Paris Day 1 - I am in love!

Old Sep 7th, 2010, 10:02 AM
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Paris Day 1 - I am in love!

Well, the start of our trip was a little disheartening. Todd, my husband, dropped a $20 bill on the floor at the Orlando airport. Maybe that's a sign that money is going to be flowing out of our pockets on this adventure. Our airline, MartinAir, had the cutest stewardess outfits. They were all dressed in these little red pill box hats. Todd said he felt like he was watching the movie, 'Catch Me If You Can." Another interesting thing is that when everyone was boarding the plane, techno music was playing. I guess since MartinAir's major hub is in Amsterdam, the company feels it should get the passengers ready to party?? That's my theory anyway. I wasn't that impressed with how much lef room the seats had, but the meal was good. Also, I thought it was interesting to go through the full body scan at the Schipol airport in Amsterdam. We also retrieved our first Euro from the the ATM at the airport. We were glad that our debit card worked and didn't give us any problems (have heard so many horror stories on Fodors.)

When we arrived in Paris, we found the RER quite easily. When we got off the RER and came up the stairs, Paris unfolded before my eyes. My initial reaction was chaos enrapped into these massive, over the top, nothing I have seen before, BEAUTIFUL (for a lack of a better word), architecture. Flower boxes on windows, which I adore, cafes spilling out with people, cars honking, sirens sounding. It reminded me of NYC a little bit except more history, better architecture, and overall more romantic. When we approached Hotel St. Jacques in the 5th arrondissment, I was so excited to see how it hugged a whole corner of this adorable street. It had a cranberry colored facade with 6 floors and wrought iron balconies and those flower boxes again! Even more impressive was the interior. It was so charming and decorated tastefully. Chandeliers everywhere, murals on the wall, dark wood bookselves - so nice! We got the top floor with a balcony, but here is the best part - if you look to the left, you have a view of the Pantheon and if you look to the right, you have a view of Notre Dame. Can you believe it? It was incredible.

The first thing we did was walk to the Seine River, which was only a few blocks from our hotel. We strolled along the river, admiring its beauty, and just taking it all in. We were officially in Paris!! We couldn't wait to see the famous Pont Alexander bridge and when we got there we were just soaking it all in - the gold details were simply unbelieveable and the lanterns! I wouldn't even call them lanterns, but works of art. No wonder Mr. Big came to get Carrie Bradshaw on this bridge. So, we took a bunch of pictures and kept moving. Next stop - Champs de Ellyses. I have to say I was very disappointed with this street after all the hype it gets. (Fodorites warned me too) I thought it was too commercialized and a bit tacky. Millions of people everywhere (and not the most sophisticated) and it just didn't have that Parisian charm. We strolled along the Seine earlier and passed by many other streets that were so much better! (St. Germain) Of course, I had to go to the LV store and it was pure chaos! Not my type of environment at all and we walked out. Todd recognized a famous person while we were walking to LV - SInbad the comedian from the 90's.

