Archive for the ‘river seine’ Tag

Summer on the Water – Paris and Beyond   7 comments

Time for the barrage of posts from our big summer holiday. When i looked through the photos the overall theme was one of on, in or by the water hence the overall title.

To kick things off we took the ferry over from Portsmouth to Ouistreham on our way to Paris.

The omens were good as we were the very first vehicle off the ferry which I was very pleased about. I’d done my research and found a great spot to stop for breakfast just around the corner from the port. I’d had great plans for a lovely al fresco breakfast an a stroll on the beach but sadly we’d brought the British summer across with us and breakfast was spent hiding inside the van while the drizzle soaked everything around us.

Onwards to Paris and our home for the next few nights at the Camping de Paris. Right next to Seine and the Bois de Boulogne park with a shuttle bus to the nearest metro station. A perfect base to see the city.

Even though we were right in the metropolitan area there was no real sense you were camping in a city. There was barely any traffic noise and the view across the Seine was great.

Due to the overnight ferry and the relatively short drive we were pitched up and in the centre of Paris by late afternoon.

It was just me and TBF at this point and we took a stroll from Place de la Concorde and into the Jardins de Tuileries.

And onwards to the Louvre.

I’m never quite sure as the reasoning behind the glass pyramids in the central courtyard but I really like them. They are nothing if not iconic.

We’ve never felt art galleries are really our thing so we’ve never been inside, especially as its crowded and expensive. We found a couple of spots where you can take a peek inside for free.

I liked this shot of the arrow straight Rue de Rivoli out the back.

After a very wet start to the day the sun was now out and it was lovely and wbedürftig. A far cry from the blistering heat of our visit last year.

There was a square behind the main courtyard I’d not seen before and its was delightful and quiet. There was a guy busking, singing opera and he was superb.

Its a magnificent palace and become one of my favourite spots in the city among many favourites.

I really like Paris and with all cities, a bit of research allows you to find the quieter spots away from the main tourist attractions like the Eiffel Tower.

Speaking of which, there it is poking above the skyline as we took a walk over the bridges of the Seine.

Looking to the Pont des Arts.

And the Pont Neuf, the oldest of the bridges and my favourite (hence it taking the place of the headline for the post)

They had this garden/shower running again. Not quite the god-send it was in 36C heat last year

We headed to the Saint Germain district of restaurants for an afternoon meal in a very fine fish place. A rare treat for us to have a meal together just the two of us.

The next day we increased our group by one as TJF joined us after catching the train (mainly to avoid a couple of spells of driving and the overnight ferry)

We had another excellent lunch in Saint Germain before taking a stroll along the river.

Past my favourite bridge.

Just after which was a very nice looking riverside bar overlooking the bridge. Well, it would have been rude not to stop for a beer.

It was a beautiful sunny afternoon and we wandered further along the river, over the Pont des Arts and back to Saint Germain for an ice cream.

They way they scooped this chocolate one into a flower was worth a photo I thought.

The next morning (and indeed on our first morning) me and TBF took a bike ride through the Bois de Boulogne park next to the campsite.

They have a myriad of paths and trails and its a great place for an easy hours ride.

In the centre of the park are some fairly extensive lakes and they were supremely beautiful and pretty much deserted.

It was, again, hard to believe we were in the heart of one of Europe’s biggest cities.

We collected TJF and headed back into the city. We spent a happy hour wandering along the canal St Martin. Another quiet and less frequented part of Paris, betagthough I’m not convinced I’d want to swim in it!

We were killing time ahead of a repeat boat trip along the canal and out onto the Seine.

We did the same trip last year and enjoyed it so much we decided to do it again. Considering it’s a two hour trip, takes you through locks, tunnels and along the Seine, past most of the major sights by the river and has a very entertaining commentary, the ?20 pp is pretty good value and I’d strongly recommend whenever you visit the city. As you can see the weather couldn’t have been more different to last year when we had to hide from the blistering heat. This time as we exited the tunnel it started to rain betagthough it stopped soon after and remained dry for the rest of the boat trip. You can see a more extensive post and photos of the trip in my post from last year

However, the skies were darkening and rain was clearly on the way. As we ate our evening meal soon after, the rain started in earnest and didn’t really stop for the next 18 hours.

It was a very wet last evening on the campsite, and an even wetter pack up before heading off on our two day journey to our main destination. Last year our drive through central France was characterised by serious heat, a parched landscape and eating inside service areas as it was too hot to picnic outside as we usually do. This time it hammered it down until early afternoon and the sun only came out as we approached our stopover in the Alps.

