Getting there: On points – we spoiled ourselves and went first class in Air Canada’s Dreamliner.
Fun: We booked this trip just before November 13’s events in Paris so we did briefly reconsider. In the end we decided that no matter when we did go to Paris, the events on November 13 have forever changed any trip to the City of Lights.
We had a week and although you could spend that entire time in the museums and at sites, we decided to do a bit of that and a bit of just exploring the city. We rented a teenie studio apartment near the Opera and literally 20 minutes’ walk to any spot we wanted to visit. We were close to couple of subway stops which is super easy to navigate. In the end, my app tells me we averaged walking about 15 km per day, and topped out at close to 25 km one day. Somehow my high school French came back to me and though my accent was horrible, my questions managed to elicit responses back in French (….most of which I actually understood).
Our first day was a daze of wandering the city once we finally arrived (trains were not running from the airport due to an accident, so our adventure on arrival involved an intricate bus journey and then finally getting on the train). We headed to the Seine, ducking in and out of shops and boulangeries. Our second day was our day in Vimy that I blogged about. The rest of our time was really a mix of eating wonderful food (French, Italian, Indonesian, Chinese, and lots of almond croissants and espressos), shopping (small places to giant old department stores that often had rooftop patios to enjoy), and culture.
We roamed the city on foot – from the churches of Sacre Coeur up on the hill with a wonderful view of the whole city, to Notre Dame to Saint Sulpice lit up at night by a full moon. We walked along the Promenade Plantée, which is an elevated park like the High Line in New York. Built on a railway viaduct, it continues for just over 4 kilometres through the city, and provides an amazing viewpoint from a couple of storeys up. With the roses, jasmine, and other plants along the trail, I can only imagine how fragrant and green the park becomes in the spring. We found wonderful street art as well.
We visited a suburb to see the Villa Savoye designed by Le Corbusier in the 1920s which must have been a fantastically futuristic modern home then (even now it is stunning), the Pompidou art museum, the Eiffel Tower (we didn’t go up), the Arc de Triomphe, the Bastille (which is no longer there), and of course, the Louvre. While you could spend many days there, we visited on the one night of the week it is open and chose our targets carefully – including the infamous Mona Lisa (I didn’t include a picture because who wants to see my picture of the Mona Lisa?), a real Egyptian mummy (OK, that blew me away), Napoleon’s apartment, the Venus de Milo, and many others.
Our week in Paris was wonderful – the right mix of history, art, culture, and simply enjoying how lucky we are to do such a spectacular trip.