|Path: Eric's Site / Eric / Travel / Germany / Visits / Genève, Lyon, Surdon, and Paris||Related: Germany, Journal, Visits (Site Map)|
On one train, I gave the conductor my ticket, and he said something about Gleis zwo. I looked up, and he restated in English that I had to change to the train at platform two in Karlsruhe. I hadn't said a word, and I didn't think I looked that confused when I looked up, so I am not sure why he spoke in English. Maybe I just looked like a tourist or foreigner, and then English is the default language to try.
I also changed trains in Basel, Switzerland. Basel adjoins Germany and France. After getting off the train and going to the front of the train station, there are some German signs around you, out the front doors are Switzerland, and off to the left are doors marked FRANCE. I saw doors like that in Genève too, like they keep France in a separate area or something.
One way to tell you are in a different country is that the pretzels have a different shape.
From Basel, I took a Swiss train to Genève. The train passed lots of
cute villages, countryside, mountains, lakes, streams, fields, and sunflowers.
I asked Western Union if they would buy back my francs at the same rate, and the clerk said yes. It turned out later she meant no. Some places will re-exchange currency you bought there at the same rate. That is convenient because you do not have to plan how much you will spend—you can just change a lot, spend what you want, and change the rest back with no loss. That means the currency changer makes no profit on the excess, but the policy can make them more profit because the convenience can attract more customers, and the net amount changed may be higher because people may spend more when they have more of the local currency in their pockets.
Armed with Swiss francs, I stored my luggage, bought a city map, and went
out to see Genève for four hours. My first planned stop was
the tourist office on rue du Mont-Blanc, but there was no sign of it at
the published address.
|Genève's Jet d'Eau.|
|Ulm's Strahl des Wassers.|
|Jet d'Eau in the sun.|
At the jetty leading to the Jet, there is some information:
|Base of Jet d'Eau.||The nozzle.||The jetty continues from the Jet.|
Back toward the city from the Jet is the Jardin Anglais.
Here are some scenes from the garden.
|A shopping street.|
The shopping street to the right is in a busy area of the city, although
not as busy as near the train station.
|Looking back after starting to leave the crowd.|
|A relative of the weeping willow?|
I headed south to Promenade des Bastions, a public park, and walked
through it. There I found the strange tree to the right.
The hanging branches of course remind me of a weeping willow,
but the rest of it is unfamiliar.
|Chess in the park.|
|Lake and mountains.|
Then I retrieved my luggage, changed my remaining francs back to euros, and
boarded the train to Lyon.
The hotel room at the Berlioz was nice and only cost €38.50. The Hotel Reservation Service is serving me well. However, there was some street noise, so, if you stay in this hotel, ask for a room in back on an upper floor.
The hotel had a brochure for
Musée la Renaissance des Automates-Éma. They seem to
have created scenes with small automated figures. Some scenes animate
famous paintings, and some are of historical interest. It is hard to tell
if it is tacky or not without actually going, and I did not have a chance
to get to that side of town.
Neither the police guarding the square nor the folks at the event
information desk could tell me where to get tourist information.
Well, as with the hotel, I had enough information to locate my primary
target in town, Chocolaterie Bernachon, and I was not pressed for time,
so I hung around to see what was going on.
The bottom right picture reveals the French answer to Lance Armstrong.
|A succession of parade vehicles portrayed the decades of Le Tour de France.||Program to bioengineer better bicyclists goes awry and breeds mutants.|
I watched the parade briefly and headed off to Bernachon. Nobody asked me for directions in Genève, but I was stopped by a couple in Lyon. But they asked me for directions in French, and I could not help them. (I remember enough French from high school to puzzle out signs but not enough to converse.)
was a disappointment. Don't worry, I made up for it later in the trip.
Bernachon's chocolate was very good, but some of the chocolates they make
with it were not. That is surprising, because Bernachon is famous.