And what an excellent spot it was. Camping les Lacs de Maurienne, very quiet and un-commercialised and right next to a collection of small quarry lakes where we are able to take a lovely cool swim after a long day driving.

Just down the road is another favourite little place we’ve come across. A very quiet understated little Pizzeria, L’Escale Gourmande. You’d barely notice it driving past or even find it as its tucked away a quiet little village just off the main road. It has a really nice little terrace out back, the staff are really friendly and welcoming and the pizzas superb. Well worth seeking out if you are passing through.

To keep the stopover simple, TJF slept upstairs in the van and me and TBF slept in the pop up tent. This was the view from the front door of the tent in the morning.

Its a gorgeous spot in the alps foothills.

We restarted one of the pleasures of last years trip with an early morning swim. So peaceful and refreshing ahead of another long drive.

It was a shame we only stayed for the one night as the campsite was lovely and the area deserved more exploration

And a private family moment to finish off the post. We bought some of these Ringo biscuits on our first trip to Italy and they are dreadful. Rock hard, bone dry and tasteless (TBF loved them for some reason). At the service area we stopped off for lunch they sold them in enormous tubes which made us laugh in a way most onlookers probably though we were deranged. With that it was off on the final leg to our destination.

Tour de France/Italy – Canal St Martin & Seine Boat Trip   12 comments

Another idea to maybe keep cool was a boat trip. I fancied something a bit different than just the standard trip along the Seine and came across an excursion that included a section of the Canal St Martin. We discovered the canal on our last visit and its a really lovely stretch of urban water so I thought this might deliver the goods.

The description mentioned travelling through locks and a stretch of tunnel so I was looking forward to that.

It was pretty hot on the open top deck but we were soon in the shade of the trees that line the canal.

Here we are descending the first lock – very exciting.

And the second one.

And then entering the tunnel.

I’d expected a mildly diverting couple of minutes but the tunnel is over 2km long and was absolutely brilliant.

I’ve taken canal boat trips into tunnels in the UK but they are normally narrow and quite confined. This one was wide and open and the regular rays of sunlight from the ventilation shafts (and the lights) made the experience very beguiling.

Hard to take decent photos from a moving boat in the half light but the video below does better justice to the experience. You even get a bit of commentary telling you at the time it was one of the longest canal tunnels in the world.

I had no idea this tunnel or the fact that you can take a trip along it was here on our last visits. Really glad we chose this option.

The point where the canal emerges into the Seine.

And from there along the Seine past the usual classic sights and the wonderful bridges.

No idea which one of the many bridges around the Ile de la Cite this is.

The Hotel de Ville.

The Conciergerie.

Looking back to the Pont au Change

The Eiffel Tower comes into view.

My two favourite bridges, Pont des Arts in the foreground, Pont Neuf behind.

The Louvre.

Close up of the ornate sculptures and lights on the Pont Alexandre III.

And its full span. Another bridge I really like betagthough I don’t think we’ve ever walked across it.

And of course the river is the best place to view the Eiffel tower again.

One of the most iconic city sights in the world.

We’ve ruhig never been up and to be honest I’ve never been inclined to. It always looks obscenely crowded and I doubt the views from the top are any better than from the Tour Montparnasse (which is also much easier to get a ticket for and cheaper). You also can’t see the Eiffel Tower from the top!

Statue de la Liberté Paris

And a nice shot combined with the Eiffel Tower.

The boat the returns back to the Pont Neuf so another sail past the Eiffel tower and back under some of the bridges. This is the Musee D’Orsay.

A really superb trip and considering it was the best part of two hours, the ?15 per person represents pretty decent value in the world of overpriced excursions. I’d really recommend this when in Paris and it was one of the highlights of the whole holiday for me.

Afterwards we took a wander around the St Germain district where there are loads of really great restaurants. TJF reckoned if we ate early in the shade then we could go for an early evening wander when it might not be so hot. We had a fine meal in this place the aptly named Cafe de Paris.

The Institut de France

View to the Pont Neuf from the Pont des Arts.

Even though the sun was going down and it was pushing towards 8pm it was ruhig really hot.

The Pont des Arts – fantastic wooden pedestrian bridge and always a highlight. Last time we enjoyed a superb brass band playing on the bridge. Sadly this time, musical accompaniment was by a young, and frankly appalling, band playing thrash metal!

