A picture out the plane window as we leave for Paris
Hey, wow, it’s been a few days and we have since spent a weekend in Stockholm and then flown to New York City to visit our older son before returning home to our younger son.
I wanted to share about our recent trip to Paris, but before doing so, since it was a pretty short basically three-day visit this time with work interspersed, I thought it might be fun to go back in time and share my first experience in Paris.
I have had a few chances to visit Paris over the past decade, but when I finally did take the opportunity to experience this amazing city, I wanted to do it right. No quick and frenetic business trips with my husband, no one-day excursions from a cruise ship, I wanted the real deal: two weeks at least. For my 50th birthday (in 2013), I announced to my husband that I wanted to go to Paris. We both were really excited to plan the trip. Blue Eyes had been a couple times for business, but barely left the hotel other than for meetings, and yay and hallelujah, the whore never went with him. Once, a friend made him dinner of seared duck and potatoes cooked in duck fat at the lavish apartment he shares with his famous clothing designer wife and their three beautiful children, and it turned out to be one of my husband’s all time favorite ever meals. The friend also drove him around town a bit and quickly pointed out sights, but Blue Eyes never really got out of the car. We both looked forward to a real visit to Paris.
In the planning stages, I decided I wanted to visit the city during the French Open Tennis tournament at Roland Garros, which happens the end of May/beginning of June each year. I am an avid men’s tennis fan and this would be our first Grand Slam. I booked tickets through an agency in the states that specializes in that type of thing. Three tickets, one for me, one for Blue Eyes, and one for the Peacemaker . Our older son and his girlfriend would not arrive until the day after our Roland Garros excursion. I also wanted to stay in an apartment so that we could all fit easily and it wouldn’t bust the budget. We also would have our own kitchen so that we could shop in the wonderful Paris food markets and cook some of our meals. We also had a washer dryer. The apartment had two bedrooms and two bathrooms and a pull out sofa in the living area, was located in the Marais district, and was a fraction of the cost of a hotel. Blue Eyes and I flew to Paris on Friday, May 24, ten days after my 50th birthday. This date turned out to be almost exactly one month from my snorkeling accident in Hawaii at which point I thought I was going to die in the Pacific Ocean and I ended up with an infected coral wound that took the entire four weeks to heal. I also ended up finding out from an MRI that I have a torn meniscus in my right knee. I think it was mind over matter on my part, and a whole lot of medical care and carting me around to doctors on Blue Eyes’ part, that allowed me to heal in time for my birthday trip. He was so terribly sweet and attentive. In terms of my husband’s sex addiction, he had been with Camilla on a 2-day trip to NYC in early April of that year and had not had any contact with her since mid-April. I really wish that had been it. That he had been able to end things there because it really bothers me that after I nearly died, and after our amazing trip to Paris, he slept with her one more time. It breaks my heart, but I will not linger on that here. I cannot change the past actions of my sex addict husband. What’s done is done.
The Peacemaker arrived in Paris the day after we did from his school back east and was with us alone for four days before his brother arrived. We had already become well enough acquainted with the metro system that we took the train out to the airport to pick him up and help him with his luggage. We all had some jet lag the first couple days, but that is what is great about having a couple weeks, plenty of time to acclimate to all the changes.
I started out with a list of more than 30 things I wanted to see or do while in Paris. I knew I would not get to them all, not to mention we had a two-day business trip scheduled, in the middle of our Paris trip, to London (one of my all time favorite cities) on the Eurostar, which was fun and turned out to be quite the little adventure. I will rarely turn down a trip to London, even if it includes a business meeting or two.
My original Paris list included the following (not in any particular order):
Stroll the Rive Gauche (the Left Bank of the Seine, the path of authors and artists), Roland Garros (French Open Tennis), Musee D’Orsay, Musee Rodin, Palais Royal Gardens, Luxembourg Gardens, Musee Louvre, Walking the Ile Saint-Louis, Rue Saint Honore, Shopping at Marche aux Puce de Saint-Ouen, Eiffel Tower (to the top?), Marais District (falafel, shopping, dining–our home for two weeks), Victor Hugo’s Apartment at Place des Vosges, French Crepes, Laduree, Champs Elysees Louis Vuitton Store, Chocolatiers, Viennese Chocolate Chaud at a street cafe, Steak Frites, Musee Picasso, Centre Georges Pompidou, boat tour on the Seine, Notre Dame, Saint Chapelle, walking tour of Montmartre including Sacre Couer, Moulin Rouge, the deepest subway in Paris, Arc de Triomphe, day trip to Versailles, Opera Garnier, Shakespeare & Company bookstore, purchase flowers for our apartment at the flower market, Saint Germain des Pres, Saint Sulpice, Musee de l’Orangerie, the Sorbonne & the Latin Quarter, Grand Epicerie at the Bon Marche (for luxury food shopping), Pierre Herme (for chocolate), Eurstar to London (Gare du Nord station).
