Day 16, Sunday July 29th; We arrived at Paris Gare du Nord at around 11:00 am local time and after walking around the station confused for about 30 minutes finally a friendly Parisian hailed us a taxi and off we were to Hilton Paris Opera a splendid hotel. Our room was not ready so we were offered to visit the Diamond Lounge to relax and wait for the maids to ready the room. The lounge was comfortable with snacks, pastries and drinks of all sorts free of charge. I then returned downstairs to visit with the concierge to find out about perhaps visiting the Eiffel Tower in the early afternoon. She advised against it as it would be difficult to get there by taxi as many of the roads were closed due to the final day of the Tour de France. I asked her, did you just say the final day of the Tour de France? Where can we go to watch? Is it far? My questions were all pleasantly answered and I made reservations for the following late morning for the Eiffel Tower as Connie was excited about finally seeing it in person after all of her years of dreaming of Paris. I had visited Paris once before around the year 2000, it was winter time with heavy rain so not very crowded and I decided to climb the slippery metal stairs as I was a much younger man at that time. I too was enriched by the experience but the views were disappointing due to the heavy rain, fog and clouds.
My first visit to France and Paris had been disappointing as many of the French persons were rude. I was on business with Michelin and traveled from Greenville, South Carolina where the US corporate office was to Clermont-Ferrand, France as that was the World HQ and where Michelin tires were first manufactured. As soon as I arrived at the hotel, I practiced my poorly developed French accent on the desk clerk after getting checked in by asking for a close gymnasium or if the hotel had an exercise room. The clerk was very impatient with me and he finally blurted out in English with his snooty French inflection, “What are you trying to say?” I then pleasantly replied, that I was searching for a gym or work out room. He shook his head in disgust and answered, “Why don’t you lazy Americans walk?” and so I did.
Our world transportation meetings were much better and the hospitality of the French involved with Michelin was second to none. I was in charge of airport tires world wide and there was an Italian who was in charge of shipping ports, a Brazilian who had the title of Railways or Railroads world wide and such as there were eight of us Michelin employees, all from different parts of the globe, all meeting in Clermont-Ferrand and Mr. Robert Pommelet one of the kindest persons I have ever met with a great sense of humor who was born and raised in the area. Bob Pommelet couldn’t have been more genuine or sincere of welcoming the seven foreigners to his country. Unfortunately, I found Mr. Pommelet to be the exception and when I stayed in Paris for three days before returning to redneck South Carolina the Parisians were so systematically rude and dog shit on the sidewalks everywhere, including a few in the restaurants, very nasty. So you might come to the conclusion I was not as overly enthusiastic about returning to France.
After getting checked into our aesthetically pleasing quarters, we stepped out into the French sunshine and finally made it to where the barriers were placed to see the parade and then the bicyclists. Many streets were blocked off and police officers galore, but eventually we found a great spot to stand and view. Absolutely electrifying to be able to be at the Tour de France on the final day as the leader and his followers raced to the finish at Champs-Elysees. Below is a bit of history and description taken from Wikipedia for those unfamiliar with the Tour de France.
Wikipedia: "The Tour de France (French pronunciation: [tuʁ də fʁɑ̃s]) is an annual men's multiple stage bicycle race primarily held in France, while also occasionally passing through nearby countries. Like the other Grand Tours (the Giro d'Italia and the Vuelta a España), it consists of 21 day-long stages over the course of 23 days.
The race was first organized in 1903 to increase sales for the newspaper L'Auto and is currently run by the Amaury Sport Organisation. The race has been held annually since its first edition in 1903 except when it was stopped for the two World Wars. As the Tour gained prominence and popularity, the race was lengthened and its reach began to extend around the globe. Participation expanded from a primarily French field, as riders from all over the world began to participate in the race each year. The Tour is a UCI World Tour event, which means that the teams that compete in the race are mostly UCI World Teams, with the exception of the teams that the organizers invite.
Traditionally, the race is held primarily in the month of July. While the route changes each year, the format of the race stays the same with the appearance of time trials, the passage through the mountain chains of the Pyrenees and the Alps, and the finish on the Champs-Élysées in Paris. The modern editions of the Tour de France consist of 21 day-long segments (stages) over a 23-day period and cover around 3,500 kilometres (2,200 mi). The race alternates between clockwise and counterclockwise circuits of France.
There are usually between 20 and 22 teams, with eight riders in each. All of the stages are timed to the finish; the riders' times are compounded with their previous stage times. The rider with the lowest cumulative finishing times is the leader of the race and wears the yellow jersey. While the general classification garners the most attention, there are other contests held within the Tour: the points classification for the sprinters, the mountains classification for the climbers, young rider classification for riders under the age of 26, and the team classification for the fastest teams. Achieving a stage win also provides prestige, often accomplished by a team's cycling sprinter specialist."
We took several pictures and waved a small French flag and had an extraordinary time with all that we met being of the polite nature. Day 16 total – 5.4 miles, 13,974 steps, & 2 floors;
Day 17, Monday July 30th; A tasty breakfast awaits us with pastries and breads galore. We then walk to the Seine River and look at all the monuments, statues and galleries too many to name, but two – Pantheon and Luxor Obelisk aka ‘Cleopatra’s Needle’.
