Yes, I know it’s well past the 5th. But is has been hectic since we got back. Before we boarded our flight we had our last macaron – Iicourice for me and lemon for Dave. The couple sitting behind us were sick – she was coughing like a dog, and he had a fever. And they treated the cabin staff like they were idiots. Our meals were good, the flight uneventful and we made it to the boarding gate for the flight back to Cape Town just before it closed. And then we sat! The door would not close properly and it took half an hour for the engineers to sort it out. Not that I’m complaining about that delay. We got back to the office and cancelled all the credit cards and left work after 4pm. We went to get something to cook for dinner from Woolworths and came home for an early night.
Woke up bright and early and packed up. Checked out of the apartment and headed for Gare du Nord. On the way we stopped for breakfast of croissants and espresso. We picked up our rental car and headed for Provins. This is the best remaining example of a walled city and is an UNESCO world heritage site. We walked through the old city, shopped for lunch and went into a Benedictine church. We had lunch overlooking the old tower and then headed to Château-Thierry. Here we stopped for coffee and bought a flan to share at the local bakery for dessert. Big fields are scattered with memorials, cemeteries and bunkers relating to World War 2. We drove past a Villeroy and Boch sign at a factory near La Ferté Gauches. This is the company where my dinner service is from so I will look into this further when we get home. We then headed for Reims where there are thousands of vines – this being the champagne route. After that we drove through Soissons and decided not to stop. This turned out to be a good choice as it started raining before we had got out of the city. On our way to Charles de Gaulle we saw what looked like a prostitute drive through! After putting petrol in the car (and getting caught in after work traffic) we returned the car at the airport. Dave had his wallet stolen in the men’s room and we had to report it to the police. We had a seriously long wait for someone who spoke English! We went to do self service check in and self service bag drop off. The check in was easy but it would not print our boarding passes. The lady at the entrance to the bag drop off was anything but helpful. Then the man in charge of the drop off checked our passports and the boarding passes on Dave’s phone. Dave went back to the police and I stood in the queue to drop off our bags. And guess what – we needed the boarding pass. After I had told the man Dave was leaving me to go to the police. Thankfully a helpful lady was available to get the bags into the system and printed us our boarding passes. I went to the police and a nice young gentleman was helping Dave make the report. This took an age and thankfully we were early! Or had we been on time maybe Dave would not have been in the wrong place at the right time. What a bugger. The plus side is that the policeman could stamp our passports and escort us through to security, bypassing passport control. We went through security, bought a bottle of whisky and Cointreau and we are getting ready to board our flight. Overall, its been a great holiday!
Woke up to a wet Paris. We had bagels with cheese for breakfast and then got another all day metro pass. Well worth it for €7. Went to the Marché des Enfants Rouge at 39 Rue de Bretagne (M3 Temple) but it was nothing special. We got mushrooms and asparagus and that was it. Then went to Marché du Boulevard Raspail which is at the exit Rennes M12. There we bought pate du foie for lunch and chipolatas aux herbes for supper. We also got a tiny punnet of organic strawberries for €5.85 *gulp*. Then we headed back to the apartment to drop the groceries off. As it was still raining we ate in the apartment and then caught the metro to Lamarck-Caulaincourt. We walked behind Montmarte and arrived at Sacre Couer from the back. We went inside the Church and it is really something spectacular. We then walked around Montmarte, saw the artists at work and caught the funicular down to the bottom. Our walk to Gare du Nord took us through the Muslim quarter, past a squatter camp and through the Hindu quarter. We saw how to get to Europcar tomorrow and then caught a metro to Strausborg Saint-Denis. Here we saw Asian street walkers with a Black pimp! We walked through The Marais to the Archives and then along Rue des Archives to Rue des Roisiers. Dave had a crepe before we got to the Jewish quarter and in the Jewish quarter we had a macaron each. Framboise for Dave and rose for me. The easiest way to get here is Metro Saint-Paul (M1) and up Rue Pavée to Rue des Rosiers. This is a must visit area, especially on a Sunday where most things are closed on a Sunday. Dave found me a charm of the Eiffel Tower at a local shop. Felafels are the most popular thing to eat and we saw a Mi-Va-Mi. However, had it been lunch time we would have had something at the Yiddish bakery. We bought a baguette and headed back for ice cream. Dave had pistache, caramel and framboise and I chose noisette and speculoos. A new flavour for me I’m going to try at home. We then went to ‘our’ pub for a 1664 each – and the barman bought us our beers. We have a bottle of wine for dinner and finally the sun is shining.
Woke up very early and made coffee in the apartment. Then headed off to Madeleine where we popped in to Laduree on Rue Royale. Best known for their choux pastry, we got croissants for breakfast. We walked a bit around the area before going back to the Metro. Dave dropped his all day ticket at the bakery and thankfully it was still on the floor when we got back there! We went to Marché La Chapelle / Olive (Marx Dormoy M12). There we bought brie, maquereaux and mousse de volaille aux chataignes. The cheese and mackerel are for dinner together with tomatoes and mushrooms bought at the market. We saw grapes from South Africa and bought French strawberries from Brittany. The mousse is a pate for lunch. We then went to Maille for mustard and back to the apartment to drop everything off. We stopped at the local Carrefour for olive oil and cream and the cashier was extremely rude! I would rather walk the extra 3 blocks than buy there again. We caught the metro and went to the army museum where Napoleon is buried but didn’t go further than the exterior. Then we walked through the market in Rue Cler where we bought paella at a fishmonger, and macarons at Pralus. I had noisette and Dave had citron. We had a picnic lunch in the gardens at Joffre and then walked to the Eiffel Tower. It was teeming with people but we had a slow walk around it which was good. After that we walked past the aquarium and got onto the Metro and popped in to Le Creuset in Rue de Rennes before going to Pierre Herme for caramel macarons. You can find them at 72 Rue Bonaparte (M4 Saint-Sulpice). These had better filling but the other macarons were better. We walked past the Church and headed to Bastille. On our way we went past the ancient Roman baths and stumbled upon Laurent Dubois in Boulevard Saint Germain. This is a super area to walk around and Laurent Dubois is a well known fromagerie. We bought Morbier Vieux from fromagerie Sancey Richard. This was another place on our list but I had chosen the one in Rue Saint-Antoine so it was a good find. After seeing the monument at Bastille we headed ‘home’ for ice cream – pistache and amarena for me. My serving came with a generous serving of cherries. Dave had a crepe and after that we went to a different pub. We both had Carlsberg Elephant and the bar keep was a very friendly person. Now we are back in the apartment. I’ve washed dishes and Dave is about to cook us dinner.
