I apologise, in advance, to all the Francophiles out there but put quite simply, I hate Paris – or rather, Paris hates me. In my defence there are specific reasons for this antagonism that date back to a time when I was half my age and the world was a little younger too. I do look forward to an eventual detente, but for now let me take you on my litany of loathing:
I arrived in Calais on the Hovercraft - the ferries were on strike. The speedy journey was great - dislodged my skim milk powder throughout my backpack. I waited 1½ hours for the train to Paris - sat in chewing gum. I arrived in Paris sticky from head to toe.
The first hostel I found was full; the second was filthy. I dumped my pack and headed into the city. The streets were filled with things to be avoided: bicycles bearing baguettes, guards with guns, and a whole lot of dog poo.
I had to find a bank to get some cash. This simple task took me 4½ hours as I went from Banque to Banque to get a cash advance on my Mastercard (it was a long time ago) and the tellers did what the French do best – ignored me. I couldn’t even phone a friend because the public phones used cards instead of coins. When I finally had money in my pocket I went to buy food. I was called a capitalist by a shopkeeper, so went to a café instead where I masterfully ordered a crepe - filled with just lettuce!
Sightseeing proved pointless as I reached the L’Arc du Triomphe – it closed early. So I ventured to the Palace of Versailles – huge! I headed back to the train but couldn’t locate my Eurailpass – lost it somewhere in Versailles – huge!
I actually contemplated stabbing myself for attention but had left my Swiss Army knife in the hostel. Throwing myself under a Citroen Deux Chevaux just wasn’t the same.
I had to get out – I left for Nice, and never looked back.