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I'm back from Paris and I'm still so excited!!!!!

I'm back from Paris and I'm still so excited!!!!!

Nov 24th, 2010, 05:37 PM
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I'm back from Paris and I'm still so excited!!!!!

I've been back since October 9th. Every day I tell myself I need to write that trip report, but......anyhow, I'm here now and will do my best. You may remember my initial post entitled "Anyone else going to Paris for the 1st time?"


First of all, let me tell you that I LOVED PARIS!!!!!!!! Loved, loved, loved it.

Secondly, because some time has passed, I don't remember everything chronologically or the names of all the churches we saw, and... I may even screw up the spelling of places......actually I don't remember a lot of things. But I remember PARIS!

OK - I do remember using Paris MapGuide. It was a great resource.

Part 1:

We flew Buffalo, NY to Charlotte, NC and on to Paris, arriving very early in the morning - around 6:00 a.m. My travel companion and I never slept on the plane (too excited) and we were quite exhausted when we arrived. It was a very long day. CDG does leave a lot to be desired. Like anywhere, you have to be careful. Just use a little caution when opening your purse, or turning your back on your luggage, etc. You can definitely pick out some people trolling for opportunity. At least the obvious ones.

We obtained 6 day museum passes at CDG. I know you may not totally get your money's worth, but in our case it was our first trip and we just wanted to be covered for our entire trip and not worry about what days we ended up in museums. Definitely worth the money. It's great to whip out that pass and bypass the lines. Purchasing the 6 day pass gave us peace of mind.

We were sick of hanging around the airport so took a taxi to the street our apartment was on. Our taxi driver was driving and trying to call someone at the same time, getting very aggravated at the phone or the person he was trying to call. I was just about to ask him to stop when he slammed the phone shut and actually paid attention to the road. Phew.

There were some road closures, and we got to see some less desirable (but not real bad) sections of the city. I live in Buffalo, so I know undesirable neighborhoods. Then we ended up driving straight into Place de la Concorde in the early morning. No one was out on the streets that early on a Sunday morning. Our taxi driver had calmed down enough from his phone call to start pointing out things to us - Eiffel Tower, Arch de Triomphe, Louvre.......I felt like a little kid......didn't know what to look at first! I pinched my friend - not sure she appreciated it - but I WAS SO EXCITED!!!! Oh, and that church....I don't know the name....that great big church with the HUGE pillars near Concorde! WOW!!!! Never did get back to it, but will on my next trip.

We went to the Rue de Buci cafe for coffee until our apartment was ready around 10:00 a.m. We enjoyed sitting at that sidewalk cafe watching people slowly walking the streets with their French bread in hand. OMG - they really do that!!!! This time I had my friend pinch me.

We stayed in VRBO #113302 on Rue Dauphine. It was a cute little apartment, nothing fancy, but suited our needs. It was clean, had a small kitchenette, and a washer/dryer which totally baffled me. I did manage to hand wash some things and dry them but never could figure out the washer. I slept in the mezzanine bed with my head about 8 inches from the ceiling., It was quite cozy, actually. My friend slept on the futon in the living room. All in all it was a good value and very centrally located in the 6th, just bordering the Latin Quarter. We payed approx. $880.00 US for six nights.

We showered up and hit the streets. We were both like zombies, having been up for God only knows how many hours at that point. But it was our first day in Paris and we were gonna cover some ground. We walked around our neighborhood, down to Blvd. St. Michel and Rue St. Andre des Arts (sandyh- we found Passage Dauphine!). We made our way to Jardin du Luxembourg. WOW!!!! Just WOW!!!! What a stunningly beautiful park. It just so happened that it was a warm, sunny Sunday afternoon by this time, and the park was filled with people. Children were racing their boats in the water, the flowers were still in bloom.......it was such a haven. I made the mistake of sitting in one of those coveted metal chairs that lean back. Not a good idea after being awake 30 some hours.

We continued on to the next park behind it (with the ping pong tables and fountain), admired the apartment buildings, then started walking through the 5th. We got a bit lost, but then exited a narrow street and came upon the Pantheon. Another WOW moment. As you'll see, I'm easily impressed and use the word WOW a lot. The outside is much more impressive than the inside. But what an amazing building. By this time we were exhausted and starving. We walked up to a brasserie (did I spell that correctly?) that I would have pegged as a tourist place due to it's location on the main street leading up to the steps of the Pantheon, but there seemed to be mostly locals there. We had beef bourginon with potatoes and wine. That hit the spot. Turns out you can get that pretty much anywhere, but it tasted divine to us. I kept waving to the Eiffel Tower (I've been waiting since childhood to finally meet her) and told her I would see her soon.

