25 Jan A look at Day One in Paris
Ugh…I am back to reality – dirty laundry, bills to pay and grocery shopping but doing all with a smile on my face because I had such a wonderful trip and am blessed to be back home safe and sound!
There is so much to blog about that I will try to write about each day, one day at a time. Here I go beginning with Day One:
We arrived in Paris refreshed from a decent night’s sleep on the plane ready for action. With the help of some super friendly Continental Airlines gate customer service representatives, Corrie was able to have her seats switched to an empty row of three seats in economy and lay down properly to sleep! She had the Business First toiletry bag I had given her which included fresh socks, eye mask and lip balm to help make the trip just a little bit nicer. Because of my world travelling husband and our American Express miles, I was in 1st class enjoying the window seat with added privacy since the aisle seat was empty as well. I had a great dinner, a slightly chilled glass of Bordeaux and headed to bed.
Since we gal pals carried our luggage aboard we were able to head straight to the RER express train into Paris. We changed at Gare de Nord and headed for the Metro to our final destination Odeon. Not only was it the fastest way to get into the city that time of the morning, but it gave Corrie a view she otherwise would not have seen – where people actually live, the more modern buildings and yes, the gobs and gobs of graffiti on each and every surface of public lands. Over the years I have noticed that while the graffiti is more artistic looking than gang looking (more “artsy fartsy” as Lisa would say), it’s just so overwhelmingly present that it’s sad. I think Paris is now the graffiti capitol of the world – I know New York is bummed about this…
Corrie was treated to an accordion player on the RER who played traditional Parisian music which set a cool mood for the ride, but then when we switched to the Metro her eyes were wide open with the odor or one poor soul who was quite strung out on drugs and hitting everyone up for cash. It was a good time to examine ones shoes to make sure every detail on them was memorized if you catch my drift. C’est la vie – could have been the train in Boston, Chicago or New York. I was just pleased that the escalators were working at Odeon Metro when we finished our journey and the hotel was only steps away.
Bonjour, bonjour, bonjour as we arrived, dropped our bags with the smiling and friendly staff at the Hotel Left Bank St. Germain and headed straight out the door for a quick hour of shopping before walking over to meet Marie-Charlotte at Café Marly. Corrie was the first gal pal on the trip to complete a purchase and did so in an impressive thirty minutes! She bought an off white “poofy” jacket with a light brown removable fur collar and stretchy belt that sits at the waist. It looks great on Corrie and she will love it for years to come! Chounaga on Rue Dauphine is a great place to shop as the gentleman who has been there for years speaks very good English, sizes up your body in an instant and shows you what looks good on each gal.
With her Paris shopping Baptism complete, Corrie and I walked back down Rue Buci and on to Rue Mazarine to Quai Malaquais to Quai de Conti and over the bridge. Rue Mazarine is lined with all sorts of galleries and antique dealers on this quiet street. We don’t have time to stop in any of these places today so window shopping will have to satisfy our senses. We were on a mission to make it to lunch to meet Marie-Charlotte.
Inside the Palace gates of the Louvre Corrie stopped to pose for some photos by the fountain in the courtyard. When we finished the photo session and began making our way towards the Pyramid a local con artist tried to give us a gold ring that he supposedly thought we dropped. We said, “No” but he just put it in her hand and walked away. Here’s the catch – he then came back and asked for money. We were incredulous as he kept insisting he wanted us to keep the ring. Instead, we put it on the fountain. Corrie had the right idea, just a few minutes too late; we should have tossed it into the cold fountain so he could not use it on anyone else! He will not steal our happiness of being in this great city – we had a good laugh and moved on to the inner beauty of the finest museum in the world.
Marie-Charlotte arrived in great Paris form – casually dressed, but everything makes her look terribly elegant and very chic. From her stylish hair and trendy but smart fashion to her “fab” Kenzo bag, she looked amazing as usual. She is fluent in English, but very modest about it. We caught up on our families and enjoyed the much needed café au lait to warm us up from our cold walk.
