Paris, finally!

I wish I could have posted these photos while we were still in Paris, but the hotel we stayed at was under construction.  I mean this quite literally.  The internet was only available in the “lobby”, a temporary space between the staircase up to our room and the front door.  More like a maze, really.  And from the other side of the temporary wall came all manner of construction noises, worst being the electric saw.  Or maybe it was a jackhammer.  I’m just going to admit right here that I am actually completely ignorant when it comes to construction noises.

While the view from the front of the Notre Dame is probably more famous (we all saw that Disney movie, didn't we?) the back is altogether prettier, and I almost think more impressive. Plus, there aren't hundreds of tourists ruining the view. And did I mention that the French Gardens are lovely? I resisted the temptation to put in at least five other photos of various gardens. You can thank me later.

Many of my favorite photos from Paris of either of the Notre Dame (as in this case) or nearby (the following photo). Perhaps it's because these are some of the only shots where cars and people don't get in the way. I always wonder whether there are photos of me floating around where I'm just another tourist in other people's photos. If only facebook had face-recognition software to connect us again.

Both sides of this bridge were covered in locks with people's initials on them. How romantic!  There were also ribbons (less permanent) and at least one bike lock too.

Apart from the modest accommodations, the hotel location was pretty much perfect.  We took an overnight train from Florence to Paris, so by the time we arrived at 11am, I was ready to reach our final location.  Fortunately, the hotel was a mere block from one of the largest metro stops in downtown Paris.  If only we didn’t walk in the wrong direction for a block or two first.

This meal consisted mainly of meat and cream. Not my favorite combination, but everything was tasty, albight a bit heavy, nonetheless. The plate of meat is finely sliced veal. The bowl of what looks like a cappuccino is a sort of creamy chestnut soup that was scrumpious as a dip for the bread.

We bought metro tickets and never really used them because, for the most part, the weather was so fantastic that there was no reason not to walk.  I had a Paris bucket list, and completed almost everything:

  • See the Louvre.  Here’s a life-saving tip: buy your tickets at one of the large metro stations (like the one conveniently one block from our hotel).  There was no line to get inside the Louvre with pre-bought tickets.  I repeat, no line.  Outside in the hot sun people lined up for hundreds of feet outside the glass pyramids, sweating, and looking rather miserable.  Unfortunately, I did not complete the other museum on my bucket list, the Museum de Orsay, because we did not buy tickets first and I flatly refused to get sunburned waiting to get into a nice air-conditioned building filled with art where I would promptly fall asleep.
  • See the Eiffel tower.  Given my disdain for standing in lines, we did not attempt to walk or take the elevator to the top.  We did walk around the gardens nearby and ate our lunch under the tower’s shade.  It threatened thunder storms the whole way back to our hotel.
  • See the Notre Dame.  I won’t lie, it was a bit of a let-down after the Duomo in Florence, as I tend to prefer colorful artsy to dreary grey.  However, as I didn’t get to see inside the Duomo and I did get to see inside the Notre Dame, it may get bonus points.
  • Find a number of delicious looking restaurants and bakeries from various food blogs.  E.g. du Pains et des Idées (bakery with rum raisin snails that made me seriously consider becoming an ex-pat), L’As Du Fallafel (dare I need to explain that one must order the falafel?), and Breizh Cafe (Breton crepes and cider).  Plus another restaurant, Les Enfants Perdus, where the waiters were attentive and the music was in English and Bob Dylan-esc.  Pretty classic.  Or maybe I was just missing home by that point.
  • See the catacombs.  Epic fail.  But that’s ok, because instead we saw the Luxembourg gardens.

Token photo of the Louvre. Notice all the people standing around outside the pyramids. That was not us. We went in the secret entrance for people with tickets. Perhaps they could improve their labeling (the secret entrance was hard to find), or maybe I just need to learn French. Either way, it was a brilliant choice for a hot sunny afternoon (not that you could tell from the clouds).

We caught four (!) glimpses of the Tour de France as it circled the garden next to the Louvre. The tour circles the garden something like nine times, but we only stayed for four of them because it was so hot, and we had no idea what color went with which person. The excitement was contagious though. I don't often cheer for sports I know nothing about, but when you're in Paris and it's the tour de France, why not?

There is still so much left to see, and perhaps more importantly to eat, but I have no plans to stay safely in California forever, now that I have finally hopped across the pond.

A rum raisin snail and apricot-filled something or other from du Pains et des Idées.  The rum raisin snails were my favorite pastry for the duration of our stay.  We probably ate one daily.  The snails from this bakery were the best.  The rum finally came through.

This building wins the award for prettiest exterior. I guess I just like plants. Notice the Eiffel Tower in the background.

From the bottom looking up, and not from the top looking down. The Eiffel tower was impressive, but I think my greatest appreciation is for the majestic and unique skyline it provides from a bit further away.