April in Paris: Given that St George's Day has now become a pointless jingoistic sideshow exploited by publicans and politicians, I thought I'd spend my April 23rd somewhere other than England. So I went to Paris for the day. My last visit to Paris was exactly 25 years ago, on which occasion I was dragged briefly (and infrequently) around a few choice Parisian sights by my dour French exchange partner. We spent more of our time playing table tennis in some godforsaken suburban basement than we did sightseeing in the centre of the capital, which seemed a completely wasted opportunity. So I thought yesterday would be a good chance to go back and explore Paris on my own terms, and no ping pong this time.
It's now less than three hours from London to Paris by Eurostar, and it costs less than £60 too (so long as you go at the weekend and book far enough in advance). Take the first Eurostar out (dep 0634) and the last Eurostar home (arr 2228) and you can spend a full dix heures in the French capital, so that's what I did. It meant leaving home before dawn to catch the first tube of the day to Waterloo, then getting frisked by the only French police in central London. Eurostar chose to banish me to a 'window seat' with only a tiny slice of window, but that was no real hardship as we crawled ever so slowly through Brixton, Bromley and several other suburban backwaters. The train finally spedup just before Ashford, then spent 20 minutes beneath the Channel before emerging into France, which looked just like Kent only completely different. It was chucking it down just north of Paris, which I'd feared ever since I'd seen the long range weather forecast earlier in the week, but thankfully the rain ceased just as we pulled into Gare du Nord and the rest of the day was simply glorious. And I'll come back and tell you about my ten hour Parisian odyssey once I've caught up on some sleep...
What's on this weekend? Spring Into Summer Saturday 30 & Sunday 31 May
40 free guided London walks. Purley Festival Friday 29 - Sunday 5 June
Bunting week, below Croydon. E17 Art Trail Sat 30th May - Sun 14th June
250 arty Walthamstow things.