Around the World... One Journey at a Time. Around the World... One Journey at a Time.






Paris and Northern Spain: Day 1

by Kathy 3. October 2010 21:35

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Day 2: Paris—Eiffel Tower, the Seine & Arc de Triomphe >>

 

Paris—Starry, Starry Eyes

Over the last couple of years, Genevieve (now age 11) has been asking wistfully, “Do you think that one day we will go to Paris?” Given the long list of places I still want to experience in this world, and the fact that I had already visited Paris (14 years ago), the true answer was that it was “highly unlikely.” However, since I am never the dream-crusher, I always responded to Genevieve with a lighthearted “Maybe.”

This summer, we were given the gift of a week in Barcelona for a big family reunion. Looking at our calendars, we realized that we could stretch the trip by 9 days at the outset, . . . but where to go? As we poured over our maps, considering relatively nearby places like Sicily and southern Italy (sigh), Morocco, and even Turkey (one day . . . ), our eyes kept wandering back to the big dot that represented Paris. I could already see the children’s eyes light up when they saw the Eiffel Tower for the first time. And Paris is also known as the City of Love. Ben and I had never traveled there together, and I could just see us strolling along the Seine River, holding hands. Hmmmm . . . . In my mind, I saw a picture of the four of us in Paris, and it oozed happiness. The choice was made!

In between Paris and Barcelona, we would spend some time in the northern part of Spain. We had fallen in love with Spain during a trip three years ago, and we had yet to visit the rocky northern coast or any of the small Basque towns nestled among the mountains.

To start our journey, we selected a flight to Paris that left in the evening so that it would be “nighttime” during the 11 hour flight from San Francisco to Zurich (where we would change planes for Paris). Hopefully, we would sleep. And we did, on and off, and we arrived in Paris feeling well-rested.

(Although we do not receive any compensation for recommending businesses we use during our travels, I must rave about our airline, Swiss International Air Lines. This was our first flight with Swiss, and we were just bowled over by: (1) the friendly employees, who smiled and were kind and seemed to actually enjoy their jobs; (2) the flight attendants who took special care with our children, offering them a free toy/puzzle/book at the beginning of each flight; (3) the private video screen for each seat, with a wide range of movies, shows, and games; (4) the small treats of ice cream and chocolate that were offered during the short Zurich/Paris leg; and (5) yes, I must mention this, the cup-holders that flipped down next to the video screen so that you didn’t have to put your tray table down in order to rest your drink. To Swiss, we give a big “thank you” for starting and ending our journey on such pleasant notes.)

Arriving in a new country and getting a taxi from the airport is sometimes an ordeal—we always do research in advance regarding what to expect, and we arrive with our “scam” detectors in high alert. In Paris, we had no problems. We quickly found a taxi at the official taxi line; our driver did not speak much English, but we were prepared and had our address written down on a piece of paper. The fare was expensive ($80), but we had anticipated the cost, and there were no hidden surprises.

In the taxi—Genevieve and Sebastian:

We did a double-take at these sumo wrestlers outside the Vente-Privee warehouse (what country are we in?).


The time was after 5:30 p.m., and we inched our way through rush-hour traffic:

We got off the freeway and started maneuvering our way through the city.

As we headed down one street, I couldn’t believe the view—we were approaching the Arc de Triomphe!


It was beautiful!

We angled off to the right, past the tower and doors of the Church of Saint Pierre de Chaillot:



Many buildings in Paris have the top row of windows set into a roof that has peaks and spires.

The style is distinctive and seems so . . . oh . . . Parisian! Smile

A statue of golden flames caught our attention:

We later learned that it was a replica of the flame on the Statue of Liberty. More interesting, however, is that this flame is located on the Pont d’Alma and has become an unofficial memorial for Diana, Princess of Wales, who was killed in the tunnel beneath the statue.

Crossing over the Seine River, we had our first clear view of the Eiffel Tower.

And there it was, right in our neighborhood!

It looked so big, looming over the apartment buildings!

We were staying in the lovely Rue Cler district, which not only bordered the Eiffel Tower, but it was primarily a residential community with an abundance of good restaurants mixed with small shops specializing in fresh produce, cheeses, breads and meats. Rue Cler had the reputation of offering “the best of Parisian living”—we couldn't pass that up!

We opted to rent a cozy apartment in Rue Cler. Here are Ben, Genevieve and Sebastian at the apartment entrance:

Looking up at the front:

Instead of an elevator, there was a wooden circular stairway that spiraled tightly to the top. Here is Sebastian waiting in a nook on the stairs:

Besides the great location, one of our favorite things about the apartment was the view. Our windows faced the back of the building and looked out onto an alleyway and other apartments. However, sticking up above the rooftops, like a large chimney, was the observation deck of the Eiffel Tower.


The apartment was on a narrow street that was very quiet, yet close to all of the action. By now, it was after 8 p.m., and we set off to look for a dinner restaurant.

On the corner at the end of our street was the fabulous Café Constant, which was recommended by our guidebook.

(We took the above photo the next morning.)

The restaurant was packed to the max, and we were just starting to turn away when we spied a group of four getting up to leave from an interior table next to the window—we were in luck! Our waiter spoke English and was very pleasant. And Ben and I tried to use bits and pieces from our high school French, when appropriate phrases popped into our heads.

