Aah, Paris. The cosmopolitan capital of France, has inspired poets and artists for centuries, with its iconic art and architecture, cafe culture and air of romance. The stunning city of lights is a big place so when you rock up in Paris, it’s always good to have a little help from the locals. Especially when the locals happen to be your best mates from South Africa!
When Smartguy Lee and his beautiful wife Cherie, were invited by his high school mate Morne Steyn, Springbok Fly-half, and his charming family to visit them in Paris France, he knew it was an adventure they simply could not miss! What better way to explore Paris than with your best mate being your tour guide?!
So it was decided. Bags were packed and passports were sorted – the countdown began to the trip of a lifetime. They say, you never forget your first trip to Paris… Smartguy Lee certainly never will!
On our way to Paris!Day 1 – Monday
Bonjour Paris! Arriving in the most bewitching of capitals on Monday night, there was an unbelievable sense of excitement in the air. After a quick dinner at Morne and Christelle’s family home, it was off for a night drive through the streets of Paris. Lee and Cherie got their first glimpse of the incredible Paris at night.
Paris, is one of the largest capitol cities in Europe, with 2.2 million people living in the dense, central city and almost 12 million people living in the whole metropolitan area. Located in the north of France on the river Seine, Paris has the well deserved reputation of being the most beautiful and romantic of all cities, brimming with historic associations and remaining vastly influential in the realms of culture, art, fashion, food and design. Dubbed the City of Light (la Ville Lumière) and Capital of Fashion, it is home to the world’s finest and most luxurious fashion designers and cosmetics, such as Chanel, Dior, Yves Saint-Laurent, Guerlain, Lancôme, L’Oréal and Clarins. A large part of the city, including the River Seine, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The city has the second highest number of Michelin restaurants in the world (after Tokyo) and contains numerous iconic landmarks, such as the world’s most visited tourist site the Eiffel Tower, the Arc de Triomphe, the Notre-Dame Cathedral, the Louvre Museum and Moulin Rouge making it the most popular tourist destination in the world with 45 million tourists annually.
the Arc de Triumph Pyramid de louvre & the Notre-Dame CathedralWe’re here! Bonjour Paris, Bonjour Eiffel! Lee, Cherie & Morne
Day 2 – Tuesday
Pedal like the French. Tuesday morning was spent pedalling a bicycle exploring the local neighborhood and gorgeous parks. The Château de Sceaux is a grand country house in Sceaux, Hauts-de-Seine. Located in a park laid out by Andre Le Notre, it houses the Musée de l’Île-de-France, a museum of local history. The former château was built for Jean-Baptiste Colbert, Louis XIV’s minister of finance, who purchased the domaine in 1670. This museum contains one of the largest collections of the painters of the School of Paris.
Smartguy bikingChâteau de Sceaux Lee & Cherie in the Château de Sceaux park laid out by Andre Le Notre
After a leisurely afternoon spent walking the beautiful parks of Château de Sceaux, it was time for a couple of drinks at the legendary Pub Eden Park. Established in 1992 by the members of the famous Racing Club de France rugby crew named “Show Biz”, Franck Mesnel, Eric Blanc, Jean-Baptiste Lafond and Denis Charvet, Eden Park Pub is now ‘the’ bar where thirsty supporters go to celebrate with post-game drinks. The tiny bar is a cluster-fest of expats and locals of all ages. From students to business men. Everyone is having a good time!
Best way to the pub is via scooter – Morne style! The famous Pub Eden Park Super cool guys these two – Willem Alberts and Meyer Bosman
Day 3 – Wednesday
Practice session at Stade Français. Morne is currently playing for Stade Français, the French professional rugby union club based in Paris. The club plays in the Top 14 domestic league in France and is one of the most successful French clubs of the modern era. The club is well known for their eccentric and flamboyant style introduced by honorary President Max Gauzzini. In 2005, Guazzini, a media man, chose to shock the “macho” world of rugby by introducing a pink jersey, pink being one of the rarest colours used by sports teams. Since then the Pink Stade Français jerseys has become wildly popular and one of the most recognisable jerseys in rugby. Since arriving at Stade Français in the early 1990’s Guazzini revolutionised the club and was also one of the very first to introduce female cheerleaders, music before kick-off, fireworks at the end of evening matches and a radio-controlled car to bring the tee to the kicker when he takes a penalty or a conversion kick.
Stade Français Team locker roomMorne getting ready for kicking practiceOn the pitch State of the art gymWith a chandelier…off course.
When the weather gets too tough for training outside – training goes indoors underneath the stadium
Once training was done it was time to visit the famed little streets of Montmartre. Montmartre is a large hill in Paris’s 18th arrondissement. Montmartre is primarily known for the white-domed Basilica of the Sacré-Cœur on its summit and as a nightclub district. Across the street is the Place du Tertre where the legends of 20th century art used to roam. Many artists had studios or worked in or around Montmartre, including Salvador Dalí, Amedeo Modigliani, Claude Monet, Pablo Picasso and Vincent van Gogh. Now it’s filled with watercolours, portrait sketchers and caricaturists. The Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Paris, commonly known as Sacré-Cœur Basilica is a Roman Catholic church and minor basilica, dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. A popular landmark, the basilica is located at the summit of the butte Montmartre, the highest point in the city.
Montmartre The famous street Cafes of Paris is delightful Sacré-Cœur Basilica Beautiful view with Lee & Cherie The Sacré-Cœur Basilica is located at the summit of the butte MontmartreQuick stop outside the infamous Moulin Rouge (French for Red Mill) cabaret in Paris – Oh la la
After a great day of sight seeing more fun was to be had by Lee and Morne – Go karts with the boys!
Looks like very serious stuff! Fastest lap time belonged to Morne.
Stay tuned for A Smartguy in Paris Part 2