On our last full day in Paris we went to Versailles – completing Aileen’s wish list of things to do, and mine was already complete. We celebrated our last night in the apartment with a bottle of good French champagne and, er, pizzas. Well, we’re half class. It had to be something takeaway, and there’s a really good pizza place right next to the front door of our apartment block. The guy who makes the pizzas is from Bangladesh. Paris is certainly a multicultural world, though mostly African rather than Asian.
Actually, I tell a lie because that wasn’t our last full day, though it should’ve been. We spent the morning packing at leisure – including the bit we’d dreaded. The divan bed when folded out had a tilt on one side, so we made a bigger bed facing the other way by folding out a chair that also converted into a bed. But the way it converted – we couldn’t make sense of it when we tried to turn it back into a chair on our second day. We thought we’d never fix it. But in the end, on the last day, worked it out after about half an hour.
We had a final lunch, went to our local cafe for a final coffee, and said au revoir to our little apartment, au revoir to our local metro and supermarket. Here’s the wooden staircase going up to our apartment (OK, at the end of this write-up, I can’t make the image appear where I want) and our very-close-by metro station (ditto).
We took a taxi to the airport – and the first thing we saw when we looked at the Departures board was that our KLM flight to Amsterdam was ‘annule’ – cancelled! I went to the KLM counter, and they explained we’d already been booked onto an Air France flight going to Hong Kong, followed by a Qantas flight to Sydney. So we didn’t avoid Qantas in the end after all!
We had several hours to kill, because the new flight wasn’t due to depart till 11.40 p.m. And in fact we were still on the tarmac at midnight – hence our last full day. But it turned out better for us because we didn’t have the extra flight and airport stop at Amsterdam, and because our stop in Hong Kong iwas 2 hours instead of the 7 hours we’d have waited at Kuala Lumpur. So we ended up arriving in Sydney more than an hour earlier than the original flights.
We came back to a perfect Australian day – sun shining, blue sky, blue sea (on train journey back to Wollongong). I now know how lucky we were, because when we left Wollongong for Paris, it was the start of a downpour here, and it didn’t stop raining until we came back. Now Paris is suffering the absence-of-Aileen-and-Richard effect – the temperature has dropped and looks set to continue around 7 degrees for days. It’s happened like this other times too. We ought to hire out our weather-enhancing powers!
Meanwhile, here are a few more images from Montreuil, selected from all the ones Gilberte sent me, taken by the official photographer at the event.
Gilberte standing between Aileen and me, Marie (who helped at the stall) to the left of me, some of the young readers from the Montreuil club at the front, and Valérie and Élodie (librarians and organizers of the club) on the far right.
Now the staircase and metro -