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It was actually less than a week left (we thought) so we rushed South through Holland, Utrecht, Breda, into Belgium, Antwerp, Gent (got horribly lost), into France and stopped at Roubaix – for JB. The Paris – Roubaix race is a highlight of the cycling calendar, and he wanted to follow the route into Paris… It was Sunday, weddings at City Hall.

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Ghost of Weddings Past?  Not a great photo, shot on full zoom from across the square, look at the image in the doorway. Weddings are spooky enough without this! Mystery solved, it’s a large statue inside the door – surprising little camera!

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We found La Peripherique (not difficult – it’s a ring road) but finding the appropriate exit for our hotel was not. Porte de Versailles was at the extreme far side of the city. But we found it, finally, checked in, argued with the room staff, and then set out to retrieve JB’s bike, at David & Patricia’s hotel, just off Place de l’Opera, right in the heart of the city. I’ve done some silly things in my life, but being a passenger in a car, with Carla reversing down Boulevarde des Capucines… Jeeez! The next morning we took the Metro (!) into Place de la Concorde, and walked through the Jardin des Tuilleries to…

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Musee du Louvre… and spent the entire day there…

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Browse through a more detailed collection of pictures, enlarged, no captions

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Then a day in and around Montmartre, followed by a night in a Vietnamese Restaurant just off Place Pigalle. World Cup Final Night…

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France was playing Italy – and we sat there – totally unmoved…

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Next morning – Metro to the Eiffel Tower…

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Stunning views, problems with Gypsies – & graphiti artists… but anyhoo, pause here and browse through a more detailed collection of pictures, enlarged, no captions

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It’s all right Mum – I had a firm hold on him…
honest – I did…

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I think her mind was wandering…

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Just three tourists…

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I’ve always had a thing about Paris rooftops – honest!

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Notre Dame… and then shopping – for Our Lady…

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I hate shopping centres – even Galleries LaFayette…

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Only 7 days to go – and he’ll be joining them…

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A day in Avenue des Champs Elysees…

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It’s our last day together in Paris – the camera is tolerated…

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I was leaving for Oz in the morning, Carla and JB were flying to Sweden for a week with Candice. Carla would then return home, and JB would join his tour – riding behind Le Tour de France. We had found a Restaurant we liked on ‘the Champs’ and went there for our farewell dinner, but left early. JB was complaining about stomach pains…

We’ll get to him, and his stomach pains, in a moment. Pause here and browse through a more detailed collection of pictures, enlarged, no captions – just click and scroll

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You have a savage wrenching pain WHERE? Three more weeks in Paris…

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Triathletes are tough. Very bloody tough – and pain is their playground… So when you hear your son muffling his whimpers into a pillow, so as not to wake us all up – you KNOW he’s hurting. We were packed for departure at noon, but it was only 5:00am and we needed a doctor. The hotel was helpful, but it still took 2 hours. The doctor went straight to the appendix, and then drove us to a Pathologist for blood tests and confirming scans. JB couldn’t hang on for the results, he collapsed at the Pathology Lab, and we were raced to the Emergency Department of St. Joseph’s Hospital – a few blocks away in Montparnasse. A splendid hospital, but they couldn’t operate until 7:00pm, because some genius had suggested he take a laxative during the night. He was stabilised and made comfortable – then Carla and I ‘hit the phones.’ Flights cancelled, Insurance company notified, a worried Mother (back in Australia) started mobilising English relatives – and David & Patricia, in Kent, helped me with medical translations when my French ran out. I phoned Florence, who insisted that I come and get her – so she could be with JB when he came out of anaesthetic.

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JB was due to ride the Alps stages behind Le Tour in just 7 days time, but there was to be no Cycle Tour this year. Carla decorated his ward, while I drove to St. Denis (on the far side of Paris) to collect Florence. This was to be home for the next 4 days.

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On the 4th day he arose, several kgs lighter, very gaunt and very hungry. It was Bastille Day, Florence was taking us to the ‘Feu d’artifice’ (sounds better than ‘fireworks’) in the Trocadero, but first, a restaurant. It was Chinese – they said…

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A brave face – but he’s still hurting…

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and leaning… we had to shield him from the surging crowd…

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Florence talked her way through most of the Police road blocks (‘Australien malade’) and they gave her a park – in Keith’s Street!

