Sunday, 13 September 2009

Paris In 4 Hours

Friday 11th September

I got up pretty early this morning at 8.30am - remarkably early considering how tiring the last couple of days had been and the time I got to sleep last night! Although I only had 6 hours sleep I didn't wake up once during the night and felt much more refreshed than I had done in a while. I think that last night was the first night since I left Chester that I managed to sleep right through. I had a shower and shave and sorted myself out before going down to breakfast - coffee and stale bread, again, for €5, again!

I asked at reception if I could leave my bag with them whilst I went to do a tour of Paris for a few hours and was delighted to see that they actually had a secure, locked room for baggage - it's the first time that has happened so far! I left the hotel at 10am with a clear plan in mind of the way I was going to do it - I had studied the map and worked out a route that would take in all of the sights with as little walking as possible. I power walked for about 4 hours around Paris taking photos on the move. It staggered me just how big Paris was, I don't know why but I just didn't expect it to be so big.

I think I must have covered around 15 miles whilst walking around taking photos but I think I managed to get pictures of pretty much everything I had heard of. Upon reflection I think that 4 hours to do the whole of Paris is pretty impressive really - some people take a whole week! I decided to stop for something to eat before going to get my bag from the hotel and working out my next stop. I had a lasagne at a restaurant in one of the many side streets that was accompanied by a large salad and lots of bread - yes, I ate the lot!

I headed back to the hotel and checked a few of the destinations I had been thinking of moments before when looking at ticket prices and eventually decided on heading straight to the south coast of France - I had originally wanted to visit Dijon and Lyon but that would have added quite a lot expense and there wasn't anything specific I wanted to see in those places so decided to bypass them to make sure I had enough money to cover my travels. I was then faced with a choice between Marseille, Nimes and Avignon.

For me it was a pretty easy choice to make - I had read up about Nimes on the internet when I first started planning the walk and this town was one of the main reasons my course had taken me to the south coast. From what I had seen it was a town steeped in history and Roman history at that. The train to Nimes was from the Gare du Lyon at 4.20pm so I had to walk a couple of miles to get to the station. I didn't fancy chancing it on the underground as I was in a bit of a rush and didn't want to get lost!

The train ticket to get me to Nimes set me back €98 which is quite a lot of money but the journey would cover about 450 miles! Pretty good economy when you consider that a ticket from Chester to London - about 200 miles - costs about 120 quid! On the face of things it would have taken me about 15 days to walk there and this would have set me back between 600 and 700 quid on current costs. I have decided to work out where to go from there but my initial thoughts are a bit more of the south coast and a few cities in Italy.

The train is expected to arrive into Nimes at 7.17pm so I am guessing that the tourist office will be closed by thenso I just hope that there is a youth hostel or camp site sign posted. I also realised whilst looking at ticket prices that I am travelling at a peak time so I probably could have got the ticket cheaper if I had looked first thing in the morning. I will have to remember that in future and sort things out the afternoon before so that I can check to make sure I get the cheapest tickets available!

I spent about an hour noting down all of the photos I had taken in Paris so I wouldn't forget when it came to posting them on Facebook. I also took the opportunity to write down my thoughts for the day - it can be pretty boring travelling on a train in France when your French is not the best and nobody speaks any English! I listened to a bit of Lily Allen and 2Pac - interesting combination, I know! - before my iPod finally died. I had forgotten to bring my wire to recharge it and now had no way of recharging it - I really miss music right now!

I arrived into Nimes just as it was about to start getting dark and couldn't find any any signs for camping or youth hostels after walking around for an hour so finally decided to find as cheap a hotel as possible for the night. Again this was a cost I could have really done without but I had no other choice really. I headed for some food at a restaurant just over the road - it's not nice getting lost in a place at night so I decided to stay close to home, so to speak. I opted for a calwone that came with a large salad and, although it was nice and a lot better than the one in Paris, I was still a little disappointed that it had been spoilt with bloody fromage!

After I had finished my meal I headed back to the restaurant and watched some French television until about midnight. It's funny but I can't understand much of what they are saying but still find myself watching it quite intently! Nimes seems to be a fairly nice place from what I have seen so far this morning so I will have a look around tomorrow and find internet access before deciding on my next course of action.

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