Monday, January 16, 2012


I hope no one has friggatriskaidekaphobia, the fear of Friday the 13th, because we didn’t. We headed out for our second full day in Paris. It was back to the Eiffel Tower this morning for a second go to try and get to the top. We were very concerned that the weather might close in and ruin our chance of getting a look from the highest point in Paris. However the weather has held, and we were able to go up and see the city quite well, even though there was a little haze around.

The group at the base

The view from the tower of the Arc de Triomphe

 Proof Dylan was there
As soon as we had descended the Tour Eiffel  it was onto the train and a quick ride to the Catacombs. In the 19th century it was found that the cemeteries of Paris were becoming clogged and full of bodies. So it was decided that 5 million dead Frenchmen needed a new home. They thought that the tunnels that originally constructed by the Romans would be a great place to put them. However the workmen doing the job decided that it would give much better job satisfaction to place them with some French style, thus the catacombs became an attraction.
There is a very steep and long descent into the ground via a spiral staircase.

It is a bit blurred because of the effort to hang on and take a picture at the same time, but it should give you the idea!
There is a long walk through the tunnels (about a ½ kilometre) till you turn a corner and there is your first Frenchman looking at you.

Even more Frenchmen

And an Australian with lots of Dead Frenchmen

A nice skull pattern
The bones and patterns went on and on. It was not gruesome or macabre just fascinating seeing the remnants of many human lives piled up one upon another, sitting together deep underground, resting but not forgotten because they have many visitors. Including us!
The happy band at the exit. (After a very steep climb up the same type of spiral stairs we noted that the man at the top had a defibrillator handy)
A short walk along some Paris streets, a little lunch at a Patisserie (except for the boys who decided to go to Maccas) and on a bus to the Musee De Orsay. This place is magic. It contains so many 19 century  masters from people like Van Gough and Matisse that it is impossible to describe them all. I give a big thanks to Stirling Greeneklee, our resident artist for his descriptions and talk to help the boys understand and appreciate what they saw. There are no pictures inside as they are not allowed, but outside is another matter.

Us the Elephant and the Tricolour above, we must be in France!
Mr Scritchley

Had a great time exploring Paris today, starting at the highest point in the city, the Eiffel Tower where we experienced firsthand the sky line views of the city. From there the group travelled down the many stairs to the underground of the catacombs.  The day ended for many at the Musee D’Orsay as many of us were too tired to take the journey to the shops.  Keen for Italy.
Alaric Horvat

Never again will I climb the billions of steps that mark the way to the top of the Eiffel tower. I was so tired by the time we got to the top that the view nearly killed me, although it took my breath away. Walking through the catacombs was chilling as it looks like there are more bones that line the walls of the catacombs than there are people living in the city! By the time we got to the Musee D’Orsay I was too tired to move and I just wanted to go back to the hotel. I can’t wait to continue the trip into Italy.
Daniel Maley

Hi Aliki and apologies for taking so long to respond to your message. All is well this end, although exhausted at night….must be getting old! The weather has been unbelievable; we have really been very fortunate and the boys have been behaving themselves…always a good thing! Would like to think I’ve shed a few kilos with all the walking and climbing we have been doing, but have been getting stuck into the baguettes and the to die for pastries. We are presently in Paris and have been for the last 2 days. Have visited many of the sites and amongst other things, explored the Catacombs this morning, which impressed the boys.  Tomorrow I will take a few boys to Montmartre, the artists’ quarter. Must say, London and Paris are always great to return to, but I have enjoyed the smaller cities/towns.  I imagine you have moved into your new place by now…..looking forward to seeing it. Love Tania x

Phillip points to the station at which we will alight to do some shopping at La Gallerie Lafayette Centre and the boys wait patiently for our Metro train to take us to our destination.

Enjoying the sunset over the River Seine near Pont Neuf – the New Bridge after visiting the Musee D’Orsay.

Lining up in the Catacombs – lost count of how many bones and skulls were there, and how many steps on the spiral staircase to be climbed.

Playing “where’s Wally?” on the Sainte Chappelle stained glass windows.

These brave boys climbed to the second level of the Eiffel Tower rather than using the lift, and as you can see Mitch almost collapsed from exhaustion. He definitely won’t be attempting the City to Bay run this year.

What a treat to go ice skating on level one of the Eiffel Tower. Who would have thought it possible!? William did not progress beyond his “learners”.

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