i heart paris

July 8, 2013 at 10:55 am 11 comments

it was a cold and raining when i arrived in paris one day ahead of the scheduled 11-day tour of the city and surrounding areas. as i was unable to book this extra day at the hotel where the group would be staying, i looked and found another place close by for the night. it was a great find for history buffs. before its conversion to a 3-star hotel, it used to be the living quarters of the folks who built the eiffel tower. such being the case, it wouldn’t be unusual for somebody with a wild imagination to hear strange footsteps while lying in bed, trying to sleep.

it was raining again when i walked to the tour’s designated hotel to check in the following morning. in fact, it rained most of the time during our stay in paris causing some members of the tour to get sick. although i didn’t expect this kind of weather, i was glad i came prepared with a raincoat and a sweater.

on our first day, our tour guides met us at the hotel’s dining room for a short “bienvenue à paris” meeting. one of them was a frenchman and the other was an american lady who has lived in the country for thirty years. both proved to be wonderful guides.

the frenchman, who hailed from the south of france, told us that paris is considered one of the most beautiful, if not the most beautiful city in the world. it has much to offer to anyone, but to fully experience it, you must take it slow like sipping a good wine. in other words, you must proceed with the intention that you’d be coming back.

after asking us to introduce ourselves, he taught us some french survival phrases and basic understanding of the culture.

in france, he said, finger counting starts with the thumb. when you raise your thumb, it means one. when you raise your forefinger, it means two. and so on. by contrast, in the states, when you start counting, you start with the forefinger.

what about if you raise your middle finger? i wanted to ask but didn’t at the last minute. i thought it was too early to try being funny.

at the restaurant, once you get a table, it’s yours for as long as you want or until closing time. you won’t get the bill unless you ask for it because it’s considered rude.

after the meeting, the guides led us to the nearby metro (subway) station and oriented us on how to go about the city on our own.

the day ended with a get acquainted over dinner together at a nice restaurant.

on the second day, we went on a walking tour of the city. after a short drizzle, the sun finally came out.


 

i found paris magnificent in any kind of weather. everywhere i marveled at what i saw. even the most mundane could be captivating.




 
we visited the famous notre-dame cathedral which construction dates back to the 1100s.




 
we also went to the royal medieval sainte-chapelle chapel built in the 1200s.




 
on the way to notre-dame, i saw vendors selling prints and souvenirs. our french guide said that it was ok to buy from them because they were not tourist traps. the prices of their goods were reasonable because they pay so little for space and taxes.




 
in the afternoon, the rain came back. we had lunch at the latin quarter which i’d consider the berkeley of paris. it’s dominated by university students and intellectuals with lots of places to eat and to hang out. it’s situated on the left side of the seine river.




 
after lunch, we regrouped and headed to the nearby orsay museum where the largest collection of impressionist and post-impressionist masterpieces by renowned painters could be found. these included the works of Monet, Manet, Degas, Renoir, Cézanne, Seurat, Sisley, Gauguin and Van Gogh. No photos were allowed at the museum but i saw a few people still taking pictures. it reminded me that this was france. the land of the free.




 
on the third day, we went to the famous louvre museum located on the right side of the seine river. it’s one of the largest museums in the world with an area over 650,000 square feet. it contains 35,000 exhibits from prehistoric times to the 21st century. This is the place to find the mona lisa, venus de milo, code of hummurabi, and winged victory.




 
the day ended taking pictures of the arc de triomphe from the distance and wandering down champs-elysées considered to be the most expensive real estate in the world with its overpriced eating establishments and luxury shops.

as we left paris the following morning, i thought to myself that our french guide was right. paris is much more than its gothic churches and famous museums and landmarks, and I had fallen in love. right then and there, i had decided that someday i’d be coming back.

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It’s Your Birthday In the Land of Castles

11 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Beverly Charles  |  July 8, 2013 at 11:25 pm

    Paris for Rent and France for Rent ( http://www.parisforrent.com and http://www.franceforrent.com ) — A related pair of sites. Pets are officially not allowed, but because we had rented from them before, and because one of their owners has a dog and is willing (sometimes) to allow a dog in the off season, we were able to get permission for Chloe to come with us. Call, and expect to be turned down, but you may be happily surprised.

