It was with excitement and anticipation that we were heading to Paris this morning. As we were only staying a couple of nights in Paris we were able to leave one of our larger bags at the Hotel in London with some of our excess clothes and souvenirs gleaned so far. Having traveled the underground to Kings Cross/ St. Pancras on the day we visited the British Library we knew where to go.
The check-in process was straightforward and allowed for conversation between other passengers. Once checked in we had breakfast as we had left our hotel early before breakfast was being served. The EuroStar train was comfortable fast and efficient. I was a little surprised there was no wireless internet as I thought I had heard there was. It is coming in upgrades soon an attendant said.
The train traveled at around 200 km/h and I tried to take pictures as we speed by but they all ended up as mostly a blur. I found it really exciting to be traversing the countryside and taking in the scenery. When we arrived at the Gare du Nord station our first encounter of French/Parisian culture was standing waiting for some time at an information booth… initial response from “Parlez-vous anglais” was no but my colleague does so having to wait longer till the colleague was free, and then in response to my request about where to get Met (local train) tickets.. given short sharp hand gestures of downstairs to the right. Then joining the extensive line of people there waiting where behind the booth a single attendant talked behind the counter to a colleague and then periodically at their own pace attended to the next person in line. At one stage, I guess by the accent an American, loudly complained about the lack of customer service… I felt like shrugging and responding.. this is Paris…
Once we had our Met tickets and worked out the route to take we embarked on getting to our hotel near Moulin Rouge in the 9th district not far from the station. When we came out from the Met underground and started walking along the main street towards our hotel what struck me was the number of dubious shops with explicit materials and options available. It made us feel a bit uncomfortable about the district and area where the hotel was located (!)
When we found our hotel it was off the main strip and quite nice. We were too early to go into our rooms but we could leave our bags at the hotel and go exploring to get some lunch. Near the Moulin Rouge there were a number of tourist outlet but also a local shopping strip of food markets and mini supermarket outlets. We found a pleasant café for baguettes, coffee and macaroons.
Being a Wednesday the Louve had late night opening and I had ambitions of touring. However my wife and son were tired so instead we rested. As opposed to our usual hotel experiences there was no kettle or instant coffee/tea provided. I sort to inquire at the front desk using my iPad with translation as to whether this was possible to have boiling water as we had some instant coffee, and was told in fairly blunt terms I could have boiling water but no milk go and get your own at supermarket. So I did but then also realized I had no cup so experienced shopping in a French supermarket trying to find milk plus other snack supplies as well as returning to the café from earlier to get a take away coffee to allow for a cup in the hotel room.
In the early evening we went for a walk and found a restaurant outlet specializing in hamburgers as well as later getting takeaway crepes to eat in the hotel room.