[ Caboose ] [ Introduction >> Kerguelen >> Paris ]
Copyright © 2003 Kevin O'Rourke
The site is a work in progress, the 'Album' page in each section contains some photos but only some sections have much text.
To get to Kerguelen I first had to go to Paris. As IFRTP had booked a completely open flight for me I changed my ticket to allow for a few days in Paris, I'd never been there before.
The week before I left had been fairly hectic, with three job interviews in the first three days of the week. In fact I was offered my current job while waiting to board the flight to Paris at the end of the week. I accepted it there and then on the phone.
Arriving in Paris
I'd better begin by mentioning that I detest airports. Charles de Gaulle, like most large national airports, could almost have been designed to make travelling stressful and unpleasant. Although it doesn't achieve the horror of Heathrow it's quite bad enough.
The railway station caused particular irritation. Bear in mind that I was carrying a rucksack weighing about 15kg and a daysack weighing almost as much. I tried using the ticket machines but they only took coins and didn't like foreign credit cards. I queued and queued at the ticket office, with a lot of other people who seemed to have been defeated by the machines.
Once armed with my 'Paris Visite' three-day pass I felt quite a bit happier and got on the RER train for the city centre. After a transfer through the many tunnels of Châtelet-Les Halles I arrived on the Champs Elysées and walked (in the rain) to my hotel.
Usually I would have spent a while looking through the Lonely Planet to find a cheap hostel in Paris. However, Dad had had some difficulties with a hotel in Paris, had complained and obtained a voucher for a free four-night stay. This was how I ended up staying in the Hotel Prince du Galles on Avenue George V.
Never before had I stayed in a hotel that provided bathrobes, or sent people up with baskets of fruit courtesy of the manager. OK, the fake library in the lift was a little over the top but on the whole it was a great improvement over some of the places I've stayed in, no bed bugs for a start.
I didn't achieve all that much in my few days in Paris, at least as far as ticking off attractions goes. I had a fantastic trip up the Eiffel Tower at night and wandered round the Musée d'Orsay. Nôtre Dame impressed me in the way that only large religious buildings can.
The memorial to the deportation nearby was something I had read about as being worth seeing. It was indeed: stark, cold and thought-provoking.
As I drifted around the city in the rain I found myself shifting into a mood of 'alone in a big city' grumpiness. I've found this happening before, it seldom lasts long. In this case it was relieved when I saw a tiny little girl nip through the closing doors of a métro train before the stereotypically obese and noisy American tourist standing there even noticed she had taken his wallet. I'm not always cheered up by the misfortunes of others but in this case the speed and elegance of the little girl was impressive in contrast to the lumbering stupidity of the tourist.
On the Sunday I had arranged to get the train to Orléans to meet Jean-Paul Villain, who I would be working for on Kerguelen. On arrival I was met by his sons and we returned to his house to find him engaged in redecorating the bathroom, a bit of last minute work before leaving the country for two months.
Next day we sorted out a few things at CNRS before driving to the airport, where we met the other people who would be sailing south with us.
journeys/KERp.html last updated: Fri Feb 29 14:17:18 2008