Monday, March 21, 2016

Grand Slam

Apologies for the silence over the last few months after the burst of early New Year blogging activity. I have been busy travelling - a couple of trips back to the UK for work, a skiing holiday and most recently, a trip to Paris (which gives this post its name) have taken up a lot of my time as have other work commitments. Hopefully I will be able to give a more detailed summary of the ski trip which, after a somewhat difficult prelude (E. was ill and was not able to make it so it was just me and A with V. also staying at home with E) was a really nice holiday. However, I can share some details of my trip to Paris where RP and I enjoyed watching England's victory over France to give them a first Grand Slam for 13 years. The other R was not in the end able to make it (having gone to India on business and being fortunate to watch England's extraordinary win against South Africa (chasing down c. 230 in the 20/20) in the ICC Cup), so we were unable to recreate the last time we had all been in Paris for the rugby (in fact both RP and I were struggling to remember when that might have been - we definitely attended the first England/France game to be held at the Stade de France rather than the Parc de Prince in 1998. I am pretty sure that we made a further trip which was probably the 2000 fixture as RP then moved away from UK (and I followed in 2004) so our next 6 Nations game was in Rome against Italy in 2014. However, neither of us good remember for sure). In any event, the spectacle was just as vivid with the French crowd more than holding their own against the English supporter's singing mainly I think because the game was so tight - and it was also very colourful with each seat being supplied with its own tricolour flag. The game itself was nerve-shredding if you were an England supporter and it was really only in the last couple of minutes that we were able to relax when we had a 10 point led and the French were reduced to 14.

Other features of the match were the bitter cold and the fact that only alcohol free lager was served in the stadium (the cold was expected. The lack of a beer was not). Still a 31 - 21 victory more than made up for that.

We also managed to cram in a huge amount of sight seeing over the weekend (I flew overnight on the Thursday and left on Sunday night so had almost three full days). Friday was spend going though the Louvre (including a very interesting Hubert Robert exhibition) and then a decent dinner in Chez Toinelle in Pigalle.

Saturday started with a visit to the Porte de Cligancourt flea market which was vast although did not really get going until late morning rather than the advertised 9am start time. In the afternoon we visited the "The L’atelier en plein air: Les impressionnistes en Normandie" exhibition held at the Musée Jacquemart-André which featured a line-up of Impressionist artists, such as Monet, Signac, Renoir, and Morisot and looked around the Museum itself and of course went to the game. It was a late start and finish for the match - 9pm kick off but we were there early due to the forecast delays due to additional security measures and with the presentation etc. we did not get back to central Paris until gone Midnight - we were able to have a good meal at Wepler on Place di Clichy before heading to bed.

On Sunday I revisited old haunts - Musee D'Orsay where I returned to the impressionist and post-impressionist galleries and then after lunch near Les Invalides with RP, I did a reasonably brisk tour of the Musee Rodin which is always a favourite.

Our hotel (Hotel Crevantes) was in the 8th Arrond.(rue de Berne) and was well located - the rooms were tiny (no rat swingers let alone cat swingers could have been accomodated) but was clean and had very helpful staff and also very cheap - Euros 75 per night excluding breakfast.

It was a terrific trip although hopefully next time is will be a little warmer!