When we arrived back in Paris to see our eldest daughter Kirsty, we were shocked to find that the entire city was virtually booked out. The reason was the Paris Motor Show, held every two years, which attracts almost two million visitors over its 16 days. We could only stay at our usual hotel for 3 days and needed to change to another for the other 4 days. Kirsty and Daniel, who booked much earlier, scored a nicer apartment for less money.
We were able to spend time with Kirsty on 4 of those days. She and her boyfriend Daniel were in France for a wedding and were criss-crossing their way around France to various destinations. We caught up with Kirsty and Daniel at the Motor Show, the Louvre, a couple of dinners and for drinks for Daniel’s birthday.
The Louvre is unbelievable. The building itself, a former palace, has to be seen to be believed. I’m puzzled that it wasn’t good enough for Louis XIV, when he traded up to Versailles!! Those royals can be fussy. The collection is stunning and the day we visited to see Mona, there must have been well over the average 30 000 visitors it receives each day. If you go, print off your own tickets online and then you don’t have to queue!
The Paris Motor Show was even more impressive than the Mercedes Museum. There were 9 display pavillions, with 6 of those packed full of the latest cars available on the planet. Plus some amazing cars that aren’t available. In spite of not having driven a car for the past 9 months, I felt the urge to splurge. There were so many cars I wouldn’t mind driving. I can’t think of any car manufacturer that wasn’t featured. Some of the highlights for me included Lamborghini, Ferrari, Porsche, Maserati, Bentley, Mercedes, Rolls-Royce, Infiniti and Mitsubishi. (The latest Cadillac looks just like my (ex) Mitsubishi 380… great lines!)
Outside the Paris Motor Show, on the day we visited (October 9th) we were surprised to see an enormous number of French riot police. Lots of areas were cordoned off and there must have been at least 500 police in their riot gear…. helmets, bullet-proof vests and shields. Then there were vans, armoured trucks, plain clothes police and other vehicles. They surrounded the venue, but the chief focus of their attention was a group of protesters holding signs. It turns out they were sacked workers and supporters from Peugeot. Apparently 8000 jobs were lost recently. The Motor Show people feared that some of their cars may be damaged, especially after Ford cars were targeted with stickers and confetti on a previous day. Peugeot had removed their concept car from display. The protesters were given a dose of tear gas, but that was about it.
We also spent a day at the Pompidou Centre, which we missed last time in Paris because it closes on Tuesdays. They have a lot of impressive art in their permanent and temporary exhibitions. The whole building is a very interesting work of art, inside and out and the views over Paris from the top are wonderful.
There is a room featuring the works of Picasso, some interesting film items and some incredible sculptures. One sculptor donated his entire studio to the museum and it is faithfully reproduced and free to visitors. A few days before we arrived they unveiled a giant sculpture of the French soccer star Zidane in the courtyard, doing his famous head-butt. But it’s hard to go past the nudes.
We loved whizzing around on the Metro, with every station we came out at having a different vibe. Of course the Tour d’Eiffel was as always extremely popular, as were the markets to the north of the city and the interesting back streets of the Bastille area.
We love Paris and hope to return one day.