Paris streets

Paris – again?

…and again. I’ve been to a few places since I last posted, but I’ve been back to Paris again twice. The next visit was just a few months after the first, doing a similar type of trip; another spur of the moment, long weekend with no planning or organisation. Those are the best.

For this trip I saw a little more of the city and finally went up the Eiffel Tower. By the time I’d waited in all the queues to get in and get to the top, it was already dark, but that made for a brilliant view.

Last summer, I went to Paris for the third time. This was a more organised trip because I went with a friend and we needed to make the most of the trip. This time, I was there for Bastille Day, the French National Day, and had the opportunity to see the fireworks from the Champ de Mars, the gardens in front of the Eiffel Tower. There was a massive crowd of over half a million people waiting around until the start of the fireworks at nearly midnight; I’ve always loved fireworks and these were the best I’ve ever seen.

It’s also well worth taking a day out to visit the palace of Versailles. It’s huge, so you need a whole day to get there and take it all in. Top tips here; book a timed entry ticket the day before and save the barcode to your phone. To travel there, there’s a deal on public transport which I think is a fixed price from any metro station in Paris so just ask at a ticket desk for “aller-retour vers Versailles” (“return to Versailles”) and they will give you the right ticket. Keep it with you for the whole journey.

For all the major attractions in Paris, ticket barcodes can be scanned straight from your mobile screen with it’s brightness up high, so you don’t need to book and print everything out before you travel, and this gives you the option for a bit of flexibility. But keep an eye on availability levels, sometimes they can get booked a long way ahead. ALWAYS use the official ticket sites, don’t be lured in by these sites promising “skip the line” services, they’re basically scams and are just selling you a timed ticket at four times the price. As a guide, you do NOT need to pay more than about 21 Euros for a timed entry ticket to the top of the Eiffel Tower; until you get to the lifts, you’ve got separate queues and entrances. No one can skip the lift queue and if they’re advertising that service they cannot guarantee it because they are not connected to the onsite staff. A 70 Euro ticket can’t get you to the top any faster.

This trip to Paris was also the first time I’ve flown from Gatwick Airport since living on its doorstep. Being only a short bus journey away is great because you can take advantage of often cheaper early morning and late evening flights and get nearly two extra full days out of a trip. I flew from Gatwick a few times as a child But that was when it was still a four hour drive meaning leaving home at 1am to reach the cheap package holiday charter flights in time.

Some photos from the last two Paris trips below, and a video of the fireworks coming soon on YouTube…

Eiffel Tower at night

Paris – a flying visit, without flying

I’ve never been to Paris before, even though I’ve been to France several times in the (distant) past. Because of this, I decided I would go to Paris in a weekend. In order to maximise the time there and to minimise the cost, I took an overnight coach with Ouibus. I left London on Friday night and left Paris on Sunday night, arriving home on Monday morning. It was tiring to say the least. For such a short stay, overnight on the coach is probably not recommended unless you are confident you can sleep on the coach. I didn’t.

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Getting into HDR

I thought I’d experiment a little with some HDR images. I have again been inspired by browsing 500px.com, as there are many HDR images on this site that seem to become popular. I looked into some HDR apps and downloaded a trial for Photomatix Pro, then loaded one of my favourite images into it, and here is the result of a little experimentation with the presets available within it.

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Cafe Van Gogh

Café Terrace at Night – Lost in Translation?

I was looking for the original title of Vincent Van Gogh’s painting Café Terrace at Night (above right), because I wanted to upload my photo (above left) of the same scene to my profile on the 500px.com website. I try not to leave the ‘description’ field completely empty when I publish an image there, so I thought I’d check out the name of the café, the original name of the painting, and the English name of the painting. The way I see it, there is something of a distortion in the translation. The French name is Terrasse du Café le Soir,  and by the time it’s in English, Café Terrace at Night, it’s a generic café terrace in the evening.

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Palais des Papes

France 2007

I think I visited France twice in 2007, once with a friend in the summer for a week to Brittany, it looks like I didn’t take any photos on that trip, so that means I can’t actually remember when it was.

My parents were visiting France in November 2007 for three weeks, and in the middle of this they had booked a holiday cottage in Arles. I decided the night before they were due to arrive there that I was going to fly out to meet them, so I asked them to pick me up from Avignon airport the next day. As they had their car out there it was easy enough, and it was easy for us all to go and visit various places.

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France 2005

La Mairie de Vannes

I haven’t been updating this blog as often as I’d like, so I had this little idea that once in a while I’d take a little look back at something I’ve done, or somewhere I’ve been somewhere in the past.

Today, I’m going to share some of my experiences of a 16 day trip to France in 2005; just me and my car. The main reason for going was because I fancied touring abroad in my new (to me) Audi Cabiolet. I didn’t plan a lot in advance. In fact all I did plan ahead were the Channel Tunnel crossings there and back. I booked them the day before I left. Another day before that was when I decided I was going to go on holiday. Sorry folks, it’s a long post, so I’ve had to add just the first snippet to the homepage.

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