head casserole (without the head!)with potatoes which was delicious and then I had the best creme caramel and Maurice had homemade icecream. It was a fitting meal to end our stay in Paris and we thoroughly enjoyed it. Here in Europe the waiters have been excellent everywhere we have eaten with nothing too much trouble and any variations possible. Even in the little bar/cafe where we had coffee and croissants in the morning the man was there on his own and managed to serve eveyone at once. You paid when you left or when he had a minute. Twice a week they put fresh croissants in baskets on the counter and if you want one you ask for a plate and then choose the ones you want.

Tuesday afternoon was spend housekeeping and doing washing before getting ready for our departure on Wednesday 25th July to Rome. We got up early and had our last coffee and croissant at the cafe/bar and caught the metro to the Gare de Lyon. Au Revoir Paris.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.