Culture!

When I started to look at my plans for 2015 and in particular the 6 Nations I got online to see what was achievable as far as tickets were concerned. Tickets for Twickenham are always hard to come by, so I got an idea into my head to watch 5 games in 5 countries instead!

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I’m not going to give too much away here, but you can see that game 1 was in Paris. The joys of having a daughter living there meant this would be my 4th game at the Stade De France. Having started in 2013 with the Top 14 final, then France v England (and heartbreak) and France v Australia in 2014.

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All that means I’m on the mailing list for the Stade so was again able to buy tickets very easily. This time for 4 of us, my daughter Alex, her fiancé Gautier and my good and nearly as sports mad friend Monica!

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A very different journey for this one, a quick drive to Ebbsfleet then a Eurostar journey of a mere 2 hours into the centre of Paris.

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I have to confess Monica and I are probably like a couple of naughty school girls when we’re together, so we had a great laugh all the way.  I’m not so sure the same can be said for those having to listen to us shrieking with laughter!

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Alex and Gautier met us at the station, it’s always a joy to see my daughter, and oh so hard to leave her! We had a traditional French dinner, Steak Frites in effect,  after we’d checked into the hotel.

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With Wales and England kicking the tournament off watching that game was very high priority, so we headed to O’Neill’s next to the Moulin Rouge, it was no shock to see lots of men in skirts in situ.

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We had decent seats to see England get a good win, and mostly really nice company, chatting rugby with some Scottish fans. Not so nice was the man who shouted ‘Jamie Roberts’ at me, I replied with ‘England’ to which he responded ‘f**k off right in my ear. I feel he was lucky I’m female and only pushed him away telling him to go and learn how to be a rugby fan!

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Having presumed the idiot was Welsh that was corrected when we had the delight of seeing him and his friends behaving badly after the game while dressed in kilts! I’m sure alcohol was the biggest factor in his behaviour, but it’s a worrying trend at times around rugby.

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We stayed in the Mercure Hotel near to the Place Du Clichy, at a cost of £157 for the 2 nights for a pretty decent, quiet room, that wasn’t too bad at all.  I think both Monica and I got a good sleep in spite of my hacking cough!

A photo giving a true view of just how big Basteraud is!

A late, lazy morning saw us leave the hotel at gone mid-day, we had a brunch of Croque Monsieur before we set off to take in some culture. A breath taking climb (literally) before a breathtaking view from the Sacre Couer.

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Paris really is a city of beautiful architecture and we managed to combine the rugby with taking in a few of the most spectacular sights.

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Now our next food stop is where we made a schoolgirl/boy error, the food was very incorrect, yet very tasty – a KFC.  That wasn’t the mistake, making sure we’d eaten left it too late to squeeze onto a train to Saint Dennis and the stadium.

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We ended up taking an Uber taxi to the ground, the driver was superb and knew the back way, but we missed the anthems, something I won’t do at the next 4 games! We did however see the kick off, which was a relief.

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We had superb seats, although one was in the row below the others, 3rd and 4th row from the front, the only issue was the really drunk man in front of me and the number of people walking round the running track, who at times blocked the view.

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Lots will be written about the game, so a quick summary. You never quite know which France you’re going to get, World beaters or distinctly average, I’d say their performance was a mix of both.

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Scotland showed some promise in the Autumn Internationals and I wasn’t expecting the game to be a walkover for the home team.

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That proved to be the case, which meant we saw an exciting game. The only try of the match was scored by the Scots, replacement Dougie Fife finishing off a scintillating move.  However it was to be penalties that won the day. Something I was fairly pleased about as Man of the Match and kicker Camille Lopez is in my dream team! Points galore! The end result was France 15 Scotland 8.

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A win is a win and France added their names to that of England and Ireland as first round winners. Home advantage is key every year in the competition and Wales will certainly be devastated to have lost at the Millennium!

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Getting away from the Stade De France can be a pain, we were very indecisive and tried a taxi rank, then for an Uber taxi before deciding to get a drink in the Novotel, where we saw the nasty, swearing Scot.  I was pleased to verify that he wasn’t Welsh and appalled to see how he and his friends thought it was ok to behave.

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We made our way back to the hotel quite easily strolling to a taxi rank that actually had vehicles in it!

I’d recommend staying around after the game for a while, rather than attempting to get away quickly, which won’t happen anyway. The taxi cost 25 Euros which was a bit steep but got us back to our hotel.

As we were so late to the ground, I don’t have any statistics for food and drink in the ground other than to tell you that you can’t buy alcohol once you’re inside. I got some prices from a bar outside, so, facts and figures time.

  • Cost of Ticket         75 Euros
  • Heineken 25cl.         4 Euros
  • Heineken 50cl.         7 Euros
  • Coffee.                     2.5 Euros
  • Tea/chocolate           5 Euros
  • Soft drinks 50cl.       4 Euros
  • Water.                         3 Euros
  • Hot Dog.                     6 Euros
  • Hot Dog & Fries.       8 Euros
  • Hamburger & Fries. 9 Euros

For a country with such a wonderful food offering the fare on offer at the ground was pretty average.

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  • Ladies toilets – from Monica’s experience and my prior visits, plenty of them, but a little chilly and no hand washing/drying facilities
  • Safety – there was a lot of security, and no alcohol in the ground, which in general meant there weren’t loads of drunk people. The guy in front had managed to get his own alcohol in somehow.
  • Nicest moment of the day – seeing so many Scots in their traditional regalia in spite of the fact it was a freezing cold evening!
  • Best moment of the game – the Scottish try was well worked. Seeing the ball moved from one side to the other, but it certainly showed the trend that many wingers can’t tackle!

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More culture on the Sunday with Alex and Gautier, this time the Eifel Tower and Arc Du Triomphe, polished off a great weekend! With the return Eurostar journey as smooth as the outward one.

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A small mention of the drive home, as usual the inside lane of the M25 had glass in it! Favourite song – Song For A Friend – Jason MrAz.

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