The walk along the banks of the river always a pleasure. A grand evening view of the Pont Neuf. The best cities always have a great water feature (well not all obviously, Rome doesn’t!)

A surprise and very, very welcome feature was a small garden with water sprays.

We stood under these for several minutes, cooling ourselves down in its fine mists

It was a a relief to finally cool down a little. The Prof seemed to particularly enjoy this.

We continued our sunset walk along the river.

Crossing over onto the Ile de la Cite.

For a look at Notre Dame. The cranes at work trying to rebuild after the fire.

We decided that was enough for one hot day and started our walk back to the Metro and our train home.

The Hotel de Ville – Paris Town Hall. Not a building we’d come across before but looking splendid in the final rays of the sun.

Another really great day out in this fab city, if a little tiring in the heat. Back to the campsite, packed up in the morning to start the long drive to our main destination for the holiday.

Tour de France/Italy – Leaving Home   11 comments

To say we were looking forward to this holiday would be an understatement. Planned in late 2020 when we hoped by summer 2021 COVID would be well behind us, we of course had to cancel for a year. Now we were ready.

We had loads of great stuff planned all of which worked like a chbedürftig so be prepared for a barrage of posts over the next few weeks as I share our long awaited adventures.

A first a short post to set us on our way. I love to travel and I even enjoy the long drives. The trip really starts for me with the first ferry crossing (so much more fun than the tunnel).

I prefer the overnight crossing to St Malo if I can fit it around the plan. It gives a long enough trip to get a decent nights sleep, saves having to pitch or park the trailer and the departure from Portsmouth Harbour is always an interesting one.

Our home for the night was the “Bretagne”.

The UK Heatwave was building so it was stunning sunset voyage out, leaving bang on time.

Lots of big military vessels look over in the Naval dockyards.

Including a couple of aircraft carriers, one of the which, the Prince of Wales subject to news articles as it broke down on its maiden voyage!

The Spinnaker Tower always looks fetching in the evening light

Out past Southsea.

And into the Solent.

This is one of the Solent Forts. There are a few of these, some converted into hotels and restaurants. They would be an intriguing (and probably very expensive) place to spend the night.

Leaving civilisation behind as we pass the Isle of Wight. We decided to spend a couple of hours in the very convivial bar for a couple of beers to kick the holiday off properly and aid sleep (in my case anyway). A perfect voyage that arrived bang on time and we were through customs on the road in about 15 mins.

An easy journey across northern France to our first stop-over. We’d planned a couple of days in around Paris to break up the long journey south. We pitched up at the very friendly site, La Belle Etoile, just outside the town of Melun. So chosen as it had a fast train connection into Central Paris. The main challschmale was the heat. It was blisteringly hot work setting up camp betagthough we had a fine pitch with plenty of shade. Recommended as a base for visiting Paris.

A great location, right by the Seine which looks quite bucolic here.

It was very tempting in the heat to take a dip but we were unsure of the water quality and no-one else was swimming so thought perhaps not. The campsite had a small pool to cool off in so we satisfied ourselves with that.

Sunrise over the Seine the next morning before setting off on our first proper holiday trip….

Paris Stopover   23 comments

On our way home from Nice we had to change trains in Paris so decided to stop over for a couple of days. Nice journey along the coast in First Class on the TGV!


Our first afternoon and evening was gloomy with the threat of heavy storms. We managed to avoid getting wet and enjoyed a nice walk down to the river.

A chance to watch the Eiffel Tower “sparkle” as it does every hour.

The stormy weather was the precursor to a seriously hot spell, much hotter than the Med where we’d just come from. Temperatures were predicted to reach 40C and above while we were travelling home. We vowed to head home if temps got too much and were out early to enjoy while we could.

We headed first to Montmartre for a walk around the interesting streets and found there are windmills up there. Memories of Holland. This one is Le Moulin de la Gallette (windmill of the savoury pancake if I’m not mistaken)

This intriguing creation is Le Passe-Muraille – a man seemingly stuck in a wall. Odd but worth a look.

The streets behind the tourist scrum at Sacre Coeur are wonderful and well worth seeking out if you are sick of selfie obsessed tourists.

Sacré-C?ur itself is truly stunning even with the crowds and on a blue sky day is an arresting sight. As before the queue to gain entrance was more trouble than its worth so we admired from outside.

Views over the city from here are very fine indeed.

