Yesterdays post finished with our taking our leave of Bristol via a bus to the airport. Thanks to the time difference it was early evening when we arrived at Roissy airport (better known to most of us as Charles De Gaulle or CDG) but there should still have been time for us to get to our central hotel and our intended destination that night _ I have a particular reason to visit that premises which will become clearer over time. I still thought there was no problem with the time when we found that there were replacement buses for the RER to Paris. After having queued for ages that optimism was staring to evaporate when a couple of buses came and we ended up near the front of the queue. Whilst waiting for the next bus someone nearby asked why there seemed such trouble with the bus service and the SNCF official said that it was because there were too many “Anglais” wanting to use it. He backtracked on this slightly when I questioned him but I was rather stunned by this example of casual French discrimination. We spent the rest of the journey railing against the casual French discrimination which we had plenty of time to do as the bus journey, eventual RER journey, getting to our hotel an getting something to eat meant we would have missed most of the show at the Lapin Agile so It will have to wait for a future visit.
The next morning we got up at a leisurely pace and thought we’d walk from the Gare du Nord where our hotel was to the Gare de l’Est where we would catch our train in the early evening, drop off our bags and then explore Paris. We got there to have a haughty and rude brush off with another example of French customer service from SNCF. The left luggage was closed and if we wanted to use one we’ have to go to, you’ve guessed it Gare du Nord. So we battled our way onto the Metro and went back to the Gare du Nord where a Eurostar had just arrived so the queue for the left luggage, when we found it. had been swelled as well as getting the now all too familiar Parisian service.
We left the station and walked up the wonderfully named Boulevard Magenta in wonderful sunshine to the junction with the Boulevard De Rochechouart where there is the fantastically coloured clothes shop, TATI, in the second picture above. On the walk up to the junction and when we turned left into Boulevard De Rochechouart there were loads of shops selling smart shirts, suits and wedding dresses then we passed the wonderful Magenta Mariage (pictured) who seem to provide the full service. So in one street you get the clothes and have the whole ceremony. Further on we passed loads of shops selling material and I was later told that the area has a high Jewish population, particularly North African Jewish population who have amongst their midst a lot of people in what I would call the ‘Rag trade’.
When we came to the Square L. Michel the weather was wonderful – a gorgeous cloud-free sky showing off the Sacré–Cœur at its best. I climbed up and enjoyed the view out over a sunny but hazy Paris pretty much made the hassle over the past 24 hours from the SNCF staff worthwhile. I walked around a bit at the top and then we had something to eat at a restaurant at the bottom of the hill which allowed for some great people watching of the different nationalities visiting the site, tour parties an their interaction with each other and one of those people who make their face up, put a sheet on and ‘make like a statue’. Afterwards we walked back to Gare Du Nord collected our bags and walked to Gare de l’Est where there was still some time left before the return train to Strasbourg so there was only one place to while away the remaining hour, where we of course managed to get a bottle of Cremant d’Alsace which helped make the time before the trip go much more pleasantly.