Tuesday, 9 October 2012



As I write this I am sitting in my beautiful and spacious room in Highfield House, Southampton Uni. We are all settled in here and loving it. But this post is about France.

We were all in France for 5 days, the first three in Paris, and then two in La Rochelle.

Speed in mph

We left Amsterdam in the afternoon, and arrived in Paris in the evening, with just enough time to grab dinner and check into the hotel/hostel.  We went to a restaurant called Pizza Pasta, and when we asked if the waiter spoke English, he replied "No I only speak Italian". We got by.
We didn't have any plans, but Chris's phone indicated that the Eiffel tower was walking distance away. We left the restaurant around 9 pm, and made it to the tower at 10:10, just too late to head up. But it was an amazing view.

By the time we made it back to the hostel, it was past midnight, and we had walked 5 miles, but it was well worth it. We planned to head to the Palace of Versailles in the morning.

After a breakfast of 85 euro-cent baguettes and flan, we made it to the Palace by train. It was incredible.

I couldn't even begin to imagine the scale and the shear amount of gold leaf. The only way to describe the Palace is with pictures.
Gold leaf
The Astounding Hall of Mirrors

Modern Art??


Marie Antoinette's "English" Estate

We had a busy final day planned, so we went back to the hostel after Versailles and rested. We got up early, bought a pass that got us into every museum in Paris free, and planned to get to as many as possible. We started at Musée de l'Orangerie to see some of Monet's Water Lilies on display. They tell me that the museum was built specifically to house these paintings. Pretty cool.

We had plenty more museums to get to, so we moved on, headed to the Louvre.

I had no idea there could be that many paintings in the world. War and famine, ships and cavalry, Romans, etc. I don't really know how to appreciate art, but the Louvre was awesome.

Next we took the subway to the aquarium, also on our museum pass. Again, not much to say except show the awesome pictures that Chris took. 

Our fourth museum for the day was the Maritime Museum, and my favorite. Once again great pictures and a wondrous William H. Webb model. 

We found out the meaning and story behind this:

The obelisk was moved from the Luxor Temple in 1832, and given to the French Government by the Egyptians. The process of moving the obelisk is shown in these dioramas in the Maritime Museum. 

We grabbed dinner at Quality burger and saw a pretty sweet break dancing show before heading over to the Arc de Triumph. After climbing hundreds of stairs, we emerged to this. 

 Then we headed to the Eiffel Tower, where we queued for a bit before getting in the elevator and heading up. 

It was quite the view from the second level of the tower. 
Second Level
Then we headed up in a second elevator to the very top as sunlight faded into darkness.
The Top!
On the way down, we got to take the stairs from the second level. It was a bit sketchy! 

The next morning I slept in while the others went to see the Musee D'Orsay and the Cathedral of Notre Dam before we took the train to La Rochelle. 

Turns out our budget hotel was not actually in La Rochelle, it was in Rochefort, about 40 kilometers from La Rochelle. It was also hard to find. It had just changed names, and none of the locals or cab drivers had heard of it. We found it after about 2 hours of searching and dinner at McDonalds (they don't give you ketchup!!)

The next morning, after seeing some cool boats (a ton of Class 40s are kept in La Rochelle), we saw a lot of La Rochelle. They were setting up for some sort of festival, but we wanted to see more boats.

After a very nice dinner and some desert crepes we headed back to the hotel under a firework lit sky.

Oh and this happened:
Chris and Cody had their feet cleaned by shrimp..

Unfortunately, train service was interrupted by construction, so we took a taxi the entire way. And the next morning we had to take one back to the airport. It was a bit expensive. But we made our flight, and checked in on time at Southampton.

A huge thank you to all who helped make this trip possible. It was a complete success  and a wonderful experience. It is hard for me to describe how great the trip was, but I hope that I have approached it with this blog. I plan on continuing to post about our time at Southampton, but I am afraid that these posts will be less frequent, as we are quite busy.

Satchel, Cody, Chris, Andy