Saturday, August 1, 2009

Mandatory Paris

My memories of Paris circa October 2004 are pretty clear... unlike the weather. On our honeymoon it was dreary, overcast, rainy and cold. We didn't let the weather slow us down then but I must say... sunshine and mid 80 degree temperatures are a much better way to experience Paris! In the few hours we had to explore we made a decent dent in the City of Love.
Our first stop, a stroll along the Champs-Élysées to the Place de la Concorde. I get sensory overload standing in the Place! To the west is the Champs-Élysées and the Arc de Triomphe. To the east, Jardin des Tuileries and the Louvre. To the north is the American Embassy, Le Madeleine, and Hôtel de Crillon. And to the south is the River Seine and the Pont de la Concorde. In the piazza itself, is the fountain designed by Hittrof as well as 8 statues he designed representing various French cities and the Obelisk. And as if all of that is not enough, the entire Place is encircled by several busy roads with cars, trucks and motorcycles zooming past! And of course, the gazillion tourists playing frogger trying to cross the roads while taking pictures in all directions add to the excitement! The Place de la Concorde is a can't miss when visiting Paris but the next must is a moment of relaxation...
If you are going to relax... this is the place to do it. The parks department in Paris know how to pick the perfect chairs for relaxing... and unlike London, you don't have some guy pestering you every 15 minutes for 3 pounds just to use them! And even better yet, they are not covered in pigeon droppings or surrounded by hordes of angry swans begging for food! We could have stayed all day lounging in the sunshine but Paris was calling and Chris had spotted something he wanted to check out!
This picture gives and whole new meaning to the phrase 'a kid in a candy shop.' Some how we got away without buying a single piece of candy... but Chris cried for an hour ;-) Just kidding... the boy does love his candy!!
There was a carnival/gambling fair along the Jardin des Tuileries that provided great people watching opportunities. It was pretty big but had the same 5 rides/games that were repeated over and over again. We quickly moved through and decided to head to The Opera House...
I have decided that this would be the dream place for a wedding... maybe one day Chris and I will renew the vows... or maybe I will just keep dreaming! Pictures can not possibly do Opéra de Paris justice, at least not my pictures! It is a breath taking place and every corner you turn offers a new chandelier'd, plush velvety, awe inspiring view...
We opted against a guided tour and just spent a hour or so wondering around. There were times when I just closed my eyes and pictured myself at some late 1800's lavish gala... tripping over my skirt and falling down one of the slick marble staircases! Let's face it; 1875 or 2009, I am a klutz no matter the year!
An hour in the dimly lit opera house sans AC made us realize one thing... our 4 am wake up call was quickly catching up with us and we needed a nap! The trip back to the hotel was rather uneventful, if you don't count the hour we spent walking in circles trying to find the metro station that turned out to be immediately next door to the Opera House! Stupid map ;-) After the nap, we headed to the super trendy and chic Pershing Hall for a somewhat yummy but incredibly over priced dinner. Chris' steak arrived well done and for the first time EVER he sent it back to be re-cooked... his momma would have been proud! The restaurant/hotel is housed in the former American Legion, albeit with a pseudo posh make over. The courtyard has a retractable roof with a 5 or 6 story wall covered in live plants... a great idea except for the fact that throughout dinner we were dodging falling plant debris! Something tells me we both enjoyed a little extra serving of veggies! Dinner was followed by a nightcap at the hotel before we called it a night... to be followed by another early morning!

Most of day 2 was occupied by Le Tour. However, we managed to get up, packed and out of the hotel by just after 8. After a quick breakfast and an uninspired walk, we found ourselves on the banks of the Seine in front of the Eiffel Tower. The last time we were here it was pouring rain... this time the weather was much more cooperative!

I had hoped to make it to Sacré-Cœur on this trip but with all of the excitement at the hotel following Le Tour we had to rush to the train with no time to spare for any more sight seeing... a shame really. I guess that just means we will have to come back to Paris again. Oh darn ;-)

Until next time!


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