Around the World in 32 days: Country Number Eight.
Paris carves out a place in ones imagination in a way that few other cites do. Its name is almost synonymous with art and romance, revolution and haute culture. A place where romance is always in the air, wine flows from the tap, and the cheese wheels bounce across the roads like tumble weeds. Eh, okay, some of that may be purely my imagination. Tara, who’s been to France before, and speaks more than a little French, met me in Paris and joined me for the rest of the trip.
It’s hard to know where to start with a city as famed and big as Paris, especially on limited time. We started out with the usual tourist sites, culled it to suit our tastes and hit the city. It’s often said that knowing a little French, or at least making the effort to speak a few common phrases, goes a long way with Parisians and this seemed to be true. People really did seem more helpful, sometimes delightfully so, when she spoke in French. It’s clear to them she’s not a native speaker, but her interest and the effort she’s put in to learn to a conversational level earned her a lot of goodwill. Goodwill that I, sidled up next to her, benefitted from as well. Paris is a rich, interesting, and gritty city. Its monuments and museums are known the world over and in seeing them for the first time was more fun and exciting that I expected. The Eiffel tower, or even more so the Arc de Triomphe, was amazing, even for someone like me who likes to think I’m a little more world weary than I really am. Police and military presence was out in force, but it leant the air a more secure feel than an authoritarian one.
The weather generally cooperated with us, though we did end up with a totally unnessacerily long wait to get into the Paris catacombs, which just happened to be on the coldest and wettest day we were there. Buy your tickets ahead of time, kids, and do yourself a favor.
Despite a colder than normal spring, Paris more than met my expectations. Public trains and museums kept us out of most of the cold. We didn’t see any mimes, but we did see a woman on a bike with a giant baguette in the front basket: très Parisienne. Tomorrow we head to Luxembourg for the afternoon, then on to Brugge for a few days in the evening. Paris mandates a return trip – one where the weather is just a little warmer so cheese and wine can be bought and consumed along the Seine!
Also – ART:
How I got there: Train from Monaco to Paris: 60 Euros. Most trains to Paris from Monaco connect in Nice. Takes about six hours and is a superb ride.
Where we stayed: Golden Tulip
What we did:
The Louvre – Huge, fantastic, The Mona Lisa so underwhelming.
Jardin Des Tuileries – Garden surrounding the Louvre, just beginning to bloom
Place de Concorde
Eiffel tower – We walked up for seven euros a piece, and it was fun, but I would skip going up, save a few euros, and go up in the Arc de Triomphe instead for better views.
Musée d’Orsay – If you have to pick one museum, I would go here and skip the Louvre.
Paris Catacombs – Fun, macabre, make sure you get tickets ahead of time or go in the afternoon when the line is shorter.
Rue Cler – Short little street filled with fromageries, boulangeries, and wine shops. Nice place for a quiche and a coffee.
Le Crazy Horse Cabaret – Boobs, champagne, dancing, lights…what more could one ask for?
Wine Tasting with Thierry – Wine Tasting in Paris! – Fantastic wine tasting – great host and even better wine!
Dinner at Canard et Champagne – the French paradox: fatty foods and champagne yet they have a low incidence of heart disease. Count me in.