So here’s something crazy… while we were out to dinner celebrating Caroline’s birthday on Friday night, I got an SMS from John asking if we were interested in taking a drive around the Arc de Triomphe. Thinking at first that there must be a local version of it somewhere in London, we signed up!
Well, it turns out that there’s not a local version, or at least if there is, it wasn’t the one that John was talking about. So around 1PM on Saturday afternoon, Kristy and I joined John and Kirsty and their friend
Toss Todd on the zaniest road trip that I’ve ever been on. Destination: Paris!
The road trip itself was long. Looonnnggg! I figured that if John wanted to do a lap of the Arc and was happy to be leaving mid-afternoon, it must be like a 2 or 3 hour drive to get there. Ahhh, no – more like 2 or 3 hours to Dover (where we saw the lovely White Cliffs of Dover), an hour-fifteen across the English Channel to Calais, and then another three and a bit hours into Paris.
The first stop we made was at Sacre Coeur. I was disappointed to find out that Sacre Coeur does not stand for “Sacred Cow”, but that’s really the only complaint I could have had. It was just beautiful, and the view back over Paris was amazing!
Unfortunately, we couldn’t actually find anywhere to park, so our visiting time was limited to how long we figured John could handle doing laps of the roads. So after taking a few happy snaps, we legged it back to meet back up with him, then took off to find somewhere for dinner.
By now it was about 10:30PM, and I for one was a bit surprised to see how much stuff had closed for the evening. Finally we found a restaurant – an Italian joint, ironically – that was still open, and seemed to be populated with locals (no-one could speak English, except the waiter who spoke a tiny bit). We figured it must be ok given that it was so busy, but on reflection, maybe it was because it was the only place that was still open, and there were a lot of hungry frenchmen in the area.
We asked for a menu, but in his broken English, the waiter told us that there was no menus. Instead, it was a Prix Fix menu of salad, pasta, pizza, and dessert. Actually, we each got two servings of pasta (and were offered a third), so I guess the €30 per head was pretty decent value in the end.
After our dinner, it was time to take care of the single goal of the trip – for John to drive around the Arc de Triomphe. John was a bit worried that it wouldn’t be an authentic experience without the peak hour traffic on the roundabout, but those fears were quickly quashed when we turned on to the Champs Elysees and hit gridlock. At 2AM! Do Parisians really have nothing better to do?
(I know it’s not the best photo, but I had to rip it from a video, since we didn’t exactly stop to get a nice angle.) As you probably guessed, John triumphantly made it around the Arc De Triomphe. What you possibly didn’t guess is that we then did two more complete laps just to be certain. Wheeee!!
Our last stop in Paris the well known Eiffel Tower. Not so well known is that all the lights get turned off sometime after 2AM, so by the time we got there it was spooky dark! This made it very hard for the camera to “see” the structure, but when I finally got it to focus, I managed to take some wicked cool photos of it.
By this point (around 3AM), the K’s were so tired they didn’t even bother getting out of the car to see the unlit Eiffel Tower, so we high-tailed it out of Paris and found a “camp ground” at which to pitch our tents for the night. Whereby “camp ground” I mean “roadside truck stop”, and by “pitch our tents” I really do mean, “pitch our tents”. We “enjoyed” a good 4 hours of sleep or so before it was time to climb back into the car and trolley back to London.
Our trip back was quite uneventful, though this was due in part to most of us falling asleep in the back seat. A huge kudos to John for absolutely machining back to Calias in record time – only for us to be held up by customs and immigration, so much so that we missed our ferry home and had to wait an extra hour-and-a-half!
One night is barely enough to even lick the icing on the tasty cupcake that is Paris, but doing it as a crazy 24 hour road trip certainly makes it a dessert that we’ll remember forever. A massive thanks to John and Kirsty for everything they did to make the trip possible, and to Todd for the laid back company!