We left Honfleur with lovely memories, and drove towards Alencon, which was around halfway along the route for stage 7. We set ourselves up next to the road in Saint-Paterne, with a nice, manageable crowd. We bought quiches and croissants and settled in until the parade of cars with blaring music and people throwing items at the crowd, began.
|If this guy was throwing chickens, I didn't get one.|
We had hats, lollies, dried sausage and various other items thrown at us, and we bought a few shirts. Once we could hear the helicopters we knew the riders where close. In fact, the breakaway only had one rider in it, a French fellow, and everyone cheered madly for him.
|Too busy watching to take a good photo|
Eleven minutes later the peloton arrived, and I didn't bother with my phone, I just wanted to experience it. In fact, I started crying right away, looked for Richie Porte, found him and yelled some encouragement, then just soaked it up until they were gone; a matter of seconds. It was all over so quickly, but well worth it. We'll remember it each time we watch the Tour in coming years. Of course, in today's race, Richie crashed out with a broken collarbone; I am so disappointed for him.
It was a bit naive to expect that we could just experience Paris as usual when we were arriving in time for Bastille Day, Sunday and the day France plays in the World Cup final. I knew we definitely didn't want to drive in Paris, so I chose the closest Europcar office to Honfleur to return the car, just inside Paris. We found the address easily, but finding where to actually return the car, once the office was closed, was another matter. Andrew drove brilliantly, and we asked some fellows with no English and I was able to work out what we needed to do. Phew!
Then we needed to find a taxi, or two taxis in fact, and we eventually arrived at our apartment in Montmartre, around 8.30pm. It's near the Moulin Rouge, so definitely a happening area at night....
The Scare Coeur is also here.
Our first day saw us walk down to Galleries Lafayette for a bit of shopping. I am not that interested in shopping, but everyone else bought things (I dd get a cold brew latte), and I enjoyed the architecture, and the sights on the way there.
We then walked down to the Louvre, for what was probably the best thing about the timing of our trip - entry was free for Bastille Day.
It was awfully hot, especially in the museum, so after we walked all the way back to Montmartre, we thought that perhaps we would try the public transport system today. Sadly, being a Sunday, there wasn't much going on in the bus department, so we ended up with two taxis to the Musee D'Orsay. I really, really love it there, just over the river, serene on a Sunday morning (not that early in actuality, but early for the morning after Bastille Day).
I could spend a whole day there, but not Joss' birthday!
After the Musee D'Orsay, we walked up the Champs-Elysee and had a birthday lunch.
It wasn't quiet, as the hour of the World Cup grand final was approaching, and many French people were making much noise! There was a group of flag-coloured cars, with young men drinking beer and yelling, as they honked horns and blared music, driving up and down the famous, crowded street.
Toby and Bethany bought flags to fit in, though Toby is really going for Croatia.
After making all kinds of compromises due to the weekend/World Cup, we were disappointed again to discover the Arc de Triomphe was closed due to the mayhem.
We had been hoping to climb it as we already knew that the Eiffel Tower was closed all day, given that a bajillion people are there right now watching the final on big screens!
We decided to walk down for a photo, which coincided with a great increase in people, wearing flags mostly, taking to the streets and walking in every direction. We made it down to see the Eiffel Tower, and wanted a taxi to get home, but couldn't get one.
After a long walk, we tried the Metro. We let around four trains go past, absolutely packed, each one. So we walked all the way home to Montmartre and are now in front of the television, watching the game, and hearing the neighbourhood experience it, too.
Now, we are tired and footsore, but we will always remember being in Paris on this day. I have never seen, or heard, anything like it. Extraordinary crowds everywhere, spilling out of every bar for hours before the game began. I wonder what will happen if they don't win......