I See Paris, I See France…


When I was younger it felt like we went on holiday to France almost every year. We lived a few hours drive from Plymouth so we often caught the Plymouth to Roscoff ferry and drove south on the wrong side of the road. The Ferry we often ended up on was called The Quiberon although we referred to it as The Spewberon after witnessing a bout of mass sea sickness during a particularly choppy crossing. Apparently the Quiberon is now spending its twilight years in the Mediterranean.

We also traveled on the Eurostar not long after it was completed in 1994 at which point I was young enough to find spending half an hour in a train going through a tunnel exciting. I was disappointed however to discover that the tunnel was not transparent and was actually 75 meters under ground not on the sea bed. The North of France always stuck me as being surprisingly flat with very straight roads. My dad drove slowly so we were often overtaken by old men in Renault R4s and boys on those scooters with pedals.

Iron work of Eiffel Tower
Image via Wikipedia

The trip to France which had the biggest impact on me was the first time we took a flight to Paris. I hadn’t been to any big cities with the exception of a few day trips to London so I was amazed at the size of the city. We arrived at the Metro station in time to see a train pull out and I panicked that we were stranded in Paris not realizing that another train would be a along in 5 minutes. My mother managed to convince me that their were lots of places in Paris called ‘Sortie’ as that was what all the signs on the walls of the metro stations said.

I remember visiting The Louvre and the Eiffel Tower and seeing a man snatch a handbag then get tripped over by a bystander as the gendarme chased after him. We mostly ate bread and cheese which was perhaps linked to the fact that Vegetarians were not catered for in France back then. I once sent back a salad that had a Chicken wing in the middle after having asked for the vegetarian option, the salad returned with a Chicken wing shaped space in the middle.

I’m planning another trip to Paris now, does anybody have any recommendations of where to visit? Ideally non-tourist spots where we can see what Paris is really like?

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