Wednesday, 7 June 2006

Big Day Out

Long day yesterday. Out early to Lamotte Beuvron, where we intended to take the train up to Paris for the day. The only thing was that when we got there, the "train" was actually a "bus", at least as far as Orleans. Track works. As is was, we didn't arrive into Austerlitz until a quarter to one. Off one train and onto another - onto the RER train (the "double decker train", according to Alice) a couple of stops to the Champ de Mars.

Our destination? You've guessed it, none other than the Tour Eiffel, at Alice's special request. This was the main thing she wanted to do when in Paris, and the look of ecstasy on her face when the tower first came into view was one I will remember for the rest of my life. Myself, I must admit I see little point in climbing 1000 feet into the air only to come back down again, however this was not the view of our six-year-old. Braving all the queues (queues to queue, queues to get up, queues to get up further, and finally queues to get down) we climbed right to the summit.

Believe it or not this was a first for me, since I have only ever visited the second stage before. To say I was scared would be an understatement, especially when the thing was swaying in the wind. Of course, you tell yourself that the tower has been standing for over a hundred years, and in that time millions of people must have climbed it, and that even though the lift is taking you unbelievably high, it must be safe.... and that even though the piece of metal underneath your feet is flexing, it must be safe....

Anyway, first and last time for me.. If Alice wants to go to the top again, she can find someone else to go with. I haven't mentioned Jacqueline in all of this. Well, she was there but at the last minute decided not to join us, preferring instead tostay on terra firma. Chickening out? Absolutely not, she says!

Photos from the top were magnificent, however. And could not have asked for better weather. I did ask Alice if she wanted to climb Montparnasse instead, to get views of the tower, but of course in the eyes of a six-year-old there is no substitute.

Onward and upward, so to speak. After a walking lunch we took the Metro to Concorde and walked up to the Opera. To my eternal shame (I used to know Paris so well) I couldn't remember the way and was forced to have Jacqueline buy a streetmap from a news stand. Only to find that if we'd have walked a couple of blocks further we'd have been right there. Should have trusted my instinct....

By now it was around 4:30, rather late to begin the second task of the day, but nevertheless... Jacqueline wanted to visit Les Grands Magasins. After our intrepid exploits Alice and I preferred to head for the nearest cafe to enjoy an Orangina and a Coke, plus a sandwich. We then met up with mum to go to Printemps, which wasdisappointing. Thinking back, to think of the many happy hours I have spent clothes-shopping in Galeries Lafayette, I must have been knackered to pass up the opportunity!

Anyways, after the visit to the shops, that was it. No time to visit La Mouffe, my favourite part of Paris nestled at the edge of the Fifth, just straight back to Austerlitz where we did at least have time for a coffee. On the train back I could easily have fallen asleep, but forced myself to stay awake so we didn't miss our stop. Completely unnecessary, I'm sure I could have trusted Jacqueline, but......well, you know.

Fortunately this time around the train from Orleans to Lamotte was a real train, but that didn't seem to stop it running fifteen minutes late. Back to Centerparcs for just after nine, and, for me at least, straight into bed. Rest of the family must have been tired also - Alice slept in this morning until around 10:30am.

Plan for today is simple - Alice is going to Kids' Club this afternoon, during which time Jacqueline and I will head into Vierzon. Swim immediately following Kids' Club, then out (we hope - I haven't made a reservation yet) to La Grenouillere restaurant this evening. We had an excellent meal there last year, so hopefully they'll do us proud again.

Oh, on Monday, by the way, Alice and I had an excellent time canoeing around the lake. For me, the first time since childhood. Brilliant.

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