Then, we walked down Avenue George and continued to admire all of the amazing architecture and then bam! All of a sudden, the Eiffel Tower is in plain sight, in all it's glory. I really liked this view because it was still a little distance away and the Seine River is the backdrop. Of course, we took a photo. Then, we became so obsessed with it's beauty we wanted to view it from different locations. So, we continued on towards the 7th arrondissment. At this point, our feet were tired and we were hungry. We wanted to find a lively, outdoor, typically Parisian cafe. We stumbled upon Champs de Mars which was an adorable cafe! The food was decent. We were so parched for water. As we sat at the cafe, we were in awe of the 6 legged single intersections that the roads had. My husband is a roadway engineer, so this was an unusual approach to traffic for him. It was a complete madhouse and we both agreed we could never drive in Paris. It seemed so dangerous. The combination of cars, busses, motorcycles, bicycles, and people all sharing the same interesection! Anyway, we continued our quest to get a different view of the Eiffel Tower. We located one spot that was tucked way amongst the trees with a carved out path for runners. There was a break in the trees and the Eiffel Tower shone through, Then, we went to the the Parc du Champ de Mars, which was my favorite spot to view the Tower. There was locals everywhere on this big stretch of grass. One family was playing with a ball, another family was having a picnic, and there were many couples. I loved how the Eiffel Tower was a straight on view and so magnificant. We got more pictures and reveled in all it's wonder. We relaxed on the grass for a bit and just enjoyed every minute. We then continued on in our quest to go right up to the tower and stand underneath it. Of course, we got harrassed along the way, by vendors selling stuff. No wonder the locals hang out at the Parc instead! It was neat though to see it up close. A few feet way were thousands of people watching the World Cup on these huge screens. We found another park like spot and actually laid down so that we could cuddle and look up at the Eiffel Tower. So romantic! At this point, it was approx. 8:30 pm and we wanted to head back to the hotel. We stopped at the grocery store to pick up bottled waters because we definitely to drink a lot more water. We also stopped by a souvenir shop to pick up a Parisian Christmas ornament for our tree when Dec. comes. We took the bus home because our feet were killing us! We were exhaused. We did a lot considering it was only day 1. Paris is so magnifique!!
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Old Sep 7th, 2010, 10:08 AM
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Hi Jill! You have described all of our feelings and thrills when we land in Paris..good job, and a lovely start to your report. Enthusiasm is great when reading someone elses adventure in Paris. Looking forward to more soon!
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Old Sep 7th, 2010, 10:12 AM
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Old Sep 7th, 2010, 10:14 AM
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You had me at the first paragraph

Nice to be able to feel your excitement coming through your report. Merci!
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Old Sep 7th, 2010, 10:16 AM
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You're killing us, but have a great time!
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Old Sep 7th, 2010, 10:18 AM
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Takes me back to our first trip. Paris is so enchanting and I love your enthusiasm. On to Lux. Gardens, Place Vosges, Ile St. Louis, the courtyard of The Louvre----ooooh! Thanks for taking me along. Keep it coming.
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Old Sep 7th, 2010, 10:18 AM
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Also, thank you so much to everyone for their hotel recommendations because Paris was one of the locations that we debated a really long time on. Hotel St. Jacques did not disappoint and it was so central.
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Old Sep 7th, 2010, 10:24 AM
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I love your enthusiasm. But I always wonder what on earth people are expecting on the Champs Elysées to be so disappointed by what they find. It is a commercial street that sells things that people want and/or need. If the Louis Vuitton store closes tomorrow and is replaced by a supermarket, I will cheer, because that is the metro station I use every day for work and I would be happier with something useful on the corner.

I feel the same way about NYC. If they close Saks on 5th avenue and replace it with a Wal-Mart, that would be excellent as far as I am concerned. I don't just want to look at fancy stores. I want to see stores where I can buy stuff.
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Old Sep 7th, 2010, 10:26 AM
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Do you guys want me to start a new thread with Day 2 Paris or just continue on from here?
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Old Sep 7th, 2010, 10:29 AM
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Continue on the same thread!
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Old Sep 7th, 2010, 10:37 AM
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Yes - continue on the same thread. Otherwise those topping in for the long haul (see my previous post) will lose you.
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Old Sep 7th, 2010, 10:39 AM
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Yes, luckily I was warned by amazing Fodorites about Champs de Elysees so I was kinda expecting it to be bad. I just had to see it for myself I guess.
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Old Sep 7th, 2010, 11:23 AM
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Day 2

We awoke to the Notre Dame church bells as we opened up our balcony doors. Just another typical day, right? Did I mention we love Paris? We started out our day with visiting St. Chapelle. We timed it this way because the lines are very long to get in if you don't go when it opens. We met a very nice couple from Toyko while we were waiting in line. When we entered St. Chapelle at 9am, we loved the stairwell that led to the top floor. It was so enchanting because it was this circular, steep, medieval looking stairwell in which we envisioned people back in 1248 climbing. When we got to the top of the stairwell and entered the top floor, the stained glass windows engulfed us. There was so utterly tall and just overpowering. When the light shone through, it was simply amazing. Each window told a story and the intricate details is hard to put into words. The ceiling had a dome-like appearance which definitely put us back in time. After St. Chapelle, we walked to the little square with the little garden behind the Notre Dame and sat on a park bench admiring the view. I wrote this journal entry at this time.

