Paris and Chateau d'Ecouen...

Paris is one of those places that conjures up images of romance and freedom in my mind.  I was surprised at the deep level of intergration between different ethnic groups in the city, particularly in commerce, the police and defense services.  It was a stark contrast to London.

Travel was facilitated by the 'Paris Visite Pass' which can be purchased from the airport when you land from the visitors information desk (  Make sure you get the right zones.  5 days is the maximum travel pass of this sort and for zone 6, costs around 51 Euros.  This covers you for bus, metro and the 'RER' trains (as well as some regional trains).  It also covers you to use the fernicular at Sacre Coeur.

Stock up on bottles of water locally before heading into the city.  Locally you'll pay around 23 cents for a bottle compared to 2 Euros in the city centre.  One tip re food - if you want a steak - don't order 'steak tartare'.  Steak tartare is raw minced meat with a raw egg mixed in!  I made the mistake of ordering it, expecting a lovely steak with tartare sauce.  I shrugged my shoulders when the item resembling an uncooked hamburger turned up on a plate.  My stomach complained for 2 days afterwards.

You can view the Paris album by going to:

I used a website called  You sign up and find a room with a family and find a room at a cheaper rate than a hotel.  The other advantage is that you're staying with local people that have local knowledge of the various things that you might like to see. I was staying at a small town called 'Villiers Le Bel' which is approximately 20 minutes away from Central Paris by train.  So if you like avoiding noise and crowds, I'd recommend this area.  Look for the Homestay account of Annabelle Spano.  You get bed, breakfast and an evening meal, free internet access and nice people to hang out with.

Like most cities, there's always something entertaining going on in the summer months.  The 2011 Gay Pride March provided colour, contrast and an uplifting vibe.  I bumped into a new friend, Stephane, who clued me in about some of the events and helped me to find my accommodation on the first night.  Stephene works for an organisation called 'ADES' that seek to educate people about issues surrounding the condition AIDS and the various forms of discrimination affecting gay people.  Although hetrosexual, Stephane is passionate about his work with the organisation.

2011 Paris Gay Pride march images:

The railway station Gare Du Norde was the venue for 'La Tournee Art Battles'.  Basically 4 artists square off for a 2 hour tournament to come up with a piece of art that the public then vote on.  It's the first time I'd photographed something of this nature.  You can view the album at:

The last album was shot at Chateau d'Ecouen.  Joe, one of my hosts at the accommodation told me about the place and that they carry out re-enactments of the era of the renaissance.  We took a drive down and I was treated to a brilliant spectacle of colour and action.  Apart from the narrative, the local drama society provided sword duels and jousting.  The sun was shining and the colours were vibrant:'Ecouen/index.html.

I hope you enjoy the images ... and if you go to Paris, have a great time.


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