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Florence hosted a special ‘resurrection’ dinner for JB and asked him what he would like her to cook for him. No hesitation – “Snails” – and he devoured 4 dozen!

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A wonderful night, lots of food, lots of wine, and just a few memories of absent friends. I still have to find the significance of that 4th wise monkey. Anyone? Pause here and browse through a more detailed collection of pictures, enlarged, no captions

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The following few days were Carla’s last in Paris, returning to Oz for a new position. We moved hotels to La Porte de la Chapelle, closer to Florence. Shopping done (that girl can SHOP), last lunch in Montmartre, farewells at Charles de Gaulle. She managed to leave with the bike bag and racing kit!

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Then Peter and Kaydee arrived, all ready to join JB for the Cycle Tour through the Alps. They hadn’t heard about his “change of plans.” He handled it with style, took them to lunch (at the George Cinq no less!), then took them for a walk around what was fast becoming ‘his city.’ He couldn’t climb the Arc de Triomphe with them – so Kaydee took the camera. The better pictures are hers!

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Then a long slow stroll down ‘the Champs’ with a poignant pause at a very special little shop…

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It was called ‘Yellow Obsession,’ and I felt for him, right then…

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And then, there were two. Peter & Kaydee left for their Alps Tour, and Carla was back in Oz. He was recovering fast, and still discovering things to see.

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Yes – that IS the tunnel…

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And I don’t think Zidane is talking about head butts…

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And each night – dinner ‘chez Florence’…

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more monuments…

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And, every night, a drive through (and around) the Place Charles de Gaulle. We were back in Oz before I discovered this is the one place in the world excluded from ALL rental car insurance policies!

Pause here and browse through a more detailed collection of pictures, enlarged, no captions.

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And finally – time to head home…

I should have seen the danger signs, it wasn’t so much a breakfast, as it was carbo-loading! It was our last day in Paris and he said, “I feel like walking today Dad.” When Carla left we had moved our hotel into Central Paris at Saint Augustin, so this morning we took a Metro from there to Montparnasse, and we walked, and walked – and bloody walked!

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We spent some time in the Montparnasse markets – we knew it well by now. He bought a new suitcase, thankfully on wheels. Through the Jardin du Luxembourg and the Palais, past the Sorbonne and the Marie Curie Museum, through Saint Germain to the Ile de la Cite. Around Notre Dame to the Left Bank (we knew several restaurants for lunch) and then got on a River Cruise…

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We disembarked the cruise boat at the Eiffel Tower, crossed the bridge and climbed the Palais de Chaillot steps to the Trocadero. All the way up Avenue Kleber to the Arc de Triomphe, right into the Champs Elysees, all the way down to the Rond-Point, then left into Av. Martignon, right into Boulevarde des Capucines, around Place de l’Opera to Galleries LaFayette. Now HE wants to go shopping! Then back down Haussmann to Saint Augustin – and the hotel…

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I know the map’s a bit small – but you’ll get the idea!

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The last photo taken in Paris – and quite appropriate…

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An early departure for the airport, we ignored the Peripherique and took one last drive through the city, and a lap of honour around Place Charles de Gaulle, picked up the Peripherique at Port Maillot, and headed for Charles de Gaulle Airport. Turned in the Rental Car, checked the luggage at BA, and went straight to check-in. Short flight to Heathrow, 2 hour transit in Terminal 4, and then boarded an Emirates flight to Dubai (3 hours transit) and Singapore. Another 2 hours transit before boarding a Qantas flight to Melbourne, overnight at the Airport Hilton, and an early morning departure for Brisbane. We’ve had better (and more direct) flights, but for a high-season medi-vac – it was OK!

And finally, browse through a few pictures of the last day, enlarged, no captions

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More on The Second Trip – 2006… 

1. Together Again
2. Ickham to Le Mans
3. Agen, Canal du Midi, la Baise
4. Heading North, Le Tour
5. Hannover and Holland
6. Final Week/s in Paris?
7. A Few Panoramas

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