Next, we went to Ill St. Louis to get a feel for that area. There was definitely more of a residential feel to that area and it was definitely more calm. We even took a picture of a real estate office there. (I am a realtor here in Orlando) We were starting to get hungry and found an outdoor cafe - La Luteria. We had a ceaser salad and a club sandwhich. The food was good and the people watching was fantastic. This area was one of my favorite parts of Paris and when we come back, I would like to stay in this part. It was very charming and one of the most cleanest. Some of the real estate on the river was insane! Just impeccable residences. I loved how central Ile St. Louis was. I thought staying in the 5th was central, but this was even more so! We then continued on to the Le Marais area and the atmosphere and vibe here was very trendy and artisy. It still maintained a quaint feel (except at nighttime) and I loved all the cobblestone streets. I also liked how some of the streets were so narrow with its colorful storefronts and hanging lanterns. We went to Place des Voges and relaxed a bit on a park bench. We continued on to the Notre Dame because we were doing a tour at 2 pm. We actually got to see a lot of the restricted areas which was neat. (the clergy area and right up to the church doors)The wood carvings of all the faces staring back at you on the exterior of the building was so intense. The gargoules were scary, but very cool! I was just amazed at how intricate all of the carvings were. It was astonding to see all these saints and angles staring back at you. I thought the Notre Dame's exterior was superior to St. Chapelle, but St. Chapelle's interior was better than Notre Dame.

Will write more soon....
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Old Sep 7th, 2010, 11:49 AM
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Day 2 Continued...

A few tidbits that I thought were interesting were that there are actual parts in the Notre Dame that are owned by the State. Another tidbit that I thought was interesting was that only 30 people work at the Notre Dame. After the Notre Dame, we walked back to the hotel and rested because our feet were tired. When I tried to straighten my hair, the adapter did not work! Ugh! Now my hair will fit in with the messy touseled French look. haha.

We wanted to check out the 6th arrondissment, so we strolled over to the St. Germain blvd. It was so busy! We were walking at 7:30 pm and this is when Paris is at its peak. I really liked Rue de Buci - it was a charming area that was tucked away a little bit. Still a busy area but maintained its charm. We got gelato for dessert and it was delicious! We continued to to the Pantheon. I absolutely loved how the Pantheon sits on an upward slope from the streets around it. The streets leading up to it, Rue de Soufflot, are wider which allows a wonderful view when approaching. We then continued on to the Jardin de Luxembourg, which was one of the highlights of our trip. We went at sunset and when we entered we were entralled at the serene atmosphere and picturesque setting. The fountain, flowers, circular walkway, and statues make it a perfect way to end the day. Even the ducks had their own pond house to relax in! I sat and journaled and imagined myself living in Paris and coming here every day. I could have sat at that park all day. As I was daydreaming, I was brought back to reality when the security guard reminded everyone that the park closes at 9:30 pm. We walked back home and went back down Rue de Soufflot to get one last view of the Pantheon and then came to our hotel. Good night. Day 2 was great! We can't believe we have 18 more days to immerse ourselves in this amazing European culture...
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Old Sep 7th, 2010, 12:45 PM
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Thanks for posting this Jill - I was in Paris in May and remember all of the research you did for your trip. It sounds like it paid off, everything seems to be going well and you are seeing and doing a nice variety things. I feel the same way you do about Paris, and I've been there many times but am still overwhelmed and excited and joyful just to be there soaking it all in!
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Old Sep 7th, 2010, 01:01 PM
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You are taking me back, Jill. Many thanks for reminding me of the magic of first views! I'm crying now as I remember my stunned first reaction to St. Chapelle.
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Old Sep 7th, 2010, 01:06 PM
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The Jardin was so beautiful and peaceful and one of my favorite parts of the trip. If I lived in Paris, I could see myself spending a few nights a week there. St. Chapelle's windows were amazing as well. I am getting sad thinking about my trip. I want to go back.
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Old Sep 7th, 2010, 01:19 PM
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You guys were all so helpful and I cannot thank Fodorites enough.
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Old Sep 7th, 2010, 01:24 PM
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What a fabulous description of seeing Paris for the first time.
Can't wait to read more!
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Old Sep 7th, 2010, 01:53 PM
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Day 3

