Saturday 28th August. We left Strasbourg by TGV at 9:30am. It was quite expensive, costing Eu68 or AUD100 each for a second class, 2hr15 trip. It didn't seem very fast so I got the handheld GPS out to check. I was surprised to see that we were travelling at 311kph! It seemed to be on the standard rails, not like the Japanese Shinkansen which runs on its own special tracks. Of course Japan has a few more earthquakes than France.
From Gare de l'Est we made our way to our hotel, the Best Western Gaillon Opera. It was a little further from the Louvre than the Montpensier, but offered a bit more comfort for about the same price (Eu100/night). Our room was again up on the 5th level, but much larger than rooms on the lower floors. They would have been tiny. The reception staff were very friendly , welcoming and helpful.
Our first sortie was to the Louvre for the afternoon. We did the Highlights audio tour which took us to the Mona Lisa, Venus de Milo and the Egyptian antiquities. The crowd in front of the Mona Lisa was huge, and it was quite a challenge to get a clear shot without reflections.
After returning to the Hotel, we set out for our Dinner-Cruise on the Seine with Bateau Mouches. We had missed out the first time, so had booked early from Strasbourg. We were seated with a bottle of cold champagne in an ice bucket waiting for us. The meal was fantastic, and the views as we proceeded along the Seine. Certainly it was a highlight that we will remember forever.
Following that excitement, the next day we left early to go up the Eiffel Tower. We got there about 9:45am and the queues were huge! It took nearly an hour to get to the ticket booth, then we waited for the lift to the 1st Platform, walked around the platform in a freezing breeze, then queued again to get to the top platform. Up there the breeze was even fresher but the view was great. We had a quick snack then waited for the lifts to get down again. The round trip took nearly 2hr 30min.
From there we got a cab to the Musee d'Orsay which has a vast collection of 'modern' art, ie later than about 1850. All of the Impressionists were well represented, Manet, Monet, van Gogh, Sisley, etc, etc. It was a great disappointment that photos are not allowed in the museum, unlike in the Louvre.
On Monday, Judy was feeling tired and wanted to rest, so I went back to the Louvre to have look at the Oceania exhibition as well as another look at the Egyptian, Mesopotamian and Iranian antiquities. The Oceania collection came from east to west, from Chile, Easter islands to Vanuatu, Solomons and PNG.
After lunch Judy was feeling better so we decided to go to the Rodin Museum, however being a Monday, it was closed. We then decided to go across town to Montmartre. We got the Metro to Blaise and walked around, in the process we discovered the funicular railway up to Sacre Coeur.
This saved a climb! Up there we then found the tourist "train" that trundles around Montmartre with a (too fast) bilingual commentary. We descended the hill from Sacre Coeur, found the Moulin Rouge for a photo, and then the Cafe des 2 Moulins, made famous in the film "Amelie" We had a drink and dinner there, with commemorative photos taken of course.
Thus ended our last full day in France as the next morning we were flying back to KL.