We took the Chunnel to Paris early Saturday morning. It’s so fast and easy. I’m envious of Europeans who, with the Chunnel and the cheap flights, can so easily travel Europe, even just for a weekend.
We were a little weary from our busy schedule in England so we resolved to take Paris more slowly, and we did. It’s less about seeing the sites, and more about just soaking it all in anyway, I think.
After we checked into our hotel (in the 7th, near the Eiffel tower) our first mission was to plant ourselves at a café. And there I found heaven. A café in Paris is my happy place. All the seats facing out for optimal people watching. Not a cell phone, laptop, iPod or blackberry in sight. Heaven. The cheapest thing on the menu is wine, so what’s a girl to do? We had a half-litre with our lunch.
After that, we were a little sleepy. We strolled over to the Eiffel tower. It was a glorious day and everyone was lounging around the park directly below it. We joined them and had a nap.
We spent the afternoon exploring the neighbourhood, then after a shower we took the Metro to Montparnasse, former stomping grounds of Hemingway, Fitzgerald, and Callahan, among other greats. I love this neighbourhood. Lively and vibrant and tons of great places to eat it seemed. We stopped for a drink at La Rotonde, a café Hemingway and Picasso used to frequent. Then we strolled around looking for a place to eat. We had resolved during our time in Paris not to eat dinner at any restaurant with an English menu. We found a small bistro on a side street that was full of Parisians. There I tasted my first steak frites in Paris. Heaven, I tell you. The meal, plus a nice bottle of red and chocolate soufflé for dessert, and I was a very happy woman indeed.
Sunday morning we allowed ourselves to sleep in (what a luxury). We started the day with the hotel’s breakfast, an awesome buffet of fresh baguette, croissants, Danish, café au lait (my god the coffee’s good in Paris) as well as a bunch of healthy food, which we ignored. Then we took the Metro to the Latin Quarter. We explored for awhile, then crossed the Seine at Notre Dame. Notre Dame is absolutely stunning. Pictures don’t do it justice. It is the thing that exceeded my expectations most on this trip, I think. Next we took a Seine cruise. It was glorious. I soaked up the sun and took in the sights. After that, we walked to the Louvre and, amazingly, there were no lines, so we went in. The Louvre was probably the most disappointing thing on the trip, but I expected that. I like the art at the D’Orsay much more. The huge museums stress me out.
After a short spell at the Louvre, we strolled through the Jardin des Tuileries, which was stunning. We stopped for the most expensive Coke (as in Cola) ever, at 7 euros each! No wonder they drink so much wine. Fortified, we promenaded up the Champs-Elysee to the Arc de Triomphe. What a spectacle. By then our feet were tired, so we took the Metro home for some sex, shower and sleep. Later we ventured out into our neighbourhood to find a restaurant. We found a small Mediterranean place nearby and had another great bottle of wine with a lamb and couscous dish that was fabulous. After dinner, we went back to the Eiffel tower to see it at night. What a spectacular sight! This is the second thing that really surpassed my expectations. The tower is very beautiful at night (we found out later that every night, for about twenty minutes, all of the lights start twinkling and it is a very gaudy sight. I’m so glad we missed that). There were still crazy lines to go up the tower (we had resolved to wait in no lines), so instead I tried to talk our way into the fancy restaurant for a nightcap. No dice. You don’t go up unless you’re buying the 100 euro entree. Instead, we went back to our favourite local café for some more wine and chatted with Americans. It was a full and splendid day.
This is getting long, so I’ll save the rest for another post. By the way, sorry for so much detail, but I’m recording this for my own sake more than yours.
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