Paris 2005

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On one of my trips to London, I decided to take the Eurostar train to Paris.  I was curious to see what the ride under the English Channel was like, and I was also keen to revisit the  palace at Versailles.  So I'm up at 4 am on a Saturday to meet the proper people at London's Waterloo International Train Station at 5:30am.  There's a story about Churchill and Waterloo Station.  It seems Winston wanted his body taken to this station before being transported elsewhere for burial.  Why?  Well, the world leaders would have to attend, and General de Gaulle of France, who Churchill despised being one of them......( think about a Frenchman and Waterloo).  Sounds just like something Churchill would enjoy

After the usual security and customs hassles, the group of us who signed on for the Paris tour boarded the Eurostar train and settled in for the 2 1/2 hour trip to the French capital.  (Its best not to think too much about where you are while the train zips through the 23 mile "Chunnel" 150 feet under the seabed of the English Channel.  I and two American ladies were in the first class car, so we had plenty of good food and drink to settle our nerves.  Eventually, we arrived in a miserable looking Paris.  Rain, rain, rain.  We transferred to a bus for a quick trip to the 986 ft Eiffel Tower.  If the ground level was nasty with rain, the second level of the tower (380 feet, about 38 stories) was worse - rain and a cold wind combined to keep most of us in the heated interior.  I did run out to the railing for a couple of shots of the city below.  

For what it's worth, 400 people have jumped or fallen from the Eiffel Tower, with very, very few survivors.  And there is a Michelin-rated restaurant on the second platform, called the "Jules Verne;" it is a very tiny restaurant (only a handful of tables), with a great view. (Be sure to reserve at least a few months in advance, and bring lots of money.)  Here are my photos.

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Now, we retreated to the relative warmth of a glass-top cruise boat at a nearby dock, where for the next hour or so we sailed up and down the Seine, viewing a lot of interesting Paris architecture.   Here are the photos I took that may be worth showing to the world.

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From Paris, we took the bus again, to the town of Versailles, the site of the famous palace built by King Louis XIV, the so-called "Sun" king.  The palace was started in 1634 by Louis's father as a hunting lodge.  The son later turned it into the magnificent place we see today.  The Treaty of Versailles that ended World War I was signed in this palace.  Here are the photos I took.  (My only disappointment was discovering that the gardens behind the palace had no flower beds, as I remembered from 1977.)  The first three pictures are of the royal chapel.  The heroic figure dressed as a Roman soldier is supposed to be Louie himself.

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Now, three shots in the famous "Hall of Mirrors"

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Now, we go outside into the gardens, but to see them with flowers, check out my "Europe 1977" pages.

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Here is the front of the palace.

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That's all for my trip to France.  We returned by bus to Paris, where several of us ate at a sidewalk cafe, then we were taken back to the main railroad terminal to re board Eurostar for the return trip London. 


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