Paris, City Of Lights by Felicity Kennedy

The journey from London to Paris could not have been more pleasant on the Eurostar train. I had booked and paid for my ticket via the internet in Australia. For the easiest website to navigate, see www.eurostar.com. The journey took only two and three quarter hours, leaving St. PancrasInternational Station and before you know it, you arrive at Gare du Nord
International, in the heart of Paris.

NOEL:
To see the Christmas lights in the “City of Lights” is magnificent. The entire Champs Elysee decorated is a sight to behold. The whole look of the city seems to be co-coordinated in a sea of lights that glisten and make the city sparkle. Even the jewel in the crown, the Eiffel Tower, is bathed in blue light that twinkles blue on the hour; I couldn’t help but stop and take in the twinkle on the hour each time the tower was in my view. I made a mental note to make sure that I secure a table in the restaurant at the top of the tower, as my French friend whispered earnestly to me, that “it iz one of ze best
restaurants in Pari.” See www.lejulesverne-paris.com (at least a 2 month waiting for reservation).

The Christmas lights inside and outside of the department store, Galleries Lafayette, is also worth braving the crowds to have a look at. Apparently for the three months of November, December and January, the cost of installation and running of these lights is a cool one and half million Euros, and worth every Euro. The crowds flock to this store, for good reason, as there is something for everyone. I spent some hours in this store, resting at one of the mini bars with a glass of champagne, overlooking the mezzanine with the giant Christmas tree as a backdrop. Could shopping be any more sublime?

BIKES:
A recent addition to the Paris landscape is the introduction of the hire bicycles that are readily available for anyone, but mostly targeted at tourists. I have always walked in Paris, as this is the city for your legs and eyes, but at times, it makes more sense to get to your destination a little quicker, without the hassle of finding a Paris taxi and not having to take the underground Metro. The bikes are a simple and incredibly effective way to make your way around Paris, and not miss any of the delicious sights as if you were walking.... only faster. A credit card is needed to obtain a hire bike, with the choice of a day or week, for an incredibly low fee. A ticket is issued and this is your passport to picking up any other bike at any other time. Once I had the bike I was able to ride around to my destination, and deposit the bike at many of the hire stands dotted frequently around the city. When and where you wish to pick up the next bike is your choice. Easy. However, you still need to pay attention, as you are riding amongst Paris traffic.

EATING IN PARIS:
La Poule au Pot.
This restaurant has been running as a well oiled, traditional French restaurant for 73 years. Honest fare, superb service and a kitchen that is open until 5am, this restaurant provides a dining experience that is really authentic and as the name suggests, chicken orientated. 9 Rue Vauvilliers, 75001. www.lapoleaupot.fr

Cinq Mars
Located in a quiet street near St Germain, this bistro is casual cool, hip and has a very French vibe. The food has a home cooked feel about it, with the flavors being big, simple, uncluttered and really good fun energy from the staff.

Benoit.
Located just a few hundred meters from the George Pompidou Centre, this restaurant first opened in 1912 and was in the same family until 2005 when the Group Alain Ducasse purchased and retained this wonderful restaurant in the fashion that it has always been famous for. A little formal, the food is simply exquisite. As expected from an Alain Ducasse restaurant. The profiteroles are the best I have ever tried. 20 Rue St martin 75004 restaurant.beniot@wanadoo.fr

Felicity Kennedy is a freelance writer from Perth, wife, devoted mother of two beautiful girls, and was born with the travel bug. She thinks quickly on her feet (needed when traveling!), and always has a plan B up her sleeve as plan A can always go astray. She is a big believer in creating her own luck.

For more information on Paris:
www.gofrance.about.com
www.paris-tourist-information.com
www.discover-paris.info


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