Subject: Weekend in Paris
Hi Ziners Following on from the 'weekend' thread I've finally got my thoughts down on the Paris GTG! I have been to Paris several times # but never before on my own. I thought the signposting at Charles de Gaulle airport was pretty hopeless. Most international flights come in at terminal 1 and you need to take the free shuttlebus to get to terminal 2 for the RER train into Paris. For 25 Euro I got a return RER ticket and a carnet of 10 metro tickets. Remember that your RER ticket will take you to the main station and then onto the metro # you don#t need to use a separate metro ticket. I went to Gare du Nord and then onto the metro for Place de la Republique where a 5 min walk brought me to my hotel. I had booked Hotel de Nevers which had been recommended by Ziner James Cameron (Perth). It is certainly basic but with probably the friendliest staff I have ever encountered in France! I had managed to leave all my credit cards at home and although I had enough cash to pay the hotel bill it would have left me a bit short for the rest of the weekend. Alain the owner graciously accepted my creditcard number scribbled down on a piece of paper. Now how many hotels would do that?!

I felt very safe wandering around Paris and spent Saturday morning visiting the stores Galleries Lafayette and Printemps on Boulevard Hausmann. The wonder of Paris is that you can take yourself up side streets, down grand boulevards, over bridges and into parks and whichever way you turn, the buildings and the people provide endless fascination. Watch smart Parisians disappearing behind the huge solid wooden doors that guard the apartment entrances, glimpse chandeliers glowing in high ceilinged sitting rooms and wonder at the many types of improbably tiny dogs so beloved of the French!

After a leisurely lunch (there were a lot of leisurely lunches, coffees, vin rouges and beers that weekend!) I decided to go to Musee Rodin. Usually when in Paris we can#t resist Musee d#Orsay and Musee Cluny # our favourite museums - so I wanted to go somewhere different. I enjoyed Musee Rodin and its pretty garden, although it was almost closing time when I arrived and I had to wait for a coach load of Japanese tourists to each have their photo taken under #The Thinker# sculpture before I could look at it properly! I wish I#d had time to visit the Picasso museum as well # ah well, next time!

Our GTG meals on Friday evening and Saturday evening have already been well described and were great fun! It is extraordinary to meet up with people you haven#t actually met before but feel you know well. It is a tribute to the Travelzine that everyone I#ve met has been so friendly and welcoming that you really can feel that you have friends across the globe. I look back with great fondness on the Paris meals full of chatter, laughter, excellent food and drink # another Kir Royale or glass of Champagne anyone!

And then for my Ziner Sunday! I had printed off all the advice, bought myself a one day bus/metro ticket (called Mobilis - an absolute bargain at 5 euro) and off I went. First stop was the Marche de la Creation at Montparnasse. Get off the metro at Edgar Quinet and you are right in the middle of it! This street market comprises of a string of about a hundred artists# stalls. Don#t arrive early # I got there at 9.30am and many stalls were just setting up! I wandered around the stalls looking at paintings, hats, jewellery and pottery. Painters of varying ability ran most of the stalls. One artist had painted a large cow in every picture! The hats were fabulous, the jewellery pretty and quirky and one or two of the artists showed talent but most were pretty ropey! Overall, the prices were steep and the quality average but it was great fun to look around.

Next stop # Marche de la Puces at Clignancourt. Now I#ve always wanted to go there and I thought I knew what to expect. What Ziners remarked on was all true. The scruffy market near the metro is huge and full of what Mark May accurately described as #tat#. Finally reaching the antique flea market after a 10-15 minute stroll I started to look around. There were masses of permanent and temporary stalls and small shops. Almost everywhere I thought the prices outrageous! It was enjoyable to wander around but I did not see anything that was even reasonably priced let alone a bargain. In the two hours I spent there I only saw three people buying something # and I#m afraid they were Japanese tourists again! Ridiculous prices were being asked for what would have remained unsold at a jumble sale in the UK. I grabbed a very reasonable shish kebab from a street stall and set off for my next destination.

Pere Lachaise cemetery is another place I#ve always meant to visit. On a darkening, damp Sunday afternoon it was all I#d hoped. Plain and sombre headstones stood alongside grandiose gothic statutory. Graffiti showed the way to Jim Morrison#s grave and I found the resting places of Proust, Piaf and Simone Signoret. Wandering through fallen leaves along the avenues was an experience I will always remember.

And so to Montmartre. I couldn#t leave Paris without a brief visit to Sacre Coeur and the winding, cobbled streets that tumble down from the Butte. My day ticket fortunately also covered the funicular that takes you up to the Basilica # by now my aching feet had really had enough! Sacre Coeur was packed but most people drifted in one door and out the other. The pews near the altar are reserved for those who wish to pray but there are plenty of pews near the back of the Basilica and I spent a restful half-hour taking in the beauty of this building and watching the wardens throwing out any tourist who made a noise!

Back to Place de la Republique I had a really good meal in a sort of mussels version of Pizza Hut. Mussels grilled with garlic and gruyere, salad, a pichet of vin rose, ice cream and coffee all for about 20 euro! Bargain at last!

So the next morning it was au revoir again to Paris and to a wonderful GTG. If you get a chance to go to one then you must # its such fun afterwards to look at the names on the Zine and picture your new friends in your mind#s eye.

Many thanks to all Ziners for their suggestions for my Sunday in Paris - I had a great time!

Salut! Sally Somerset UK