It was a wonderful first meal in Paris. Everything was excellent—the artichoke and green bean salads, crispy bread, tender chicken, lamb stew, fish with a delicate sauce, and steak. Yum.

Sebastian and Genevieve, near the end of dinner:

After dinner, I realized that we had forgotten to bring the key pad code to the front door of the apartment building, and we planned on being out late. We hurried back to the building and called up to a woman who was talking on the phone near one of the windows. She finally poked her head out. She also spoke English (thank goodness!) and gave us the code when she realized our predicament. Whew!

Then we were off to see the Eiffel Tower, all lit up at night. To get there, we just followed the top part of the tower, when we could see it.

Ten minutes later, there we were, right in front of it.


With the bright lights against the night sky, the Tower was even more magical then I remembered.

The engineering of the structure was quite impressive.

We joined the throngs of people strolling under the Tower.

Looking up:

The hole in the middle had safety nets stretched across to catch anything that might fall from above.

Beyond the Tower, next to the Seine River, was a small merry-go-round. Given the choice of ice cream or a carousel ride, both Genevieve and Sebastian chose the ride.


On the way back to the apartment, we were lucky to catch the “sparkle show” that happens at the Tower during the first 5 to 10 minutes of each hour after dusk. During the show, many super-bright lights flash on and off to create a sparkle affect.

We watched until the last sparkle faded. Then, with our own eyes still twinkling, we slowly walked back to the apartment, where we were asleep at midnight.

Welcome to Paris, indeed!

 

Day 2: Paris—Eiffel Tower, the Seine & Arc de Triomphe >>

 

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Comments (2) -

11/30/2010 12:09:58 PM #

Donnie

Hi Kathy!

I just found this!  Looking forward to the read.  Tell the family we said Hi!

Donnie

Donnie United States | Reply

12/4/2010 8:50:38 AM #

Kathy

Hi Donnie! Thanks for joining the journey!  You and Sheryl must be getting ready for the next ride through Mexico.  I'm looking forward to following along if you'll be posting a story! Kathy

Kathy United States | Reply

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Places We’ve Been, w/Quick Links

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Canada
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China
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Costa Rica
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France
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Ecuador
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India
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Mexico
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Namibia
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Peru
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   The Alamo, TX
   Alaska Wildlife Conservation Cntr.
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   Arctic Circle, AK
   Barrel Oak Winery in VA
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   Bottle Tree Farm in CA
   Calico Ghost Town, CA
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   Circle B Chuckwagon Show in SD
   City Museum in MO
   Cody, WY
   Corn Palace in SD
   Crazy Horse Memorial in SD
   Custer State Park, SD
   Dalton Highway, AK
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   Discovery Place in Charlotte, NC
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   Gallup, NM
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   Grand Canyon Caves, AZ
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   Kailua-Kona, HI
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   Kennecott, AK
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   Las Vegas, NV (winter 2010)
   Little Brown Church in IA
   London Bridge in AZ
   Loneliest Road in America, Hwy. 50, NV
   Los Angeles, CA
   Lost Colony Show on Roanoke Isl., NC
   Lowe’s Speedway in NC
   Mardi Gras World in LA
   Mark Twain Museum in MO
   Meteor Crater, AZ
   Million Dollar Highway, CO
   Minnesota Zoo
   Mitchell, SD
   Moab, UT
   Moab, UT (dirt biking)
   Montgomery, AL
   Montpelier, ID
   Navajo Nation, AZ
   Needles, CA
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   New Orleans, LA
   Niagara Falls 
   North Pole, AK
   Oatman, AZ
   Old Faithful Geyser in WY
   Omak Stampede, WA
   Painted Desert, AZ
   Park City, UT (summer)
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   Portage Valley, AK
   Portland, OR
   Prospect OHV Trail System, OR
   Resaca, GA
   Riverside State Park, WA
   Rock City in TN
   Rosa Parks Library and Museum in AL
   Roswell, NM
   Russian River, AK
   Salt Lake City, UT
   San Antonio, TX
   San Diego, CA
   San Juan Islands, WA
   San Francisco, CA
   Santa Catalina Island, CA
   Seattle, WA
   Sedona, AZ
   Shoe Tree in CA
   Shoe Tree in NV
   Silverton, CO
   Sonora, TX
   St. Louis, MO
   St. Paul, MN
   Talkeetna, AK
   Telluride, CO
   Route 66
   Twin Knobs Recreation Area in KY
   Virginia Beach, VA
   Washington D.C.
   Wayne Fitzgerrell State Park in IL
   Williamsburg, VA
   Winom Frazier OHV Area, OR
   Winslow, AZ
   Zion National Park, UT

Planning Our Adventures

For us, each journey begins with the initial heart pangs to venture to a certain part of the world. Then the ideas start coming together . . . ahh, the possibilities . . . and the dream evolves gradually into an actual plan. But, oh, the joy of the dream!  Click here to learn more about how we plan and prepare for our journeys.

Where Are We Now?

Click here to discover where we are now, as well as our uncoming travel plans.


Words for the Heart

“. . . and then the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.”

Anais Nin