[ Dec. 2018 ] We went to Paris to see the ballet in early December.
Paris and all over France has been stormy since late autumn because of the Yellow Vest demonstrations that are happening every Saturday.
We already knew that the ballet performance we were going to see at Palais Garnier on Saturday was postponed the day before we left for Paris.
We went there anyway, because we had another ballet booked on Sunday and we were going to meet our friends living in Paris and another friend who had just moved to France from London because of Brexit.
We flew there this time instead of taking train.
One thing I was surprised to see at the Charles de Gaulle airport was that some information boards were written only in French and Chinese and not English.
From the airport we decided to take a bus because I remembered that there was a bus service directly from the airport to the Palais Garnier area where our booked hotel was.
There was a vending machine for the bus ticket but it was partly out of order and we could not use our credit cards.
This machine did not accept €50 notes, so we had to buy some unnecessary chocolate to get some change.
I felt that Paris may not be an easy place to live in.
The information at the bus stop was written in French, English and Japanese and no Chinese.
It could be because Chinese people are mainly still travelling in groups with their own transport, but Japanese tourists are now travelling individually, so the bus users are Japanese.
As expected, the people who got on our bus were mostly Japanese and the majority in the bus became Japanese.
It was supposed to take about one hour, but not only because of the heavy traffic, but also because the bus broke down, it took as long as two hours.
On the way, we went through Banlieue, which is famous for housing poor immigrants.
It was rather disturbing to see closely many of the immigrants sitting on the low wall along the main street.
Later, my friend told me that on the motorway from the airport to the centre, when the traffic is very heavy, some criminals break the car windows and snatch bags from the passenger’s lap.
These kind of incidents are increasing, apparently.
They also say that the train from the airport is not safe, either.
Finally, we arrived at the Palais Garnier and from there we walked to the hotel in the cold rain.
We saw some people working hard, boarding up the front of shops, preparing for the Yellow Vest demonstration the next day.
The name of the hotel this time was Hotel France D’Antin Opera.
Fortunately for me, the receptionist spoke good Japanese.
He had lived in Japan for two years and “My wife is Japanese” he said, in Japanese.
The rooms in Paris hotels are usually very small, like a prison cell and this one, too, was very small.
The bathroom was as small as the prefabricated bath in Japanese business hotels, but all the necessary things were there and it was well designed for the users.
After a short rest, we went to a French restaurant that the receptionist found a card for on his desk, saying “I know a good Japanese restaurant, but not French one…”.
The name was Bistro Regent, which had some cheap set menus and the customers were the sort who would look for a cheap menu.
The atmosphere and service were not bad and the waitress let us taste three different red wines before we chose a bottle.
We shared the Entrecote steak, which was good.
They served a big portion of French fries and green salad in the metal bowls.