Friday, October 11, 2013

Field Trip: Paris, France

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It's hard to put this part of our trip into words that convey what I mean so I'm going to start with a little Dani History lesson, if that's okay.  I was 12 years old when I started learning French for the first time.  I passed up Spanish and Italian for (what I thought) the most glamorous country - France.  My sisters learned Italian, the language of our ancestors.  But not me.  I wanted to be different.  For the next 6 years, I took French classes.  I'd say I was even pretty good.

French class, in America, or at least in my school, also taught you about French landmarks.  The Champs-Elysees, L'Arc de Triomphe, la Tour Eiffel, bien sur.  And those lessons permeated my brain.  As I graduated high school and left French lessons behind, the desire to see Paris remained.  And persisted.  And continued to persist until we step foot in Paris after a 6 hour train ride through the countryside.  The six days we were there were a perpetual dream.  It was hard to comprehend I was right there.
We got to our hotel with enough time to check in and explore the area before sitting down to a relaxing french dinner.  John tried the cassoulet and I had a roasted chicken.  It was so yummy and an amazing feeling to be eating these French dishes in France.  We walked back to our hotel spotting glimpses of the Eiffel Tower the whole way.  That night we admired the view from our windows of Les Invalides.  

If anything shows how excited I was to be in Paris, our daily plans will.  Wednesday we started with omelettes on rue Cler.  Then, I had mapped a 12 mile walk through Paris seeing the Champs-Elysees, Arc de Triomphe, Laduree for yummy macaroons, the Obelisk (where the guillotine stood during the revolution), les Jardin Tuileries where we stopped to eat some croque-monsieurs, the Vendome,  l'Opera Garnier, and le Galerie Lafayette.
Everything was amazing - John loved the fancy car dealerships on the Champs-Elysees. I loved going to the Galerie Lafayette.  My 7th grade French teacher had a picture of the beautiful dome of the building and an advertisement for the Galerie on one of the walls.  I must have stared at it for 2 full years.  Getting to stand underneath it and look up was one of the best deja vu moments I've ever had.  By this time, and all this walking, we were starved so we stopped to eat dinner in a small restaurant near la passage Vivienne.  From there, it was off to the Louvre which is open late on Wednesdays (until 9.45 p.m.).  We spent 2 hours wandering the halls of Egypt, the original walls of the palace, and sculptures and paintings from Greek and Roman Empires.  

By the time we got to the Mona Lisa it was 9.30 p.m. and there was literally 8 people in that huge room she sits in.  What an amazing painting.  John and I just stood there holding hands for a few minutes.  Until the loudspeaker told us the museum was closing in 15 minutes.  We hurried out of there and walked an additional 2 miles back to the hotel.

The next day, I really regretted the long walk!!!  And, John woke up with a cold.  Luckily, Thursday was a croissant making class (more details HERE) and the Eiffel Tower!!  We went all the way up to the top despite John's constant coughing and general unhappiness.  Friday, we went to Notre Dame and Ile Saint Louis.  We nixed another walking tour I had planned because of how John was feeling (that "small cold" was only getting worse).  
 
But, John pushed through nicely and we had our favorite meal in Paris in a small cafe on Ile Saint Louis called Sorza.  We then went to Berthillion for their ice creams which are every bit as good as people say.  I had a raspberry with rose and cacao (bittersweet chocolate).  John had vanilla and coffee.  John took a nap at the hotel when we got back.
Then, we walked down rue Saint-Dominique and compiled a picnic of baguette (so French!) and delicious smelly cheeses.  We sat at the foot of the Eiffel Tower and enjoyed our picnic and watched the sunset.  We had our second-best meal this evening when we ate at Le Bosquet.  First off, I ordered totally in French and our kind waiter told me it was "tres magnifique"!  And despite what my sister thought, since the service charge is comprised in the bill already, it was not for a tip! 
We had french onion soup and then John had scallops and I had fish.  Which came as a full fish.  To which John said, um, how do you eat that?  HAHA!  Good thing I took those classes at the French Culinary Institute - I was a pro!  We finished up and the waiter kindly brought us a dessert gratis!  They were these chocolate and fudgy brownies that were absolutely delicious.  Even John agreed!  We stopped at la Pharmacie to get cold medicine - which was a lot of sign language and rudimentary French.  Eventually we got there...
Saturday we started early and headed to Versailles.  John was still sick but a cold can't interrupt a trip of a lifetime!  We had purchased tickets in advance for an English speaking tour through the Versailles website which promises only historians, curators, or professors are the guides.  It was only 1 euro more than the entrance fee!  Anyway, we had access to a lot of private rooms which ended up being our favorite part. 

There's something so seductive about wandering the halls of this palace by yourself.  You start to imagine that you're in the past...waiting for Louis to turn the corner and run right into you.  We also saw the fountain shows which they do on the weekends in the summer.  WOW what a spectacular display of the gardens.  We had lunch at the gardens but headed back to the Hotel soon after.  

We visited Les Invalides to pay our respects to Napoleon (just seemed fair after staring at him for 5 nights).  And then we took the Bateaux Mouches on an evening Seine ride.  We collapsed when we got back to the hotel knowing that our cab was coming at 4:30 a.m. And just like that, we were on a plane heading to NYC wondering where our vacation had gone...and how soon until we could get back. 


4 comments:

  1. Wow! A 12 mile walk? My feet would fall off haha. I'm glad you had a good time and got to see all those places you studied and dreamed of for so long. A picnic under the Eiffle Tower sounds surreal - I would love to visit Versailles too.

    ReplyDelete

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Welcome! I'm Dani (aka the Growing Foodie), just a girl balancing her career and passion for all things edible in NYC. I hope you'll join me in my adventures in life, through food. (Click for More)
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