The village was just beginning to stir as we rolled out the door at 6:35am to catch the 7:03 am train to Interlaken Ost (west). Naturally, the sky is clear this morning.😂. In the past, we’ve taken the first train up to the Jungfraujoch, which from Lauterbrunnen is about 6:30am. It takes about 2.5 hours. By comparison, the trip to Interlaken is only about 20 minutes.
We took an earlier train out of Lauterbrunnen to pick up some extra connection time in Basel, where we take the TGV. While tickets like these are good for any time during the day, a TGV reservation is for a specific seat on a specific train and day. You miss it, you have a problem. In years past, the conductor would come around to check tickets and punch them to validate them; now they scan a QR code on your phone with their phone.
The first stop is Zweilutschinen (Zwei= two), where the two rivers Weiss (White) Lutscheine and Schwartz (Black) Lutscheine converge. There’s not much here except a rail maintenance facility, though if you’re traveling to Grindelwald from Lauterbrunnen, this is where you change lines.
The sun’s rays are starting to make their way from the mountain peaks down into the valley floor. While Lauterbrunnen’s skies were clear, when we pause at Wilderswil, there a low cloud bank hanging in this part of the valley, midway between the ground and the mountain tops.
Just outside Interlaken is a large fairground that seems to host an annual ‘metalfest’ (music) called Greenfield Festival. It’s about a week from now, but we’ve been through here when it was ongoing, and it makes for some scenery of its own with the fans.
From Thun we head towards Basel and I can see the snow covered mountains receding behind us. The valley floor here is wide and mostly flat, so there’s lots of farming going on.
The next stop is Bern, capital of Switzerland and we’re crossing over the Aare river. We visited Bern for a few days in 2001. Today, we’re here for five minutes.
Finally, now 1pm when we arrive in Paris at the Gare de Lyon station, and didn’t need to use our water wings after all!
From here we use an app on our phone to plot the route on “le Metropolitan”, or Metro to get closest to our hotel. Fortunately a fairly short route with one station change and our “friends”, the stairs aren’t too difficult (makes you appreciate escalators that work).
We’ve just checked in and while they ready our room, the hotel suggested we have a drink while we wait. Life is tough.
No Robopotty this time. It was interesting, but I’m fine with something that doesn’t need a remote control to use the toilet.
The temperature is about 70 and partly cloudy. We walked down to Place Vendôme and the unbelievable has happened, The Ritz hotel has finally reopened. After years of renovation and a fire that set them back, they’ve opened. Place Vendôme is as clean as I’ve ever seen it and almost (except for one part of a corner) without scaffolding.
Chopard is obviously still being cautious about security. They were robbed in a daylight robbery when we were here in March. Now, there’s a police car parked at their corner and a security guard outside. Most all higher end stores have their own security outside the store (and inside too) with the telltale dark suit, mic in their ear, loitering near the entrance. Though we haven’t ventured too far as yet, no overwhelming security presence by the Gendarmerie, but with the Europe 2016 games starting the day before we leave, the security forces will likely be on high alert (country is already on on orange alert).
Les Jardin Des Tuileries are relatively quiet this afternoon, with children at a playground and on a merry go round nearby. The horse chestnut trees have already bloomed here and leafed out, providing nice shade for people like us lounging in the green metal chairs. When we were here in March, it was the beginning of Fashion Week and the entrance from the rue de Rivoli into the park had been taken over by tents put up by the fashion houses. They’re gone now, as are the amusement rides sometimes found in the same area.
Of course, we had to walk over to the Seine to see how bad the flooding was. Even though the river is receding, it’s still very high and way over its lower banks, engulfing the promenades that were in the boundary between the street level and the river. You could walk along these, some people sun bathed and they were wide enough you could actually drive a car down there. The unlucky ones who did, now have their car under water. And the houseboats are a bit stranded (though better off than their owner’s cars). The walkway underneath the bridge and road at Quai Aimé-Césaire is closed as the steps are flooded.
Thank you to those who have shared comments on the blog. Much appreciated and hope you’ve enjoyed traveling with us this far.
More photos on Flickr.