Another glorious sunny, blue sky winters day in Paris and lucky for me because I intended to sit on the open air top deck of the Canauxrama boat cruise that leaves from Bastille at the Porte de Paris Arsenal and cruise along Canal Saint Martin to Porte de Villette.
Immediately after we set off on board we entered the tunnels under Place de la Bastille. The gorgeous, ever smiling, hard working guide, spoke loudly and clearly … in French.
Thankfully after visiting the under ground tunnels in Provins, I had learned the word ‘souterrain’, the ‘French Historian’ had even explained how the word is broken up so I could learn how to pronounce it properly; sous for under and terrain; the ground. That is where my understanding began and ended.
Originally I had booked to take this tour the day after I arrived in Paris but due to canal works the tour was cancelled and I rescheduled for today. Maybe I had made a mistake with choosing the incorrect tour in French instead of English, but I don’t think this was the case and once again, the same as when I was under ground in Provins, I watched as people gasped and swung their heads from one side of the boat to the other.
Some of you might remember my excitement when I booked the ticket. I have been a spectator from the street but never taken a cruise before and the two and a half hour journey was still a load of fun.
Most of the people on board were French and the people you see here standing on the bridges would wave and sing out bonjour as we travelled through under each bridge.
Although it does bring the traffic to a halt when the road disappears, (as you can see above) to allow the boat to navigate the canal, everyone seems to stop anyway to watch. Fun for all.
One thing that I did understand was; while you listen to some music, you might like a glass of wine or a coffee.
I headed downstairs to notice the tour guide with the cordless microphone played tour guide, an efficient coffee maker and DJ, all the while with a large warm smile.
In the warmth of the covered cabin, sipping on a hot chocolate, I learned a little tip. If you choose to sit up the front, on the open air lower deck, be prepared to be sprayed with water as it splashes through the gates of the lock.
Just over a couple of hours later we arrived at Parc de la Villette.
Last time I was here was to see a concert at the Zenith Theatre at night, so I was really excited to see the Cité des sciences et de l’industrie in the daylight, well, almost daylight, the fading daylight that is.
Wandering around the park, making my way to the new Philharmonie de Paris, I watched children whizz about on fair ground rides squealing with glee and everyone enjoying the unusual warmer weather.
Admiring the new concert hall from almost every angle, my only disappointment was that I didn’t bring my tripod along.
The new concert hall, almost 10 years later since it’s inception is spectacular and offered a great scene as dark fell upon Paris.
Now the challenge was to find my way home.
Earlier I had noticed signs pointing to the metro but nearby I spotted busses and trams. I knew the tram would take me to at least Republique but afterwards, it would either be a long walk or a metro ride for the rest of the journey.
Starting to feel a bit miserable, I had had a sore throat for the last few days and now a leaking nose that I couldn’t ignore. It seems I had caught a cold.
Doubting whether the bus would be heading to where I wanted to go, but the thought of sitting in the warmth encouraged me to check it out and I was in luck!
Sniffling away from the warmth of the bus, as we approached Republique, I was grateful that I didn’t have much further to go and yet, like lightening speed I jumped up and off the bus as if someone had put firecrackers down my pants.
Joining the crowds gathered around the statue of Marianne at the Place de la Republique, tributes spread around the entire base of the monument, candles and tea lights flickering in the breeze, I paid my respects to the people who were harmed, effected and killed during the Paris attacks.
Photographs of the lives lost, protests about terrorism, greed and oil, everyone was having their say.
Despite being a ban on public gatherings, how can you stop people wanting to grieve and mourn.
Deciding that one Pastis at my favourite bar was in order before heading home, I was disappointed to find that there were too many people in there for my liking.
I kept walking to L’Etoile Manquante, remembering that I still hadn’t said hello to my darling mate Everiste.
Although feeling a bit miserable from the cold, Everiste’s face lit up like a ray of sunshine when I walked in the door. A kiss for both cheeks were offered, but leaning away I warned him that I am sick. Ce n’est pas grave, it doesn’t matter, he repeated twice and planted two warm kisses for each cheek. He whipped up a little free snack for me and asked if I would return tomorrow.