In my more recent travel journals I have been supplying some background information on the places we’ve visited by citing information I’ve read in the Lonely Planet travel books. I usually purchase the e-versions of the books because we’re usually travelling to several different countries over the course of a few months and it keeps our luggage lighter not to have to carry so many heavy books.
However, the places and sites that we visited during our two weeks in Paris are pretty familiar to most people so I didn’t add the background detail this time.
KAPOORS ON THE ROAD
When I mentioned that we starting Year Nine of our retirement travels in Paris, people couldn’t believe that we’d never been there before. We explained that we had always chosen to see the more ‘difficult to get to’ places in the world when we were younger and more fit than we expected to be down the road.
I also mentioned jokingly that because Paris is known as ‘The City of Love’, I wanted to wait until we’d celebrated our 40th Wedding Anniversary our first visit. Well, here we are at last.
Our flight arrived at a very humane hour in the early afternoon, and our AirBnB host provided us with very simple instructions to get from Charles de Gaulle airport to the apartment in the Marais district. We thought we would be energetic enough to set off immediately, but instead settled into the inviting bed after so many long hours on the airplane. Thank goodness we have two weeks to explore this vibrant city, not just a day or two.
It was dark by the time we awoke, but we were out and walking towards the Seine in no time. The Marais district is known for its nightlife, so we were not alone as we walked past the nearby Georges Pompidou Centre. The cafés and bars were hopping despite the fact it was just a Tuesday night.
We passed a restaurant specializing in couscous but it was the fresh falafels on offer a little further on that we couldn’t resist. At a euro each, they were a tasty bargain! We knew they would be enough to sustain us until we had walked off our lingering sleepiness and were ready to have a meal and a glass of wine.
I have along studied various maps of Paris over the years, but I was unprepared for how compact it is. Before we knew it, we were crossing a bridge over the Seine, passing on to the Île de la Cité, and Notre Dame Cathedral was towering above us. I was so happy that we had waited to see it all glow in the evening. What a great first impression!
After soaking in the atmosphere for some time, we set off for the Parc Vert-Galant, walking along the river and admiring the tour boats squeezing through the small openings in the bridges. The park is located at the eastern tip of the Île de la Cité and can only be accessed by stairs leading down from the Pont Neuf Bridge.
By the time we arrived the park was pretty much packed with young revelers, but we found a spot where we could enjoy the setting and the antics of the partiers at the same time. It didn’t take long for us to begin to feel a little ‘over the hill’, so we called it a night and headed back to our apartment.
Shortly after arriving we heard from the Smiling Albinos (the tour operators for our trip to Myanmar) that we would need to apply for a visa for the country. We didn’t want to risk trying to get one during our short stay in Bangkok before the trip so we decided to apply for one while we were in Paris. It turned out that the embassy was near the Parc Monceau, north and west of where we were staying.
We felt we should make this a priority so the next morning we took the Metro to the park and walked the short distance to the embassy. There were a few hiccups that we had to deal with, but eventually we had all the paperwork in order and we decided to walk back to the Marais at a leisurely pace.
We headed for the Arc de Triomphe at Place Charles de Gaulle and then strolled down the Avenue des Champs-Élysées, stopping to admire the high-end shops along the way and especially the macarones at Ladurée. The crepes that were on offer at a vintage food truck were tempting, but we weren’t hungry when we passed by.
We carried on through the Place de la Concorde towards the Tuileries garden and admired the setting around the octagonal pool, where people were sunning themselves on the comfy green chairs. We eventually arrived in front of the Louvre, but we didn’t want to miss the glorious sunshine so we save the museum for a later date.
Over the course of the next week, we walked the streets of the Marais district, starting off with fresh coffee and French bread each morning. We visited the Mémorial de la Shoah (Holocaust Museum) and the National Picasso Museum, both located quite close to where we were staying.
I won’t go into a lot of detail about what we did and where we went, but after the end of the first week, we moved to a different AirBnB apartment located near the Canal Saint-Martin on Rue Louis Blanc. We arrived a little early for our move into the new apartment, so we stopped to have lunch in a nearby restaurant that looked very French indeed.
To be continued….