Our first day in Paris was a triumph. After a wet summer, the city is now enjoying a brilliant Indian Summer, today was brilliant sunshine and 23C outside. Staying in the Marais, a very trendy area stuffed with boutique shops, tiny restaurants (some of only 3-4 tables) all in a stunning setting of pre-revolutionary buildings.
Our days start at a small boulangerie - the pastries here are stunning, there hasnt been a day that we have not indulged in a number of these for breakfast. Why is it that croissants are so much better here?? The streets in our neigbourhood seem to have a bread shop, a wine boutique, and/or a patissier or fromagerie. Could easily survive here within one city block - what else does one needto live?
We can see why most people don't have cars here, traffic and parking are bad, public transport systems (especially the metro) are outstanding. In true egalatarian style the metro is one price per ticket regardless of how far you travel in the city, including transfers, and must be heavily subsidised cosidering the modest cost and the regularity of the trains.
The siights have been excellent, we have visited many of the traditional haunts (eiffel tower, arc de triomph, louvre, etc) though some of our favourite times have been exploring the back streets. Katie reckons she is learning French, buying a beret and moving to Montmartre to hang out with the beatnik artists. Similar shops seem to live in clusters, we happened on a small street with at least 20 different bag shops.
There are plenty of Romani around the major sights, trying a simple scam to get signatures on a 'petition' for the deaf and mute, which then requires a sizeable donation after of course! Besides that we have found the opposite of the classic stereotype- Parisiens have been unfailingly polite, even the beggars are friendly and unobtrusive.
Today we pick up a car and head east towards Alsace, stopping overnight in Rheims - the heart of Champagne country.