CITY RIVER BRIDGES WALKS
Last year, in April 2016, a group of us went to London to do the London Bridges Walk. It was Kim Brown’s idea but in the event she wasn’t able to come. Six of us; Kay and Keith Phillips, Catherine Kelly and Dave Foley, and Hannah and Alan Curtis, met at Newbury Park station and went into London on a sunny Sunday to start the 10 mile walk from Tower Bridge to Battersea Bridge. We walked across each bridge along the river, up and down all the steps, taking roughly 4 hours to complete the route.
I can’t remember exactly but from looking on the internet, I think we crossed;
Tower, London, Southwark, Millenium, Blackfriars, Waterloo, Westminster, Lambeth, Albert and Battersea. Someone let me know if that’s not right.
The sun shone, there were crowds of people around the south bank, it was London at its most relaxed and best.
Whilst it was very busy around the London Eye and Westminster, as we walked further and through Battersea Park the crowds thinned and there were people sitting on the grass relaxing. It was so interesting to see a London that I am only used to driving through, and also to see London from both sides of the river.
At Battersea Bridge we found a little restaurant in which to have lunch and then we made our way back to
Victoria by bus and from there to the underground system and back to Newbury Park where we said our farewells and drove home.
It was such a lovely day, a great way to see London from a different perspective and to spend the time in good company.
In fact it was so successful that over lunch Dave suggested that next year we should do the same thing but in Paris!!
We all agreed immediately. Caroline and Ken said they could join us for this one.
We had a couple of planning evenings during which we drank a lot and decided to go to Paris in April 2017. We booked flights, airbnb and a restaurant for the first evening. We felt very pleased with ourselves.
So last weekend on 31st March we set off for Southend airport to take the 45minute flight to Charles de Gaulle. No sooner were we up than we were down again. It took longer to travel into the city on the metro than to fly from one country to another.
The airbnb was a real traditional Paris apartment with interesting furniture, books and prints on the walls. It seemed to have been lived by someone who was perhaps the mother of the current owner. Lots of curious things to look at and French windows that opened to let the fresh Paris air in in the mornings.
That first evening we went to the restaurant Bistroy Les Papilles.
That was quite an unusual experience. For a while we sat there wondering where the menus where and gradually realized there was no menu. All the other diners were eating the same dishes. Eventually our waitress told us that the menu that evening was mushroom soup served with a salad of lardon, walnuts and crème fraiche,( this was in the bowl and the soup was served in tureens so we had to pour the soup over the lardons etc, it tasted so good) – pork belly, which just melted in the mouth, with beans and vegetables, followed by blue cheese with a prune, sesame seeds and raspberry jus, and ending with pana cotta with candied pineapple. It was an absolutely delicious meal and each course was a surprise. We probably should not have had too much to drink that evening given that we were planning to walk 10 miles the next day, but actually we drank plenty of lovely French wine. I would definitely like to visit that restaurant again – maybe after the long walk.
The following day we set off to the River Seine to start our walk. It was sunny and warm and Paris was delightfully pretty in the sunshine. This was the route that Alan devised.
Starting at the small island next to the Ile de la Cite we cross
Pont de Sully
Pont de la Tournelle
Then on to Ile de la Cite across
Pont de l’Archeveche
Pont Saint Louis
Pont Louis Philippe
Pont Notre Dame
Pont Saint Michel
Pont au Change
Leaving Ile de la Cite
Pont des Arts
Pont du Carrousel
Footbridge Leopold Sedar Senghor
Pont de la Concorde
Pont Alexander III
Pont des Invalide
Pont de l’Alma
footbridge Passerelle Debilly
Pont d’Lema at the Eiffel Tower.
Then all the way back along the ‘left bank’ to the start point at the Pont de Sully where nearby the ‘best ice cream in France’ is available at a shop called Berthillon!
Some of the bridges were across to the little sort of islands in the Seine so in some places it was a bit complicated choosing which path to take but Alan had worked it out and he and Keith led the way. Actually they left the rest of us behind once or twice and had to wait whilst we caught up. There was so much to look at, to stop and photograph, to just take in that it definitely wasn’t like the usual funwithfitness walk, but we would have missed so much if we had just got on with it.
When we eventually arrived at the Eiffel Tower we were tired and hot. Catherine and Dave decided to walk back along the river and the rest of us began to negotiate buying bus tickets in the metro station. Then we caught the bus.
The wrong bus.
After a few stops we realized we were going in completely the wrong direction and then had to get out and get onto the metro – where our tickets didn’t work as I had confidently expected them to. Wrong again.
Of course in the end we worked it all out and got home and we know more now than we did then and can still feel pleased that we sorted it out and saw a part of Paris that we wouldn’t otherwise have encountered.
That evening we cooked in the apartment and drank more wine and then played scrabble. Caroline cheated outrageously but of the course the rest of us behaved impeccably well, especially me.
Then it was Sunday. Keith did some research and found that there is an old disused railway line viaduct close to the Bastille that has been turned into a long garden walk route. As it was a viaduct it went along at a high level and could look at the houses and apartments and streets from up high. It was lovely and again sunny and warm. It took us eventually to the Bois de Vincennes , a large park with a boating lake. We decided to take out two boats and have a row around the lake. In doing so we saw two peacocks displaying, one was completely white. Never seen a white peacock before.
That evening we had a meal outside at a local restaurant and yet more wine.
Things went a bit wrong when we got to the airport the next day in that our flight was delayed by four hours which was frustrating. On arrival back in Southend we discovered that another passenger had picked up Keith’s case by mistake and gone off with it. However that was all resolved by the end of the evening, we were all home, very tired but having had a great weekend.
Next year? So far undecided but we all want to do it again in another city.