Kirk and I just recently got back from our trip to Paris. It was so nice to let go of the stress of daily life (working, cooking, cleaning, etc…) and just have fun and explore a different place… a place drastically different from Chicago. We had a very full itinerary while we there, which included:
…Watching the sun rise over the city from Sacre Coeur, wandering the cemetery at Montmartre, eating wonderfully flaky croissants and baguettes (with delicious butter and jam) at a small cafe every morning, trying fois gras for the first time at Le Moulin de la Galette restaurant (and generally enjoying one of the best meals I’ve had in a LONG TIME), walking up the winding stairs to the top of the Arc de Triomphe, ambling down the Champs Elysees and taking in all of the beautiful boutiques (and people!), seeing Napoleon’s tomb at Les Invalides, eating TONS of crepes (ham, cheese, and tomato was a favorite, as was nutella and banana AND salted caramel… so tasty), finally seeing Nike of Samothrace (the Winged Victory) at the Louvre (and we also saw the Mona Lisa), walking through the Tuileries Gardens and sitting in reclining chairs next to the fountain/pond thing, seeing Monet’s Water Lilies at the Musee L’Orangerie, standing in La Concorde and admiring the Obelisque and taking a moment to stand at the location where Marie Antoinette lost her head, wandering the gardens at the Musee Rodin and seeing “The Thinker” and “The Gates of Hell”, dining at a restaurant at the Place du Tertre and being accosted by sketch artists and rose vendors, walking up to Sacre Coeur at night to see the city lights, visiting the Centre Pompidou and taking in a lot of bad (in my opinion) feminist art (but also seeing some interesting classic pieces of the modern art movement), eating ice cream at Le Flore en L’Ile cafe on Ile Saint Louis, walking through Notre Dame as the afternoon sun shined through the stained glass, standing next to the Seine under an umbrella on Ile de la Cite – waiting for the rain to pass over us, walking down Boulevard St-Germain, waiting in an insanely long line to get to the top of the Eiffel Tower at Sunset (only to feel the effects of overcrowding and come back down within 5 minutes), and taking in the amazing collection of impressionist art at the Musee D’Orsay.
While doing all of these things, we definitely got our exercise by walking nearly everywhere, and we gained a good working knowledge of the Paris Metro and RER transportation system. We stayed at the Hotel Des Arts in Montmartre, so we ended up taking the train nearly everyday. The hardest day on the metro was the first morning when we arrived in Paris CDG (Charles de Gaulle Airport) at dawn – 6:30am is simply to early to be arriving ANYWHERE. Trying to figure out how to get to the RER station at Charles de Gaulle, and then getting confused about which train we needed to take to get to Gare du Nord (which is listed as Paris Nord on the RER maps) – as it turns out all of the train from Charles de Gualle Airport stop at Gare du Nord. And then… figuring out how to transfer from the RER B Train to the Metro to get to the Blanche stop in Montmartre… whew! Once in Montmartre, we then had some trouble figuring out which streets matched up to the ones on our map (as it turns out, street signs are affixed to the sides of buildings in Paris – not on traffic lights or seperate signs as we’re used to in North America). We eventually found our way to the Hotel… after walking up a crazy steep hill.
I loved Paris while we there. Maybe it was the fact that we were so cut off from our daily lives (no phone, no personal laptop) – – – it was just Kirk and me and all the time in the world to relax and explore (and eat). Part of me wonders whether I really loved Paris, or whether I just loved being on a REAL vacation (a vacation without pretenses or expectations of time and schedules). Either way, it was a beautiful city – one I wouldn’t mind going back to one day.