Happy New Year everyone! 2018 is going great so far for us over here. The big news is that our big boy is really a big boy. NO MORE DIAPERS FOR BROCK! We are very proud of how quickly he took to the training, and he is very proud of himself. Maybe TMI, especially for my opening paragraph, but he is especially proud of his “big dinosaur poops” in the potty. What a funny kid! This New Year has also brought relief from a stressful situation at work for Fil, and a fantastic visit from the newlyweds, Fil’s sister Sara and her husband Chris. We had an absolute blast with them in Germany, and an experience in Paris!
Paris was, believe it or not, a first for me as well as our guests. Fil stayed home with Brock and Poppy since he had absolutely no interest in visiting Paris, and I was in full on tour guide mode. I had pretty low expectations for Paris, especially with this gloomy weather we have been having, but I have to admit that even my low expectations were not met. I am glad that I went, out of fear of regret, but I can honestly say I will not go back.
A huge motivation for going was how easy it is to get to from our village in Germany. In our town we boarded the train headed to Saarbrucken, a German town right on the boarder. In Saarbrucken we switched to the ICE, aka bullet train, which took us into Paris with only one stop. The entire journey took about 3 hours and cost $90 roundtrip per person, a bargain. The ICE train was really nice. The seats were comfortable and the trip went fast… especially at almost 200 miles per hour.
Around Paris we used the Metro (subway) and walked. Also very cost effective, but overall not the greatest. I found myself constantly repeating the phrase, “the Tube in London was so much better”. The trains were incredibly crowded, especially considering the time/day, dirty, and although they were fairly easy to navigate, not nearly as easy as the Tube in London was. However, we were able to navigate to the Louvre, the Arc de Triomphe, the Eifel Tower, and the Notre-Dame Cathedral. Seriously not too bad for only one day in the city.
First stop: the Louvre. What a pleasant surprise! Of course I knew what the Louvre was, but the size took me back. I had no idea that the U-shaped building surrounding the glass triangle was the full museum. We knew that we could spend all day there and only see half of the exhibits so we chose just a few to meander. The last time I was in an art museum was over 3 years ago in Richmond, VA when Fil and I used to take our new baby in the stroller for walks around the museum. I forgot how much I enjoy strolling art museums. Yes, we did see the Leonardo da Vinci painting, Mona Lisa, but the highlight of our almost 3 hour stroll was the apartment of Napoleon III. I will spare you from the terrible pictures I took inside the museum and share a few I found online that capture the grandeur. I would have loved to attend a party here!
Next stop, a stroll up the Champs-Élysées towards the Arc de Triomphe, my one must see stop for the city. Now of course, the Arc is quite large, but it is much larger than I expected and was quite a site to take in. The plan was to climb to the top for a stunning view of the city, but as you can see the cloudy skies made that plan not possible.
Along the way we made what might be the best pit stop ever. We had previously debated getting crepes from a street vendor but I am glad we waited to stumble on La Creperie des Champs Elysees Les Ecuries. A TINY, but quaint horse themed creperie complete with tractor seats as chairs. I discovered a new pocket in my stomach that I didn’t know was there before thanks to the goat cheese and honey crepe I ordered. The goat cheese was the best I have ever had, creamy, flavorful, but light like it was whipped… and the drizzle of honey over the top was the perfect sweet pairing. Those crepes made up for the cloudy skies, at least in my book.
Our next stop was the Eifel tower, and frankly it was a huge disappointment. Three out of the 4 sides were surrounded with a construction wall that was riddled with graffiti. And when we looked up, part of the tower was under construction… and to hide the construction they had painted the parts you could not see on the box that was hiding the work. Once again, the grey skies did not help, but although I never felt unsafe it was not a neighborhood I felt like hanging around in. We snapped a quick shot, avoiding all the debris, garbage, and hecklers and got back on the Metro towards Notre Dame.
Notre Dame was finally the Paris we had hoped to see. Pigeons walking on a crushed stone park, beautiful statues and architecture, and a feeling of cleanliness. If we had gotten there earlier in the day we would have absolutely gone in, but with only a few hours left before our return train we sided against waiting in the entry line. After all, if the crepes from before taught us anything, we needed a good meal before we left Paris.
We took the Metro closer to the stop we needed for our ICE train return and started wandering for an early dinner. Boy did we make out good! We enjoyed tuna tartare, duck, and a provincial French chicken dish with hard ciders and topped it off with absolutely delectable desserts. I can admit, even if I have lost the desire to return to Paris, you could twist my arm into it if you promised lots of French food. The day had been long, overall Paris was disappointing, and we were all getting tired, but that meal reminded us that we did have quite a day. The food and the Louvre made the trip worth it.
Paris was underwhelming for me, but I know many people do not share that opinion. Maybe I would have a different opinion if it was spring time and the trees were in bloom, but I am not sure. I found it hard to enjoy with the filth and mass of people. Also, of all the places I have been in Europe, Paris had the most Americanized brands. We walked over 9 miles that day and architecture aside, I could have just as easily been walking in New York City. I am glad I went, and thrilled to have been at the Louvre, but I really cannot see myself recommending Paris to any traveler. Instead, go to London… that is a city I don’t think I will ever tire of 😉 .