Mon Dieu! My dear dear friend Miia came visiting again. Before her holiday we worked up a brainstorm, popping out ideas of destinations and things to do there. As I told her about the possibility to go visit Paris, I could hear her exited yelp all the way from Finland. There was not much discussion after that.
Brussels showed its best when Miia landed. The weather was grey, wet and windy as random demonstrations passed by every now and then. Waffle was still stuck at work so he just shoved us into an Izy train, which is the cheap alternative for Thalys, a very nice thing!
A good 2 hours we shot through the darkness, until finally we started to see the lights of the outskirts of Paris. Soon enough the train came to stop at the North Station and we were greeted by the most Parisian sight imaginable: A young, passionate and extremely tangled French kiss performed by a young couple.
We quickly made our way through the streets of the 10th arrondissement, in search of our hotel, which my dear Waffle had arranged for us. The entrance was in between shabby hair salons, at the end of a long and narrow corridor. There we had a tiny, but tidy, room and excitement. A girly holiday in Paris was ’bout to start!
We only had one day to spend in the city, so some rigor was needed when planning the route which would lead us to all the most important sights. Stubborn and sporty as we were, using the metro was out of question, completely.
After a filling breakfast we headed out. The first stop being Moulin Rouge, which was a couple of kilometers away from where we were staying. Paris turned out to be a nice city for walking. The soft colors of the stone houses and extremely stylish and beautiful people everywhere will force you to continue peaking around a corner after another.
Before we noticed, we had seen the great view over the whole Paris from the cathedral of Sacre-Ceur de Montmartre, walked back down to the Moulin Rouge and eventually found ourselves at the foot of the Arc de Triomphe. To get underneath the arch we would have had to pay 9 euros per person. We decided it was not worth it and turned around and trotted among the shopping frenzied people down the Avenue des Champs-Élysées towards the palaces and Seine.
Over there the skyline was penetrated by the Eiffel tower. To be able to take in its full glory, we decided to get some lunch, a sushi with a French twist that was. On the way to the tower the amount of touristic attractions increased significantly. The smells coming out of the chocolate boutiques was getting hard to resist. On the other side there were the faintly blooming cherry trees calling us to the other direction.
We went and saw the tower, didn’t climb it in order to avoid a massive queue and the panic caused by a fear of heights. But it did made an impression in any case, while we stood at the side, under a wonderfully smelling cherry tree.
Our next stop was the great cathedral Notre Dame de Paris. The same soft color of stone was apparent also in the cathedral, it’s beige walls holding a multitude of figurines like in any self-respecting Gothic building. Apparently the painted windows of the cathedral are the reason for many to visit. Plus it is free to enter.
We got to it right before the evening sermon. We immediately smelled the opportunity to the get a whiff about the acoustics of the church. I do recommend everybody to go there to listen to it. Even if you would be a pagan like me, or not understanding the language – as well me – the sound the building makes is rather powerful.
At that point Waffle had left Brussels and was driving towards France. Miia and I still had time to stroll around a little. We accidentally entered the Louvre via back entrance, not realizing where we actually were. Even the back door was rather grandiose, but only after we saw the glass pyramid we found out that it actually was the Louvre.
The sun was setting as we stepped into the court yard, filled with skaters and tourists. The pyramid was beautifully lit with the orange hue of the sunset. It was a pity we did not have time to visit the museum itself, I guess it would have swallowed the whole day.
The dusk settled over the city and our tired feet carried us to a restaurant Le Cosy, where we ate our bellies full of fresh and tasty pizzas. After we were done, we were horribly late from our meeting point with Waffle. By then we were perfectly happy to ditch our noble idea of not using any metro.
For the rest of Miia’s stay we had planned to spend some outdoorsy life on the beautiful northern coast of France. We stayed a night at an in between location, in a wonderful gite at the outskirts of Forges-les-Eaux. In the morning after a filling breakfast we headed towards the sea. No, not Les Hemmes, nothing fun about it during the high tide. We went more to the west, where the white cliffs and rocky shores claim your attention.
The quiet and forgotten town of Ambleteuse was our first destination. They have a small fortification there and old hotels, empty and for sale. The sunny weather got us all thinking how beautiful it would be, to wake one of those up again and bring some life to this little town.
The white cliffs of Cap Blanc Nez seemed like a proper place to end the trip. The weather was not quite good enough to see England, but the cliffs were shining bright in the sun. We even managed to see one lonely grey seal swimming around. Also the pooling water on the beach offered some nice photo ops.
That was a good place to end the trip, say good byes to France and get Miia safely back to Belgium. Early on Saturday morning we drove her to Brussels airport where she took off to go back to Finland. Leaving us feeling a bit empty inside.
We’ll be waiting for the next time!