Thursday, 2 May 2013

Paris and Chateaus

On Tuesday morning we left cloudy and cold London and headed off to Paris.  The Eurostar was not what I expected it to be.  I thought that when you were traveling from England to France that there would be a noticeable difference between the two counties, or at least a welcome sign when you go out of the tunnel, but there wasn’t.  We also had rubbish seats as we were sitting backwards and we didn’t have much of a window to look out of, which is probably why I felt a little queasy on the trip.

The Eurostar in Paris

We were staying in a cute little hotel called Waldorf Hotel Trocadero, which isn't too far from the Arc de Triomphe.  It's in one of the little side streets, so it felt like we were in the typical part of Paris that you see on TV.  All of the buildings were really old and the streets were very narrow.

Our hotel is along the left hand side of the photo where the red flag is.

We then went out and had a look around Paris.  Given that we were so close to the
Arc de Triomphe we decided to have a look at that first.  It is huge!  And the traffic going around the round-about was crazy!  We saw so many near-misses!  I think the rule is that cars within the round-about give way to those coming in.

Arc de Triomphe

We then made our way down the Avenue de Champs Elysees and had a look at all of the shops. Paris then decided to rain, so we went to a nice restaurant and had a delicious pizza.  After dinner the rain still hadn't stopped, so we looked around a little more before calling it a night and returning back to the hotel.

Best pizza ever!

The next day we went on a French Chateau tour in the Loire Valley, which is to the south-west of Paris.  The first castle we went to was Chamboard, which is 100 miles outside of Paris.  This castle was built for King Francois 1st and it was influenced by French and Italian architecture.  The staircase inside the castle was also designed by Leonardo da Vinci.

Chamboard

The second castle was Chenonceau Chateau, which was built over the River Cher in 1513.  This castle is considered to be feminine as it has been influenced by any women when it was built.  This castle was amazing to see as it has been built over a river.  The gardens of the castle are beautiful too.

Chenonceau Chateau

The final castle we went to see was Cheverny Castle.  This castle is of a typical French archtitecture style as the building is symmetrical.  This castle is privately owned but is open to the public - the owner of the castle lives in a 'small' house on the grounds but has access to a 'small' section of the building.  The castle was interesting as it was all set up inside, so you got to see all the original furnishings.  Marlinspike Hall (Moulinsart) from Tintin is based on this castle too.

This castle is also famous for its hundreds of hound dogs.  As much as I thought they were cute, they absolutely smelt terrible (I'm such a cat person).

Cheverny Castle

We will now be joining our Topdeck Tour today, so we will be spending today and tomorrow in Paris, then it is off to Switzerland.  We are at the hotel now, waiting for everyone to join us.  B and I are really excited as it'll be fun to meet new people and see more of Europe.  I do however feel like we are slumming it, so there will be no photos of our hotels anymore, well not till we get back to London.  As our taxi driver told us today 'You are going from the really nice part of Paris to the not so good part of Paris'.  This should be interesting! 

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