Our TomTom took us on beautiful back roads since we were trying to skip tolls (7,80 euro for a tunnel and 11,80 euro for the freeway the day before!) We went through a number of quiet, country towns before BAM, Paris traffic. We ended up in almost stopped traffic for 20 minutes (6 miles), but that wasn’t the issue. The motorcycles driving between lanes were. Man, my mom would have fainted. City streets were no better. During the mile-long ride from the hotel to Avis station, we ran into two accidents and one large intersection that had no directionals. We happened upon it while two huge trucks were plowing their way through, so we used them as shields from oncoming traffic.
Our hotel in Paris, Les Hauts de Passy was much cuter than I expected it to be. Our room was clean & recently remodeled. The street was a perfect Parisian street. There were restaurants that were packed at lunchtime and grocers, florists, cafes, patisseries, and specialty shops up and down the street. On the Friday of our visit, they were even filming an outdoor scene of a French film!
After we dropped off our bags and the car (and got a parking ticket, oops), we found a lunch place and got our bearings. After a stop at an internet café (and another new-to-me keyboard) we walked to the Eiffel Tower. The line was long, so we decided to get up early on Thursday and try then. We were in this area long enough to be accosted by the North African men selling crap, but we discovered a new con – groups of gypsy looking girls come up to tourists and point to a clipboard. The paper is a petition for a “deaf and mute” charity. But you’re also supposed to give money. No dice. The girls get 5 feet away from the tourist area and start talking and laughing. This REALLY bugged me and I can’t figure out why what they are doing isn’t illegal. The North African men at least give you something (albeit crap) for taking your money.
We went to the tourism office to get museum passes and then a café for a Coca Lite and people watching. Walked again and passed folks gathering for the G8 Summit (and the President’s Mansion that’s like right there). We picked a place for dinner on a whim and boy, did we find a winner. (We never found losers in Paris, only runner-ups.) After dinner we did a sunset boat cruise which would have been so romantic if you got rid of the German teenagers (did they follow us from Florence?!?) who hollered under every bridge. Otherwise, it was a great way to see the sites. We ended the night by enjoying a leisurely stroll home. Well, it was leisurely before we realized we didn’t know where our hotel was. The maps weren’t well marked and we weren’t 100% sure on the street name. AND, when the stores are closed, our street looked completely different. Oops.
As promised, we got up early and made it to the Eiffel Tower to get in line at 8:30. It opened at 9:30. It was very cold, but it was fun to watch the area come alive and to be on the first elevator up that morning. I’m guessing the line was 45 minutes to an hour-long by the time the doors opened. We went all the way to the top where we could enjoy the view from inside and out. It was here that we discovered that Paris has a modern downtown. Who knew?
After the tower, we had breakfast (er, for the second time that morning…we were on vacation, you know!) It included fresh squeezed orange juice and hot chocolate that was for me to assemble to my liking. The juice glass was only filled about 1/3 of the way with a small pitcher of water (and a sugar packet) to mix in. The hot chocolate was a mug of melted chocolate, also filled about 1/3 of the way with a pitcher of warm milk. Add in crumbly croissants and you’ve got yourself a winner!
We saw a couple museums that morning and the Arc de Triumph that afternoon. Lunch was at a place filled with businesspeople drinking wine and eating Croque Monsieurs. Sigh. After the Arc, we took the Metro to Napoleon’s Tomb. I liked their Metro. It reminded me of the DC system-relatively easy, clean, and safe. We did a LOT of walking that day, so I cried “Uncle” early. We headed back to the hotel and I got my only nap of the trip while Randy read and watched the French Open. We ended up going to dinner at the restaurant down the block (also breakfast the next day), so we really started to feel like we were fitting in.
Randy and I got a more leisurely start to the next day which was nice. Our first stop was the Notre Dame area. Employees were striking, so we couldn’t go into the tower (shucks, no stair workout that morning…), but we did go in the church, which was amazing. I liked the stain glass. We also hit up the crypts under the Notre Dame, which weren’t what I expected with the name “crypt”. It actually was the ruins of ancient Roman and native people’s buildings that were found on this same sight. Our next stop was going to be the Sainte Chapelle and the Conciergerie, but they were closed for a private concert.
Since we couldn’t do two of our stops, we decided to tackle the Louvre. Upon entry, we made a beeline for the Mona Lisa. Everyone warned me that it was much smaller than you expected, so I was ready for a 5X7 picture. I’m going to guess it was really 11X17 and exactly what it looks like elsewhere. However, I was intrigued with the rest of the Italian Renaissance paintings due to the Medici book I was reading. After that section, we went to the café for lunch and then Napoleon’s apartments so I could check “French palace” off of my to do list. Randy really enjoyed the sculpture area, so I sat and caught up on journaling (and here you were wondering how I remembered all these details!)
Following the Louvre, we took one of the walks from our book which took us through the Latin Quarter. This was a great area! There were so many people, stores, florists and cafes! We stopped at a chocolatier to explore and bought gifts and macaroons for us. Oh my, where have these cookies been all my life? We had others during the week, but this place was the best. (Note: I can’t find the name of the shop, but I did stumble into this. My life is now complete.) The salted caramel macaroon was out of this world!
We walked to the Sorbonne and back to St. Germaine to find dinner. Eh. We should have realized it wasn’t going to be the best when we realized we were surrounded by Americans. Took the train home and enjoyed the macaroons in bed while watching this awful American show, Wipe Out . I wonder if they show this here on purpose…
Since this post is so long, I’m just going to give you a link to pictures vs. including any here. Enjoy!