We Taxi'd to the station, walked the few minutes from Kings Cross to St Pancras, and Eurostar'd to Paris. ES, as it did the last time I went that way, ponces around pretending to be an airline' oh how I wish they wouldn't. On the way back they took the pretence far enough to have stupid long queues, which were as annoying s they were pointless. Within Paris we used the RER and Metro; perhaps we should have researched slightly more carefully where to get on and off, but really it worked; M4 to Cite is better than RER to Chatellet les Halles. If you're going to Ile de la Cite.
We stayed at the "Hotel de Lutece" on the Ile St Lous; the nearby Hotel de deux Iles would be similar, I think. It is three-start not four, but very convenient; just a few minutes walk to the cafes and brasseries and ice creameries at this end of the bridge connecting the two islands; quiet; and decent. And only five minutes walk from Notre Dame. We were in a room somewhat jammed into the attic; E had a better room on the first floor with a nice window overlooking the street; D had a curious but suits-you-sir room on the fourth floor which was actually in the building next door, but to make the architecture fit he had an anteroom or internal balcony which was very fine.
What made it three stars not more? I am no expert but: the breakfast room was quite small with no view, which may have been why they were happy to take breakfast up to your room; our room wasn't large enough to merit an extra star, though D and E's were; we could only see the very tops of Notre Dame.
We ate at a variety of unpretentious places; this isn't the corner of town for pretence, I think, though there was at least one posh restaurant on the street. First night Lebanese (Rue le Regrattier) which we rather liked; second night St Regis, and third the Brasserie de L'Ile St-Louis, those last two are quite traditional, and siturated just before the Pont Saint-Louis; Berthillon ice-cream is nearby and excellent.
During our time we saw some stuff. I'll describe that, rather than diarise, which I think you'd find dull.
I'd booked the hotel so we could stroll round to ND early in the morning before the crowds arrived, and we did. It is great but, to be honest wiv yer guv, I found it a touch disappointing somehow. I think I needed to approach it more quietly and more slowly; the best bits were just sitting down in the space and letting it soak in; I should have found time to do the same with the outside. Perhaps its the lack of anything stunningly interesting inside. The choir was closed for services when we were there, so I excuse myself if that's the best bit.
We didn't try the climb up to the tower; there was always a queue for that.
The Lourve is enormous, and in a few hours we had space to see only a tiny bit; I walked around with Miranda, M went off to see the Nederlandish stuff, and D, though led to water, could not be made to drink. Whichever bit I show you, you'll go "meh, that's not a patch on..." so you get this bit, from the Babylonian section, just next to the winged bulls. You can see stuff like this in the British Museum, too. Far better than all those over rated paintings and things.
The Louvre, too, was walking distance from our Hotel. Top tip: the guys in the ticket queue selling water at one euro a bottle are offering a good deal: its three inside.
Well, it is there, so of course we must see it. I last saw it when interrailing with (not the same, obvs) D and M in 1986, I think. Its still there, and still big, and still impressive and worth seeing. Were I on my own I think I would be tempted to just take the stairs up, and maybe even just to the first floor, now. But with the infants in tow the top was essential. Ticketing is a bit weird; we couldn't buy tickets online except with several days lead time; do that if you can and spare yourself half an hour in the queue. Some legs have stairs, some only lifts.
It looks massive, as it should. All the steelwork is splendid, especially against a clear blue Autumnal sky as we had; and on a still day, as we had, you can see the Paris smog below you extending to the horizon in a layer.
Many of the bridges of Paris have many padlocks as tokens of eternal bonding. We even saw padlock vendors. The Eiffel tower isn't terribly keen on the idea of things being thrown off it - we had a game at the top, of inventing interesting games that could be played; my favourite was the idea of people standing below with helmets on, while people at the top threw tomatoes down at them - and so bans packlockery.
Who am I to tell you what to see? But that won't stop me. Saint Chapelle, today, is somewhat oddly swallowed up in the Conciergerie, which is to say, nowadays, the Police. It opens later than Notre Dame; 9:30 for us, but was free (on a Sunday?). You go into the under-chapel, which is somewhat low and to my eyes rather vulgar, which shows you what my eyes are worth; then a tiny unobvious stairway in a corner leads you up into the glorious upper chapel. The tall slender windows are marvellous; but you'll need binoculars and a good guide to decode them.
Any number of pictures of the glorious stained glass exist; by contrast, few will draw your attention to the interesting floor tiles as I have. This will tell you more.
I went for a total of four runs, totalling 42 km, purely by chance. the obvious thing to do is to run along the river, and this I did. First West, as far as and under the Eiffel tower and back; then East; then a half-marathon West again; and lastly a little 3 km early Sunday to make up the total.
West was most interesting, and I mostly chose the South bank as I think that was more possible to run along the river bank rather than alongside roads. Most is good surface, some is cobbled. Past about 8 km from Ile de la Cite it gets industrial - quais with cement lorries parked in massed ranks, and so on. Possibly I'd just got out of that district when I turned back - I'd just got to the tip of the Ile St Germain. Its similar to a route that Strava recommend, but they include a loop on the island.
What to do differently / next time
Have more time to spend sitting around. Especially in the autumn on a fine warm weekend with the trees golden, just sitting there is lovely.