This list was compiled after reading blogs and getting recommendations from friends who either visited or lived in Paris.
We totally lucked out as just down from our apartment was a cafe named ‘Le Voltigeur’ which doesn’t look like much in the below picture, but trust me, they had fabulous Viennese Chocolat Chaud plus amazing croque monsieur sandwiches and delicious daily special quiche. They were open late and proved to be a great place to grab a bite and also to people watch from our apartment. Every day there was at least one golden retriever that visited the cafe. This place really felt like a new home for me.
Le Voltigeur cafe as seen from our apartment
I am a huge chocolate lover and Viennese Chocolat Chaud is served (at least at this cafe it is) in three parts. Part 1: a cup of thick, rich, melted dark chocolate. Part 2: a pitcher of hot milk. Part 3: a glass of fresh whipped cream. We combined the first two parts and topped with part three and enjoyed the most amazing cup of hot chocolate, ever. We only did this a couple times because, well, it is decadent.
Since I have no other pictures of the Chocolat Chaud (other than ones with Blue Eyes in them), I am posting a picture of me with my indulgence. Perhaps now you can see why I am a little obsessed with blue eyes… both of the siblings I grew up with (Aunt TeeTee and GQ) have beautiful blue eyes. Blue Eyes, obviously has blue eyes, which I am mesmerized by. I wanted at least one of my boys to have those blue eyes, but alas, they both have my brown eyes. But I digress.
One of the other things on my list that I really wanted to do and that we did on one of our first days in Paris, was go to a flower shop near the apartment and purchase flowers for the dining room table. I felt very Parisian.
Peonies and roses are two of my all time favorites.
After acclimating to our apartment and our neighborhood, our first major excursion outside the Marais was a walking tour of the Montmartre area including lunch at a local bistro at Place Emile Goudreau. We took the subway to Abbesses Station on the Paris Metro, the deepest station in the city at 118 feet below ground. We knew it was going to be deep, but when we saw a huge elevator after a couple flights up, we thought, nah, we can do this. Well, it was good exercise for us, but it is a lot of steps up. After exiting the station, we headed to a bistro at the base of the Montmartre hill.
Bistro at Place Emile Goudreau
Lunch was amazing, per usual
We saw a number of cute little restaurants along the route that I had seen and pinned on Pinterest when planning the trip like Le Poulbot, below.
and La Maison Rose
Of course the main attraction is Basilique du Sacre Coeur. Along the way we also passed lots of souvenir shops and artists on the streets at the Place du Tertre, the Dali Museum, Au Lapin Agile (oldest cabaret bar in Paris, the Moulin de la Galette (famous old flour windmill), plus many other sights. It’s best to look up a good self-guided walking tour online so you get all the background on the dozens of sights along the way. They also have guided walking tours available through tour companies, but whenever booking tours in Paris (we did not book any) be sure and make sure it is a reputable one. I have heard some not so great things about guided tours in Paris.
Right outside Sacre Coeur, there was an acrobatic performer who was simply amazing. He moved himself around a light post so adeptly and he was so strong. Very fun to watch, especially with Paris as the backdrop.
We took the funicular back down and I found a particularly pretty carrousel at the bottom. There are colorful carrousels all over Paris.
As we walked back down to the subway station on the main drag, we passed cute shops like this one, below:
as well as the famous Moulin Rouge.
All in all, getting there, eating lunch, the walking tour including all the stops, and snacks and visits took about six hours and was exhausting, but well worth it. After just three days in Paris, I was able to cross a few things off my list, we had tackled our jet lag, and we still had so many days left to enjoy the rest of Paris (and a little bit of London).
Until next time, au revoir.