France, much like Italy was a place that we had visited before the existence of the Blog. So virtually everything that we had seen and done was undocumented.

But we had done a lot.

My first foray was in 1996 and we came back together on a belated honeymoon in 2007. At this point Jill (in her infinite wisdom) tried to kill us by doing every single thing that there was to do. Most of it all in the first day after a 36-hour transit and no sleep.


So we literally did the whole tourist blitz on day one (walking over 25 kilometres) and then spent the next few days seeing them all properly. Our accommodation was on the outskirts which meant that we paid (comparatively) reasonable prices for our food, drink and lodgings.

So what did we see.

Eiffel Tower, well obviously we saw this a lot, whether walking past it, traversing around it, having lunch under it or climbing up it.

Oh god forbid that we take the lift to get to the top. No, thanks to my wife, we hiked every bloody step to get to the top.

The views were nice, but a lift ride would have yielded the same views.

And of course we walked along the ChampsÉlysées until we got to the…

Arc De Triomphe where we fought the crazy roundabout traffic to get some photos then it was on to the…

Cathedral of Notre Dame (long before it burnt down)

Louvre Museum here Jill excelled with the VIP pass that saw us cutting all of the lines to get in and get about.

The next day we headed off to the Palace of Versailles

And its grounds,,,

On another day we saw the Musée d’Orsay and then on to the

Basilique du Sacre-Coeur de Montmartre

Palais Garnier – god forbid that we would have missed the opera house.

So basically we just ran around like idiots taking it all in. Sadly both of us forget where else we went in France, we both remember eating by the waterfront in Marsailles and we did get a few days blitzing Avignon but as it was so long ago, apart from the Papal Palace and the bridge, the rest is pretty hazy.

Paris 2024

As mentioned on the main page, we have been to Paris on several occasions, prior to the existence of the website. And we did it in a serious manner, blitzing every conceivable tourist attraction FULLY. But we did it a long time ago.

So leaving the Caribbean and heading towards Portugal and Northern Africa we were to transit through Paris. If you’re coming here, there really is no reason not to stop for a few days and take it all in. Which is exactly what we did.

Having seen it all we really were under no pressure to race around, but rather we were able to just relax and soak in a truly enjoyable city (albeit in the cold of early Spring). Our arrival was at Orly airport which was so much more pleasant than at Charles Ge Galle Airport.

While less stressful, it was no more organised than the main airport and getting out via Uber proved far more challenging than it needed to be.

We stood by the side of the road (in 5-degree temperatures – not in the Caribbean anymore) for over an hour (in the designated Uber pickup zone) for several cars to pick up and drop our fare. They got within 200m of us and gave up, on multiple occasions. After several such attempts, we got a driver who texted us looking for us. We ended up walking the 200-odd meters to the delivery point for departing flights and finally got our ride.

A Sunday afternoon traffic nightmare saw us sitting in bumper to bumper traffic for the next hour (plus) before finally getting to our hotel. At this point the 9 hour overnight flight coupled with the 6 hour time difference and saw us crashing for an afternoon nap.

A quick pop up the road for dinner and our Paris experience began in earnest. After some false starts on ordering (the beef cheeks and the Foie gras) due to being sold out, we started with a magnificent Carbonara pasta and a rump steak. Not very French but really good nonetheless. The next morning we got a bit more authentic with coffees and pastries from one of the ubiquitous roadside bistros.

The 1 degree temperature saw us huddled inside rather than perched on the outdoor seating (even though they did have blankets for your knees). I also learned that my usual macchiato in Paris had changed names and my order was now a noisette. Jill’s latte remained standard, but the quality immediately blew away the recent caffeine attempts that we had experienced in America, the Caribbean and in America.

After being suitably caffeinated, we headed to the metro and paid the 12 euros (each) for the one day tourist pass, which bought 24 hours of unlimited travel. So on the train we hopped and headed towards Charles De Gaulle Etoile. This is the metro station directly below the Arc De Triomphe.

From here a quick wander (about 1.6km) south to the Trocadero where the Eiffel Tower opens up for the throngs of tourists to get their much needed selfies (ourselves included). Now neither Jill nor I have mastered the selfie with both of us delivering atrocious attempts. It was about 3 degrees in the non-tourist season and there were thousands of people here. Clearly there is no down time for Paris and its tourist trade.

Now the short walk to the tower really put Paris’ best foot forward. It is such a beautiful, clean (apart from maybe the dog poop and cigarette buts) city that is architecturally stunning and beautifully maintained. The parks and green spaces integrate beautifully with the historic buildings and the whole place feels nice.

Admittedly it has recently held the Rugby World Cup and is about to host the Olympics, so it really should be looking its best. With the Olympics in mind there is a fair bit of sprucing up going on in preparation. Many of the magnificent fountains had been drained and were undergoing maintenance in the lead up to the summer season and Olympic games.

From the tower we hopped the Metro to see the current state of the Notre Dame after the devastating fire in 2019 that gutted the building. Even now, to see such an iconic building in this state was highly upsetting. On the positive side, while taking our happy snaps, we overheard a tour guide telling a group that the international donations provided more than enough money for its complete renovation. But for now it remains a facade and a bunch of scaffolding.

Another (relatively) short walk along the canals and we found ourselves wandering past the Musee d’Orsay and on to the Louvre. Now even in 5 degree temperatures, in non tourist season, the line to get in stretched for hours. Thankfully we had done this all last time, so had no intention of going in, so the length of the line was irrelevant to us.

A quick wander along through the gardens (Tuileries) where my favourite statue of all time lives.

And we found ourselves at the end of the Champs Elysees on our way back to the Arc De Triomphe.

As this stretch is full of high end shopping we boycotted and headed home. We got to stare at the Pantheon, the Bastille and Sacre Coeur as we transited past them but for us that was our tourism ticks for this trip.

The rest of our time was spent soaking up the lifestyle of Paris and (of course) sampling some of the Epicurean offers. This started that afternoon with Fois Gras and a croque madame (with wine) and continued that evening with Charcuterie and Pommes frites.

The next morning was more amazing coffee, and some more croque madame’s (from a different place) followed by some french pastries from one of the many Boulangeries.

The range of what is available is incredible and the offerings are all spectacular.

And I really think that that the French name of Mille-feuille

And I really think that the French name of Mille-feuille is a little more elegant than the Australian version, the snot block.

So our last foray before we left was a magnificent Duck Confit and a rack of lamb, washed down with a local Chardy and a beer. Our time here was short, but was highly enjoyable and the food options were so good that you were glad you were only here for a short time.

Any longer and you would be grabbing your chest and falling to the ground. The richness is fantastic, but cannot be sustainable in the long term.

Travelling the world in a pre and post COVID state