Zurich to Paris
297 Miles Air Miles
I flew to Paris to meet with friends. Actually, I should back that up. I am part of a Facebook group of expats and we decided to connect in Paris.
The Friday dinner group was composed of our fearless leader who is a French woman living in the US, an American living in Barcelona, an American living in France, to counterbalance our leader, a Scot living in Scotland (there is a freak in every crowd) and your narrator, a Canadian living out of a suitcase.
I guess it truly is a statement of today’s world that this dinner happened and also that it seemed like no big thing to get people from five different countries into one city for dinner.
The day started with my departure from Zurich at noon, or so I thought. I should let you know that, since the first of September, I have flown to Athens for a long weekend, Bangkok for a week, I then came home to Zurich for a 12 hours before flying out to Toronto for 24 hours and then Montreal for 10 days. I also spent last Thursday and Friday in London dealing with London City Airport, but that is another blog.
I should also point out that I haven’t been able to buy an on time departure or landing since going to Istanbul in july. Obviously, I have offended the travel gods and I am carrying the type of bad juju only seen in the “Rhyme of the Ancient Mariner”.
Zurich is one of the world’s truly efficient airports, it truly is. Check in at the Star Alliance counter is blindingly fast. It takes but a few steps to hit security. If the line up exceeds five minutes, the airport team moves you to the overflow security lines on the first and third floors so that, once through in no time, you have plenty of time to sit and wait for your delayed flight
On the plane 30 minutes late and the captain comes on with the bad news that we will be another 30 minutes late and I start thinking that I should have just taken the TGV from Zurich and saved time and effort but, as we have seen, I don’t do easy.
So after an hour we were airborne and Paris, being 50 minutes away, was upon us.
Total Tangent: People who try and rush the door on landing drive me bananas. trust me, you won’t get past me, wait your turn and we will all get off in an orderly manner.
I have to admit up front that I hate, with a capital H, Charles de Gaulle Airport. It is overly huge, overly complex, badly designed, too spaced out; the “satellites” are a pain, services are few, sparse and completely afterthoughts and the best thing one can say is that this airport isn’t Cairo’s.
The town of Roissy is far out of Paris and if you don’t want to pay for the joy of sitting in a Parisian cab whilst watching the meter run up in stop and go traffic, then you are taking the RER.
Unless you land at Terminal 3, you will have to take the rail shuttle to the train station, get off at Terminal 3 and take the RER into Paris.
Make sure that you get your ticket into Paris from the Information Desk at the airport terminal.
DO NOT WAIT UNTIL YOU ARE AT THE TRAIN STATION!!!! YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED!
There are few employees at the train station, they are always on break and generally unhelpful. The scene is a bit anarchic as grandma from Wisconsin tries to figure out what button does what.
Make sure you keep your ticket after you have validated it on entry! You will need it to get out of the tracks at the Gare du Nord or any other station in Paris.
Once you are in Paris, all the stress bleeds away. The locals are friendly, the driving is orderly and no one tries to rip you off.
I stayed at a lovely place in the 9th because my usual spot in the 16th is under renovations. The hotel secret de Paris is a gorgeous Paris themed boutique hotel. The staff are great. The lovely Cecile checked me in and we shared a secret. While lovely, Paris hotel rooms tend to be on the small side so beware. I don’t know that I absolutely would recommend the place, or go back, but it was a nice quiet oasis
Dinner: L’Escargot Montorgueil 38 Rue Montorgueil 75001 Paris. +33 1 42 36 83 51. Go for the snails done three ways (Provencal, Blue Cheese & Curry) take a gander at the surroundings as it was Sarah Burnhardt’s Paris digs. It a typical Paris bistro but the rest of the menu can be a bit hit or miss. Have the snails, you won’t regret it.
After dinner we went to, what was supposed to be, a speak easy called the Ballroom. The place had the potential with a hidden entrance and a cool location and decor. Unfortunately, we were there on “french fucking hipster twats” night. The music was they typical crap electro top 40, the drinks were complicated to the point of distraction and the Tom Cruise in Cocktail wannabe behind the bar took forever to mix a drink (look Tom, I want you to pour gin, not invent it) so service is glacial.
I would return on a non hipster night as it is a smoking space if it weren’t for the locals.
Then came the walk.
Paris is on my list as a great walking cities. Yes, go see the Louvre. Yes, the Eiffel Tower is a must, but once that is done, just walk.
My friend and I walked from the Orangerie (go see it, the paintings are marvellous) through the Tuilleries, past the Louvre where we took the obligatory shot at the Pei Pyramid, through the gardens along the Seine, turned left at the Tournelle the river again and hiked up passed the Place de la Bastille along Boulevard Beaumarchais to the Atelier Des Lumieres back down to the Seine to the Rive Gauche and through the 5th, 6th and 7th Arrondissements and then a right turn on the Alexander III Bridge to my hotel in the 9th and a bottle of champers and a well deserved jacuzzi.
Needless to say, I slept like the dead.
Finally, Sunday am, it was time to say goodbye to Paris
I still can’t buy an on time departure.
Au revoir Paris.