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The 6.30am train to London Bridge was full of commuters, and stunk of a cheap cologne cocktail.

Then we caught the Underground to St Pancras.

I love the Eurostar. It was straight through with bottles of water, perfume, etc and none of the airports’ humiliating treatment of paying passengers (which proves that the whole thing is a total farce!).

It’s also much easier at the other end as we don’t have to wait for our luggage.

At the Gare du Nord, we bought 10 Metro tickets, which works out cheaper, and easily found our way around.

Also, the smells were better on the Paris trains!

We checked in to our hotel room and went out to the nearest Brasserie for coffee and croissants, and watched the world hurry by.

Paris 006 (Small)A passing taxi driver had a hands-free phone, but he wasn’t holding the steering-wheel. He was waving both hands in the air while he spoke on the phone!

We caught the Metro to the Sacre Coeur area.

The weather was warm and there wasn’t a cloud in the sky.

In the main road before the Sacre Coeur side roads, there was a game of  ‘Guess where the white disc is’ or whatever you want to call it. He juggled the three black discs around and a lady pointed to the wrong one.

It seemed obvious to me (as it probably was meant to be) and I pointed to the right one. To my surprise, the man tried to give me a 100 euro note!

‘No, no way!’ I replied, refusing it. What on earth would have happened if I’d accepted it?

In most cases, this sleight of hand is actually the simplest part of the scam. Most card and shell games are very elaborate operations involving several crew members. In addition to the tosser, the scam depends on alookout to keep an eye out for the police, a roper to bring in potential players and one or more shills to get people to play. The shill blends in as part of the crowd — in fact, the shill will appear to be the opposite of the tosser. If the tosser is wearing a dirty T-shirt and a baseball cap, the shill might be dressed in a suit, carrying a briefcase. The shills job is to act as a player or an involved spectator.

Paris 008 (Small)Before others join the game, the tosser lets one of the shills win a couple of times. The tosser doesn’t switch the cards (or ditch the ball), so the game looks easy to any spectators. When people see the shill winning so easily (or losing by making a dumb choice), they want to play themselves. Another shill might fold a corner of the queen card while the tosser is looking away. This boosts the players’ confidence because they think they’re pulling one over on the tosser. But when the tosser picks the cards up, he or she subtly unbends the fold in the queen and folds the corner of one of the black cards.

Even armed with all this knowledge, you still can’t beat this game. If you see the card switch, track the right card and put down money on the actual queen, one of the shills will just put down a higher bet on another card, and the tosser will decree “one bet at a time.” Or a shill might bump into the table, “accidentally” knocking it over, voiding the game. Or the tosser might suddenly spot the police, and pack the game up. So in most cases, there really is no way to win these games — the crew is only out to take money, never to give any of it up.

Paris 017 (Small)We hurried away, passing loads of Asian women rummaging through rows of bargain clothes, priced from 1 euro to about 5 euros.

Yes, of course I stopped for a quick look, Dear Readers! I bought a little pair of suede boots for our baby Granddaughter Isabella, for just under 3 euros.

I’m so glad that we climbed to the top of the steps in front of the Sacre Coeur on our first day as I couldn’t possibly have managed it after that!

There’s no need to climb back down the steps. We walked along the narrow roads, which were full of restaurants and artists.

In the afternoon, after a huge meal of half a chicken and chips in a Brasserie and two refreshing beers, we caught the Metro to the Eiffel Tower area.

There seemed to be film crews everywhere; well, their vans were parked, but we couldn’t see any filming going on. Maybe it was still lunchtime.

Paris 026 (Small)We strolled back to the hotel and decided to have dinner there as we were worn out by then.

A nice early start in the morning, after breakfast in the hotel, although our muscles were protesting a bit after all the walking on the day before.

Why does coffee taste so much nicer abroad? The beans all come from the same countries, but it’s so hard to find a really good cup of coffee in the UK.

We caught the Metro to see Notre Dame, which was surrounded by Japanese tourists taking photos of themselves with their selfie sticks.

Then we strolled slowly along to the Louvre, with lots of rests on the way.

Looking at the long queue outside the glass pyramid, we decided against going in.

Paris 038 (Small)After that, we strolled along the Champs Elysee for ages  towards the Arc de Triomphe.

We could see the arch in the distance, but it never seemed to get any nearer!

Determined, we walked and walked, and finally reached it!

Then we made our way back to the hotel to collect our luggage, and we caught the Metro to the Gare du Nord and the Eurostar home.

As we were Business Class, we had access to the private lounge, which was useful as we were early and our train was delayed for 20 minutes.

Jarvis Cocker came in, got a drink and some nuts, and then disappeared. Perhaps there’s an extra-VIP Lounge there somewhere.

Paris is a lovely city, despite the big Macdonalds M everywhere.

Paris 066 (Small)They are useful though for using the loo as nobody cares if you walk in and out again without buying anything.

It was definitely a good time to go to Paris as the euro’s so low, which made everything a lot cheaper!





We stayed at the Ibis Paris Tour Eiffel Cambronne

2 Rue de Cambronne



Tel +33(0) 140612299

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