Last week I went to Paris for a couple of days to visit my mentor Benoit. It was a great chance to take a quick look around the city as I have never been before. Thanks to bmibaby I was able to get over quite economically and stayed in a nice, clean (albeit a little small) room in a hotel near Place d'Italie in the 13th district of Paris (not sure if they are called districts or something else). It was quite close to where Benoit lives, close to a Metro stop and within walking distance of central Paris.
I got to Paris on Tuesday evening and Benoit met me at the airport. Once I had checked in to my hotel we walked to a creperie and got a fairly traditional three course meal consisting of different kinds of crepes. I also tried some of the local pear cider. Apparently the crepes weren't as good as they could have been but I really enjoyed them. We chatted about the history of Paris, I made some feeble attempts at French and we also moved onto discussions of my Google Summer of Code project and the bigger goals of the Kalzium/Avogadro project.
Tired from traveling I returned to my hotel to get some sleep with plans to visit the Eiffel Tower the next day. In the morning I went to the Eiffel Tower and had a really good look around. Benoit advised me to get off at the Trocadero stop as the walk down to the Eiffel Tower was much nicer and it was a great tip. I spent most of my morning walking around the bottom of the Eiffel Tower, walking up the stairs to the second floor (it was a far shorter queue) and then I got the lift right to the top. It was very crowded despite getting there early - as I left early in the afternoon it had become far more crowded. There are some great views and it is such an iconic landmark.
I met up with Benoit in the afternoon. He showed me around some of the other sites of the city. We walked around Notre Dame and the Louvre before going to the Japanese district to get some dinner. Before dinner we got some hacking done in one of the gardens near the centre of Paris where we discussed the finer points of transformation matrices, 3d geometry and some of my recent changes to the Painter API in Avogadro. We then went to Paris beach near to my hotel and had a few beers by the Seine. After Benoit went home I had a beer in a small cafe near my hotel overlooking Place d'Italie before retiring for the evening.
My final day on Thursday we decided to head out for Versailles. It is an amazing place and the gardens were a great place to get some more hacking done and have a picnic. We hacked on some eye candy, we discussed a month or more ago, for the navigation and manipulation tools to give better visual feedback on what is happening. We haven't committed it yet as I need to finish it off but I think it is really great work and may be something that can be applied to other tools. It also helped me to see the best way to implement ribbon support as a new view which I think will be awesome. Very productive day and some amazing sights!
Benoit was busy on the last evening so I headed back into Paris solo after dropping off my laptop and camera. I had dinner at a traditional (or at least it claimed to be) French restaurant. I tried some frog's legs and was surprised by how nice they were - I wasn't sure I would like them at all. I was lucky enough to sit next to a lovely Australian couple who were out on a tour of Europe. The lady works for IBM and we ended up discussing open source and my work on Avogadro as well as culture around the world and comparing notes on the sights of Paris.
It was a great couple of days in Paris. It would have been nice if Louise had been able to get some time off work to come out. It is our two year anniversary today so I will have to do what I can to make it up to her today My thanks go out to Benoit for being such a good host and showing me the sights of Paris and teaching me the finer points of the mathematics of 3d visualisation and OpenGL.