For the love of France

We are up before sunrise this morning as we snuck in a fair few hours sleep last night. It’s 6am and we are good to make tracks with a big drive ahead. We’ve seen all we need to in Bordeaux, the city itself is petite but it would take years if we tried to get to all the wineries.

I sing Happy Birthday to Anton as he takes the reigns, I’ve again done well to avoid driving but I’d much prefer to just take the passenger seat. It’s a six-hour drive ahead, probably one of the longest driving legs we will have to do. Even though this is a reasonably short trip for Aussies it’s an unfathomable one for Europeans.

By now we have discovered that us Aussies would have to be up there with the worst drivers in the world, road rage and just shit driving in general are definitely what we do best on our roads. It’s pleasant driving here, cars are absolutely hiking yet there are no issues, everyone just concentrates on their own wheels. It’s one hundred and fifty Euros in tolls from Bordeaux to Paris; Gee! they love a good toll fee.

After a comfortable drive we arrive at the Chateau de Versailles, the former home of the French monarchy, which is located about 20 kilometres from Paris.

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Monuments of Versailles

It’s an enormous grand castle that is famous for it’s hall of mirrors.

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The Treaty of Versailles was one of the peace treaties signed here at the end of World War I. It’s rainy and windy so a walk around the perimeter takes place under the umbrella before a quick squiz inside. The unpleasant weather didn’t turn anyone off as it’s such a busy place.

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Driving on to our accommodation in the Latin Quarter, Anton tackles the roads with ease. Entering into the city, we get excited as we see the Eifle tower in the distance. The roads aren’t half as bad as expected but we aren’t near that crazy, no lane roundabout that so many tourist drivers laboriously associate with Paris. I bet if we drove through that our opinion would be completely different! The traffic is still thick but no different to Melbourne’s Bell Street in peak hour #Nightmare.

We arrive at our hotel in the Boulevard Saint-Marcel for Anton’s birthday surprise and are excited to avoid an airbnb apartment for the next four nights. Fresh towels and a made bed each day is going to be complete bliss. I just love the chic basic styling and brightness of our hotel room too.

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We off load our bags in our pretty room; draw the curtains across the classical French doors, peeping through the uninterrupted glass panels to see a picture book outlook.

Stepping out onto the balcony, in the distance is the splendid Eifle tower staring directly at us. I’ve got a feeling it’s going to be a heavenly stay in Paris.

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Leaving the views of our balcony for the views of the streets, we hit the pedestrian route in an attempt to get to know our surroundings.

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We lose a couple of hours doing this and begin to understand how Paris is divided into twenty arrondissements, meaning neighbourhoods. It was in the park that surrounded the Parlement Français that we found an enormous sized memorable map entrenched in the ground outlining the battlefields of the Great War.

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The lay out is different to Melbourne’s grid, Paris spirals out from the centre in numerical order and we witness that each arrondissement has it’s own special character.

We effortlessly navigate our way home and are excited about tonight’s birthday celebrations; the only hint I‘ve given Anton is that it’s going to be Funnn!! We each scramble together a party outfit from our very limited wardrobe… Oh how much I miss my shoes right now!!

Our concierge organises an uber driver for us and we are delivered to the top of Champs-Élysées. The Luxor Obelisk is a 23 metre high Egyptian obelisk and is said to be the oldest antique monument of Paris. Couldn’t resist a photo standing in front of it at the center of the Place de la Concorde.

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All things pretty in Paris, even the lamp posts

We arrive at Buddha~Bar located on the ultra-chic Faubourg St Honoré and are welcomed by the unique ambience ~ it is dim, mellow and majestic with the restaurant built around a four metre high monumental Buddha.

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As the waiter leads us to our table, the resident DJ playing from the side terraces mixes tracks. We are intimately seated at the outskirts of the restaurant (Perfect! can do so much people watching from here), the tables for two surround the larger bookings that are seated on the round tables in the centre. Above us gold and red velvet, arabesque chandeliers suspend from the ceiling.

As we get comfortable, by chance two fellow Aussies (unknown to us before this evening) are seated next to us and within seconds our tables are joined. We are spoilt with choice on this Pacific Rim menu with Pan-Asian, Californian and European influences.

Everything looks so scrumptious and given the waiter recommends sharing the four of us enjoy the cuisine together. Merry times are in abundance and we are graciously treated to surprise birthday desserts, wine and cocktails.

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The company of our fellow Aussies and new friends is as sweet as the caramel mud cake they are famous for. Who knew the picture of the lady on the cheesecake shop box was a real person, well it’s actually the babcia (grandmother) of the fabulous people we are eating dinner with.

It wasn’t until late in the evening that Lukas asked me what my quick, go-to cake shop was, with no idea that we had just spent the last five hours with the founders, I luckily answered the Cheesecake shop.

We spent the night with two generous and humble people, killing it abroad with their cake brand.. All the more reason to buy the best caramel mud cake ever made from The Cheesecake Shop.

The tables are cleared from the centre and the restaurant come nightclub begins. It’s birthday party time on the D-floor. We leave late after a fun night with our new mates and head for the taxi rank. Cabs are ample and there is no Melbourne waiting game, before we know it we’re home. Happy Birthday until next year Anton..x

Anna Owens is the founder of ownsit! A mama working in Community Development and Partnerships Education. Anna is a colour crazy, creativity enthusiast who loves to design, collect shoes, eat & travel.. x

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