Dinner last night was amazing! This morning we’ve woken to rain, and worse than my jacket no longer being waterproof, my shoes are no longer keeping the water out! I discovered this when we went to buy croissants for breakfast. Very few shops are open today but we managed to find a bar open (how strange!) for an espresso. We’ve come back to the room to dry off, and so that I can change shoes. We have walked all around Auxerre and seen what there is to see. We checked out of the hotel, bought a baguette and some terrine and walked back to the station a different route than what we had taken yesterday. Our ticket would not validate so Dave got into the queue and had it stamped. Our train to Paris arrived on time and we have an hour and 36 minutes to dry off again. Even my bag is soaked through! Things started drying off in the train and we left Bercy station and it wasn’t raining but it was cold. We stopped and had coffee, got the metro to where we are staying and ate a quick lunch on a park bench in the rain! We sad down for coffee! Expect to pay over the top for this privilege. Costs at least double, but we were out of the rain. We then checked into our apartment. It has a double bed, a tiny bathroom and an even smaller kitchen. The floor is wonky, but it’s great to be able to cook in Paris, rather than eat out. Dave checked emails and then we walked around for a bit. We went to Amorino Gelato and I had L’inimitable and Dave had Framboise héritage and pistache. We then did a small shop, had a leffe beer at a local pub and came back to the apartment. Dave started cooking – his job when we travel – and as he turned the stove on the electricity tripped. After he sorted that out he made pasta for supper which was enjoyed with another bottle of Bordeaux, this one organic.
We woke up, packed, had breakfast and tidied up. After handing the barge back we walked to the hotel for an espresso, but they were closed! We then walked to where the bus will pick us up, and waited. Seriously glad we did this yesterday as if we had arrived in Tannay this morning we would have stood at the train station like lemons. We caught the bus to the station and then got on the train to Auxerre with no problem. Auxerre is amazing with quite a large old city. We dropped the suitcases off at the hotel and then went for a walk, bought a baguette and Terrine du Chef at Marc Colin butchery. We ate this on a bench on the banks of the river before walking through the old city. You can tell we are in a bigger place as some of the shops are open through the afternoon and there are people begging! Dave had a crepe and then we checked into the hotel. The decor and exterior are not great but the room is more than adequate. There is also free WiFi, a bonus for when we are travelling. After checking emails and Dave had done some work we went for a walk to Saint-Etienne Cathedral. It’s huge and has the most impressive stained glass windows. We carried on walking around the newer part of the city. As we got back into the old city we saw a car rolling down the street. Dave yanked on the handle to stop it and the door opened and caught on a wall. The owner jumped in and put on the handbrake. She drove it forward a bit and Dave did a bit of hand panel beating so she could close the door. She was most grateful and Dave prevented quite an accident. We bought an apricot flan to share, stopped for coffee and after a short walk went to a pub for a Leffe beer. We then came back to the hotel to relax before dinner. Tonight we are going to the 1 star Michelin restaurant L’asperule.
Woke up to a very cold barge. The central heating makes such a noise that you can’t leave it on at night! After breakfast we walked the the tiny train station for Flez-Cuzy-Tannay. There are no trains from here other than early morning and late afternoon and we were not sure where to get the bus. The bus service is run by SNCF to the station at Clamecy. Thankfully we saw some people waiting on the side of the road and they told us we were to wait with them. A mini taxi arrived with not enough space for us. Hopefully this is not the case tomorrow when we need to leave with all our luggage. The lady waiting spoke to the driver to organise a taxi for us. The driver spoke on his phone nearly the entire trip! Speed restrictions mean nothing in Europe. The taxi would have cost us €19. The bus trip return is €16.40. The only place open at 11am was the bar. With old men drinking. This was in the ‘new’ part of the city. The medieval city had far more places open. We stopped at Portal Emmanuel in Rue de la Monnaie for ice cream. Dave had pistache and I had praliné. We then bought terrine forestière from the butcher and corn baguette from the baker. After walking around a bit we sat in a park at a table under the trees for lunch. We’ve bought disposable knives for this as we can toss them after each meal. We then went for an espresso before buying a bottle of wine for tonight. We walked back to the station and booked our tickets to Auxerre for tomorrow and told her we would have suitcases. If the bus is late again they will hold the train! We’ve also bought our tickets to Paris and confirmed the time for the train as there is a limited service on the 1st of May. The bus back to Flez Cuzy Tannay was a normal bus probably due to the train that just arrived. This is the first bus I’ve been on with seatbelts! We got back to the barge and Dave turned on his computer to discover his hard drive is about to crash! He has saved what he can, including the photos from our holiday to my PlayBook and hopefully everything will be OK. After Dave did a whole lot of things to his computer we walked along the canal to the first bridge and then back to Flez-Cuzy where we had a Leffe beer on tap. Now it’s time for supper and a bottle of Bordeaux. We’ve started packing as tomorrow we leave the barge.