Wikipedia: "The Seine is a 777-kilometre-long river and an important commercial waterway within the Paris Basin in the north of France. It rises at Source-Seine, 30 kilometres northwest of Dijon in northeastern France in the Langres plateau, flowing through Paris and into the English Channel at Le Havre."
We took several photos as strolled and made our way to the rendezvous point for Eiffel Tower tour of which I realized when we arrived at the magnificent man-made structure that we had paid more than twice the amount we needed to. Our guide was a cute and adorable young Parisian girl of about 20 years of age, her name Margo, a full-time student working as a guide mostly for Americans as she had plenty of referrals and antidotes that reflected Midwest Americana. As I stated previously, everyone we met on this France / Paris trip had been so helpful, so considerate and kind that I couldn’t believe that I was in the same country by the treatment received 20 years earlier and no dog shit on the sidewalks and in the restaurants. It seems that the warning which was issued to dog owners in Paris was as such: “If you don’t begin cleaning up after your pet, we will follow suit / law as initiated and passed in Stockholm, Sweden and give everyone an opportunity to find their dog a home in the country by such a deadline date and those that are still in the city shall be eradicated!” The reason Stockholm passed this was that they did not want to become another Paris with dog shit all over the city. Well, it appears that the warning was received and taken to heed as it was 100% cleaner and more inviting than my previous visit. The Eiffel Tower had become so full that day we visited that management shut down the entrance for over two hours as it was dangerously overfilled with passengers and visitors. It became downright frightening trying to get an elevator back down to the second tier of the tower. The day was so warm that many were cooling off in the cement pond near the Louvre and I stripped down to my shorts and joined in as there was absolutely no breeze which made us quick to dry. A beautiful dinner was eaten at a French café near the Hilton we stayed. That evening I looked for a place to visit in the countryside of France and Le Havre seemed the practical spot since the train station that went to Le Havre was only a block walk from our hotel. Day 17 total – 8.1 miles, 20,458 steps, & 12 floors.
Day 18, Tuesday July 31st; A quick breakfast, a brisk walk to the train station and then the dreary waiting on an anticipated platform to be named just minutes before departure. We had first class seats, but due to all the confusion and a couple hundred kiddies going on a camp outing we ended up with several screaming children in our car. After things settled and the little rascals received their sack lunches I went venturing for the first class which was very welcoming. The countryside was extraordinary and a pleasant two and one-half hour journey to Le Havre came quickly. Upon arrival Connie and I took a small commuter train to the water from the main train terminal and exited. This was one of the few nights we did not have a pre-planned hotel stay arranged, so Connie sat on a bench with our belongings as I strolled over to the Chamber of Commerce building and again the most pleasant and helpful women and girls recommended a hotel on the seaside which was less than a mile’s walk, called and negotiated a very great price for us at Les Voiles le Havre which translated means the “The Sails at le Havre!” The lady at the front desk of the hotel gave us a couple of different rooms to choose from, all spacious with a view of the sea and beach three flights above the bar, with a patio / deck on the outside where almost 90% of the partygoers and revelers were. Since we still had much sunlight, we put our swimsuits on and went down to the seaside, all stones, no sand to walk or lie upon. A person adjusts their blanket or towel on the rocks and then you lie down to sunbathe. Very uncomfortable although the locals made it look very comfortable, but many of them have nothing to compare it with, have never had sand to lie on and walk on unless they travel to other parts of France and Europe. After getting some French sun we joined the noise down below our room for several pints, then walked to an Italian French restaurant and devoured a delicious meal. Day 18 total – 3 miles, 7,449 steps, & 4 floors.
Day 19, Wednesday August 1st; This would have been my mother and dad’s 58th wedding anniversary had my Dad lived to be at least 77 instead of passing away at the young age of 41. The very cheery desk clerk at hotel recommended that we take the city route bus to visit Etretat which was less than an hours ride to a gorgeous landmark with an arch in the water which reminded me of Cabo San Lucas, Baja Sur, Mexico.
Wikipedia: "Étretat is best known for its chalk cliffs, including three natural arches and a pointed formation called L'Aiguille or the Needle, which rises 70 metres (230 ft) above the sea. The Etretat Chalk Complex, as it is known, consists of a complex stratigraphy of Turonian and Coniacian chalks. Some of the cliffs are as high as 90 metres (300 ft).
These cliffs and the associated resort beach attracted artists including Eugène Boudin, Gustave Courbet and Claude Monet. They were featured prominently in the 1909 Arsène Lupin novel The Hollow Needle by Maurice Leblanc. They also feature in the 2014 film Lucy, directed by Luc Besson.
Two of the three famous arches are visible from the town, the Porte d'Aval, and the Porte d'Amont. The Manneporte is the third and the biggest one, and cannot be seen from the town. The GR 21 long-distance hiking path (Le Havre to Le Tréport) passes through the town."