Café Marly is located in the Louvre and we were seated at a window where we could see directly into one of the museum halls full of sculptures. The food is simple, the service is quick but this place has one drawback – the price. It’s definitely more expensive than eating off site of the museum but the today it was worth every penny!
Lucky for us, we didn’t just get to have lunch with Marie-Charlotte, she took us on an insiders’ tour of the Louvre. As she is an artist herself, it was fantastic to see her love of certain artists and their works through her eyes. She was very helpful adding bits of European History that we had long forgotten about from our school days. As many times as I have been to the Louvre there is always something new and interesting that I’ve missed the previous times. I have seen the Domenikos Theotokopoulos, known as El Greco painting before but never knew why I appreciated looking at it until Marie-Charlotte pointed out that although it was painted in the 1500’s it looks very modern. The artist was clearly brilliant and futuristic because when you look at it, you feel as if today’s contemporary artists could have painted it. Corrie was satisfied with her tour, checked off all her “must sees” and we were both ready for a break!
We walked back the same way we came and headed for a late afternoon stroll through the heart of the 6th Arrondissement with me pointing out the beautiful churches, architectural wonders and one of a kind cafés that make this part of the city the most charming to me. Resist shopping , resist shopping I keep saying as we pass each store I want to head into because a) we did not have time and b) we wanted to save the shopping for when Lisa would be there to enjoy it with us and give us good gal pal advice on our purchases.
Time to check into our hotel – fingers crossed that we have a nice large room for the three of us. Yes!!! We are in 204 which is located in the interior of hotel so it will be very quiet without street noise. This is a plus for sleeping, but I will miss the late night noises that come from happy-go-lucky students coming home from late night jaunts and the sound of the ambulance horns. Call me crazy, but I love the waking in the middle of the night and hearing all of it!
Our hotel room is well appointed with a large bathroom with two sinks and three very comfortable twin beds which have very soft sheets that smell ever so slightly of the lavender scent they use to wash them. When you are in front of the hotel in the mornings you can smell them doing the laundry from the street and it fills the whole area with this lovely scent. As the gal pals know I do not like “smelly” things, so that should tip you off to how good it must be!
Going strong – Corrie and I changed for dinner and headed just next door to Le Procope. This restaurant is always busy and alive with locals and tourists. The building is chock full of historical references, paintings, ancient books and artifacts. The front entrance is on Rue L’Ancienne de Comedie and the rear is actually on an old cobble stone street that used to be lined with specialty shops which sadly are now closed due to the poor economy. I hope that these shops will come alive again with new businesses by the next time I go to Paris. It’s still worth a walk down this little alley to see the windows of Le Procope and the historical plaques that adore the façade.
Since we arrived at Le Procope by seven in the evening we were able to order off the prix fixed menu which gives you a choice of two or three courses. Corrie was adventuresome in her selections and began with escargots and finished with trout. She loved the escargots, but found the way the trout was served to be difficult to eat as they serve the whole fish which you must fillet yourself. Everything was delicious and the atmosphere was its usual vibrant self, but this time our food came really late. The server was not to blame; there was clearly a mix up in the kitchen so I am keeping this on the recommended restaurant list.
Now it’s off to my favorite outdoor café for an after dinner glass of Bordeaux for me and hot chocolate for Corrie. Café de Paris has been the preferred late night café for gal pals to sit and chat and laugh about life. After our satisfying after dinner aperitifs, Corrie and I headed back to the hotel where a few doors down sits a little hole in the wall Greek creperie where the wafts of sugary smells make their way towards the street where young people congregate at night waiting to order one of these inexpensive, but satisfying treats. I have been tempted for years to eat one, but for some reason never have. Corrie and I decide that we will try one on one of the nights she is here. This is another reason to bring new gals on the trip – I push them to try new things and they push me. Fantastic!