(The scoundrels are out on the streets again)
This time we decided to meet in Paris. The occasion: Retromobile Classic Car show. We were to meet on Friday at 10am at the exhibition itself located Porte de Versailles.
It meant a bit of travelling for some like myself. I had decided to take the most comfortable option and come by train since the recent strikes are over, this is indeed what I did and had a very pleasant and fast journey.
First I had to catch the regional train for the 45 minutes trip from Carcassonne to Toulouse where I had a connection to the fast TGV train to Paris (Gare Montparnasse).
The first part of the journey to Bordeaux, although fast, is not on a dedicated TGV rail line. Past Bordeaux and all the way to Paris the train accelerates and maintains speeds near or above 300 km/h. A real pleasure.
Arrived in Paris Gare Montparnasse on time and decided to walk the 30′ to the hotel Ibis Tour Eiffel. It has been such a long time since I have been to Paris, my hometown after all. I also use to go to school in the area at some point but I do not think I use to walk in those days. Mopeds were much more fun. In any case I found the hotel, settled in and waited for my friend Chris who landed from the UK almost an hour prior and who was making his way into town by bus. Wrong time of day to be on the road in Paris. It took him 2h30 to get into town from CDG. I took patience and waited for him at the hotel’s “Champagne bar”.
Dinner across the street in a pleasant restaurant and off to bed for a good night rest. It was a pleasure to wake up in the morning and see familiar sights.
We set off on foot for the 30′ walk to the Porte de Versailles Exhibition Centre with a short break on the way for coffees and croissants. We arrive on time and meet up with Christian. In the meantime we are receiving a fair amount of messages from Phil who was flying up from Pau originally but had to change plans due to air controllers’ strikes. He makes it eventually an hour late. Already inside is Gerard and it does not take long to meet him with great pleasure since he has been in Iran for quite a few years and it has been a long time since I saw him last.
Finally we are together and we do what we all came for and namely look at classic cars.
I have to say it is a fantastic exhibition. Some of the cars are so well restored. We all have our own favorites. Most of the cars are actually for sale but at prices which could buy you, in some cases, a fairly large house. There is however a hall with cars to be had under €25.000. I was tempted by a couple I have to admit. I had taken the precaution not to bring my check book with me.
In between we had lunch, not the best quality I have to admit but it is to be expected in such places with so many people to be served as quickly as possible. Managed a group photo though.
Mid afternoon we get out of the place and go for a drink across the road to make plans for the evening. We decide to go downtown for dinner and hop on the metro to the Concorde / Madeleine area.
We end up in an excellent bar / restaurant called “Mon Paris” in one of the nicest small street in Paris and namely the rue Edouard VII.
The Gin and Tonics tasted extremely good probably due to their price but who is to complain when you are in one of the best area of the capital.
Only 4 of us left for dinner in another local restaurant. We all had a very “typical” French dish Fish & Chips (joking of course). Soon it is time to go home which we do by train or taxi in some cases. End of a very pleasant and fun filled day.
Next day Chris and I had decided to play the tourists. After a small breakfast at the bistro next to our hotel we set off on foot to the Hotel des Invalides. Not only there are a couple of well done army and war museums it is also the resting place, among others, of Napoleon Bonaparte. We take our time and go through the place.
Lunchtime is approaching and we decide to go to the area of Notre Dame. We set off yet again on foot for another 30′ walk through well what used to be well known territory for me over 40 years ago.
We even stop at what used to be my local “Le Notre Dame” for an aperitif. It has completely changed, not for the better, inside but the view is still the same.
Lunch is literally across the street from the bar in a small restaurant I have patronised a few times in the past and namely “Le Petit Chalet“. Excellent lunch as usual with a nice bottle of Chablis to accompany it.
The view of the cathedral is of course very dramatic and the photos do not really relay how sad and fragile it all looks. There are a lot of wooden support in place in particular under the arches. I hope it can all be repaired.
The plan for the rest of the afternoon is to go to Montmartre for which we take a taxi. What a ride that was. The driver lady got upset by a car and chased it for a while, got out of the car and told the other driver in a mixture of words and gestures what she thought of him. Best taxi ride I have had in years. I must mention that she was an excellent driver, fast but smooth and listening to classical music in her cab. Quite an experience.
Montmartre does not change much. Full of tourists as usual, the views over Paris are fantastic. A walk through the Sacré Coeur (where by the way I was christened 65 years ago) is always very impressive and makes you realise how large the building is.
On the way down the hill we stop for some refreshment in a local bar before taking a taxi back to the hotel.
A short nap is a must, after all we did a lot of walking. Night falls and it is apéritif time which we enjoy sitting at the terrace of the local bistrot watching the world go by.
Back in a taxi to go back to the 9th arrondissement and meet up with my brother and spouse for a very pleasant dinner at the restaurant “Les Comédiens“.
After a good night sleep
It is time to get home.
Walked to the station Gare Montparnasse with plenty of time to spare.
Enough time for a couple of beers and a very very spicy pizza.
Loads of people travelling on this Sunday afternoon probably due to the fact it was a weekend with the start of school holidays. The train to Toulouse is on time.
Pleasant ride home at great speed in some instances.
Excellent few days together with friends. Plans are in the making for the next meet and possibly in the Pyrénées Atlantique area.
As usual more pics are in my cloud here