A trip to Paris has always been a dream of mine and this past weekend that dream finally came true. It was actually my anniversary gift from Erwin. We passed the 32 year mark a month ago. That day I came home from spending a few hours at the zoo and Erwin surprised me with the flight reservations and having cashed in his hotel points for a four night stay at a fancy pants hotel in central Paris . What a sweetheart. I think I’ll keep him.
We arrived in Paris on Thursday late afternoon just in time for rush-hour traffic. Erwin being the seasoned traveler always opts for a cab from airport to hotel. Our aggressive but careful driver got us through the zany traffic as we got our first glimpses of this remarkable city. The architecture is stunning, which we discovered even more so once we started walking the streets and neighborhoods.
We checked the weather forecast and discovered that the weekend didn't look to promising. On top of that I was still trying to get over horrible cold which I had graciously passed on to Erwin. Oh well, were still in Paris right? So we’ll make the most of it.
Friday morning turned out to be nicest of all with mostly clear blue skies. We strolled down the famous tree-lined Champs-Elysées from Place de la Concord to the Arc de Triomphe, stood in a surprisingly short line to scale the 286 steps to the top for a fabulous view of nearly all the top landmarks in Paris. It’s definitely worth the climb. There’s no better way to appreciate just how grand and impressive this city is than from above!
Having climbed the Arc, and because we were struggling with being sick, we decided against actually going up the Eifel Tower, besides we had lots of pics of it. We opted instead to look for La Maison du Chocolat which had been recommended (thanks B.M.) for the best éclairs ever. They did not disappoint. Later that day I briefly went shopping; you can’t go to Paris and not shop, by that time we were too sick to do much more.
Saturday we awoke to rain, which incidentally didn’t stop until just before we left Monday morning of course. We visited the Musée du Louvre, home of the Mona Lisa. This massive museum has to be done in parts; you have to pick and choose what you want to see. I read somewhere that if you spent only 30 seconds looking at each item it would take 3 months to go through the whole place. Yikes! So we fought the crowds around the Mona Lisa and the Venus de Milo and then went to see some art of the eras and artisans we prefer such as Rembrandt, Dürer, Raphael etc. After about three hours our brains were full, patience with crowds running short, and energy level at low.
Sunday morning we awoke to more rain and still battling colds, but we fought on. Off to see the majestic Notre Dame Cathedral. We arrived just as mass was starting, but surprisingly it’s still open for viewing, as long as no flash cameras are you used and you keep quiet. This gothic masterpiece dates back 950 years and on this day was a feast for the senses; the sound of the organ, the smell of the incense, the stained glass and carved figures, the feel of the centuries old wood. A very touching experience.
Monday morning, just before our flight, we went for another visit to the quiet cozy café around the corner from the hotel for what had become our usual breakfast of croissants and hot chocolate and double espresso for Erwin. It was there we decided that we definitely have to come back to Pairs again, but preferably when it’s not raining and we’re not sick.
Next time we’d like to take in a show at the Moulin Rouge, and maybe visit the Pere-Lachaise graveyard of celebrities like, Sarah Bernhardt, Frédéric Chopin, Jim Morrison, Gertrude Stein, and Oscar Wilde. Or maybe visit the catacombs or the original site of the Paris guillotine, or do a sewer tour for morbid and grim but fascinating lessons of Parisian history. There is so much to do in Paris and not enough time. Then of course there’s the food to come back too, even in crazy busy places we had no bad meal or bad service for that matter anywhere, it was all soooo good, all I can say is “more please.”
Contrary to what we thought would happen we didn’t run into any rude waiters, or impolite Parisians…those were the fellow tourists. I’ve been to New York and London and Rome, among many other world cities, and now living in Berlin. Pairs is different. Berlin is brash. Paris is refined. Not that one is better than the other, just a different observation. I think Paris is a city to be savored and enjoyed slowly, the art, the food, the twists and turns of its story…it’s what will draw us back.
For those of you haven’t seen Erwin’s pictures of our trip to Paris that he posted on Facebook or want to see some more or different ones, I’m working on a video post which will hopefully be up tomorrow.