Tag Archives: Paris

Brussels or Paris for a weekend Eurostar break?

That was the question we had to answer very quickly one night when Eurostar announced its January sale and tickets for trains at reasonable hours were disappearing .

It came down to this: we’d been to Paris, several times, but never Brussels. ‘Brussels!’ announced Pete on a whim. ‘Booked!’ I replied.

I announced the happy news on Facebook and then the jibes started. Why did we want to go to Brussels? Brussels is boring! Go to Paris, it’s way better! Or Bruges. Or Ghent. Basically anywhere but the poor old capital of Belgium.
Continue reading


Gare de Lyon’s tropical garden

I wrote on The Journey’s the thing that I missed getting a shot of the underground tropical garden paradise on the Paris Metro (Line 14, platform on the Olympiades direction side). But I got it on the way back. 🙂

Here it is…

Gare de Lyon platform tropical garden-1

The journey’s the thing

The Ffestiniog kid
As Robert Louis Stevenson said in 1881:

“To travel hopefully is a better thing than to arrive..”

The journey can be its own reward – unless you’ve ever endured an overnight bus journey in Asia – and I admit, I was very much looking forward to today’s 11-hour multi-rail trip. Here was the route:

Bournville-Birmingham New Street-London Euston-St Pancras International-Paris Gard du Nord-Paris Bercy-Clermont-Ferrand.

I didn’t go by rail for any amazing views, though there were some to be had, but I badly needed the chance to watch the world go by for a few hours and just catch up on ‘stuff’. There is also something of the romance of travel in the variety of rail stations you pass through – something you don’t get with modern airports.

The other thing that fascinates about ground travel is that everything is looked at afresh, eagerly and vividly – from the continuous line of graffiti on the approach to Paris to patterns in the paving stones in historic Clermont. I didn’t manage to snap the unexpected tropical garden, complete with palm trees, beside the No 14 line from Gare de Lyon (update: got it on the return journey) but I snapped all else that caught my eye today.

Below is the story of the journey in pictures and there are more in the full set of lo-fi phone pics is on Flickr. Continue reading

Unexpected Paris in 21 pictures

After shunting Paris out of the limelight in my last post, I’m now driven to post some of the less obvious pictures of the city to rebalance the universe. This ‘surprise’ selection is all taken from my trip there in April 2010.

1. Walking through walls
Marcel Aymé and tent

2. Giant bicycle
Giant bicycle wheel

3. Urban cows
Urban cows in Paris

4. Bloody face
Passage des Abbess

5. La chaise (geddit?)
Pere Lachaise

6. Surprise bear
Bear in Paris

7. Mushroom chimneys
Paris chimneys

8. Copper Metro
Arts Et Metiers seats in wood

9. Photographic grave
Montparnasse Cemetery 9

10. Pavement art by Louis Trondheim
Louis Trondheim bunneh!

11. Giant mirrorball

12. Verdigris body
Montmartre Cemetery

13. Bonus cemetery cat
Bonus cat

14. Tutankhamun
Tutankhamun busker

15. Sunny yellow seats
Seats in yellow

16. Mosaic grafitti artist
Mosaic art

17. Parc de la Villette folly
Parc de la Villette folly

18. The kiss
Paris in love

19. Optical lines
Videodrome 27

20. I spy
Paris Metro 5

21. Van-dal?
Van art

31 Destinations in Time #4: Paris 2010

Pete in Paris Metro
Each time I go to Paris – five or six times now – the experience is different, even though the city remains pretty much the same. On arrival I notice… The lack of homogenous high streets. How boxy the trains are on the Metro. The colourful shiny riveted-on plastic bucket seats on the platform. Tourists, hawkers and buskers outside Sacre Coeur; while at the still centre, the altar glows peaceful as a nativity scene. City cemeteries with their own route maps to the dead rich and dead famous. Historic, grandiose architecture up above; streets lined with mopeds, bicycles, windmills and people below. Boutique shops. Crabby hotels. Swarms of tourists. Les cafĂ©s. Gauloises. Drains. Panorama. Abundant life.

But, in reality and selfishly, this is all just backdrop for some of the stories of my life. Paris is where I spent my 21st birthday with four friends, drinking tequila slammers in honour of Betty Blue, my favourite film at the time. Paris is a competition win, when we won free tickets in The Great British Airways Seat Giveaway (when every BA seat was given away one St George’s Day); on the same trip, I came down with chicken pox. It is where my best friend and I killed an evening between trains from London to Venice, and again on the way back at dawn between Munich and London. And this year, it was the first-ever Content Strategy conference, and a photographic outing (see next post ‘Unexpected Paris‘) with TTV Pete (pictured above).

Looking back I realise I’ve always been there with a precious person or people, and that’s what makes the city great and good and interesting and memorable for me. Those friends/lovers are as much a part of the fabric of Paris as the Eiffel Tower or Notre Dame. And the two can’t be separated. In other places, it’s the people I meet there; in Paris, it’s the people who’ve come with me.