We continued on our way and ended up in the maze of streets in the Latin Quarter. The ones with all the Greek restaurants and students, and cheap souvenir shops where we bought some...well, cheap souvenirs.

We then weaved through the streets of the Latin Quarter toward the river and well, heck....we might be exhausted but there was Notre Dame just over the bridge. Yep, we got a second wind after our meal and off we went to see her. .....WOW! We strolled through, knowing we would get back, and finally headed back to our apartment. It was close to 40 hours of no sleep, so we hit the hay and slept very well that night.

To be continued......
BuffaloGirl is offline  
Nov 24th, 2010, 05:43 PM
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Waiting for more. You've got me hooked.
nukesafe is offline  
Nov 24th, 2010, 05:55 PM
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Keep posting.
emily71 is offline  
Nov 24th, 2010, 05:56 PM
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Yay! I'm so excited to finally get to read the start of this trip report. Looking forward to hearing about the rest of your time in Paris.
sharona is offline  
Nov 24th, 2010, 06:00 PM
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excellent trip report. thanks for sharing your VRBO rental info. always so helpful to hear from real people who stayed there.
RainyDay09 is offline  
Nov 24th, 2010, 06:43 PM
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Part 2 (our first full day):

We found a bakery just across the street from out apartment, and that bakery became our friend. I don't normally eat bakery delights for breakfast every day at home, but I sure did in Paris. I had a lemon tart for breakfast that first morning. I ate many more of them the rest of the week. Oh, and the pain au chocolat......hello!!!!!! Had my first one at the airport upon arrival, actually. YUM. Oh, and the apricot filled croissant with powdered sugar. Sigh.

We decided to take in some more of our own neighborhood - you know, try and get the feel of things. Our first day was so whirlwind. It was chilly and rainy. Funny, the weather seemed to mimic the weather back home for early October. Can be warm and sunny one day, and cold and rainy the next. Anyhow, it was cold and rainy our first full day. But we walked, and strolled, ended up in an old church (one of the famous ones who's name I have forgotten) in the 5th. Had a nice lunch outdoors (thankfully they had outdoor heaters) and ended up scrunched at a table next to some people from New Jersey. It figures they knew someone from our neck of the woods. Out of habit, when the waiter asked us if we wanted wine, I blurted out "Pino Grigio!" He stopped and looked at me, the people from NJ got quiet and just grinned. I turned to my new found friends from Jersey and said, "I just ordered an Italian wine in a French restaurant in Paris, didn't I?" Duh. I then apologized to the waiter and asked him to recommend a French white wine. He brought out a delicious Chardonnay. I never liked Chardonnay until I went to Paris. Who knew? I had a croque monsieur (yes, I know, a ham and cheese melt - told you I'm not a foodie) and it tasted soooo good. Especially after walking around in the chilly rain. Afterward, we returned Notre Dame to see it in the daylight and give it its' proper due. We were not disappointed. Thanks to these boards the gypsies and con artists were easy to identify and we didn't fall prey to any of their shenanigans.

Did I mention we were there during the height of the terrorist threats? There was no way I was letting that get in my way of enjoying Paris. I didn't stay away from any thing or anywhere I wanted to go, despite all the scary warnings on the BBC channel (one of the only English speaking channels we had in our apartment) and the texts from home. I was in Paris and I was going to enjoy every inch of it.

Actually, before going to Notre Dame we visited Place Dauphine on the island and toured the Consigliere. (See, I'm already getting my days mixed up)! Then we went to St. Chapelle. Another WOW! Oh, those windows. Just beautiful.

After all that and Notre Dame, we toured the rest of the island and bought scarves. I'm not a scarf kinda person, but I felt a little out of place not wearing one. I now wear it at home all the time and am actually going to buy some more. I hate scarves, don't I??? Anyhow, we then crossed the bridge to Isle St. Louis. What a lovely, quiet, peaceful place right in the center of it all. Found a wonderful chocolate shop called Cocoa et Chocolat. I only remember the name because I came across the small card they gave me while cleaning out some paperwork tonight. They had wonderful chocolates and a special buy one get one free offer going. So I bought some, then got some free! They make great gifts to bring home. A few of them didn't exactly make it home, if you know what I mean. Hey, a girl has to have her chocolate, right? We stopped in a few shops and made our way over toward Place Des Voges.

