12 Days in Paris: Day 1

Bonjour!  I recently came back from a twelve-day trip to Paris and I thought I would share some of the highlights with you.  The purpose is really for me to have a journal of what I did, but I also thought it might be interesting for my many blog readers (joking…there are hardly any).  The first six days I was with my now ex-boyfriend Charles and the last six days I was with one of my best friends.  I should mention that I’ve spent a lot of time in Paris (both on family vacations and study abroad), so I had done most of the famous touristy things already.  Charles and my friend were not as familiar with Paris, so I went with them to some of the “must see” sites, but very selectively, as you shall see below.

DAY 1:

Charles and I arrived at Charles de Gaulle airport in the early morning.  We went to my family friend’s apartment to drop off our luggage.  We were quite tired, but we didn’t want to nap for fear of messing up our sleep schedules.  My family friends took us out to lunch at a very cute restaurant whose name I unfortunately cannot recall (the tables had olive oil and balsamic vinegar in adorable spray containers).  I ordered steak tartare, because it’s one of my favorite foods and something I’m very wary of ordering in the U.S.

Steak tartare et moi

After lunch, we walked over to the gardens at the Palais-Royale.  The Palais-Royale is a palace that was originally built for a cardinal and then became the property of the king (hence the name).  The building now houses some government offices and a library, but has lovely gardens that are open to the public.  There is also a very famous modern sculpture installation by the artist Daniel Buren.  The sculptures resemble black and white striped columns and in my opinion do not blend well with the gorgeous historic architecture around them (but many Parisians and art critics would probably differ).

Unfortunately I don't have a photo of the beautiful gardens, but here are the columns with some construction in the background.

After the Palais Royal, my friends dropped us off at the Musee Bourdelle, which is a museum dedicated to the sculptor Antoine Bourdelle and has a nice collection of his larger than life statutes.  I visited Musee Bourdelle on a past trip, but I was very excited to go back to see the Madame Gres fashion exhibit.  The exhibit was well done, with Greek-style dresses juxtaposed next to Greek-style statutes, but unfortunately it closed Aug. 28th, so I can’t really recommend it to you.

Musee Bourdelle. Photo by Barbara J. Rosen

After the museum, we took the metro to Trocadero, which is a look out point with the best view of the Eiffel Tower.  I have gone there every trip to Paris since I was a child and have always taken a photo lying on the large ledge.  The funny thing is that when I was younger I was scared of lying on the ledge and hated it, but my mother insisted.  This time I was actually looking forward to the photo shoot, but the ledge was roped off!  I considered climbing up anyway, but there were police patrolling the area, so I decided against getting a ticket on the first day.  We took photos standing up instead:

View of the Eiffel Tower from Trocadero

After Trocadero, we walked down the Champs-Élysées to my favorite Laduree location.  Generally, I find the Champs-Élysées to be an overrated touristy area, but it has the most beautiful Ladurée location (Ladurée is the oldest tea salon in Paris and has multiple locations…there’s one in NYC now too!).  It’s most famous for the macaroons and hot chocolate, so naturally we ordered both to split.

Photo by Barbara J. Rosen

Macaroons (rose, salted caramel, chocolate, vanilla), hot chocolate, and necessary water!

After Ladurée we continued walking down the Champs-Élysées and through the Tuileries gardens.  We saw the Louvre from outside (we were saving it for the next day) and then walked along the Seine to Notre Dame Cathedral.  This was a long walk, so unfortunately it was closed when we arrived, but we rested in the lovely small garden behind it.  We tried to visit the Memorial to the Deportation, but it was also closed (more on that in a later post).  We walked through the adjacent Île Saint-Louis, which is a small island in the Seine that has some of the city’s most expensive real estate.  There isn’t much of interest on the Île Saint-Louis (other than the overrated Bertillon ice cream parlor), but it’s considered very desirable because there are a lot of medieval mansions and the lack of a metro makes it quieter than the rest of Paris.  At this point it was dinnertime and we were exhausted, so we took the metro back to my friend’s home for a family meal.  END OF DAY 1.

Champs-Élysées, with a peak at the Arc de Triomphe. Photo by Barbara J. Rosen

The line at Abercrombie & Finch on the Champs-Élysées was hilarious. You can't see the whole crowd, but there was quite a mob. YUCK.

Fountain at Place de la Concorde along our walk. Photo by Barbara J. Rosen

Tuileries Gardens. Photo by Barbara J. Rosen

Notre Dame Cathedral

Please check back next Friday for Paris Day 2.

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