The tunnel seemed to last only a short time and then we were in France. The farms soon gave way to the outskirts of Paris and then we were at our destination of Paris Gare du Nord. We felt a bit silly - looking at everything "French" at once - but soon found the tourist information booth where we could buy our tickets to the "L'Open Tour" hop on hop off bus to tour the sights. We also bought rolls to take on board to keep us going until lunchtime. At the cafes nearby people sat facing out to the street, side by side, a very different look.
We had time to take in the two most popular bus routes and the sun had come out. Everyone was madly clicking away on their cameras - a blonde "bombshell" from Russia who reminded me so much of Valentina in the book "A Short History of Tractors in Ukraine", constantly standing up and draping herself in front of the views for her man to photograph! We had great views (helped by trees without leaves) and queues seemed reasonable for the Louvre and Eiffel Tower, not like in summer when 25 years ago we jumped the queue to the Louvre or we wouldn't have made it in!
We finished our bus touring at Rue de Madeleine and found a lovely little wine bar cafe for lunch. It was buzzing but the waiter was working hard to seat everyone and seamlessly switched from French to English and provided us with an English menu. Many items were game or sausage and not what we felt like, but we chose a veal dish and vegetarian risotto with "lambs lettuce" side dish plus glasses of the recommended wines which were all so delicious we didn't wish the meal to end!
We were close enough to walk back to the station and browsed shops along the way looking for shoes for Miss E ... found a pair for Master A, plus pastries and sweets with French wrappings.
On the return journey we were surprised to see "Indian" style slums of cardboard and tin on the outskirts of Paris, as well as a number of clusters of caravans next to industrial sites further out.
We had catering included on this leg, so enjoyed a hot meal and wines and arrived back in London about 6.30 pm, tired but very happy! A great experience.