Place Des Voges was a wonderful, beautiful oasis. We had lunch outdoors, despite the cold and light rain, because they had outdoor heaters. We had onion soup and salad and an entire bottle of wine (I say that like it's never happened before). We had a really nice lunch, got tipsy on the wine, and wandered off toward the Marais.

BTW...I am AMAZED at how they get all the food, wine, plates on those minuscule little cafe tables and squash so many people into those outdoor sidewalk cafes! How do they do that?

LOVED the Marais district. The We walked around, enjoyed the shops, and eventually got worn out and chilled. Oh, and let me just say that city hall is beautiful. Actually, all the architecture in Paris is beautiful.

Walked all the way back to our apartment, where we rested, unpacked a bit, and kicked back.

After our rest, we walked (quite a distance I might say) to the constantly mentioned department store - Bon Marche. I had such high hopes for Bon Marche. Not sure why. I'm not a world traveler, per se, like a lot of you. But I pictured a scaled down Macy's of New York. You know, something for everyone. Prices high and low. Nope. Not at Bon Marche. We walked in, walked through, walked out. A lovely store, but not what I anticipated. What made up for that, however, was their food market across the street. Fabulous!!! We bought a few things there that we took home to our apartment to have a light dinner. We walked back to our apartment (it was quite a hike) and just enjoyed window shopping and watching all the hustle and bustle of people during the dinner rush hour.

We had some wine, bread, cheese, chocolate, and a few other things before calling it a night.
BuffaloGirl is offline  
Nov 24th, 2010, 07:07 PM
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You are not alone, I get excited everytime I have been able to get to Paris. This trip I will be like you looking at the things and places I never got to on the short visits while I was stationed in Germany. Thank you for sharing.
acacia67 is offline  
Nov 24th, 2010, 07:24 PM
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Your enthusiasm is contagious. I remember every trip I've taken to Paris over the years (from age 7 to adult), and each time there was something magical about being there. Thanks for this report! DANIEL
Daniel_Williams is online now  
Nov 24th, 2010, 07:34 PM
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Buffalogirl, I love your sense of humor, excitement, and way u express it. Lots of LOL, reading this.
Did you make it to Galeries Lafayette? Maybe this is what you were imagining Bon Marche to be? I like Bon Marche's relative smallness, but can imagine it would be a surprise.

DO you recall name of your bakery on Rue Dauphine? We're staying nr there in June, so if you have a name, i can start salivating now.

Thanks for taking time to share the memories
CaliNurse is offline  
Nov 24th, 2010, 07:55 PM
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CaliNurse-I just google mapped it. It doesn't seem to have a name, but is next door to 42 Rue Dauphine. It has a red awning and says "boulangerie - sandwiches".

We didn't make it to Galeries Lafayette, unfortunately. Next time, of course!!!!
BuffaloGirl is offline  
Nov 24th, 2010, 08:13 PM
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OK, after writing all of the above, I am now confused. (That's what I get for not writing my trip report immediately). For the life of me I cannot account for day three. My little brain may have stuffed everything into day one and two, and perhaps it took me three days to do all that? It must have. There was a night time boat ride in there somewhere (which I highly suggest). Aaaaahhhhh. I did so much it was overwhelming. Maybe it was the wine? There was a high consumption of that during my trip. !-)

I can account for days four, five, and six, however......and will get to those soon. I promise.
BuffaloGirl is offline  
Nov 24th, 2010, 08:36 PM
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What a fun report to read. Your excitement shines through--when is the next trip?!!
cw is offline  
Nov 24th, 2010, 08:42 PM
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Consigliere? Do you mean La Conciergerie?

Glad you had such a great time!
grandmere is offline  
Nov 24th, 2010, 09:02 PM
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Look forward to the rest of your days. I will have to remind myself to track my days while I am there.
acacia67 is offline  
Nov 24th, 2010, 09:26 PM
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My apartment in Paris had a computer so I sent an email update to friends and to myself at home in case I decided to write a trip report, which I never did.

