Paris in springtime, what could be better, well watching ACDC in the Bercy stadium which is what Bean Counter and I did on February 27th. We had flown to Paris courtesy of Ryanair that very morning and landed at Beauvis airport at around 11pm. We then took a bus journey to the centre of Paris and then a combination of metros and taxis to get to our hotel. All in all a flight time of 1 hour was only a small part of a journey that took 7hours door to door.
Let’s get the bad things out of the way first! We spent more time hanging around waiting for security clearance than we did travelling. The Gendarmes are not very helpful sending us the wrong way when we asked for directions and the prices are extortionate. Paris is without doubt the most expensive place I have ever been to. A pint of beer during happy hour cost £5.50. I will never again complain at the cost of British beer in pubs. Add to this the Parisians themselves, aloof smug and with an air of superiority that even other Frenchmen hate.
The good things about Paris are the historic buildings and culture. There are so many buildings to see and it was impossible for me and BC to see everything in the three days we spent there. We took in Eiffel tower, the Louvre, (saw the Mona Lisa, nothing to write home about and vastly overrated) Notre Dame, plenty of pavement cafes and some very good food. There was also the concert. ACDC were magnificent and played 4 tracks from the Black Ice album and a host of other favourites. The Bercy Stadium puts the MEN in Manchester to shame and the regulations about standing and dancing are not vigorously enforced as they are by the jobsworths in Manchester. It was fair to say that me and BC rocked that night in an abandoned drastic effort to recapture our youth.
All too soon the concert was over and we made our way back to the hotel with the aid of some interesting characters we had met in the stadium, one of whom produced a photo of him between Ronnie Woods and Keith Richards. This guy had a history and was almost as entertaining as the band. The following day we had to move out of the hotel and make our way to another for the next two nights. The tickets I had bought only included one nights stay. The second hotel turned out to be a mere few yards from the first one and very close to the Follies Begere. It was sad to see the Follies, the old building looked very run down and the place looked as though it was closed.
By comparison the Moulin Rogue is still going strong and we sat and had a glass of Absinthe each across the way looking for Toulouse and any of his mates. To point out the expense of Paris the absinthe cost 20 quid for two glasses, one each for me and BC. We also managed to obtain refreshment in a pub called the Frog and RosBif where I indulged myself with a pint of Parisalyser. A very strong local brew made particularly for the pub chain. Due to the fact that the 6 nations competition was taking place that very weekend it was full of well mannered but very drunk rugby supporters. The English section decided on a pavement singsong and promptly forgot the words to Jerusalem but launched into New York York, You really needed to be there to appreciate how funny this was.
No matter where in the world you go you will always find an Oirish theme pub. There were two next to each other in a small section near the Bastille and we popped in for a quick drink. At this point BC desperately needed a toilet. As she discovered to get to the ladies cubicles she had to walk past the men’s open pissoire. It was a bit of a shock for her especially as the washing facilities for both genders were next to the pissoire. This was the very, literally, essence of Paris. A meal in the Hard Rock Café took almost an hour to serve reminding me that the service in Paris has not improved at all. The waiters were not apologetic at all and I suspect it may have been because we were English. The Americans sat next to us on another table waited almost as long and were served with the same contemptuousness that we suffered.
After the experience with the Gendarmes it cemented my belief that the French hate the English, never forgiven us for Agincourt let alone Waterloo and Trafalgar, and probably the Americans because the French were incapable of liberating themselves in 1944. The Parisians have a belief that they are better than any one else and I cannot understand why. They have not had the need to build a victory arch since Bonaparte. What the Parisians do have is a sense of style and mini skirts and high heels are very much the fashion for this year. Sadly so is the fashion for fur coats and I saw more there than at any other time in my life. The crepes from the pavement cafes are fantastic, almost as good as my own I should point out, and watching them being made show they are a work of art.
The best way to see the city is take advantage of the open tour busses that run on four different routes and you can swap routes and get on and off at almost any point. The metro system, once you have fathomed it out is simply fantastic. It is cheap, reliable, quick, clean and no matter where you are in the city you are never more than 500 yards from a metro station. It makes a mockery of any underground system I have travelled upon in the UK. There is so much to see that the batteries in my camera ran out due to all of the photo’s I took.
I have to go back to Paris, there is unfinished business there. BC and me did not have the time to walk hand in hand along the Champs-Elysees, nor did we get to tour on a Batteau Mouche. We did not manage to travel to the top of the Eiffel tower and enjoy the view. Paris is a wonderful place despite all the things I hated, the good things far outweigh the bad and this includes the beggars whose numbers increase year upon year. Upon reflection, Paris Rocks.