After a few days with family in Normandy
we arrived in Paris mid afternoon Thursday. We were delighted to find the Airbnb apartment we had booked was central to everything we wanted to so we rapidly dropped off our bags and headed out. First stop naturally was perhaps our favourite square in all of Paris, Place de le Madeline, gourmet heaven!
We wandered through Place de la Concorde
and up the Champs Elysee, marvelling at the pretty lights and surprised to see no evidence of last weeks riots.
After dinner at our ‘go to’ Pizza Pino we headed back towards the Christmas markets now held in the Jardines de Tuileries in front of the Louvre, much improved on the tacky markets held along the Champs Elysee last time we were here.
The heady aromas of all the different foods wafting through the air would have been impossible to resist had we not already eaten.
With the Christmas mood slowly infusing our mood we utilised the Apple TV and watched a Christmas movie, well it’s now December it’s permissible!
One of Amr’s essentials when in Paris is Chez Bebert for a feast of couscous, mine is to visit the cemetery of Montparnasse and the catacombs, Sally’s on this occasion was a couple of patisseries… research purposes of course! So it suited us all to head off to Montparnasse and decided we would walk instead of using the metro.
Walking we discovered districts we have not explored before en-route to our destinations.
Making a few pastry purchases for a tasting session later
we feasted on couscous and
tagines before making our way to the catacombs, by this time it was pouring with rain, with a wind behind it. Sadly there was a huge queue and the thought of standing in the rain for an hour or two waiting most certainly didn’t appeal, so we backtracked to the cemetery, having walked the circumference we found the entrance, only to find it closed to visitors, aaarrggh, things were not going well! So we made our way back to the apartment for tea and tasting, now things were getting better! Of course Sally had chosen a few unusual pieces for tasting and we were pleasantly surprised at how much we liked them.
A walk was required after this so we set off to -naturally- the food halls of Galleries Lafayette observing the workmen boarding up the windows of the shops and restaurants in preparation for the anticipated demonstrations on Saturday. This was quite sobering as we had to try and plan our Saturday around the possibility of riots close to the area we are staying and naturally affecting what we would do.
So on Saturday morning, after surfing the internet for information on what was happening, identifying the areas in ‘lockdown’ ie the shops and restaurants closed on instruction of the authorities, we decided that a walk up to Sacré Cœur was probably our best option.
It was rather scary seeing almost deserted streets, loads of police vans and heavily armoured gendarmes all around. As we made our way,
the Opera deserted,
we saw streams of people in yellow vest walking down the Boulevard Haussmann towards the Champs Elysee. They seemed peaceful but determined, and scarily we had to cross between them but it went uneventfully. It seemed as we made our way upwards that many people had had the same idea and the area was buzzing with activity.
After watching the views over the city
and seeing plumes of what could only be tear gas rising from a number of streets we headed back downhill.
We walked through many areas we haven’t explored before,
watching police cars, water cannon and fire tenders racing past. Some shops and restaurants open, other closed it was a very strange atmosphere. The amount of losses businesses must have made just today must be phenomenal. The Jewish area was interesting with just about every shop being a felafel outlet.
Making our way closer to the centre of the city we found many small groups people in yellow vests peacefully walking towards us.
There were more people on the streets though all the shops and restaurants were closed and boarded up.
Passing in front of the Louvre we were checked along with everyone else, opening bags and jackets. The amount of police vans and armoured gendarmes was incredible, all ready for action.
Watching tv reports after we arrived back was eerie, and we were thankful we had managed to salvage something from the day and avoid getting into any trouble.