Saturday, July 22, 2017

Chamonix Before Paris

Chamonix Before Paris  – 7/21-7/23/16

We’d built an extra day into our itinerary at the end of our hike, a second night at Hotel Slalom, either for rest or for fun.  We woke feeling pretty energized (hey, we survived!) so we caught the bus to Chamonix for a little wandering without a timetable or agenda.  At the visitor center we picked up maps and also ran into our young friends, Cassie, Niki, Abby and Toby.  How nice to say a final au revoir! Roaming around Chamonix:

Jim sees bikes everywhere

Statue of Balmat and Saussure - read the story here

On the bus back to Les Houches, we spied John and Graham walking on a Chamonix sidewalk – too far away to get their attention, but we waved a goodbye anyway. Back at the hotel, we tried very hard to condense, compact and consolidate our belongings back to manageable size for tomorrow’s train trip.  I, of course, spent the evening obsessing over our ability to make our four rapid connections between Les Houches and Paris.  Jim obsessed over the fact that a Tour de France stage was passing through the same area at the same time as our train, yet another almost-but-missed opportunity.  But… the big one was coming up.

The next morning we enjoyed one last charming breakfast with Stacey before for our last hike with loaded backpacks, a mile to the train station.  It was a somber farewell to Les Houches in a cold steady drizzle, but a good day for rain since we would be traveling for most of it.

The train station at Les Houches, not too busy on a Friday morning

After our first change at St. Gervais I was happy to learn that our next connection was a track switch rather than a train switch, so we stayed put.  I relaxed after that.  Three changes and six hours later, we arrived at Paris Gare de Lyon.

About our apartment:  booked it through AirBnB, which I have always been satisfied with, it was located in the 9th arrondissement in the Pigalle district, a couple of blocks from Moulin Rouge.  The neighborhood is a bit gritty, kind of the darker cousin of artsy Montmarte, but we felt fine walking around day and night.  The apartment itself was protected like Fort Knox: a key code to get into the building, down a long hallway, out the door to a courtyard, get the keys from their hiding place, go through a locked door to another hallway, through the apartment door with another key.  No street noise whatsoever and very safe. 
Our courtyard window and door to our building

Looking down into the living area from the sleeping loft

Steps to sleeping loft

Sleeping loft


No photos of the bathroom because – hard to explain – pretty tiny…

We threw our stuff down and set off to explore the neighborhood.

Sacré Cœur

View of the city from the steps of Sacré Cœur

We woke up on Saturday in Paris!  What did we do all day?  Checked out the Eiffel Tower, wandered the streets, stopped often to fortify ourselves with coffee, croissants, then beer and cider.  We walked through Jardin des Tuileries and zeroed in on a spot to watch the final Tour de France stage coming through tomorrow afternoon (excited!)

Tomorrow is the big day!

“A walk about Paris will provide lessons in history, beauty, and in the point of Life.” ~Thomas Jefferson

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