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

Back to Paris and Northern Spain Index Page

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 >>


Back to Paris and Northern Spain Index Page

Back to Home Page

Comments (2) -

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


Hi Kathy!

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


Donnie United States | Reply

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


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

Add comment

  Country flag

  • Comment
  • Preview

Map of Our Journeys

(click the map to enlarge)
Our travel map

Places We’ve Been, w/Quick Links

   Bumthang Valley
   Gom Kora
   Paro Valley
   Punakha Dzong
   Sangdrup Jongkhar
   Wangdi Phrodrang

   Janko Marca
   La Paz
   Laguna Colorada
   Laguna Verde
   Salar de Coipasa
   Salar de Uyuni
   San Pablo
   Santa Rosa
   Sud Lipez
   World’s Most Dangerous Road

   Banff National Park
   Battle Hill Nat'l Hist. Site
   Boya Lake Prov. Park, BC
   Burns Lake Bike Park
   Canyon Sainte-Anne
   Dawson Creek
   Eastern Townships
   Fort Nelson
   Jasper National Park
   Kluane Lake, YK
   'Ksan Historical Village
   Lake Louise
   Liard Hot Springs
   Niagara Falls
   Quebec City
   Thousand Islands
   Vancouver Island
   Watson Lake

   Forbidden City
   Great Wall at Mutianyu
   Hong Kong
   Summer Palace
   Terracotta Warriors
   Tiananmen Square
   Yungang Caves

Costa Rica
   Arenal Volcano
   Finca Corsicana
   Hanging Bridges
   Manuel Antonio
   Poas Volcano
   Proyecto Asis
   Sky Trek Zip Lining
   Venado Caves


   Amazon Rainforest
   Chaquiñan Bicycle Trail
   La Mitad del Mundo
   Napo Wildlife Center
   Papallacta Hot Springs
   Proyecto DCR
   Yasuní National Park


   Baja California
   Frida Kahlo Museum
   Hierve el Agua
   Marietas Islands
   Mexico City
   Monte Alban
   Oaxaca City
   Puerto Angel
   Puerto Escondido
   Puerto Vallarta
   San Agustin
   San Martin Tilcajete
   Santa Fe de la Laguna
   Santa María el Tule
   Studio of Jacobo Angeles
   Teotitlán del Valle

   Dead Vlei
   Elondo Village
   Etosha Nat'l Park
   Hippo Pools Camp
   Hoba Meteorite
   Khowarib Camp
   Moose McGregor's Bakery
   Mowani Camp
   Ngepi Camp
   Nkasa Lupala
   n'Kwzi Camp
   River Dance Lodge
   Seisriem Camp
   Treesleeper Camp

   Cañón del Pato
   Cerro de Pasco
   La Oroya
   Machu Picchu
   Nuevo Jaén
   Tingo Maria
   Yungay Memorial


South Africa

   Rock of Gibraltar
   Santillana del Mar

United States National Parks
   Arches National Park, UT
   Badlands National Park, SD
   Bandelier National Monument, NM
   Bryce Canyon National Park, UT
   Cahokia Mounds (UNESCO site), IL
   Carlsbad Caverns National Park, NM
   Canyon de Chelly Nat'l Monument, AZ
   Cape Hatteras National Shoreline, NC
   Capitol Reef National Park, UT
   Civil Rights Memorial, AL
   Death Valley National Park, CA
   Denali National Park, AK
   Devil’s Tower National Monument, WY
   El Morro National Monument, NM
   Ford’s Theater in Washington, D.C.
   Glacier National Park, MT
   Grand Canyon National Park, AZ
   Grand Tetons National Park, WY
   Great Basin National Park, NV
   Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, HI
   Joshua Tree National Park, CA
   Kaloko-Honokohau Nat'l Hist. Park, HI
   Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks, NM
   King's Canyon National Park, CA
   Martin Luther King Jr. Nat'l Hist. Site, GA
   Mesa Verde National Park, CO
   Montezuma's Castle Nat'l Monument, AZ
   Monticello, VA
   Mount Rushmore National Memorial, SD
   Mt. Rainier National Park, WA
   Olympic National Park, WA
   Petrified Wood National Park, AZ
   Pinnacles National Monument, CA
   Pu'uhonua o Honaunau Nat'l Hist Pk, HI
   Pu'ukohola Heiau Nat'l Historic Site, HI
   San Antonio Missions Nat'l Hist. Park, TX
   Tuzigoot National Monument, AZ
   Walnut Canyon National Monument, AZ
   Washington Monument
   White Sands National Monument, NM
   Wrangell-St. Elias National Park, AK
   Wright Brothers National Memorial in NC
   Yellowstone National Park, WY
   Yosemite National Park, CA

United States, Cities and Places
   The Alamo, TX
   Alaska Wildlife Conservation Cntr.
   Alpine Loop in CO
   Anchorage, AK
   Antares Junction, AZ
   Arctic Circle, AK
   Barrel Oak Winery in VA
   Biloxi, MS
   Bottle Tree Farm in CA
   Calico Ghost Town, CA
   Canfield Mountain Trail System, ID
   Cape St. Vincent, NY
   Carson City, NV
   Carter Caves State Park in KY
   Chappie-Shasta OHV Area, CA
   Child's Glacier, AK
   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
   Dinosaur Tracks in AZ
   Discovery Place in Charlotte, NC
   Dry Falls (Sun Lakes-Dry Falls), WA
   Fairbanks, AK
   Front Royal, VA
   Gallup, NM
   Goffs, CA
   Grand Canyon Caves, AZ
   Grand Canyon Skywalk, AZ
   Grave Digger Monster Truck in NC
   Great Salt Lake, UT
   Hackberry General Store in AZ
   Hannibal, MO
   Hatteras Island, NC
   Hawaii (Big Island)
   Hickison Petroglyphs, NV
   Holbrook, AZ
   Hole in the Rock, UT
   Homer, AK
   Honey Island Swamp Tour in LA
   Hoover Dam, NV
   Hyder, AK
   Jim Gray’s Petrified Wood Co. in AZ
   John’s Peak OHV Area, OR
   Kailua-Kona, HI
   Keepers of the Wild Nature Park in AZ
   Kennecott, AK
   Kennecott Copper Mine in UT
   Kingman, AZ
   Lake Havasu, AZ
   Lake Tahoe, NV
   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
   Nevada Beach, NV
   Newberry Springs, CA
   New River Gorge, WV
   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)
   Plymouth, NC
   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