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Trip report for 2 days in Paris

We have started our 3 week trip in which we will visit Paris for three nights, Bruges for 2, Amsterdam for 3 and then fly to Athens to join the Rick Steves' tour of Greece. Here is my report for Paris.
Day One
Our first day in Paris we were scheduled to arrive at 1 pm, but due to two flight delays and an incredibly long taxi ride (the RER was down due to the strike), we didn't arrive to our hotel until after 8 pm. This messed up our jet lag strategy, as we usually try to stay up until 9 or so and then sleep. Well, we were hungry so we had dinner at a bistro down the street, and then we decided we couldn't let the whole day go to waste, so we took a walk through town to see Notre Dame and the Louvre lit up at night. We didn't get back to our hotel until after midnight. We were surprised we made it so long, but we would pay for it the next day!

Day Two
We got up early this morning hoping to get to the Orsay near opening. We stopped at this beautiful little tiny park on the way called square Gabriel-Pierne. We had run across it last night purely by accident and it had several of the most beautiful blossoming trees, so we knew we had to return to take some photos in the morning. We got just a glimpse of blue sky against the pink blossoms with the dome of some building in the background that I don't know the name of, and it was just stunning. Perfect start to the morning! We went in search of breakfast and had an amazing one at a place called Cocorico right next to the Orsay. They have the most delicious croissants I have ever tried so far.
We visited the Orsay, but honestly didn't enjoy it as much as we should have because we were both a bit tired and cranky and not in the mood for a museum after all. So we decided that rather than force ourselves to see everything just because we had paid admission, we looked at our favorite impressionists on the 5th floor and headed out. I did enjoy the building quite a bit. We walked to Tuilerres where there were some beautiful tulip and daffodil displays and some more flowering trees. We took the metro to visit Sacre Coeur, which was new to us this trip. We loved the outside of the church, but were feeling overwhelmed by the oppressive crowds that were in Montmarte mid-day, so we didn't stay in the area long. I had originally planned to take a Paris Walks tour of Montmarte this morning, but we hadn’t felt like joining an organized tour. On our next trip I would like to take that tour and get a feel for the real Montmarte, because what I saw today just felt like a big tourist trap with a bunch of pushy sales people, scammers and touristy restaurants. I am sure there is more to the area than that.
We used the metro to return to the museum area and had lunch/dinner and dessert at Angelina’s. This is my guilty pleasure. It is quite busy and touristy, but I just love the look of the building inside and all the little pastries in the cases, and their hot chocolate is the best I've had. After dinner we popped into the Orangerie to see the Waterlilies and enjoyed that visit very much. The museum is tiny, which was more our speed today, and it was not crowded at all as we went about an hour before closing. We sat there for an hour just soaking up the paintings and relaxing. We have a tendency to always push ourselves too hard, not wanting to waste a second of time. I am determined that I don't do that on this trip because 1) the forum has brainwashed me into believing I WILL return, and 2) I always end up sick and/or injured on every trip and I don't want that to happen again. So although it was only 6 pm, we returned to our room and spent the rest of the night reading, organizing photos, and getting to bed at 8 pm.

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608 posts

Day Three
We had originally planned to visit Giverny today, but since we arrived so late our first day and were enjoying seeing the sights again, we just decided to wander around the city. We visited Luxembourg Garden on the way to Sainte Chapelle. Luxembourg was beautiful, with several separate patches of tulips growing. We then went to see the cherry blossom trees on the side of Notre Dame. This was a once in a lifetime show, for me. Just unbelievably stunning, it took my breath away. We hadn't intended to visit Paris when we originally planned this trip, so to be here at the time of the cherry trees and tulips blooming was just pure dumb luck, but we are so grateful. I don't think we could have even planned a better time, as everything is blooming later than usual this year, from my understanding. There were several people taking advantage of the blooms to take what appeared to be prom photos and even wedding photos. What an amazing setting that would be for your wedding album!
We visited Sainte Chapelle, which we saw on our first visit 3 years ago. Just as stunning, but we did a better job of just relaxing and soaking in the beauty this time. It has been really nice to not have a specific agenda. After Sainte Chapelle we went back to Luxembourg Gardens to sit among the tulip patches and enjoy the sunshine a bit. We found a quiet, peaceful corner and just enjoyed our time. We sat there for about an hour, which is probably a record for us on sitting still while traveling.
For lunch my husband picked Le Polidor. He liked the historic aspect of it, as it has been around since 1845 and was frequented by Ernest Hemingway and Victor Hugo. Apparently it was where Owen Wilson’s character met Ernest Hemingway in Midnight in Paris, if you are a fan of that movie. The food was actually very good, and reasonably priced. I tried beef bourguignon for the first time, so I don't have anything to compare it to, but it was delicious.
We went to the Eiffel Tower after lunch, and it was honestly not at all the same for us as it was on our first visit. It felt a lot more chaotic, there was a ton of construction and temporary fencing, and a lot more aggressive sales people and people running schemes. We crossed the bridge for a better view, but we still weren't feeling it at all, so we left. I am glad we had a better experience 3 years ago, or we may have been disappointed. All in all, that was our worst stop in Paris so far. Hopefully it will be cleaned up a bit before the summer crowds - not sure what they are working on.
On our last visit we had not gone to the Arc de Triomphe and surrounding area, so we headed over there. The Arc was closed for some kind of event with a full marching band, so we hung around to watch a bit. Turned out that President Macron and Prime Minister Trudeau were performing some kind of ceremony there, so we got to watch their motorcades arrive and all of that fanfare. I didn't except to enjoy the walk down the Champs, because I have heard people complain that it is nothing but high-end stores, but I enjoyed the architecture. We just took a quick walk, only stopping at Laduree to see the pastry counter and snag some macarons for later (which were delicious!!).
We took the metro back to the Louvre area and spent a bit of time in Tuileries relaxing and people watching before looking for dinner. Dinner was average, but we enjoyed a stilted conversation with an elderly gentleman who lives outside the city and travels 1.5 hours every week to eat at this restaurant. We asked him why and he said it is because it was the first restaurant he found in Paris that serves fondue. He has been coming at least once a week for 20 years! He had a funny sense of humor and sparkling eyes, and we enjoyed our conversation, though the language barrier was high. All in all we had a wonderful few days in Paris and are sad to leave, but we know we will definitely be back!