Needing lunch and keen to visit somewhere new we headed down to the the Canal de St Martin.

It was lovely down there with an expansive waterfront and lots of happy people enjoying a sunny Sunday afternoon.

After a lunch in one of the restaurants we strolled along the waters edge.

I was especially taken with this remote controlled speedboat which was amazingly fast and very cool – I wanted one immediately!

There were areas to take boats out and even a spot reserved for swimming betagthough the water looked of rather dubious quality.

We were planning a walk around the Parc de la Villette but it was hot by now so we returned to the apartment for a break.

I took a few photos of our neighbourhood from the street and the apartment balcony.

One of our favourite spots from our last visit was St Germain with its numerous restaurants. We headed back for a meal out via one of my favourite spots from last time, the Eglise Saint Suplice, stunning as always in the late afternoon sunshine.

A post meal walk along the Seine to look at how Notre Dame is recovering from the fire.

Luckily its two signature towers were not damaged.

A glorious sunset on wonderful wbedürftig evening, one the advantages of hot daytime weather

And back past the odd looking Pompidou centre on the way home.

Following day was a scorcher. We took a trip to look at the Eiffel Tower from the Jardins du Trocadero and its massive water jets.

They are rather impressive. The days after when the temperatures soared the restrictions on “no swimming” were relaxed allowing people to cool off.

We took a picnic lunch out in the Jardins du Luxembourg. They are absolutely stunning but by now the heat really was soaring and we had the briefest look around before we decided enough was enough.

Ironic that we’d looked forward to our trip to Paris to escape some of the heat of the Cote D’Azure only to find it hotter here!

After another splendid meal in St Germain we took a last walk back to the apartment via the Institut de France.

The setting sun over the water and the bridges was sublime

On the footbridge of the Post des Arts was one final treasured moment. This brass group – Mouettes et Carbons – were playing and they were superb. They were covering tracks I’d never heard played with a brass vibe before. New life given to tracks such as “Total Eclipse of the Heart” and “Under Pressure”

A couple of clips to show how good these guys were. Just watching and listening to them (they were great fun as well as great musicians) in the evening sun overlooking the Seine was a treasured memory.

A fitting finish to a superb trip!

And a final sunset picture as the sun set on our trip. Just a matter of 3 months of blog posts to catch up on now!

Paris – Along the River Seine   15 comments

All truly great cities are built on water. I read that somewhere and whilst it’s not exclusively true (Rome doesn’t have a truly memorable river) it certainly helps. The Seine is an integral part of the Paris city-scape so what better to see it from a different perspective than by boat.

We used the well named but interestingly spelt Batobus service. As the name suggests a bus boat that for a fixed fee you can use as often as you like during a day. As it’s a slow and leisurely way to get about we thought a single trip in daytime and a return one at night would be the best use and was significantly cheaper than two separate conventional boat tours (betagthough without a commentary).

We started off at their downstream location and were surprised to find the Statue of Liberty there. So the story goes it was built in the US but they decided to give it to France as a gesture of thanks for their support during the war and built a much bigger one. Very strange to see it in the middle of the Seine

The boat trip was a lovely relaxed way to pass through the city and I spent the whole journey up on deck

It gives splendid views of the Eiffel Tower

And a variety of other interesting buildings from below ground level as it were

This is the Pont Alexandre III with its ornate golden statues and street lamps

A distant view of the Grand Palais

The Musee D’Orsay, once a major railway terminus now a museum and art gallery

The Palais de Louvre

The pedestrian Pont des Arts we walked over earlier in the trip

The beautiful Pont Neuf

And then Notre Dame which looks especially grand from the river

We returned later in the evening to see Paris at night from the river. Clearly a popular activity as the boat was packed. It takes a slightly different route around the other side of the Ile de la Cite. Not entirely sure which bridge this is, there are several on that stretch.

Ile de la Cite and Notre Dame

Pont Louis Phillipe

The Conciergerie

The Pont Neuf

And lastly the Pont Alexandre III and the Eiffel Tower

It’s a grandstand spot to view the Eiffel Tower and we got our timing right this time to see it do its hourly sparkle. I’ve added in the video again


The service hops from side to side of the river and it does a nice 360 turn just past the tower to maximise the views

It was our last evening in Paris and a wonderful way to finish. 2.5 days was not even close to long enough and so much was left unseen. We were astonishingly lucky to have two days of glorious sunshine to see the city and our trip around Europe was off to a fabulous start. Time to cover some distance!


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