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Monday, April 12, 2010

Five Days in Paris

After spending a lovely week in Sevilla, we took a taxi to the train station and onto Madrid.  This is the sad story of experiencing the European custom of one-day strikes.  French Train workers were on strike just the day we wanted to go to Paris.  It was the bus for those of us traveling to France.  We left Madrid at 7 pm, arrived in Paris next morning around 11 am.  This was a very long night, imagine 16 hours in seats that seemed closer together than those of an airplane, this was not a busload of happy 'campers'!  We stopped along the way for a bit of a stretch and a couple times for food.  Morning came and seeing the French countryside raised spirits. We slumped off the bus and found our way to the metro and onto our hotel and fell into bed!  Day 1.   However, after a little rest, we had to go see Paris!  The Eiffel Tower was close to the hotel.   Nearby the Tower is the Musee du quai Branly.  This building is so cool, it is covered with growing plants that are tucked into little pockets of moss. A building covered with a garden.

Daughter in Espana has a friend in Paris, Meghan and she generously said she would be willing to spend a day with us while we were there.  I have to add here that it is so advantageous to know the language where you are traveling!  Most all Europeans know English, as an American not taught the value of learning another language - you feel stupid!  No other way to put it.  It was great to hang out with someone who could speak French.  We went to Ladureé for macaroons, simply devine.  This patisseriée makes all kinds of exquisite looking sweets, gorgeous food art.  We continued our walking down the Champs-Elysées to the Jardins de Tuilieres and past the river Seine with the green metal boxes that artists, booksellers and the like can rent from the city and have a little sidewalk shop on a busy walk way, on to the bookstore Shakespeare and Company.  This bookstore has a long history in Paris, first started by Sylvia Beach.  The book shop is in an old building with ceiling beams exposed, books for sale on the main floor are all in English.  Go upstairs to see floor to ceiling bookcases with old books, not for sale.  There is a piano in one of the rooms upstairs and someone was playing it.  You could hear the piano only in that room, because of book insulation (?).  I think I have never heard piano music so mellow.  I read a book some time back about a little shop in Paris that built pianos, could that have been one of those pianos?  I bought a book about the woman who started this bookstore.  From there we caught the Metro to Montmartre, walked up to Sacre Coeur and down the skinny old streets that artists past and artists now call home.


The next day we rode the train to Versailles. The Grand Palace of King Louis XIV is a very touristy site with lots of people and lines but well worth seeing all of it.  Makes me want to read more about King Louie XIV.  After we toured the palace, we followed Rick Steve's advice and found A la Côte Bretonne and an unforgettable lunch of crepes, cider and café crema.

We visited the Pompidou Museum, d'orsay Museum, Notre Dame, walked and walked and when we couldn't walk, we jumped onto the Metro and went everywhere we wanted to go.  Walking in Paris is as good as visiting a museum, so many beautiful and grand buildings.  Our last night there we climbed up the Eiffel Tower, they say the second story of the Tower is about 43 flights up, many steps and worth all the effort it takes.  We stood up there and looked out over Paris, it was dark by that time.  All of a sudden the lights on the tower began flashing, it was like it was sparkling, it was magical! The strobe-like lights are turned on at the hour. We had to go back an hour later and see it from the ground as it sparkled.



It was a big, wonderful trip and we were unabated tourists. The trip filled us up, enriched us, made us feel more a part of this world. Now I want to know more about the languages, the people and the history of these beautiful countries.


Joanne said...

You were right, that building is a wonder. If you figure out how to do it, I'd love to know. I have so much moss in our side yard, I think it could be 'transplanted'. Thanks for the tour.

Anonymous said...

ahhh, i love this post too. you saw some things i didn't get to, like that musee du quai branly (so cool) and you took some lovely photos of places that i DID go to. so... thanks for all of that! once i learn french maybe we can go there together! ...and eat more macaroons...

dawn said...

Oiu, une merveilleux expérience inspirante pour vous! Take me with you next time.

Susan Johnson said...

43 flights!