BMW R1200GSA vs Moto Guzzi Stelvio NTX

Sunday, 24 June 2012

Bonjour Paris - And a very dodgy hotel.


We landed in Paris and headed straight out of the terminal into our car where our driver whisked us off to our beautiful hotel where Suzanne reclined in the spa with a glass of Champagne. Well, that was what was supposed to happen.
We strolled out of the terminal and our driver was waiting for us. We headed out on the start of quite a long drive to out hotel, but this was a good thing as we had the opportunity of seeing a lot of Paris along the way. Again the architecture grabbed our attention immediately.

How cool is the architecture in Paris?

It's old, but everything has a certain flair to it giving the whole city a quality feel. After a while that quality feel started to diminish a little...then a little more...then a lot...then...

We arrived at our hotel that I had booked on-line. Now in my defence Paris hotel accommodation is insanely expensive so I tried to minimise the impact on our budget by shopping around for a hotel that was a little cheaper, but that meant looking a little further out of the centre of Paris. The on-line site looked OK, and the description seemed fine. Suzanne started to feel uncomfortable about fifteen minutes away from our hotel, and that got worse the closer we got to it. We arrived and Suzanne and Paige went upstairs to check out the room. They came straight back down with Suzanne saying "We're not staying here!" (and it was a huge exclamation mark). We cancelled the hotel and waited out front for a taxi.

Our taxi arrived and it was driven by Suzie. Suzie was a gem who was extremely understanding and helpful. She could see Suzanne was pretty stressed and told us that yes this was not a good hotel, it was in a dangerous area and it wasn't a good idea for us to stay here. We asked if she had any suggestions. Suzanne told her we wanted to be in a nice part of town, close to cafes etc, so Suzie took us to the first hotel which she thought might be suitable. It was full. The second hotel was also full, but at $960 per night I was relieved. It was at the front desk of this hotel that we met a young clerk by the name of Simon. Simon was EXTREMELY helpful and spent about forty minutes ringing around Paris trying to find us a room. Most hotels were full but Simon called in a few favours and found us a room. It wasn't in his job description but he went above and beyond to sort this out for us. Thanks Simon.

Back into the taxi with Suzie and we were off to Gare du Nord, the railway station where the train from England finishes it's trip under the channel. We were picking up one of our painty friends Carla-Jane who decided she would come to Paris with us for a few days. After cramming Carla and her suitcase into the Toyota Prius with the three of us and our four cases we were finally going to see our hotel.

Suzie dropped us off at our new hotel. Unfortunately she didn't take credit cards (not many taxis do over here so we found out) so we paid her with cash which unfortunately meant we had very little to give her as a tip. Suzie, if you ever read this thank you so very much. You were wonderful.

Hotel des Duex Avenues is a nice little three star hotel with friendly staff and it's only about a twenty minute stroll to the Arc du Triomphe, then another twenty to the Eiffel Tower. It's in a nice, clean, safe area. Everyone is happy.

Time for our first dinner on French soil...

Three wise women navigating our way to food.

...and Suzanne had her first taste of snails. She said they were yum but I thought they had a bit too much of an earthy taste. I've eaten the before and they were beautiful, so we'll have to try some somewhere else.

Suzanne tucks into a snail for the first time
while Carla-Jane shows how she feels about it.

Now I've been told many times that the French don't like foreigners and I've heard stories about tourists being ignored because they don't speak French. We have had nothing but exceptional, friendly service and greetings everywhere we have been, and that includes talking to the locals about their dogs and giving them a pat. No one has ignored us because we don't speak French.

OK, as far as accommodation goes, I stuffed up big time, but everything else so far has been OK, I think.

Just a quick mention about the traffic. There are thousands of cars, scooters, and motorcycles everywhere here. It is utter bedlam and there appears to be no road rules at all with everyone going everywhere. But do you know what? It works. We haven't seen one accident or traffic jam in our time here. The traffic lights work on very short cycles and the traffic just keeps flowing. When we come back on the bike I think I'll treat it as a big motocross race. That's what it looks like the locals do.

The other thing that helps is the huge number of scooters on the road. On the way from the airport I counted fifty Piaggio MP3s on the road before i gave up counting. They are everywhere. Why don't Australian riders embrace there brilliant machines? If you don't know what a Piaggio MP3 is take a look at:

You'll want one.

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