When we return we decided to go swimming at a nearby swimming pool we had heard about, but it was a private club and the cost was prohibitive for just one relaxing afternoon, so we started walking to another recommended public swimming pool as advised by another very friendly, young Frenchman who mistakenly told us it was only about an approximate ½ mile walk, turned out to be closer to two miles and we were already tired from having hiked at Etretat and around town in Le Havre. When we did finally find it, the French Nation rules that all men must be wearing a Speedo, no regular swimsuits that the rest of the normal world dons. There was a vending machine with several different colored Speedo suits for men which started in cost about 10 Euro all the way to nearly 30 Euro depending on which Speedo was needed to strut your stuff and show your junk to all of France. I didn’t want to spend that kind of money on a suit I’d only wear once, when I had a swimsuit with me and plenty of other suits in my bureau back in Arizona. The head lifeguard took pity on me and purchased one for me since we had already paid. There was water on the floor when you entered the locker rooms and I did not realize we were to take our shoes off before entering the locker room, so many harmful glances were sent my way. The pool was nice, half indoors and half outdoors. Connie liked the suit on me so much that we decided to keep it as a souvenir for me to wear around our pool when just the two of us were present. Another great summer evening on the coast of France enjoying an excellent meal. Day 19 total – 7.4 miles, 17,020 steps, & 21 floors.
Day 20, Thursday, August 2nd; We arise early, walk to the train station and ride it back to Paris, check back into the Hilton Paris Opera for one last evening, take the train to Versailles Palace and walk the grounds, many photos and I would highly recommend clicking onto this Wikipedia site and learning much more about this piece of important European History with many photos: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Palace_of_Versailles Later that evening we walked to Moulin Rouge and the shady part of Paris where all the sex shops, massage parlors, and strip clubs are as we wanted to visit the famed Moulin Rouge, most of the walk uphill. We did not get to see inside as tickets for dinner and a show were upwards of $250 Euro each, which is about $280 per person and neither of us wanted to see it that badly so we walked around and store gazed, had a brilliant meal back near the hotel and into the sack early as we had a full day of travel back to our native home land. Day 20 total – 5.4 miles, 12,644 steps, & 5 floors.
Day 21, Friday, August 3rd; We take the high speed train from Paris through the Chunnel to London, catch the tube underground to near London Heathrow, then a bus to our terminal, board our Virgin Atlantic flight to San Francisco, change planes onto Southwest and arrive back into Phoenix that evening and in our home all before midnight on the same day. One long, tired ass day. Day 21 total – 2.1 miles, 5,926 steps, & 1 floor. Total for Week 3: 31.4 miles, 59,058 steps, & 44 floors.
Week one: 50.9 miles, 154,594 steps, 93 floors
Week two: 40.7 miles, 98,540 steps, 63 floors
Week three: 31.4 miles, 77,471 steps, 44 floors
Total Miles of the entire Western European Vacation: 123 miles; 330,605 steps & 200 floors / flights of stairs climbed;
Day 22, Saturday August 4th; I fly from Phoenix, AZ to Spokane WA to the 4th Annual Northwest Cabo Friends Weekend at Amigo & Amiga Dave & Marnee Bambino and have a great time with Super Friends. Day 22 total – 2.4 miles, 6416 steps, & 1 floor;
Now, continue scrolling down for photos!
Photos at the end of this Blog after the signature page below:
"Have a Double Shot of Reality" TM
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Author - "My Bad Tequila"
50 Great Writers You Should Be Reading - Winner 2016 of The Authors's Show
John E. Weaver Excellent Reads Award - 2017 Winner of Fiction Adventure & Memoirs
Hollywood Book Festival - Honorable Mention (Wild Card genre 2011)
Readers Favorite Book Awards - Silver (Fiction - Mystery - General genre 2011)
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New Mexico - Arizona Book Awards - Finalist (Fiction - Mystery genre 2012)
Bibliocracy.com - Author of the Month (June 2012)
Suspense Magazine - Review & Article (July 2012 issue)t
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Co- Songwriter - "My Bad Tequila"
Songwriter - "Havin' a Beer on the Santa Monica Pier"
The pink letters written: "I want my time with You!"
Wikipedia: Frequently described as ‘the world’s most beautiful avenue’, the Avenue
des Champs-Élysées is a Paris must-see. Tourists and Parisians can be spotted
strolling at any time of day or night and at any time of year along this iconic
two-kilometre stretch between the Place de la Concorde and the Arc de Triomphe.
the most beautiful avenue in the world!!!
blankets or beach towels on the rocks and sunbathe! No wonder they love Florida!!!
The Bus Driver, she was very accommodating!
& another arch in the rock!
home of Louis, including Louis XIII, XIV, XV, and Louis the XVI with Marie Antoinette!
extravagant wealth while the country of France suffered during French Revolution!
The American people had the same problem with Michele Obama of lavish spending and more than twice the maids, butlers and help at the White House along with her Mother.
Antoinette was killed for treason with a guillotine!
Very bumpy, long, uncomfortable ride along dirt roads seeing nothing but trees!
I think the cost was about 6 pounds which was 5 1/2 pounds too much!
This was the only negative of the Palace visit as it is free to the public to walk the grounds!
Two Thumbs up for the People of Paris & France!!!!