Paris – in transit to London

Monday, 31 July 2023

So how do I get back to London after my USI (Università della Svizzera italiana) course at Lugano in Switzerland? Train to Milan and out to Malpensa Airport, fly to London is the quickest route. Instead I take the train to Zurich and then the high speed TGV Lyria in 4 hours 6 minutes to Paris, where I spend the night, have dinner with a French friend and then continue by Eurostar to London.

▲ Reuilly-Diderot metro station – from my arrival at the Gare de Lyon train station in Paris it’s a long long walk to the Metro line I need, I’ve unearthed some old Metro tickets which I think are still valid, but they don’t work because the gate into the metro ‘ne marche pas.’ Since there’s nobody around to let us in I follow the Parisians in climbing over the damn thing, not elegant at my age. Next I go two stops further than I need because the Google Maps route is not sensible, next the damn Metro is crowded and finally it makes lengthy stops at some of the many stations between Reuilly-Diderot and Bonne Nouvelle. From where it’s a long walk to the hotel. I am not happy by the time I get there.

▲  Eglise Saint-Vincent-de-Paul – from my hotel I walk up past this very big and imposing church to the Gare du Nord, but by the time I’ve checked out the Eurostar check-in location for my train to London tomorrow it’s time to meet my French friend for dinner in the Terminus Nord, right across from the Gare du Nord, a ‘French brasserie cuisine with a seafood focus in a mirrored art deco venue with a terrace.’ Which is to say it’s very trad French and my mixed seafood dish is not that exciting, not as fresh as it could be and heavily salted. Eh as I have been known to say about French cuisine.

▲ Gare du Nord – exactly what a classy train station should look like

◄ Grand Rex Cinema – I’m not in Paris for long and even then I don’t really make much use of my short stay, although I do stroll past this magnificent art deco cinema. Modelled after Radio City Music Hall in New York it opened in 1932 and can seat 2700 movie-goers although it was originally intended to seat 5000. A million people a year catch a movie here.

▲ Trains in the Gare du Nord – next morning I make the short walk from my hotel back to the train station where I’m through check in, immigration, security and into the boarding lounge area in minutes, it’s unchanged from previous visits over the years. Last night my French friend warned me to take care around the station. If it constitutes concern in any way I’d noted the densely African population around the station, particularly, amusingly, outside McDonalds across from the station where every seat was taken by an African. This morning the station is only moderately crowded.