So! I was in Paris! And now I’m back! Exhausted! The various websites that mentioned the hotel said it had internet, and I had some vague thought of posting a few notes while I was there, because of course I forgot that when we travel, we spend zero time in the hotel. DrBob is your Travel Death March specialist, and if you want to end every day with aching feet, I definitely recommend booking a trip with him. I was so tired every evening (this happened in Rome too, year before last) that when we got to the hotel each night I stopped at the bathroom to brush my teeth before proceeding into the room with the bed in it, because I knew that once I sat down it’d be a good eight hours before I got up again.
The first day we went to the Louvre. I don’t like standing in line and have limited tolerance for stuffy museums, so I’d never been. (Background info: this is my second time in Paris, the first time was in 2004 without DrBob, but with my mom and her dodgy knee, and Ignatz, then age nine.) But it was COOL. And not at all stuffy. I can’t say why, but mostly, the copies just don’t… I dunno. Those shiny Fra Angelico angels that are reproduced on stamps and greeting cards and coffee mugs and shopping bags and everything? Seeing the original ones, the ones that Fra Angelico himself made, is really different somehow. Ditto for the Venus de Milo and Nike of Samothrace, but the Mona Lisa was smaller than I expected (but bigger than DrBob expected) and um, it was nice and all, but I dunno. I saw a lot of other paintings that could just as well have been The Most Famous Painting Ever, given the same set of circumstances.
I saw lots of sculpture, and lots of Italian paintings, then wandered off to look at the Islamic art section (WOW! just, wow) while DrBob went to visit the gloomy Dutch painters section. Oh, and we went through the Pharaonic Egypt section, but skipped Roman and Coptic Egypt because we would have spent the whole day in that one section and missed everything else. We also whipped through Sumeria and Akkadia, which was a pity, but there was Just! So! Much! It was amazing. You’d need days to see it all. Months. I have to move to Paris for awhile, so I can go to the Louvre every day and wallow in history.
And that was just the one museum! My feet were throbbing by the time we left, and we were supposed to stop at a café on the way to the Centre Pompidou, but somehow that didn’t happen, and there we were walking into another museum.
Umm, yeah. Modern art. I do sort of understand the rationale behind it, but it’s not really my thing. Ignatz likes it though, we always hit the modern art museums when we travel, so I’d already been through the Pompidou in 2004. And my feet really, really hurt by then. So I sent DrBob off to look at stuff, and I sat in a chair by a big glass wall and watched the sun set near the Eiffel Tower.
Did I mention the guidebooks I was using? Frommer’s 2004 and Rick Steves Paris 2001. Well, I wasn’t relying on them for price information, and the monuments don’t move. Restaurants do, though, and the ones I’d picked out from the guidebooks were not where they said they’d be. So we wandered into Les Philosophes because it looked good. It was. Really, really good. Mucho big recommend, 10 rue du Tresor, 75004 Paris.
Then we staggered to the hotel and collapsed.
Hotel breakfast buffets? Never worth the money, in this case €12, ack. Fortunately we already knew that because we’ve traveled before, so we went out to a café and had yer basic café au lait, freshly-squeezed blood orange juice, a baguette with butter and jam and a croissant. For €7. Much better. Then we went to the Cluny Museum of the Middle Ages, aka DrBob’s Disneyland. The Dr is because of his 2 Ph.Ds, and his area of emphasis is Medieval Spain. Hoo boy did he have a good time there. So did I, it was really fascinating, but of course my enthusiasm couldn’t hold a candle to his. That’ll be his wallowing spot, when we move to Paris and I’m at the Louvre all day.
After that we went to Notre Dame, of course, which was mobbed, of course, but still quite amazing. Then we failed to find another one of the restaurants in one of the guidebooks, on the Ile St. Louis, which is my favorite part of Paris, sorry but it is. It’s full of chichi boutiques and I love it madly. We did find La Charlotte de l’Isle, recommended by Laura, and it was … really… well, not DrBob’s thing, but I thought it was great. I didn’t see any chocolate witches, tragically, which I had promised to try to get for Laura, so I don’t feel so great about that. I’m sorry, Laura! I did buy you a piece of a sort of chocolate torte with extra chocolate, and chocolate sauce on top and instead of a crust on the bottom, more chocolate. But it wasn’t the sort of thing I could toss in an envelope and send, so I ended up eating it myself. I did think of you though, I really did. It was an amazing place, and thank you for recommending it. And I will try again, the next time I’m in Paris.
Part of the problem is that I don’t really speak French, and even in my native language, I don’t really do well with the whole talking-to-strangers thing. I know that’s how you make friends and get things done, but, well, I don’t get a lot done. And my long-term friends? They approached me first, almost all of them. Think back Kel, Melanie, Kathleen, CJ and Gwyn, and you’ll remember that you spoke first (Camellia’s the only exception). So I really should have inquired, but I had an attack of shy. My fault. My bad.
Anyway. What else did we do? Oh, we went out to St Denis and saw all the dead kings of France since Clovis (5th century). Also amazing, but hard to describe in a way that will not make this blog post even more agonizingly long than it already is. Admit it, you gave up three paragraphs ago, didn’t you?
Once that was done, it was 6pm, all the museums were closed, it was too early to eat and we had all this time to kill. So we walked up the Champs-Elysées and stopped in at three auto showrooms to peer at their concept cars, and also went to Ladurée and stood in line for a million years to pay €26 for some cookies which, it turns out, do not travel at all well. But they make very delicious, light, fluffy crumbs, which I am enjoying right now. Which is why I’m typing so slow. But they didn’t have any mint ones, so I’ll have to go back. I really wanted to sit down and have tea and be all froo-froo, but everyone else in Paris had the same idea, and people were lined up out the door.
And again, around dinner time we wandered into the Tourist Pit and chose a restaurant with one of those big signs outside – we picked the one that smelled the best, and found another treasure. Not as good as Les Philosophes, but still a very pleasant place, given that it was right in the heart of the “Oh just shovel whatever into their faces, what do they know, they’re only stupid tourists” quarter, i.e. St Michel. Here it is, La Cochonaille, 21 rue de la Harpe. Or possibly 25. It didn’t have a number of its own, but was right next to #23.
Today we went to La Défense, lots of exciting modern architecture and also a great deal of wind. Very um, bracing, if you know what I mean (“Okay, we’ve seen it, now can we puh-leeeeeze get inside somewhere, out of this weather?”). We also saw the Eiffel Tower (big. dayum big), and then it was time to go to the airport and go home.
Didn’t make it to the yarn stores, didn’t make it to the bookstores, didn’t make it to the recommended Vietnamese restaurant, there was so much we didn’t manage to fit in. You know what? A weekend in Paris is even less time than it sounds like.
Also, after a whole March of unseasonably warm and sunny and beautiful weather, this weekend sucked swamp water. And then spat it out all over us. Cold, wind, rain, gray, YUCK. However, that mars my memories of my lovely footsore weekend in beautiful Paris, so I will just pretend that didn’t happen and it was sunny and beautiful the whole time so there.
Song du jour of the day: Taping Over Rain by the Can’t See.