They make their own chocolate from raw cacao beans, people go study with
them, and so on.
|Cours Franklin Roosevelt.|
|Place du Mal Lyautey.|
As with Genève, there were lots of other chocolate
stores around the city. However, I could not afford the calories.
|The Rhône again.|
I found Musée des Beaux-Arts (Museum of Fine Arts), and
they had a brochure about museums in Lyon. I pondered whether to see the
Museum of Fine Arts or Musée d'Art Contemporain,
which seemed to have some interesting exhibits, and decided to try both.
|Amabilis by Henri Bouchard, 1925.|
|Persée et la Gorgon by Laurent Marquestre, 1890.|
|L'Air by Jan Brueghel the Elder, 1611.|
After the Museum of Fine Arts, I started to go to the Museum of
Contemporary Art but decided I could not make it in time. I went
back to the Perrache train station. On the way, I passed through
Place Bellecour and found the tourist office now open. Finding the
tourist office only on the way out of town is becoming common
(Napoli, Genève, and Lyon).
|Basilique Notre-Dame de Fourvière.|
Montparnasse has a new high-speed pedestrian conveyor. It accelerates you on rollers at the beginning, transports you on a belt, and then decelerates you at the end. I was looking forward to trying it, but it was closed for repairs.
When I first scheduled the trains, the Deutsche Bahn web server was going to give me just over an hour for all that. I did not know how long it would take but did not trust anything that involved crossing a large part of the city and changing subway trains, so I rescheduled the trains to give me two hours.
It did take only 42 minutes to make the journey across the city, so I had
time to eat. Then I waited for the display board to show the gate for
my train, upon which I got a surprise. Montparnasse-Vaugirad is almost
a separate station from Montparnasse, and it is a
10-minute walk from the display board, which is not much less than the
time between when the gate number is announced and when the train departs.
|Views from Surdon station.|
His farm does not even have a street address. Mail is addressed to it by name. The farm has a centuries-old name, Les Souffrettes, which means The Suffering. It is in a town with a millenia-old name, Le Cercueil, which means The Coffin. Emery's mailing address is The Suffering in The Coffin in France. Nearby is Montmerrei, which means Mountain of the Dead.
Apparently the names stem from a battle in 52 BCE. I guess the townfolk
like the names, because two thousand years is plenty of time for somebody
to raise their hand in a town meeting and suggest changing the name to
something other than Mountain of the Dead.
|Adele and Emery holding Paxon and Gillian.||Les Souffrettes.||Emery's front yard.|
|A street in Alençon.|
Later we took a walk through the nearby woods. Not long enough to work off
the chocolate, though.
|Part of Château de Sassy.|
|Garden at Château de Sassy.|
After that, Emery tried to find a boulanger that was open, but that was not going to happen on Bastille Day. We drove back to Les Souffrettes and stopped at the closed Château d'O just long enough to get a picture (left, below).
Getting back to Paris was awful. Emery dropped me off at the train station
around 16:40, when the display showed the 16:59 train as five minutes late.
Ten minutes later, it showed the train as twenty minutes late. After that
time passed, the train was removed from the display, and the 19:08 train
was shown as Supprime, which I thought sounded nice until I looked it
up in my dictionary. It means canceled. The train station offered a choice
of waiting in the hot sun or in the shade with the mosquitoes.
|Hayfield en route to Paris.|
|Town seen during approach to Paris.|
|Tour Eiffel sparkles, with fireworks nearby.|
It was about 11:30 p.m., and I almost went back to the hotel,
but I decided to try to see the fireworks. I was north of the Seine and
continued on the Métropolitain line there to the Iéna stop.
There were crowds there, and it was not the best spot for viewing the
fireworks, but I was able to get these photographs.
|Bastille Day fireworks in Paris.|
The trip back to the hotel was not bad considering the crowds, but it
still took 50 minutes to get back to the hotel.
|View from Jardins de Paris.|
Tuesday was a good chocolate day. Most of the day was occupied visiting stores that Simone and I had been unable to get to, that were recommended to me since my first trip, or that I happened across.
First, I traveled across the city to store my luggage at Gare de l'Est. It is self-storage, but they X-ray the luggage before allowing you in the room. The locker cost €3.40 and would only take exact change. I wanted to get moving and would have been happy to pay €3.50, but the machine rejected overpayment. Here is a business that requires exact change and is continually asked for change by its customers, so they put up a sign saying they do not provide change instead of finding a way to do it.
Why isn't there a change machine there? Or let the attendant make small amounts of change. It would make their job a little less boring, as long as they remember to watch the X-ray machine first. Unfortunately, I had to carry my luggage out, find a shop that kindly provided change, and go back.
I had no problems navigating the Métropolitain during this Paris visit. First, I pretended the RER did not exist. It is a large part of the complications I complained about in the previous trip—extra gates to go through, trains with uninformative names, and so on. Second, I gave up hope of understanding where I was in a station or where I was going—I just followed signs.
