Bonjour Readers! Here are the photos I promised you of Sam’s and my recent trip to Paris, interspersed with some thoughts. Enjoy!
The pastry case at Gosselin, where we had delicious sandwiches, an eclair and a piece of flan. And me, drinking an espresso.
We began our first day of sightseeing with the fog-shrouded Eiffel Tower. We opted to take the stairs to the second level instead of wait in line for the elevator.
The Highlight: Sightseeing! It was both Sam’s and my first time to Paris, so we decided to purchase Paris Museum Passes and hit up as many sights as we could. With our passes we visited the Notre Dame Tower, the Arc de Triomphe, the Louvre, the Musee D’Orsay, the Pompidou Centre and Versaille. The Eiffel Tower was not included in the pass, but we just purchased tickets at the tower and walked up the stairs. And of course, we also enjoyed plenty of free sights: Luxumbourg Gardens, the Champs-Elysees, the Tuileries, the Invalides Garden, Place des Vosges, Bastille, Montmartre, Sacre-Ceour and the Grande Epicerie. We used Rick Steves’ Paris 2012 as our guidebook and couldn’t have been more pleased.
We would have never gotten anywhere in Paris if it weren’t for the Metro maps and the good old-fashioned paper map we carried along.
Beautiful, crisp day for a walk along the Seine.
Eric Kayser makes the most delicious baguette I have ever tasted. This is a picture of their fig bread, which was also really delicious.
Favorite food moment: Eating a warm baguette from the Eric Kayser bakery. Chewy and warm with amazing flavor. Apparently there are a few Eric Kayser bakeries now open in New York City, which means these delicious baguettes are just a little bit closer to home. We also had a really delicious dinner our last night in Paris at a small restaurant bustling with locals. We ordered foie gras, cassoulet, duck conit and tarte tatin. Quintessentially French! There was a French mother and her grown daughter sitting beside us and they struck up a conversation with us. They probably knew as much English as we knew French—very little! They were vacationing from Cannes and were just as excited to be visiting Paris as we were.
Meringues in the window at Gosselin, and the immaculate chocolate display at Georges Larnicol, where shoppers can scoop their own chocolate covered nuts and confections.
Stained glass and detailing inside Notre Dame. We stayed steps away from Notre Dame and could hear the bells tolling from our apartment.
One of the many gargoyles protecting Notre Dame. We walked to the top of the tower so we were able to get a good look at these scary little creatures.
What would a trip to Paris be without a crepe? We had both sweet and savory. Also, an ice cream parlor sign inside the Luxembourg Gardens.
View of the Champs-Elysees from the top of the Arc de Triomphe, and the Arc itself.
Alas, our one destination on the Champs-Elysees was closed for renovation: Laduree.
I.M. Pei’s pyramid in front of the Louvre. Definitely recommend a night visit to the Louvre if you’re not too tired. There were barely any crowds and it was magical seeing the pyramid and museum lit at night.
The dutiful tourists, including us, flocked to Versaille. What would King Louis XIV think of all us commoners (and foreigners!) walking round his home?
The Hall of Mirrors in Versaille.
And what I call the Hall of Portraits in Versaille.
The gardens and grand canal stretch out behind Versaille. Off to the right are even more palaces!
During a brief rainstorm at Versaille, we had a lovely lunch at La Flotille, a cafe near the Grand Canal.
Next time: Quest for the perfect croissant. Most of the croissants we tried were pretty average. I was hoping to find something on par with San Francisco-based Tartine’s croissants, but I think it will take a little more sleuthing. I would also like to visit the Rodin museum and Orangerie next time (and revisit the Louvre and Musee D’Orsay!). We were really happy with how convenient it was to walk from our apartment in the Latin Quarter to the museums and sights, but next time we’d like to stay in the Marais and explore it’s markets, cafes, boulangeries and patisseries.
Our favorite museum was the Musee D’Orsay. We had a great time eating lunch in their fun cafe.
Place des Vosges, where these characteristic apartments line the square. Royalty used to live here.
Advice for Future Paris Travelers: (1) Bring two super comfy pairs of shoes if you’re planning on doing a lot of walking. I had only one pair, and though they were super comfy, my feet would have appreciated a change of shoes. (2) As a friend warned me before going, buy a map. Paris is tricky to navigate with it’s hexagonal blocks and not-so-visible street signs. (3) Read up before you go. I read several novels and books about France, watched many French movies and even took an introductory French language class. It was so fun to walk around Paris, see something and think, “Yes! This is what I read about!”
All in all, we had an incredibly smooth, very good first trip to Paris. The city has so much to offer and we would love to back and explore it further, as well as visit other parts of France. I’ll be back on the blog in a few days with pictures from the second leg of our trip–Germany!