Mark Tanner - Adventurer, Writer and Amateur Beatboxer



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Frog legs and berets

18 April 2002


If one was given a fairly flat piece of land with a bit of a river running through and told to build the most beautiful city they could, it probably wouldn't look too much different than Paris. I'd say Napoleon would have been pretty impressed when his very request was fulfilled – a city of grand avenues framed by majestic buildings and manicured parks dotted with eloquent statues and filled with stylish pooch-walking natives and photo-clicking tourists in awe of the beauty of this magnificent metropolis.


I had dreamed of one day visiting Paris in the company of a fine lady who didn't mind my table manners and laughed at my jokes, but instead, I ended up in reputably the most romantic city in the world with 3 Irish lads, Dahey, Donal and Eoghan, wearing sneakers. A few long runs, a lot of prattle about what a budding athlete should eat and a charity quiz night was the build up for Mairie de Paris (the Paris Marathon).


There'd be better ways to see the French capital, but with sun shining on our faces and the flowers in bloom, as far as pushing yourself to your uppermost physical limit for more than 4 million steps on hard concrete and cobblestones goes, it wasn't a bad place to do it.


The run started off a touch frosty for Dahey (due to early morning miscommunication that saw him without a plastic bag to keep warm) and was followed by copious amounts of sugar lumps and fruit, some hullabaloo in the tunnels along the River Seine, a post-run interview for a local paper and a stellar effort from all (especially from Donal and Dahey, as it was their first marathon).


I had been expecting to be laid out for a couple of days in our fine lodging across the Seine from the Louvre whimpering about grievous limbs, but we managed to brave a pint the night of the marathon and then fit in a full couple of days of visiting all of the splendid sites that you'd see on biscuit tins and tea-towels.


It was great to finally get to the top of the Eiffel Tower and Arch de Triumph, dine on the ave des Champs Elysees and see Notre Dame, Jardin des Tuileries and the Louvre, but my favourite spot was undoubtedly Montmatre. While parts of Paris were almost too perfect, Montematre oozed character. By night establishments such as the Moulin Rouge and a string of sleazy strip clubs shone, and by day you could catch glimpses at the end of streets and alleys of the striking white basilica of Sacre Coeur, perched on top of the hill, watching over the city of. The spot made such an impression on me that I invested in a painting to capture the moment.


My overall verdict of Paris would have to be two thumbs up. All of the common myths that I had heard such as the city being expensive, dirty and unfriendly I found to be untrue. I vow to return one day, but without a bunch sweaty blokes.








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