Adele also told me that you should not transfer at stations that are bad for transferring. The way you usually find out which stations are bad for transferring is by transferring at them.
The Métropolitain pedestrian tunnels have ads repeated side-by-side
multiple times and in multiple places. It is not just a few ads—that
is the general style for the entire subway system. It looks stupid and is
more insulting than normal advertising, since it suggests the viewer is
too dumb to ignore the second, third, fourth, fifth, and sixth copies of
the ad in a row. (Most ads everywhere are repeated, but in different places
or at different times, not while you can still see the first one.)
|Pond in Parc Monceau.|
It was after lunchtime, so I crossed town on the Métropolitain to find a Gaudeamus, a restaurant that was supposed to be good for vegetarians. When I got there, I was disappointed to find few vegetarian meals on the menu. But it was too late to go to my second choice, so I ate there anyway, which was fortunate. I settled for a dish with fish: tagliattelle with cream and salmon. It was excellent. The pasta had a perfect texture. It was served on thin slices of salmon with cream in a dollop rather than spread out, so you could taste the pasta with the salmon or the cream or both. Also, the meal started with a salad that was simple like most European salads but very good. (Now, my appetite could have been affected by walking for hours in the hot sun, but I still think the food was very good.) I did not care so much for the crème caramel dessert, but it had no chocolate, so what do you expect?
The meal was a fixed price €11.90, not including drinks. Gaudeamus is
at 47 rue de la Montagne Sainte Geneviève.
|Jardin du Luxembourg.|
I had drunk most of the water I brought with me that day and kept an eye out for more. Roma is good for having public water fountains, but Paris and Bruxelles are not. Even Scavi di Pompei had public water fountains, using water channels that are thousands of years old, although the actual plumbing may be newer.
I passed through the park, crossed rue d'Ulm, and found
Christian Constant, where
I got just a few pieces, partly because I was getting full and partly because
it was getting warmer, so I was worried about getting all the chocolate home.
Then I walked to Gérard Mulot.
That was the last chocolate store on my list, so I was free for the rest of
|The Seine near the Louvre.|
|Le Café Marly.|
The next street north, rue Saint-Honoré, has more stores and not
so many of the tourist stores. There is
Chocolatier. I had already tried Hévin by mail order and was
full of chocolate, but I bought some jellies to try at home, figuring they
would not suffer as badly in the heat as chocolate. I also discovered
La Fontaine au Chocolat.
|La Fontaine au Chocolat.|
|Chocolate cacao pods.||Chocolate animals.||Chocolate fountain.|
In addition to being short on water fountains, Paris is short on toilets. Maybe they figure if they do not give the tourists any water to drink, they will not need toilets? I found some signs pointing to toilets, and they led me into the Palais Royal Métropolitain station. I went in and found a sign saying the toilets closed at 18:15. It was 18:59. Somebody needs to tell these folks that Paris does not shut down at 18:15, and people still need to go to the bathroom after that. (I think it might even have been closed for a break in the middle of the day.)
Well, I was close enough to the vegetarian restaurant I liked in the first trip, La Victoire Suprême du coeur. I recommend going (41 rue des Bourdonnais, +33 (0) 1 40 41 93 95), but I only had room for an appetizer and a soda. Their food is good, but the "natural" soda was both overpriced and not good, even more expensive than the profiteering stand on the Neuschwanstein path. Try a mango lassie instead.
I entered the Châtelet station and noticed one of the exits went to rue de la Lingerie. That sounds like it might have been an interesting street to walk. I went to Gare de l'Est, where I had another miserable wait for a train. It was hot. The air-conditioned waiting room was only maybe three degrees cooler. The departure display board was not visible from the waiting room. A video display showed part of the information. There was no television or other entertainment in the room, and luggage is technically not allowed in the room. Announcements made over speakers in the main room are muffled inside the waiting room. I was uncomfortable for a while. It started raining, and a wind cooled things down. (The station is partly open to the air.)
When I finally got on the train, it was nice and cool, and the trip back
to Ulm was good. So far, Germany is my favorite country. Things are better
organized, lots of people speak English, and getting around is convenient.
|Path: Eric's Site / Eric / Travel / Germany / Visits / Genève, Lyon, Surdon, and Paris||Related: Germany, Journal, Visits (Site Map)|
© Copyright 2003 by Eric Postpischil.