I’d always wanted to visit Paris. I’d toured another part of France, but had not yet fallen in love with the City of Light. With her magical avenues, delicious crepes, stone steps to climb by the hundreds, and unbelievable architecture.
It only took 4 days to fall in love with Paris. 4 hours, really, so there were days to carry on the affair. Here’s how it happened.
Day 1. After a long, “overnight”, wide-awake flight, we checked into our hotel (at 7 am) for a few hours’ sleep.
We ventured out toward Arc de Triomphe, close to our hotel. That is, if you go the right direction. 🙂 Oh you guys, it’s a glorious structure!!! Just. Oh. How do I??? You’ll have to trust me. I was TAKEN by its beauty.
In homeschool this year, we studied all the big French stuff. Which makes me sound not smart enough to teach history, but I promise. I was interjecting historical facts all week long. DP, you’ll vouch for me on this, right? (He was impressed.)
And then we beheld the most beautiful avenue in the world. So they say, and I agree.
The Champs Elysees, which is addicting to say when you get your French on, is lined with horse chestnut trees, cafes and luxury shops. But here’s my truth: I am not a real shopper. I do squeal over cute shoes and handbags, but I only pretended to be a shopper because it seemed like the Parisian thing to do.
Until it rained.
We ducked into an adorable pastry shop on my list of places to visit, La Duree. Which should mean Heavenly Pastries. But I don’t think it does. Looking around (read: people-watching), I learned, and you can quote me on this, Sugar is not the devil in France. People ordered multiple desserts, as well as a sugary café or chocolat chaud. I listened for accents. These were not Americans ordering the multiple desserts. How do they get away with this??? Oh yes, the walking…
We ate dinner in the Manet-Degas room at our hotel that evening with our company hosts. Catching up with some of our favorite travel buddies, we stayed awake until my eyes glazed over.
Day 2. Tour of Il de la Cite, an island at the center of Paris, began at 9 am. Why did we sign up for this again? I will never understand because at this point my body was begging for sleep. As long as I kept moving, I was fine.
We toured Sainte Chapelle with her unforgettable stained-glass windows and the magnificent Notre Dame where a Super-Excited Catholic Girl in our group made me rehearse scenes from Superstar. Repeatedly. Remember that movie? Anyone?
To continue our perfect day in Paris, we headed to the Latin Quarter. Ate an amazing veggie burger, strolled cobblestone streets, became photo-obsessed for a short time, and then back to the hotel. Realized it was Wednesday, the Louvre stays open late, and we went for it. We loved the museum, but did not care about seeing it all. If we had, we would have hated it.
We topped off the night with an hour-long walk…accidentally…back to Champs Elysees for a late dinner. The Chinese President was visiting Paris, so much of the street was blocked off and lined with Policie….very safe, at least. The Eiffel Tower sparkled, and that night we slept like well-fed babies. (Not newborns.)
Day 3. Met friends for breakfast at Starbucks, our home away from home, even if my simple unsweet iced tea throws Europe for a loop. Headed off to Place de la Concorde and Tuilleres (gardens) for almost-endless photos. (Sorry honey.) Had planned to visit Musee de Orsay for the impressionists, but the rest of Paris planned the same, so we’re saving it for next time. Took a rickshaw cab back to the Latin Quarter to meet friends. Loved our hilarious driver, Igor, but learned there are “10 deaths a day” involving rickshaws in Paris, according to our chic French concierge. Enjoyed lunch with friends and a Seine bateau cruise to see it all by daylight.
At almost evening, we did the Eiffel Tower. Climbed over 600 steps to the 2nd floor, which had me seriously doubting my belief that Paris can only be experienced in cute shoes. My feet paid the high price, but something about Paris told me to leave the workout shoes with the workout. Which is my rule in general. (I hated myself right then.) Hours later, my feet were surely BROKEN. I dreamed of Brooks running shoes and an Epsom salt bath, and didn’t even care about dinner. Not only because of the tower, but all the other hours of walking. In cute shoes. Nonetheless, a good night’s sleep does a body good.
Day 4. Are you Friday? Adrenaline, one more day, yes?
I kept trying to pick favorites. Impossible! But Montmartre, the highest point in the city, was most definitely my favorite. We headed to Sacre Couer (cathedral) with friends, and I’m not sure there could be a more beautiful structure. Have I used that line yet? I’m serious. Unbelievable.
And then on to Place du Tertre, the square where artists gather….my people. I could not wait. There was another slight directional mixup involving hundreds of stairs in cute shoes. Again. It turned out, my people were a group of old men with long gray, matted, messy hair and paintbrushes. But I felt a connection.
We spent our last evening cruising the Seine, looking forward to the people we call home, and dreaming of all the places we’d go on our next trip to Paris-dise. 4 days in Paris is totally doable, if you have littles back home you can’t stand to leave for much longer. Totally enough time to fall in love with Paris. Au Revoir!