    Reply
  • 2. URL  |  July 9, 2013 at 1:24 pm

    … [Trackback]

    […] Informations on that Topic: plaridel.wordpress.com/2013/07/08/i-heart-paris/ […]

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  • 3. Erna P. Sosa  |  July 9, 2013 at 7:39 pm

    You’re probably asking why we waited until suggestion five to come up with our picks for Paris museums! Well, we think any Paris guidebook or Paris sightseeing tour will offer you the obvious ‘top ten’ Paris France sights, but we want you to experience more than just you more than just the standard Paris tours. By visiting the street markets, the Puces and meandering through timless Paris streets, we want you to experience life like a Parisian and to fall in love with Paris as we have. The Musee d’Orsay is our personal favorite museum; it’s specialty is Impressionist paintings. If you’re renting one of our Paris vacation rentals at http://www.parisperfect.com , it’s walking distance from most of our apartments. Plan on spending a full morning there and wander to one of the nearby brasseries for lunch… or reserve at their restaurant when you arrive. The Louvre – of course – is one of the richest museums in the world. It can also be overwhelming. Our tip is to choose a single exhibit or wing, such as the Egyptian Wing, Greek sculptures, or Italian paintings. It’s easier to enjoy and savor it. Come back on another day or if you are a Paris lover, plan a special visit each time you come.

    Reply
  • 4. Gold Price  |  July 10, 2013 at 7:17 am

    We stay at Le Meridien Étoile hotel located at the beginning of Le Defense “new” business district that extends to the west. Modern skyscrapers are filling the Le Defense city skyline. We chose this modern contemporary hotel because of its proximity to many tourist attractions in Paris, and more importantly it has an underground parking garage.

    Reply
  • 5. Jermaine Lawson  |  July 10, 2013 at 8:57 pm

    Paris for Rent and France for Rent ( http://www.parisforrent.com and http://www.franceforrent.com ) — A related pair of sites. Pets are officially not allowed, but because we had rented from them before, and because one of their owners has a dog and is willing (sometimes) to allow a dog in the off season, we were able to get permission for Chloe to come with us. Call, and expect to be turned down, but you may be happily surprised.

    Reply
  • 6. Rosetta W. Gillespie  |  July 11, 2013 at 3:32 am

    Program highlights : Hands-on pastry classes, Chocolate and pastry walking tour, Hotel or guesthouse accommodation, Daily continental breakfasts, Gourmet dinners accompanied by fine wines, Airport transfers and ground transportation.

    Reply
  • 7. AC  |  July 11, 2013 at 7:19 am

    Wow. Just wow. 🙂

    Reply
  • 8. Cecilia Lowery  |  July 13, 2013 at 12:22 am

    While the mainstream museums are visited by first time visitors, I would highly recommend a visit to the eclectic Musée du Vin would be a perfect choice. Popularly known as the French Wine Museum, this fine enclosure houses one of the finest museums and restaurants in Paris. While a tour of the museum takes you through the history of French Wine Making, the restaurant serves sparkling French Wines with traditional French delicacies. Promising a really awesome experience this is a must visit if you want to taste the best French Wine and Food.

    Reply
  • 9. Timothy M. White  |  July 13, 2013 at 7:01 am

    The European Impressions is a fantastic tour for anyone that is looking for a taste of Europe…literally. The only tour that takes you to Belgium for waffles, Germany for beer, Italy for pasta, Spain for tapas and France for escargot! Of course, there’s plenty more to do than just eat your way around Europe. Visits to Pisa, Monaco, Innsbruck and Carcassonne are all part of the included itinerary meaning your free time really is yours to play with.

    Reply
  • 10. Cindy Melton  |  July 13, 2013 at 5:54 pm

    This page is dedicated to helping tourists having a nice vacation in the City of Lights. Missing the real Paris is an easy thing to do, the Eiffel Tower, the Champs Elysées are great of course, but that’s not where Parisians themselves hang out, let me share here my tips to get in touch with locals.

    Reply
  • 11. Silver Price  |  July 14, 2013 at 12:05 am

    Vive La France! What a romantic, cultural, culinary destination to choose for your next vacation. Most France tours begin or end in Paris. With so many things to see and do in this capital city, it’s difficult to fit them all in during a short visit. But you can try! Ascend the Eiffel Tower, tour Notre Dame, see the famous art in the Louvre, walk along the Seine, and visit the ornate Palace of Versailles. Browse the upscale boutiques along the Champs d’Elysses, or just sit in a streetside cafe, savoring croissants and admiring the city’s scenic beauty and cosmopolitan flair.

    Reply

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