My fifth visit to Europe, first to Paris. My husband and I, both mid-60’s, love history, archaeology, gardens, and taking photographs. This trip was added on to a Mediterranean cruise (Barcelona to the west coast of Italy and back) so we started the week already recovered from the jet lag caused by flying from our home near Washington, DC.
Research tools include this forum, the Rick Steves Pocket Paris Guide, DK Paris, and advice from friends. I took a 12-week class at the community college to reacquaint myself with a language I studied forty years ago.
Arrival:April 22, 2018
During the planning we decided to take the TGV train from Barcelona to Paris. It’s about six hours, so a little longer than by air (reaching the airport two hours ahead, flight time, travel from CDG into Paris) but we admired the countryside, wrote postcards, processed photos, etc. Luckily this wasn’t a strike day but that possibility wasn’t something we considered when we dreamed up the idea. We grabbed a cab from Gare de Lyons to l’Hotel des Deux Iles, on l’Ile Saint Louis. I had imagined I’d be dying to walk the streets but it was almost 9 pm and raining, so we settled in and called it a night.
Monday April 23, 2018
Sainte Chapelle, Seine cruise, Notre Dame
“Wow I’m in Paris!”
The security line looked long at Notre Dame so we started our day at nearby Sainte Chapelle (bought the 6-day Museum Pass at the tabac across the street). The windows are so beautiful! Pictures just don’t do it justice. There’s a statue on the balcony that I mention here because I’m guessing it’s Jesus Christ but wasn’t sure and he was standing on some interesting animals. Help me out, Paris lovers. My Google skills failed me on this. Guess I should have bought the book.
After almost an hour and a half we were ready for some sitting down, so took a one hour cruise from Vedettes du Pont Neuf. I can’t recommend this enough. The guide describes sights in French and then English, and amazingly I was able to understand quite a bit of the former.
We split a long baguette sandwich for lunch (from a shop in the Latin Quarter) and ate it on Pont Neuf. Our initial plan was to visit Notre Dame afterwards, but we needed a break and our hotel was nearby so we rested for a bit first, then stopped for ice cream. Notre Dame is massive, dark and gloomy after Sainte Chapelle - in hindsight I would recommend seeing Notre Dame first. Right now there’s an interesting display on the construction - which parts were added when, etc.
Before dinner we took another break, then strolled next door to Aux Anysetiers Du Roy. We had a Bordeaux they were selling by the glass - fabulous. The chicken dish of the day was delicious and so was the boeuf bourguignon. Topped the evening off with some night photography of Notre Dame, with the Eiffel tower suddenly sparkling in the distance (yes, it was 10:00 pm).
My initial plan had been to take the Rick Steves Historic Paris Walk, but we somehow never got around to it. Guess I forgot to plan for rest breaks and ice cream.