(Original post date: July 2013) (Updated April 2016)
I took French in high school and remember Paris being my mothers romantic favorite. There were so many things to see and only 2 days to accomplish the list.
Someday I want to go to Paris!
When I first started framing this post all I could think about was what I did not see while in Paris.
I didn’t see Montmartre, Sacré-Cœur, the Moulin Rouge or Musée d’Orsay. I didn’t see the Luxembourg Gardens, Pompidou Centre or the Mona Lisa.
It even soured my mood before we went to dinner. Rut Row.
The attitude adjustment came from my husband who approached the day completely the opposite from me. His thought was, I have never been before and I may never be back. I will be grateful for what I did and not pine over what I missed.
That has completely changed how I approach travel. Don’t get me wrong, I still plan many details but I still plan much time to just explore, discover and taste.
Back to Paris. Here is the ground we covered that day:
We traveled with Tauck who gave us the option to go on a coach bus “orientation” tour or a walking tour of the Marais neighborhood.
Our group of four decided a few weeks before over dinner at our house that we wanted to go on the coach to cover as much ground as possible.
It was a good choice for us as we were able to go out for a few photo ops near the Eiffel Tower and opt off the bus near the Arc de Triumphe.
We headed for the tunnel and noticed no one in line for the stairs. Just a few minutes later we began the 284 stairs to the top. A challenge but we all did without any negative consequences. Here is a picture from the top looking down the spiral staircase. Cool, no?
This is a look at the city from the top of the Arc. It was so totally worth the climb.
Then it was a walk down the Champs-Elysees to Cafe George V for lunch. We learned that the cafe section on the street is for smokers, and there are a lot of smokers in France. A shocking amount, to be honest. And, not just older people but young folks smoking everywhere.
I ordered iced tea and a very French ham sandwich called a Croque Madame (a Croque Monsieur with an egg on it…get it, Madame? Oh the things that make me laugh!)
The sandwich has ham inside and is grilled to crispy perfection. The cheese is put on top and broiled to make it brown and bubbly. The “female” madame version has an egg on it. I absolutely loved it. I am going to make these at home on a cold winter day.
Next we were off to the Metro, an easy way to navigate Paris. It is interesting to see the doors that cover the track and only open when the train is at the station. They open quickly…and close quickly. Fortunately the trains come every few minutes. Jim, pictured here with his wife Debbie is not a coffee drinker. His caffine delivery system is Coca Cola. Not Pepsi. Coke. No problem since I don’t think I ever saw Pepsi in the country. He was jonesing for a Coke and spotted a vending machine. A few Euro coins later the train stopped, unloaded and reloaded just before he finished his transaction. The look on his face as the train, with my husband and I on it and his wife pointing was priceless. Good thing the trains come every few minutes.
We took the train to the Hotel de Ville (City Hall) en route to the cathedral of Notre Dame. This was the number one agreed upon highlight of our day in Paris. The cathedral is very imposing from the outside and had amazing stained glass windows.
After a walk around the church and a few lit candles we walked toward Île Saint-Louis. We were diverted by several lock bridges and both couples did the touristy thing and hung a lock on the bridge and tossed the key into the river. Silly and charming all at the same time. (Note – these locks were all removed because part of the bridge fell)
Once arriving in Saint-Louis we found many small shops, some very commercial and some quaint where we did our part to boost the Parisian economy. We heard from some of our friends of an ice cream place that shapes the ice cream into flowers. I remember having gelato in Italy like that so we searched for the right place.
Doesn’t this Glace look beautiful? It tasted just as nice as it looked
Once we were done with our retail and confection moments we headed over to the Louvre. A walk through the Tuileries Garden on dry pebbly trails led us to the beautiful and massive museum.
Much like holding up the Leaning Tower of Pisa, the girls succumbed to the frenzy of holding the pyramid designed by I. M. Pei. Seriously, it doesn’t belong there. Just one girl’s opinion but when in Rome, er I mean in Paris…
Don’t you think Debbie is doing a wonderful job?
We were pretty worn out by then so we wandered back to the subway, making our way to the hotel where we consulted with the concierge. She recommended a restaurant with a view of the Eiffel Tower.
We ate at Chez Francis with a table on the busy street.
The oysters to open my meal were very good. Each of us tried something different and enjoyed our selections. As the sun set and the city lit up, this is what we saw.
After dinner we walked to the tower and took the elevator to the second level. I wanted to go to the top but they cut the line off right in front of me. Still it was a specacular sight and the perfect ending to an awe inspiring day.
I guess I really was in Paris, wasn’t I?