It was finally our day trip out to Paris and we headed out in the dark and rainy morning to catch 4.30 am bus to St Pancreas Station. From there we caught the Eurostar train. The trip wasn’t too bad, taking only 2 and a half hours from London to the Gare Du Nord Station in Paris.
We had pre-bought a one-day pass for the L’Open HOHO (hop on hop off) bus and Louvre entry package. The brightly-coloured lime-green bus was right outside the station and we hopped on without much fuss. We had the bus to ourselves and sat up top under the open roof to take in the sights. Earphones were provided in-bus for commentary in various languages as the bus looped around major sights.
We stopped at the L’Open main office to get our Louvre passes and changed buses to the green line loop. As a side note I have to say it’s scary how the Parisians park their cars. It’s literally bumper to bumper parking, and drivers actually use their bumpers to nudge the front and back cars until they are snugly in the parking spot.
After a few stops, the bus rumbled through a set of arches to the grounds where the unmistakable sight of the Louvre’s Pyramid entrance greeted us.
Even a non-regular museum-goer like myself could appreciate the magnificence of the architecture and the historical significance of the works contained in the site.
There’s a lot to get through if you’re an enthusiast. For us, we powered through the sculptures and famous paintings towards the most well-known of all the works, the Mona Lisa.
As expected, there was a crowd huddled around the portrait. And they had to get real close as the painting was quite tiny. You’d probably get a better view on TV, but at least you can say that you’ve seen it with your own eyes.
Having satiated our apetite for artwork, it was time to turn our attention to a different kind of apetite! There was a Japanese restaurant called Higuma, which was a only few minutes’ walk away from the museum. We had the ramen and gyoza set, which was a bit average – the ramen broth lacked depth.
The teriyaki chicken and katsudon were quite nice. The food was reasonable and the portions were big so we left pretty satisfied.
We went back on the HOHO bus, heading towards Notre-Dame Cathedral. It was starting to rain at this point so we were glad that the queue through the security check proceeded fairly quickly.
The inside of the cathedral was beautiful, with its incredibly detailed stained glass windows and sculptures.
Walking through didn’t take very long and soon we were back on the bus driving through the Champs-Elysees (a shopping mecca for those so inclined) and the Arc de Triomphe. It was raining so I had to juggle an umbrella, camera and climb up the narrow stairs to the top without falling over as the bus navigated the enormous roundabout. Luckily I safely managed to get a few snaps for the album.
The Eiffel Tower was our next stop and it was quite deserted thanks to the rain. After some obligatory photos and some souvenir shopping, we hopped back on the bus. The experience on an inundated HOHO bus wasn’t great. As the bus turned corners, water came sloshing down the stairs splashing those seated nearby and adding to the pool on the floor of the vehicle.
Luckily we were on our last leg of the journey back to Gare du Nord station. From there, we walked to Kashmir House but it wasn’t open until 6.45pm (restaurants open late for dinner in Paris) so we killed some time wandering around the streets.
We returned a while later and were given a starter of crisp bread with a variety of spicy and refreshingly minty dips.
For our meal we ordered the lamb biryani, chicken tikka masala and eggplant.
The food was good though not spicy enough for our palates and we found our waiter to be extremely helpful and friendly.
Boarding the train back was delayed, but unbeknownst to us, departure wasn’t. We were at the back of the queue to get down the stairs to the platform and were walking along looking for our carriage when a person in uniform started blowing their whistle. Unfortunately for us, our carriage was quite far down so we had to sprint for it (we weren’t the only ones)!
We managed to get safely on board and catch a few winks before arriving back in London just before 11pm.