Monday, July 14, 2014


Last June I travelled to Europe with my friend and work colleague Lucy. We had a stop over in Dubai, 4 nights in Paris and 4 nights in Barcelona before flying back to Paris to join the Avalon Cruise for Mates where for 16 nights we floated through France visiting beautiful places, meeting amazing people and eating delicious food. Lucy then returned to Australia whilst I spent two weeks in St Remy de Provence with my sister and her family.

In November Lucy collapsed at work and was diagnosed with an aggressive brain tumour. Tragically Lucy passed away on Australia Day 2014. It has been a struggle to post anything and writing about our trip is painful.  However it was a wonderful holiday and an amazing experience that I was so privileged to have shared with Lucy. Lucy was an avid traveller and she said this was one of the best trips she had been on. Hopefully I can share some of how wonderful it was with you. 

I have managed to write two posts about the trip so far.  One detailing our visit to the home and garden of Claude Monet and another documenting the amazing way the French celebrate their National Day.  The visit to Monet's garden was during the cruise part of our trip and Bastille Day was part of my time in St Remy.  But now I am going to try and document our travels in a logical manner and start at the beginning of our trip - which brings us to magical, amazing Paris.

We stayed at the Holiday Inn Notre Dame on Rue Danton in the 6th Arrondissement. We loved the location.  Surrounded by cafes and restaurants, minutes from the Seine, Notre Dame (naturally), Boulevards Saint-Germain and Saint-Michel and close to a number of metro stations.  The hotel also had an amazing rooftop bar/terrace which had a panoramic view of Paris.  The sunsets were breathtaking.

We packed a lot of exploring, shopping and eating into our four days.

Breakfast was enjoyed people watching either in the beautiful Jardin du Luxembourg or at a local cafe.

Lunch was generally something quick, consumed in transit - including an amazingly fresh pre-packaged sandwich purchased at a train station!  The French do fast food very well!  

However, one day we indulged in a very special lunch at 58 Tour Eiffel on the first level of the Eiffel Tower.

Perrier with a twist and a view!

Naturally the view was amazing...

Lunch was described as a 'chic picnic' and reasonably priced.  Waiters served the food in cute baskets, bread came in a paper bag and my chicken dish (chicken fillet, divine mash and jus) was served in a glass bowl! The food was delicious but really it was all about the view and the experience.

I loved the interior of the restaurant.  The feeling of being tucked into a corner of the tower was very special.

It was still light until about 10pm so after a full day of sightseeing we would just wander abound our local area and pick a restaurant that appealed.

Of course you have to have crepes in France. One night we stopped at Creperie de Cluny.  I kept it simple, Crepe Maison - Jambon, fromage, champignons (Ham, Emmental cheese, mushroom).  Thin, cheesy, delicious.

Lucy wanted to find the perfect French onion soup.  I don't know that we succeeded but we certainly had some delicious versions!

This was a very cute restaurant. I loved the jug my wine was served in and the quaint decor.

Where ever possible we would sit outside and soak up the atmosphere.  I loved sitting on the cobblestone sidewalk watching the world go by.  

As I mentioned we managed to do a bit of shopping whilst in Paris. One afternoon we headed to Boulevard Haussmann and the beautiful Galeries Lafayette. I loved the interior of this stunning department store.  

Another day we went to Le Bon Marche on the left bank.  Less opulent, but still with gorgeous interiors and a magnificent gourmet food hall.

And we walked and explored...

The beautiful Sorbonne University just off Boulevard Saint-Michel

'The Thinker' in the gardens of the Rodin Museum
Due to time constraints we didn't actually go into the Musee Rodin. For one euro you can explore the gardens and they are magnificent.  Full of amazing sculptures including 'The Thinker'.

The clock window at the Musee d'Orsay

Notre Dame Cathedral viewed from the terrace

And again - looking across the Seine

A very wet Place de la Concorde

Champs Elysees looking back towards the Arc de Triomphe

Majestic Montmartre

The stunning view from Montmartre

Sunset casting a beautiful glow over rooftops

I hope you enjoyed this glimpse of our time in Paris.

Next - colourful Barcelona!