I am actually writing Day 3's journal entry on day 4 because we are so exhausted. I think the jet lag and all the walking has caught up to us because we didn't feel tired the first two days. We started off our day by walking to the Louvre. We wanted to get there early to beat the lines. It is hard to describe the Louvre into words. The sheer magnitute of the museum is breathtaking. The architecture is beyond comprehensible. Its overwhelming beauty engaged us into pure mesmerizing. We walked through the glass pyramid. I am glad we took this entrance. The lines were not long and it was a neat experience. Our 1st viewing was the Winged Victory and then we proceeded to the Mona Lisa. We couldn't believe we were staring the the Mona Lisa! To be able to view her was an honor and everyone should have that privledge in their lifetime. It was spectacular. Next, we went to Aphrodite (Venus de Milo.) Boy, was she a beauty! We loved how there was such a realness to this sculpture. When vieiwng her, you can almost feel the essence of her. Afterwards, we walked over to anothe exhibit - the Apollo gallery. This was one of my favorites. The walls and ceilings covered in gold. Who needs to go see Versailles when you have this exhibit? How did the Louvre acquire the crown of Louis XV? I want to know! Simply amazing. Our last stop was the Rath of Medusa. The painting was so large and Todd really enjoyed this painting. We decided to leave at this point because the Louvre can be really overwhelming and we couldn't wait to get outside to see our beloved Paris. We sat at the fountain for a little bit next to the glass pyramid and that was really lovely. We lingered longer than we expected. We walked back down St. Germain and I saw the LV store on St. Germain. Much better than the Champs location! I saw the Alma bag in the Vernis collection and purchased it with glee. What a savings compared to the States! It was my 30th birthday gift from Todd. We actually went back to the hotel to rest again. This day 3 was a killer for jet lag and the Louvre was a lot. After a 2 hour rest, we went to the Palais Royal and we weren't sure what all the hype was about. It was under construction and seemed similiar to Place de Vogues with all the arcades and stores. We continued onto the Opera House. That was definitely a unique building and we stopped to take a photo. There was a band playing on the steps and it was a very lively atmosphere with the Opera House as the backdrop. It was a lovely experience. At this point, the heat index was rising and it was 90 degrees. Much too hot! We carried on to Place Vendome and went to have a drink at Bar Hemingway at the Ritz, however it was closed. It was an impressive hotel and Place Vendome seemed like it was in its own little world, tucked away from everything. We continued onto Rue St. Honore which was also very nice and went to the Jardin Tullieres to get some shade from the heat. After going to Jardin Luxemborg, this garden couldn't compare. We walked back to our hotel for another rest. Can you tell we are exhausted today? Plus, the heat didn't help. This was the hottest day in Paris. We ended our day by taking the Seine River Cruise, Vendettes de Pont Neuf. (thanks for the advice Fodorites!) We took the nighttime cruise and this was my all-time favorite thing we did in Paris! It left at 10:30 pm and it was so utterly romantic and it seemed like Paris transforms into an even more romantic city at night. To see all the sights from the Seine brings a different perspective. The illumination is so enchanting and of course, the best part is the Eiffel Tower sparkling at night. It was a sight I will never forget. Its a total different experience seeing the tower and night and definitely better. It will always be etched in my memory. The cool breeze against our skin with all the sights around us lighting up the nighttime sky. All the people on the banks of the Seine. I think even the locals have to appreciate how special Paris is because it seems like 90% of the people come out at night. Its almost like Paris turns into a different city at night.

Another glorious day in Paris...until tomorrow.
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