September 11 - 13
09.11.2010 - 09.13.2010
Bonjour!! We enjoyed an amazing 3 days in Paris. Our first day in Paris began with an early arrival at 6:40 am with very little sleep. Our original plan of catching the train to the city was changed when we realized that the train we needed did not run on Saturday and the billet (ticket) machines needed to purchase metro tickets would not accept our credit cards because they did not have the European security chips in them which made us a little nervous over the next few days as we had brought few euros and had planned to use our cards for the majority of our meals and purchases. After summoning two taxis sufficient to handle our luggage requirements which was huge despite our best efforts (6 suitcases @40 lbs plus 6 carryon bags), we arrived at our hotel and dropped off our bags. We then walked just a few blocks to Rue Cler an open air market street where we enjoyed quiche lorraines from a street vendor for breakfast. After walking and taking in our first views of Paris, we hopped a bus for a rest and a relaxing tour of the city. We got off at the Louvre where we saw the Mona Lisa and many other famous statues and paintings before returning to the hotel for a quick rest. In the afternoon, we took the bus through Moulan Rouge to the Mont Martre district where we climbed to the top of the hill to the Sacre Coeur Church for an amazing view well worth the effort (which some of us doubted about halfway up). Walking along the streets of Mont Martre we watched artists at work and had our first taste of gellato before enjoying our first french meal under the stars.
Our next morning began with a parisien breakfast at a cafe not far from our hotel. There are no "cafes to go" so you must sit to enjoy a cup of cafe which was a nice change of pace for us. There was a women's marathon starting closeby, so we were treated to some unusually dressed teams of women while sipping our cafes. After Carlette lost and found her museum pass (which became a theme for the day), we took the metro, where lets just say that BO can be an issue so take a deep breath before jumping onto to a crowded one. We took in the flower market which strangley had more birds than flowers before touring Notre Dam which was breathtaking. When we entered a service was in process so we were able to experience that as well. We took a stroll along the Seine River which was beautiful but the cobblestones will kill your feet. Just take a look at the picture of mama who had to briefly remove her shoes while waiting for our boat. After our boat tour, we took in the Orsay Museum where we saw many Monets and Van Gohs and yes more naked statues. We tried our best to act cultured when viewing the artwork but despite our best efforts, some paintings were just too much for us and that's as much as I'll say about that.
In the afternoon, we took the train to Versailles, the French Palace, located about 45 minutes out of the city. After scrambling for euro coins to purchase tickets again (most machines require coins, including the pay toilets which led Georgianna to inform us that we would be "camelbacking" which amounts to limiting our liquid intake so that the pay toilets would not be an issue). The train ride was a comedy in itself when we got off too soon and a little frenchman was waving for us to get back on. All six of us had to make a run for it to get back on before the doors closed. The palace was beautiful but we were only able to view it quickly due to a special event there that evening that caused it to close early. Not to be twarted, we decided to make the most of our trip by walking to a restaurant located at the edge of the palace grounds which we were informed would remain open. The brief walk turned out to be 45 minutes, a good part again on the killer cobblestones but the promise of supper and vin as well as some raisinets found in Lorie's jacket pocket kept us going. We passed Gordon Ramsey's restaurant along the way but even if we could afford it, I don't think they would let us in the gate (we were a pretty bedraggled looking group by this point). Our perseverence finally paid off and we enjoyed a lovely dinner by the lake of pizza and vin (wine), which is cheaper than water and soda here. After the long return walk, we took the last train back to Paris where we went up on the Eiffel Tower for an incredible night view of the city. We ended our day with a final glass of wine (vin) before returning to our hotel.
We enjoyed a champagne breakfast by the Eiffel Tower for our final morning in Paris. We gathered fruit, a baguette, cheese and pastries for our picnic. After breakfast, we gathered our bags and took taxis to pick up our two rental cars which were supposed to be outside of the city; however, we soon discovered that this was not the case. After separated, both cars experienced harrowing drives through the crazy streets of Paris but we finally made it to the A6 which led us out of the city and to our next destination in the Burgandy area of France.