This was my first visit to Pairs. I have dreamed of going to Paris since I was a young girl. I am now 52 years old so I waited! The beauty of Paris exceeded my imaginary dreams just as I knew it would. I went with my wonderful husband, James. We had 5 days in Paris with a break to Normandy, then back to Paris for 3 more nights. We arrived in France Oct 2 and left Oct 20th.
My introduction to Paris started in the taxi from the airport. I watched as the scenery slowly changed from airport surroundings, highways, and glassy buildings to narrowed streets that were more congested. Then those beautiful old white buildings that I had looked at for years in magazines and on the internet started to appear. Then finally and most certainly we reached Paris. I get goose bumps just writing about it. My head swiveled from side to side to take it all in and watched in amazement as our capable taxi driver weaved in and out of traffic. Here is where I spoke my first words of French.
Our apartment was just perfect. We rented a one bedroom apartment from Vacations in Paris - #72 –Rue Simon Le Franc in the Marais. Super area within walking distance to most everything with good bus and metro connections. I liked taking the bus sometimes. It’s a great way to see the city. Living in an apartment with everyday Parisians is the only way to stay in Paris in my view. If only for 5 days, James and I felt more connected to Paris having our own apartment. We would flop down on the sofa after walking 7 miles a day. Relaxed and put our feet up while we drank fabulous wines we bought ourselves. Shopped in the area picking out our own ingredients for a candle lit dinner. Now, I am a lucky lady. I brought along my very own personal chef to Paris. James is an Executive Chef by trade. His passion is to cook and make people happy and my passion is to eat what he cooks. Part of the joy for him was to pick out all these wonderful food products and create a divine dinner set at the table in our own dining room. The food choices are endless. I love the way the butchers take great pride in their work. I also like how the fruits & vegetables are hand picked for you. Going from shop to shop to gather a feast is so much fun. We were so happy we decided on the Marais as our home base. What a great area. From what little we actually saw of Paris, we liked the Right Bank and the Marais the best. It just has a good feel to it.
Of course, we ate out too. How could we not? I remember my first real croissant. All buttery and soft. Matches perfectly with the strong hot coffee. Every morning James went to the local bakeries and brought back fresh croissants. I’m afraid I don’t have restaurant names to give out. We just wondered and stopped into restaurants that appealed to us. We did not have one bad meal in Paris. Everything was good, some were exceptional. James was in his glory. We only went to one that we read about - Le Polidor. Had a simple rustic and good meal. I liked the idea of sitting elbow to elbow with other patrons, most were French. I love listening to the French speak. Soft and low. I find their language delightful to listen to. We wanted to go to Robert & Louise but they were either “complete” or closed when we tried. In all restos I noticed no butter on the tables for your bread. Who needs butter with all those sauces? Little pots of mustard were on the tables. We bought the best mustard for 1 Euro in a store. Better than expensive ones we get at home.
We did not have an itinerary. No day 1 day 2 etc. We just got up and decided things on the go. We literally breezed through ticket lines at the Lourve and Musee d’Orsay. Visited Saint Chappelle which is glorious and was made even better by having a sunny day. The weather on our entire trip was great. It was overcast for only 3 days then the sun came out and it was hot! October is a very good time to go. Flowers were still in bloom. Bushy cascading red ivy geraniums like I’ve never seen before. We followed the sun to Normandy and it followed us back to Paris. We meandered up and down the streets of Paris. I was fascinated with all those old wooden and painted doors that led to courtyards and apartments beyond. I took lots of pictures of doors! Lots of pictures of everything!! If a place was too busy, we went back another day. We did the typical touristy things first timers do, saw some of the must see attractions and I loved every moment of it. Paris is simply exquisite. One night, we just missed the sailing of a boat cruise, so we sat down on the curved seats on the Pont Neuf watching the boat pull away. It was dark and quiet and we had the bridge all to ourselves. I turned to see the Eiffel Tower start to sparkle. Good timing. I just had to have a picture of us kissing on a Paris bridge. With no one around, James held up the camera, aimed it at us locking lips, and took the picture. But you know when it’s dark, these silly little digital cameras take so long to process a shot. There we were kissing, holding the pose trying not to laugh when a young Frenchman pushing a baby carriage came by and said in perfect English “now that’s just too much!!” and we all laughed out loud as he strolled away. Speaking of Frenchman….. Oh my! If I had gone to Paris in my 20’s, I may not have returned home to Canada. My kids would be speaking French! Just an observation. And the women are so elegant and sophisticated and beautiful in a casual way that only a French woman can achieve. They all have great legs probably because they walk everywhere in their truly confident stride. We did manage a night boat cruise on a Saturday evening. Took Les Vedettes du Pont Neuf and found it to be just right. When the boat reached the Eiffel Tower, it was all lit up in a soft warm blue against the dark night sky. I couldn’t take my eyes off of it. So many emotions ran through me at that time.
Upon our return to Paris from Normandy, we stayed in the 5th at the Hotel du College de France. I can certainly recommend this nice little hotel. Excellent service and very clean too. All the employees were great. Although we were happy with the hotel, we were not too enamored with the Latin Quarter. Maybe because it is really geared for the young, hip, noisy, party types. You know – the 20 something crowd. Great fun for them! Didn’t not like it, just not as much as other areas. But we had a top floor attic room that was quiet and cozy and had a pretty rooftop view and when I looked to the right, there she was again. Late at night, I watched the beams that go round and round from the top of the tower that reach out into the Paris sky. On my last night there, I said good-bye to Paris watching those beams.
We met many many Parisians and all were helpful, respectful and good to us. We tried our French, they tried their English, and all was well. I have so many highlights of our trip. A special one for us was meeting a lovely couple that live in Paris, sharing a café crème at a corner cafe and forming a new friendship.
I don’t know when we will go back. It maybe years from now or perhaps never. I just don’t know. But I do know that Paris is truly in my heart and the memories I have of our amazing trip will never fade. My dream came true, and I shared it with the man I love. Maybe one day it will come true again. Thanks for letting me share it with you.