Our taxi picked us up on time. It was the 23rd of June, towards the end of our month long travel in France and we were scheduled to change our Paris hotel. However, it was also the opening day of Paris’ two-day-celebration Olympic Day, and we needed to go from the right bank to the left, right through the middle of it all…
Paris Transforms Into An Olympic Park
On the 23rd and the 24th of June, Paris worked hard to woo hearts and votes to become the host city for the 2024 Olympic and Paralympic Games. They did this by organising an amazing sports showcase with facilities in a large part of central Paris, such as a high diving board on Pont Alexandre III, a climbing wall on the Pavillon de I’Arsenal; cycling at the Place de la Concorde, sports fields on the lawn of Les Invalides and a running track floating on La Seine between Pont Alexandre III and Pont des Invalides!
This temporary sports arena also happened to be just where our taxi needed to go but now could not pass through. For Parisian motorists and travellers, it meant the closure of several areas and metros; in fact, a large part of showcase Paris including roads and bridges that were only open for pedestrians.
Although this did cause us some inconvenience that day, I did feel privileged to witness Paris transformed into a giant sports park and later on joined the crowd at Pont Alexandre III. Sport, like music, brings people together and the atmosphere was cheerful and exciting, it was just amazing!
Our Parisien Taxi
When it’s a big event like this, you expect lots of security. Apart from the loud and disturbing sirens from the police vans and cars, and there were quite a few of them driving through the Champs-Élysées, I didn’t mind the bad traffic at all, mainly because I was indulging in this rare opportunity to be in a taxi with a see through roof and so I was busy snapping away Paris street shots from this unusual point of view, with the oh-so-Parisian Parisien Taxi sign in the camera’s frame. More time in this taxi, yes please!
Plus, what better time than a terrible traffic jam moment to repeat the story of my four-hour-long taxi ride between Charles de Gaulle Airport and Paris to Kent and the driver. Yes, it happened to me in May 2012, a seriously bad traffic jam was caused by a car accident on the highway, and clearly, it has haunted me until this very day… I mean who wants their time to be cut short in Paris?!!
‘You think this is bad? I’ve seen worse here…’ Telling Kent by a ‘been-stuck-here-before’ Vivienne.
Les Jardins d’Eiffel, Our Home Away From Home
After our taxi made it across a still-open-to-traffic bridge, we needed to get to our hotel and our driver tried everything – but of course so did every other driver in Paris. He did get us close, very close in a car encased in gridlock. ‘Traffic like this, it might take a long time to go around the block for me to turn into the one way street. Or you can get off here, go straight then turn right from the first corner. Your hotel is just there!’
With traffic at a standstill we took our driver’s advice and alighted the car, together with over 70 kilos of luggage (Travel light? Never heard of it!). So while Kent kept an eye on our bags, I nipped down the side street, Rue Amélie and found Les Jardins d’Eiffel. The directions we were given by our driver was correct, we were pretty close indeed.
So I returned in next to no time with a helping hand, our porter was friendly and efficient, he picked up Kent’s 20-kilo-plus canvas seaman’s bag without hesitation. This was among my first impressions of Les Jardins d’Eiffel, which was a positive after a tricky cross town drive. After a smooth check in we headed up to our room on the top floor, the 5th floor.., having had a long taxi ride, we finally arrived at our home away from home for the next five nights.
A Simple Room With A Privilege View
‘Wow~’ Not even the receptionist’s words ‘we have been able to fulfil your request for a room with a full Eiffel Tower view’ could prepare me for the moment when I stepped into our room and faced this amazing view of that icon of France – la tour Eiffel! That’s our view in the photo above! The view was true, it was a Privilege Double Room that we had. Admittedly it was minimal in size, approximately 15 square metres; the interior was rather simple and the bathroom seemed a little dated. Though having to say that, it was all lifted by this gorgeous scene from our window, our ‘real French window’ as Kent called it.
For a three-star-hotel room, it’s clean, it had a safety box; hotel slippers, a kettle; a hair dryer, a mini bar, which we removed to use as our own fridge; a TV, clean towels and house keeping everyday.., oh and a bathtub which is a big tick for moi! It was enough for our last few days in France. Did I mention the view?!!
Discovering Bistrot Chez France
Bistrot Chez France, meaning France’s home or France’s house, is a popular (we figured it out from the waiting queue) French bistro which is situated almost directly opposite Les Jardins d’Eiffel.
We managed to book a table for two thanks to the hospitable and energetic France, yes that’s the owner herself.
As it was already after 9PM we both skipped entrée, ‘save the entrée for next time’ as we both agreed. I went for Breast of South Western Duck, Orange Sauce and Kent’s choice was Lamb of Sisteron, Rosemary Sauce.
I chose duck breast over my usual preference of duck leg because I couldn’t resist having the orange sauce. My duck was cooked well and the orange sauce was rich with a good balance of sweetness and zest, Lovely! For Kent it was his second time trying lamb in France and he was again surprised it ‘had little lamb smell or taste to it’, at least as compared to Australian lamb! Kent finally came to the conclusion ‘French lamb IS different!’ Did he enjoy this ‘French lamb’? ‘Absolutely!’
For dessert we decided to share. Pistachio Crème Brûlée was our choice and we loved it! Cracked the toffee, yummy and creamy brûlée, ticked all the boxes without being overly sweet! And the recommended Rosé proved to be a good accompanying wine for our meal.
Bistrot Chez France was full house when we came in, and it was full house when we left. Great food, homely atmosphere; most importantly, Madame France was welcoming and had a charming charismatic verve.
Shimmering Eiffel Tower, Bring It On Please!
The Eiffel Tower sparkles at night after dark (in Paris summer, after dark means 11PM) on the hour for five full minutes. Knowing it is one thing but being in the right place to see it is another! And it is much better live than watching any video.
This was the second time we happened to ‘walk into’ the Eiffel Tower’s sparkling show without planning it and it was every bit as exciting as the first time. We were enjoying the Paris summer night while having a stroll after dinner at Bistrot Chez France; we turned a corner and ‘Boom’, there it was, great timing! No matter how many times we saw this magic shimming tower, its wow factor has never decreased.
Good Night Paris
I don’t think our Paris experience would be completed without this night view from our French window!
More reviews of Bistrot Chez France and Les Jardins d’Eiffel are coming soon, stay tuned!