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Trip Report April in Paris

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April in Paris began on March 21 when I was greeted with an e-mail from my daughter-in-law, V, asking if I could take off work the week of April 25th. Hmmm, as a matter of fact I could…a few hours later she presented me with an early birthday present – mileage to Paris! I would meet her and my almost seven-year old grandson F, in Paris on April 25th for the week and I would introduce F to my favorite place in the world; what a special treat! I’ve been a Francophile since my early teens, I lived in eastern France for a while and I’ve visited Paris often (although not often enough), but this would be the first time experiencing it through the eyes of a child. This report won’t include chic restaurant reviews (although we didn’t have a bad meal the entire week) or museum visits, but we did manage to cover a fair amount of ground.

My husband drove me to Rochester, NY on Easter Sunday where I boarded an American flight to Chicago for the non-stop flight to Paris. The timing was especially good; Paris’s delightfully sunny, warm spring would be a welcome respite for an Upstate New Yorker tired of winter’s relentless grip, and I had just shed a cast I had worn for most of the winter for a broken foot. Paris would be the perfect place to begin to rebuild those walking muscles!

My flight arrived early on the 25th, I passed through passport control and followed the signs for “Paris par train”, arriving at the RER station within 25 minutes of landing – not bad. The cost one-way by train is 8.70 E and the machines take coins only. I believe there is also an office where they can be bought from a person although I didn’t investigate because I had the correct amount in coins.

The train was waiting and the trip into Paris was about 30 minutes. I thought I’d exit the station on the left bank, at St. Michele. What a nice surprise to come up right in front of Notre Dame!

V rented an apartment on Place Dauphine at the western tip of Ile de la Cité
in the 1st (not to be confused with rue Dauphine in the 6th). All the times I’ve crossed the Pont Neuf, I had never seen it. It’s a beautiful, peaceful oasis and the second oldest park in Paris after Place des Vosges. I found number 21 and the owner was there to meet me. More about the apartment in a future post.

I quickly changed into my walking shoes and off I went as I had a few hours before V and F arrived. I’ll take Paris any time in just about any weather, but Monday’s weather couldn’t have been better. Warm, a slight breeze and not a cloud in the sky. I walked past the Palais de Justice on the Quai des Orfèvres, bought a croque monsieur from the vendor at the corner of the quai and Bd du Palais, and walked to Notre Dame. Easter Monday is a jour férié, or public holiday in France and the square in front of Notre Dame was packed. I love hearing so many languages when I’m in Paris.

I wove my way past Notre Dame stopping in the lovely park just to the east (in back) of it before crossing the Pont St. Louis to rue St. Louis en L’Ile. It’s touristy, but I love the feel of it and its fun shops, many of which were open on Monday.

I crossed the Pont Marie and made my way through the southern part of the 4th, across rue St. Antoine to Place des Vosges which was crowded with families enjoying the day. There were sun bathers, friends sitting on benches visiting, and little children riding bikes and playing in the sand. I sat and soaked in the sight, just happy to be in Paris on this beautiful day. Suddenly I remembered why I need to keep moving on my first day in Europe. The adrenaline keeps me going, but a few more minutes sitting in the sun and I would nod off!

I gradually wound through the narrow streets to rue des Rosiers and rue Vieille du Temple past the Musée Carnavalet. I make a mental note to add it to my list for the next trip. The streets of the Marais were festive with others enjoying the day as I was.

The store windows were full of Easter displays, fastidiously designed. Why is it that the French do so much with such exquisite style? Even the way they wrap a purchase…

Finally I crossed back over to Ile St. Louis to watch picnickers on the Seine, the bateaux mouches gliding below me, and I walked through the Marché aux Fleures and back to Place Dauphine by mid afternoon to greet V and F. We had a late afternoon snack at one of the cafes lining Place Dauphine before strolling around the 6th and 7th arrondissements. It was such a nice evening that we hopped on a batobus to give F his first glimpse of the sites from the Seine.

We ended the evening by walking back to the 6th and having dinner at a restaurant whose name unfortunately I didn’t write down. Back to the apartment where I fell into bed!

This is a link to a few photos of my first day wanderings.

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