While we can’t easily travel to Paris at the moment, we can at least travel there vicariously, and enjoy the experience through the words of others. (Click link to read post & Enjoy)!
We wake in our charming hotel, located just a few blocks from the Champs-Elysées on a quiet side street, and excitedly prepare to set out to enjoy our day. Stepping out of the hotel we are greeted by fresh cool air and bright sunshine accompanied by spotty fog. As we set out, a small delivery truck rumbles by, emitting that all too familiar diesel smell that is commonly found in most European cities. Getting our bearings straight, we head to our first stop, the local patisserie! Within a couple of blocks, we arrive and stare in awe through the window at the many wonderful sweet creations, and fresh baguettes that await the customers. We open the large wood and glass door to the sound of decades old creaking and are pleasantly greeted with the warm smell of chocolate, and freshly baked bread. We look at the multitudes of pastries that are now visible.
Do we select the Mille-Feuille, a Tartelette Citron Meringuee, or the Framboise Mascarpone? So many choices. What should we choose? As any rational person vacationing in Paris concludes, why not get more than one thing! While the Mille-Feuille takes me back to my college days studying in France and was my pastry of choice, this time, I select the Framboise Mascarpone, AND, order a pain-chocolate, and a small baguette for good measure (that I can tuck into my backpack to snack on during my morning activities). To compliment our delightful pastries, we also order a café au lait, and now have the perfect combination for a solid start to the day.
Walking through the streets of Paris and the morning hustle of the locals, we window shop at leisure, and take in the sights that seem to emanate from every side street. We are not far from the famous Paris Opera house. Nearby churches, and old buildings make you realize you are in one of the most amazing cities in the world. Stopping to look at our tourist map, one of the friendly locals takes a moment from their busy morning, to practice their English, and make sure we are headed in the right direction. This is such a sharp contrast from the Parisians from decades ago that were often rude and had no time for any tourist they encountered.
As we push forward, the energy from our morning pastry, and the café au lait has helped us reach our first destination. After a casual 20 minute walk, we’ve made it to the Les Gardins des Tuileries…… walking into the center of Paris’ most famous garden, we can turn one direction and see the massive Musée du Louvre, and turn the other to see the Egyptian Obelisk at the Place de la Concorde, and the Champs-Elysées. At the far end, stands the mighty Arc de Triomphe, at the busy Place de l’Etoile (a.k.a. Place Charles de Gaulle).
We take our time strolling the Tuileries. We marvel at the beautiful flowers of the cool summer morning… and wonder of the stories that the majestic trees could tell, if only they could talk. We see locals sitting on benches, taking time to read amidst the bustle of big city life… and we see a group of competitive old timers off to the side, engaged in their daily morning game of Pétanque (boulles). As one takes his turn and knocks his competitor’s ball out of play, his competitor utters things in French that are lost in translation, but clear for anyone to understand from his animated body language and intonation. They and their friends explode into laughter, and it is easy to understand why these friends meet daily for their quintessential French pastime.
After taking in the morning sites of the garden, we make our way to the busy and exciting Champs-Elyssées. So many stores, so many restaurants, so many people. We make our way down one side of the Champs-Elyssées venturing in and out of store after store….. dodging throngs of tourists from every country imaginable. Making our way toward the Arc de Triomphe, we quickly venture into the middle of the Champs-Elyssées to snap a quick pic.
After capturing the perfect picture of the giant Arc de Triomphe juxtaposed against the busy Avenue and beautiful trees, we make our way across the street, and back to the safety of the sidewalk! Viola! We crossed in the perfect spot to enter the all impressive Louis Vuitton store, again we are awestruck, this time by the price of true Parisian haute-couture!
After barely escaping Louis Vuitton with our wallets, and credit limits still intact, we sneak down a side street to find a quintessential Parisian café so we can take a midday break, and enjoy more divine French cuisine. It’s time for a fantastic bowl of soupe à l’oignon grantinée, complimented by French bread, and soon after, a croquet monsier.
With lunch under our belt, it’s time for an afternoon of culture as we make our way toward and across the ever-flowing Seine river to the best Impressionist museum of the world…. Le Musée D’Orsay! One can spend a full day in this spectacular museum, but having been there before, we squeezed in half a day to take in and see the sights…. Renoir, Cezanne, Degas, Gauguin, Manet, Monet, Van Gogh… The list goes on and on.
So many artist, so many paintings, and so many people. Remembering, this is Paris, we make time to take a break and enjoy the wonderful museum café for a little rest, and more wonderful French food.
While at the café, we escape to the outside veranda, and take in the sights of the city from above…. It’s worth the extra few minutes to get a wonderful skyline view of Paris, with Sacré Coeur on the horizon.
We then, use the balance of our afternoon to enjoy more of the museum, and the works of the masters from long ago.
After this full day in Paris, we may be a little tired, but there’s no time for sleep as it’s time for the day's crescendo… a night of fine dining in the culinary capital of the world. While excellent restaurants abound throughout the city and especially in Paris’ trendy St. Germain de Prés, we visit our favorite Parisian dining establishment Restaurant L’Avenue, located at 41 Avenue Montaigne just a few blocks off the Champs-Elyssées near the Tuileries. We planned for two, but spent three relaxing hours, enjoying the trendy atmosphere, the exquisite meal, and most of all, enjoying a fun filled night in one of the best cities in the world! Bon Appetit!
After dining at one of the best and most fashionable restaurants in Paris, it's time to stroll back to our quiet hotel, and enjoy the views of Paris by night. Upon arrival, we take time to rest and reflect on our fun filled day.... and then prepare ourselves for the adventures that await on our next vicarious travel day!