I’d always wanted to try driving a 2CV, ever since hiring an original Fiat 500 for the day in Tuscany, Italy. On this occasion, though, as we were in the centre of Paris and not out in the countryside I thought it better to have a guide drive us around instead. We were in Paris for the marathon so what better reward after the race than to experience the sights and sounds of the city in such an instantly recognisable vehicle! We’d chosen Paris Authentic and were delighted to be escorted for the hour by the wonderfully hospitable Jean-Luc. With the roof rolled back we soaked up all the happy smiles from the passers-by as Jean Luc pointed out secret little squares, famous writers’ coffee shops as well as more popular locations such as the Notre Dame and the Arc de Triomphe. The back seat of the 2CV felt more comfortable than my sofa back home!
The Paris Marathon is the unofficial number 7 in the world after the “big six” of London, Berlin, Chicago, Boston, New York and Tokyo. With a start line along the Champs Élysées it’s certainly a marvellous location if you want to tick a foreign marathon off your “bucket list”. Applying in October for the April race I got in straight in too. No ballot for this event! So those Paris marathon tips? Here they are with a few coming from my dad Roger who’s run over 895 marathons:
1, Choose Paris in the first place!
It’s great having the start and finish areas for the Paris Marathon just a few 100m apart. There are two big beautiful parks enroute. A long flat stretch along the River Seine plus a fairly chilled out atmosphere too!
2, Get a nice hotel near the start
We didn’t have to leave our Champs Elysées hotel until 08:45, to be in my pen for 08:55, for my 09:20 start. That compares with getting up at 5am for the New York City marathon! We chose the Hotel Belmont just south of the Champs Élysées and that suited us perfectly.
Have you ever wondered where the centre of London is? Ever wanted to pinpoint the exact spot so you can stand there, take a “selfie” and say you’re the most central person in London? Well if you have wanted to do this you may have stumbled across 9 potential candidate according to Google, with some being more well-known than others.
So where is the centre of London then?
1. According to general consensus (Charles I statue – Trafalgar Square)
The most commonly mentioned “centre” point is the Charles 1 statue, located just south of Trafalgar Square on a little mini roundabout. It’s known for being the location where all distances to London are measured from. Sometimes this central measurement point is mistakenly thought to be the Eleanor Statue at “Charing Cross” station but that’s actually number 2 below. Here at Trafalgar Square there’s a plaque on the floor denoting where you’re standing:
“On the site now occupied by the statue of King Charles I was erected the original Queen Eleanor’s cross, a replica of which stands in front of Charing Cross station. Mileages from London are measured from the site of the original cross”.
The custom of considering the location of the old Charing Cross to be the arbitrary centre of London seems to have arisen in the late 18th or early 19th century. Continue reading