Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Transportation and Ambulation a la Francais

Ok at risk of boring you batty, another look at the Northen continent. This time transport.

Kind of obvious that you have to catch two planes over 25 hours to actually get there. We weren't impressed with QANTAS but Air France were pretty awesome, nice food, much more leg room and less turbulence.


Traffic seems sort of directionless in Paris. I'm sure there's rhyme and reason but buggered if I noticed it.

How there was no collision here I will never know. I was just having coffee watching this

Clearly everyone in France and Italy has a love affair with their scooters. We've come a long way from the daggy vespar tho darlings and these scooters are sophisticated, muted, well maintained and well equipped. I know there are no pedals but really, driving along the Champs Elysees with your handbag between your knees and wearing your high heels on a scooter? Risque to say the least.


Of course Paris is the only place where the 'smart car' is cool and generally most vehicles are very tiny by comparison with US vehicles and a lot smaller than many in Australia. Largely due to the problem parking.There are underground parking spaces but the Parissiennes seem to prefer the Austin Powers park where they constantly bump forward and backwards in an attempt to fit into a space a little bigger than pinkie width

We had to cross this street every day. No such thing as respect for pedestrians in France.

Anyone who tackles this roundabout has my dying admiration.

One of the more civilised ways to travel is via barge although most we saw were either tethered as restaurants or permanent dwellings to the side of the Seine or packed with tourists enjoying the many Bateaux Bus tours up and down that most lovely of rivers.

Basketballers must remain seated

We did take a night tour which at first sounded tacky but we were so glad we did. Each bank is illuminated and since we travelled on a Saturday night the punters were out in force  cheering, playing, drinking, dancing and mooning the tourists. And we got to see the Eiffel Tower all sparkly and shiny. Oooh, I love shiny things. Saving that one for the 'monument' post.


Saturday night Revellers on Pont du Neuf Steps  this well behaved bunch did not moon us

Of course getting around is easy in this flat and sweeping city and the swapsy bikes make it a snack. You can pick them up and drop off anywhere. Clare was game but trust me, on a bike, in that traffic? You have to be joking!



Of course our favourite and most frequent form of travel was the Metro. Always on time, always the base of the great unwashed, pickpockets and beggars, addicts and commuters. Sometimes packed, sometimes empty but without a doubt the most convenient and cheapest way to get from point A to point B. Believe me from someone who comes from a city with a pathetic public transport network, Paris is the Bomb for public transport.



Although I think the preferred method of transport on the Champs Elysees was actually via horseback. Much easier to catch the imitation bag sellers on the street although the sight of poo on that illustrious pavement was a little disconcerting. Not quite as disconcerting as the roller blade cops who whizzed past before I could whip out my camera. Now that my friends is very French.


Of course when one heads out to the country there are even more options in regional cities such as light rail and trams in Bordeaux.




And who could forget the awesomeness of the TGV which traverses the country in several directions.Although be careful dear travellers, on the many occasions when there are rail strikes the TGV does not run more than once a day and the train is so overbooked that you have to sit in the bike car for three hours. The upside, you can always go along to the buffet car and be entertained by a rather nice chill three piece, very nice way to travel. Or look out of the window and see parts of France that many just fly over.


 Sexy man. . .nice little Trio on the Paris to Bordeaux TGV

Chateau through the window of a train

Of course when travelling with surfers, the accommodation is a little less salubrious but fortunately a convoy of them meant that we rarely had to travel 'in the back'. These small vans are extremely popular with the surf culture as well as tradesmen and city dwellers. There's a bed in the back and all you need for a life on the road.







 Then the best way to get around such an amazing flat city is just put on your walkingshoes and get amongst it. I feel sorry for the bus crowd who see little more than the highlights and don't enjoy the street life that makes Paris and so many other cities so very, very exciting.






Couldn't wait to show you shiny stuff, we love shiny stuff. No quite transport but it had a lift:

31 comments:

Sarah Lulu said...

What glorious glimpses of your trip.

Love love the tower ..I like shiny too.

Much love ... xxx

Hails said...

Loving reading your take on the Land Of My Dreams! I've been in love with France since I was 12, and I will probably end up living there when I decide to "settle down". Your stories and insights are very entertaining and stirring up my desire to go back!

And also - your photos are fantastic. If you don't mind me asking, what camera do you have? I'd love to get shots like this, but I know nothing about cameras and my tiny little Coolpix camera just doesn't quite cut it! Of course, maybe you're just a really gifted photographer and a change of camera would make no difference to my photos... :)

River said...

Rollerblade cops? I'd go to Paris just to see those!!
Then after a moonlight barge cruise, I'd use one of those motorised pushbikes to get around the city. What fun!!
The Eiffel Tower looks fabulous lit up like that.

Anonymous said...

Hi Helen - yay! You went to Paris! Woohoo! Loving the pics, I've just scrolled through your latest posts for a quick squiz. Welcome home to Oz, so glad you have fulfilled your dream to visit France. Now back to reading all about your trip. xxoo - Rowe

Bimbimbie said...

Ah memories :) Their parking has to be seen to be believed doesn't it*!*

Brian Miller said...

beautiful piccs...esp the tower....think i would like riding the metro or train...used to ride it in DC...have some friends in bands that did the deck thing int he back of their van...

Alan Burnett said...