Buffalogirl, it sounds like your apartment was in a prime chocolate shop area. I think I went to 7 or 8. Talk about heaven!
bluzmama is offline  
Nov 25th, 2010, 06:46 AM
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grandmere - yes, that's it! I told you I'd be screwing up the names of places. !-)

Now then, skipping day three because I don't remember it, I'll start with:

Day (or part) #4:

We woke up early and headed to the Louvre. It is a behemoth of a place. This former palace just went on and on and on. It is a site to behold on the outside. There is so much to see on the inside it's enough to make your head spin. I will have to go back sometime to really do it justice. We just couldn't possibly see everything, and often found ourselves walking through rooms and turning our heads left and right while we rapidly walked through. The place is SO big that we actually couldn't find our way out of the building.

We arrived shortly after it opened - around 9:15 or so - and bypassed the lines with our museum pass. We made sure we saw the three famous ones. Winged Victory took my breath away. Just writing about it makes me catch my breath. And while everyone was pushing and shoving to see the Mona Lisa, I stood in awe of the painting "The Wedding at Cana" which is directly across from it. I could go on and on about the Louvre. This gets a huge WOW from me. I have so much unfinished business in that museum. Sigh.

We then walked through the Tuileries garden. It was lovely. We stopped at an outdoor cafe within the garden and had some lunch and wine. We had a nice conversation with some girls from Australia and a couple from our own neck of the woods. It really is a small world. Now my friend was not gonna have anything to do with French food while we were there. No way, no how. She tested the patience of many a waiter with her questions. But I have to tell you, they were all very patient with us! French waiters get a wow rating from me.

We continued onward to Place de la Concorde and down the Champs Elysees! Yes, I know all about it being overpriced and touristy, etc. But it's the Champs Elysees and I'm gonna walk it!!!! By now, I think we've walked many, many miles per day, and this day was no exception. My feet hurt and I was limping (former broken leg gives me problems), but I was walking until I got to that arch! The first part of the boulevard was quite nice.....lots of trees, and then the madness - the people, stores, traffic! We bypassed it all and finally made our way to the Arc de Triomphe! Another WOW from BuffaloGirl. It was cold and drizzly by then, and I couldn't walk another step. So we took a taxi to (be still my heart) the Eiffel Tower!!!!

Oh, she was magnificent. If I didn't look like a tourist before that (well, I'm sure I did), I certainly did at that point. It reminded me of going to NYC and getting in people's way as you stare at all the tall buildings. It was kind of like that. The tower and I have been waiting to meet each other since I was born. We were like life long pen pals who finally meet face to face. This time I asked my friend to pinch me and pinch me hard. It worked...I was really there!!!

As I mentioned earlier, our visit to Paris coincided with the big terrorist alerts. There were two soldiers who looked no older than 16 or 17 walking around with machine guns. I'm not sure if that made me feel safe or not. Again, nothing was gonna stop me from this experience. We bought tickets to the top. It worked out well with the drizzle and the alerts....there was hardly anyone there and we didn't have to wait in line. The view from the top, even on an overcast day, is amazing. I topped it off with a glass of champagne - they sell it from a little stand at the very top - how cool is that? Very, in my opinion. It was getting late, so we descended and walked down the parkway (Champ de Mars I think) until we were just far enough away to get a good view of her. We waited for about 30 minutes when she was going to light up, and it was worth the wait! Loved the sparkly show they have every 1/2 hour.

We were damp, cold, and totally exhausted. We had been sightseeing for almost 12 hours at this point. We hobbled over to a nearby street and into a cafe. The waiter recommended their special of sausage and mashed potatoes. I was a bit unsure of the sausage - it's not something I would normally order, but I was tired and took the waiter's word for it. It did not disappoint. It was a smokey sausage, very good. So was the wine. We then went outside where I said my goodbyes to the iron lady, then down the street to a taxi stand and went home. It was a wonderful day!
BuffaloGirl is offline  
Nov 25th, 2010, 07:38 AM
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Excellent energy in your report, I can feel your excitement and joy of having a dream come true.

So, if your friend did not like French food at the beginning of the trip....
Michel_Paris is offline  
Nov 25th, 2010, 07:50 AM
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Glad you had a great time! Paris is my FedEx city - it always delivers.
FoFoBT is offline  
Nov 25th, 2010, 07:50 AM
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Great trip report....when is your next trip to Paris?
Judy is offline  
Nov 25th, 2010, 08:43 AM
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Wow, what a great report! LOvelovelove reading a first timers impressions of my favorite place on earth, yes, your enthusiasm is contagious, can't wait till I return in Feb!
susanna is offline  

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