Friday, October 21, 2016
Paris Is Always A Good Idea: Day One
Where to begin? I guess it's always best to start at the beginning...
Flashback to eighth grade French, where my class name was Giselle. I loved my teacher, and her exuberance for the language and everything about French culture rubbed off on me. She spoke romantically of Paris, showing us slides of her own visits to the City of Light. Way back in 1980, my dream to see Paris for myself was born.
Over the last 36 years, I may or may not have shared that dream a thousand times with anyone who would listen.
So with major changes looming, and my husband knowing I would be sad, he hatched a plan to distract me by fulfilling my dream with an empty nest adventure. A kick off party for the next phase of our lives. For two years he shared the secret with only a few others, until the day we were driving home after dropping T off at college.
When he handed me the travel guide to Paris and said we'd be leaving in two weeks, I kind of panicked. You can't plan a trip of a lifetime in fourteen days! But I quickly got over myself, and decided to go with the flow and embrace the unknown.
On September 8th, ready or not, we boarded the plane for the ten hour flight from Seattle to Paris. I had books, chocolate, and my baby blardigan. I was prepared! We arrived the next morning to a warm, sunny day. As we drove away from the airport, I excitedly looked around for my first "French" sighting. What I got instead was a huge Ikea. I guess the French like their Swedish meatballs too.
An hour later, we pulled up to our charming apartment in the Montmartre district. As per usual, I forgot to take any pictures inside, but you can see some on the VRBO listing here. It was a simple one bedroom unit with a small kitchen and bathroom, but the large terrace overlooking the neighborhood was the main draw. The merchants nearby were friendly and helpful (and cheerfully put up with our terrible French), and it was a short walk to the Metro.
With jet lag setting in, and the bed looking way too comfy, we knew we had to get outside and start walking and exploring.
The Montmartre neighborhood is located north of Paris in the 18th arrondissement, and is home to the Moulin Rouge, a busy artist's enclave, and the Basilica du Sacre-Coeur.
Sacre-Coeur was the first of many beautiful churches we would see on our trip, although this one is a relative newbie for Paris, built in the late 1800's.
We were getting hungry, so we set off down the hill to find my friend Whitney's favorite cafe, L'ete en pente douce. Success! And so delicious. I cannot remember what I ate, but I know it was good.
After lunch we wandered around Montmartre for hours, looking at all the little shops. Paris literally has a store for everything. One poor guy was working at the diaper store, a tiny shop with diapers stacked to the ceiling.
Because it's on a hill, there are stairs everywhere. Aaaaannnd...my husband on the phone. You can't really get away when you own a small business.
Eventually we ended up at the top of the hill again, and stopped to take in the stunning view of the city. But I still hadn't found the piece de resistance, the thing I'd been waiting 36 years to see for myself. La Tour Eiffel.
The emotion and jet lag finally caught up with me as we rounded the corner and there she was. I burst into happy tears, staring at Eiffel and thinking about all that had happened to get me to this very moment in my life. I couldn't believe I was really there.
And with that, my hubby declared the day done. We stopped at a boulangerie for some bread, a fromagerie for cheese, and headed back to our apartment, exhausted and excited and ready for sleep by 8pm.
Stay tuned for day two to find out where we went next on our Paris adventure. Hint: everywhere!