Another great collection. I always think that the next best thing to real travel is vicarious travel : you will never managed to bore me. The one of the music in the buffet bar, reminded me of the Stacey Kent song "Breakfast On The Morning Tram"

Wally The Walrus said...

More fantastic pics. In both Paris and London the underground train services are just amazing. We used them all the time and its very easy to get around. I'm envious about the night tour. Should have done that, I didn't even know about it! Grr!

And the TGV is a marvel. We did the Grenoble/Lyon -> Paris run - its a long way and in 3 hours, you have covered something like 800 or 1000 km. Crazy stuff. I didn't know about the buffet car and the entertainment. Had NO IDEA. Next time...

katesaid said...

I'm so, so glad you went...I've never, ever left Paris feeling disappointed. It's my turn to live vicariously, eh?

Roy said...

Music in the buffet car? Man, I need to go to France! Thanks for this great trip through the varied travel possibilities.

Re: Smart cars in France. I had to laugh when I read this part. I remember when Dot (aka Dot-Com) was here in May of 2009, she had rented a Toyota sedan or somesuch, which by American standards is a really small car. But she thought it was an unnecessarily large car, and commented on how much smaller most European cars were. All I could think of was The Da Vinci Code, with Audrey Tautou racing around Paris with Tom Hanks, fleeing from the bad guys in a Smart Car./

AngelMay said...

Fun, FUN post! Way cool!

Janice said...

You take great photographs! How well I remember the crazy Paris traffic.

Don't Bug Me! said...

Walking really is the way to go - whenever I go back to England, I try to find time to spend a day or two just walking around London. Its cheap, its easy and you see so much more.

Tom said...

good thing you were there for awhile, sounds pretty onfusing getting around

Jay said...

Aaah, Paris! You know, I've never been to France ... maybe one day. The Eiffel Tower looks delicious, all lit up like that - did you climb it?

But wait! No Segway??

steph said...

C'est la vie en Paris.

Great shots, Baino

I'm impressed that you carried your home on yer back!

Annie Ha said...

the metro and walking is the way to go. best way to experience the city. i was next to the smelliest person in the world on the metro one time. i swear, the smelliest person in the whole wide world! :)
p.s. you can't blame turbulence on the airline! :)
p.p.s. Sigh, I want to go back to Paris. RIGHT.NOW.

Kath Lockett said...

More more more!
These photos and your comments are just lusciously lovely Baino... *sigh*....

i beati said...

neat perspective. I'd gladly go by scooter or horse.haha

Robyn said...

Love the pics and it's nice to have you back :) xx

Miles McClagan said...

I have the weirdest feelings about Paris, I might write about it 1ne day...

It's simpler to just say my Auntie joined a strike at Eurodisney. There's a sentence you can't imagine...

Candie Bracci said...

True for scooters!

Nice shot of the Eiffel Tower!

Not everything is small in France!Hehehe,couldn't resist :D

laughingwolf said...

neat stuff, but i prefer FOOD pics ;) lol

Ropi said...

Are these bikes like the ones in Vienna which generates electricity when you ride it?

Pam said...

How excting all this is! Great pics and insights. I loved the picture of your daughter too,sitting by the window, (Breakfast and Streetscapes",) in the previous post, a photo to treasure.

unstranger said...

This has been a quite place while you guys were up in this neck of the woods but it's great to have your posts back up and running again.

Sorry you guys had so much trouble with the ever present opportunistic thievery that bedevils travellers the world over and for having to go through all that passport shyte ye had to deal with.

I assume your camera too was in the camera bag with the passport? I'll suggest this, the location of the theft, the car hire office, tells me there may well be an arrangement in place there between guy serving and the thief. I can't see from your very descriptive account just how it could be any other way.
Happens like that in Florence, lots of police corruption there too.

And speaking of Florence, I have not been there yet but I've just finished reading the truly excellent book the 'Monster of Florence' which gives an account of 16 murders that took place between 1968 and 1985. It tells of the corruption, stupidity and sheer mind-numbingly crazy policing tactics spanning all those years.
The actual murderer is named in the book, with photograph and his address.
I'm in two minds about heading there having read that account.
The book also gives a clear pointer to just how wrong is the charge of murder that has now seen young Amanda Knox along with her boyfriend sent to jail in the same city of Florence because the police decided their own self made evidence and ideas were OK and pressed ahead regardless.
Here's a link to the present situation there.
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/italy/8064442/Amanda-Knox-could-not-have-killed-Meredith-Kercher.html

I'm off on a tangent there, anyway, welcome back Baino!

tori said...

love all the pics!! I love the Metro here in Chicago. feel very safe and easy to use. Good for people watching too!! the tower is AWESOME!

Kate said...

No - i wouldn't have done the 'bikes' either!! In fact i wouldn't have driven - there are places in this country where i won't drive - i think they use the French highway code!!!
Love the Eiffel Tower shot... beautiful!!!

lettuce said...

no, i'm not convinced theres any rhyme or reason

great photos (I esp. like the metro photo) - it sounds like such a good trip

PattiKen said...

Wonderful travelogue and pictures, Helen.

I loved the Metro too, especially how so many of the stops below ground were decorated to reflect what was above ground. Very Cool.

La Tour Eiffel, c'est magnifique.

blackwatertown said...

Live band on the train?! That just about beats everything. Barring buskers on the Underground, I've never encountered that. Great idea.