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958 posts

Love this report because y'all slowed down and didn't push yourselves after that hectic beginning. I don't know how you ever made it to midnight that first night. Like London, Paris seems an easy place to drop in on the way to Europe so it is entirely possible that you will return. Did you step on Point Zero to make sure? : )

Enjoy the rest of your trip and tour. I'll look forward to seeing updates.

Posted by
1774 posts

Thanks so much for taking the time to bring us along on your trip. I'm loving seeing things through your eyes and your enthusiasm. Looking forward to more.

Posted by
13484 posts

Very nice report, Tamara! So sorry about your delayed flight and the strike raising Cain with your first day. :O(

Pretty sure that the building with the dome that you admired from Square Gabriel Pierné was Palais de l' institut de France. Pretty!

Posted by
3343 posts

Ahhh, thanks so much for sharing your time in Paris so far. Sometimes an unplanned itinerary brings unexpected surprises. It brought a smile to my face when you mentioned "Midnight in Paris." It's a movie I never get tired of. Can hardly wait for your next report. Especially anticipating to hear about your Greece adventure. We were there last September and loved every moment!

Posted by
1216 posts

When you come back to Paris, do take the Paris Walks Montmarte tour. It takes you in the back streets of the neighborhood and you see and learn more about the artists based here and the vineyards on the hill. The most crowded part was at the end near Sacre Coeur and honestly the inside isn't as awe-striking as other churches.

My second time at the Eiffel Tower sounded a bit like yours. The vendors were the most aggressive I've seen outside of Turkey and it seems to get worse every year.

Excited for next installment.

Posted by
4687 posts

Tamara,

Thanks for sharing your trip adventures with us.
I love your positive attitude! Despite all the flight delays and arriving hours later than expected, you made the best of it.

My daughter and I also enjoyed our meals at Polidor Restaurant: nothing fancy but good comfort food.

I look forward to reading more!

Enjoy the rest of your trip!

Posted by
8280 posts

I really enjoyed reading your report... you’re visiting Paris the way I like to... slowly... and stopping if you’re not enjoying something to go do something else. I hope you keep having a really fun trip!

Posted by
19 posts

Enjoyed your report! Going to Paris for the first time since I was 17 (eons ago) next month as part of the 14 day BOE tour. How lovely that you are there for the flowers and blooming trees! I look forward to reading more about your trip and I hope everything goes smoothly from here on out!

Posted by
4454 posts

Enjoyed your trip report, especially picturing the Luxembourg Garden (my favorite!) with the Spring flowers you mentioned, and cherry blossoms at Notre Dame! I liked how you stayed the length of time at locations per how you were feeling, too, and able to soak in the beauty at the Orangerie.

Looking forward to hearing more about the rest of your trip.

Posted by
375 posts

Hi Tamara, i'm enjoying your trip report of Paris. I'm so glad you were able to "stop and smell the roses" or tulips and cherry blossoms. What wonderful timing! Since I'm a retired Garden Center owner, I always try to find out about the horticulture of the area. We actually timed our whole "Best of England" tour around visiting the Chelsea Flower Show. I will be watching for your future posts. Enjoy your trip. I hope you don't get sick on this adventure.

Posted by
1143 posts

Thanks for the report, Tamara.
I'm looking forward to reading about the rest of your trip!

Posted by
608 posts

Thanks for all your kind words and encouragement!

Nance- I don't know how we made it until midnight either, not our brightest move, but at least it was fun! We didn't know about point zero. Now we are going to have to come back, so we can step on it to ensure that we can come back..

Kathy - thank you for naming that building for me. You really know your Paris!

Heather - we will definitely have to explore Montmarte more on our next trip. I knew there had to be more to it.

Rachel- I hope you have a lovely tour!

Janet - did you enjoy the Chelsea garden show? We are thinking of trying to take the tour at that time next year. Looks like a good time to visit Bodnant gardens too. Flowers were a big part of this trip, that's why we are heading to Amsterdam at the end of the week. Can wait to see Keukenhof!

Posted by
681 posts

What a wonderful beginning of your trip.. I always enjoy Paris. We were with our grandson last summer. We decided to do one "touristy" thing a day and then relax, soak up the ambience and find something we would never plan to do. It worked perfectly. Enjoy the rest of the trip. Can't wait to hear the next installment. I am going to Greece in late May on a Roads Scholar tour and am excited to hear about your adventures. ENJOY!!!

Posted by
9689 posts

Tamara! You KNOW I love to hear about your trips! The flowers sound just gorgeous right now. What great timing.

I have to confess I am a Midnight in Paris dork as well.

Can't wait for the next installment on your wonderful trip. And yes, you all will be back to Paris.

Posted by
276 posts

So glad you enjoyed your time in Paris. Excited to read your thoughts on Keukenhof.

What a wonderful report! We are going to Paris in July for the second time so this was very helpful. I hope the Eiffel Tower area isn't crazy. We are going to Giverny so looking forward to that. You will love Keukenhof. I went there with four sisters and Mom and we were amazed! Can't wait to read more of your trip report.