France, gorgeous France! Part 1: Paris

2 Jan

Oh my, OH MY!

Where to start?  We arrived via the TGV from Stuttgart.  If you wonder what the TGV is, go here.  Super fast train.  We got to our apartment, which I had found via vrbo.com.  It was small, really small, aroudn 125 square feet, but within those walls was all we needed.  A bed, a kitchen and a functioning bathroom as well as a washing machine (although it functioned intermittently).

We got in, dropped our stuff, and immediately went out.  Our first order of business was to walk up to Montmartre and Sacre Coeur to see the view of Paris. Sadly, Paris was a bit under the fog, but still really pretty.  Then, being New Yorkers, we decided to walk to the Opera, where we took a tour, and then further along to Notre Dame.  I think we walked about 4 miles, which always seems easy, but isn’t always.  Anyhow, it wore us out to sleep for the next day.

The next day we first went to the Arc de Triomphe (this time we sensibly took the Metro).  A quick set of photos and we were back in the bowels of the Metro on the way to Saint Sulpice.  The next thing on our agenda was to find the “best” croissants in Paris.  We first stopped at a little place called “Bread and Roses” and then walked into the 14th Arrondisement to find “Des Gateaux et du Pain” (or something like that).  The first place was not only lovely, but the people were kind and attentive.  The second place was like walking into a Christian Louboutin shop when everyone knows you can’t POSSIBLY afford to be there: snobby and obnoxious.  We bought some croissants anyway, and some truffles for some friends, but then high tailed it out of there away from the bitchy shop people.  Along the way we found the Louis Pasteur museum, which we were too late to enter and put it on the list for the next day.  We then headed to the Catacombs, but the wait was long enough that we wouldn’t have time to get in.  Fail.  We decided to then go to this lovely little market we had heard of behind the Pantheon, so we went by the Pantheon and then to the market.  The market was one long tourist trap with a bunch of small, overpriced restaurants.  Ah well, can’t win them all.  We headed home and shopped on our own lovely street, Rue des Martyrs, which even had a write up in the NYTimes.  We bought some pork (which may even be better than The Piggery), some veggies and yummy crusty bread.  Jonathan made dinner at home and it was just lovely.

Our final day, we decided to go to the Catacombs, since it was really the only other thing we wanted to see.  We were in line for two hours.  I hate lines.  I really do, but this has been on my list for a while.  While in line, Jonathan made friends with a young Chinese kid studying engineering in Germany.  They became Facebook friends, at least until he goes back to China and the government blocks it again.  The catacombs were remarkable.  For all of you that think that we should have seen more museums, let me say this: yes, the Louvre and the Rodin and the D’Orsay are amazing museums.  We had limited time and we wanted to see things that we could not see, at all, in NYC.  There are works of art by Monet and Rodin and Da Vinci in NYC, so we wanted to make sure we would see things that we can’t find in NYC.  Unless I don’t know about it, there aren’t 8 million interestingly arranged bones beneath NYC.  So there.  Anyhow, we then went to Saint Germain des Pres, which is the oldest church in Paris, with the foundations dating to the 8th century.  We also stopped by Bread and Roses again to get croissants and breads to take along with us on the TGV to Toulouse.

Lovely Paris.  Lovely people.  Speaking my high school French was a stretch.  I could speak it, but go so flustered so easily.  Luckily, everyone was so nice (for the record, I have never had a crappy encounter in Paris the several times I have been – I don’t know where that rumor comes from, but everyone has always been so very lovely).  We loved Paris, might even live there one day for 6 months or so.

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