A June 2005 trip
to Paris by pabrams52
Quote: I have attempted to capture the joie de vivre of this beautiful city. Being my first visit, I tried to encapsulate my experience with as much detail and humor as possible. I hope my journal will provide helpful information and insight for other travelers as well.
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on June 30, 2005
16 rue Valadon
75, Avenue Des Champs-elysées
+33 1 40 75 08 75
Member Rating 5 out of 5 on June 30, 2005
17, av. Franklin D. Roosevelt
Paris, France 75008
During my first visit to Paris, I wanted to experience this famous landmark hotel's restaurant. After having browsed the web for a romantic and quintessential French fine-dining experience, this turned out to be an excellent choice. We were not disappointed. The decor is in the style of a mini Versailles. It is elegant and sophisticated. All of the lessons I learned in proper manners from my mother as a child immediately "kicked in" when I most needed them.
I realized how much of a pleasure it is to have establishments such as these to retreat to, a respite from the mundane and the coarseness of our everyday lives...a haven for fine dining is truly a rare and special occasion and one most aptly enjoyed in Paris. Europeans truly enjoy their meals...unrushed, they savor the environment as much as the food. My husband and I reveled in the top-notch service; there was even someone to bring a small floor stand for my purse. Can't have my purse sitting on their spotless marble floor, now can I?The meal was divine. The filet mignon I ordered MELTED in my mouth, and the choice of breads they served before and during the meal were exquisite. We enjoyed a fine champagne with our meal, which really topped off what was already an incredible experience. We knew going in that it was an extravagance, but one well worth it. It was a purely Parisian moment that I wouldn't have missed for anything. I highly recommend it!
228, rue de Rivoli
Paris, France 75001
01 44 58 10 50
Attraction | "Music Concert"
My husband and I always like to take in the cultural offerings of the city we're visiting, as it goes a long way to break the "ice" of feeling new to a city. The added bonus was that we would bump (quite unplanned) into some other attendees that were also from Los Angeles. The couple that sat next to us were professors from the States and were on their sabbatical doing work in London. They had come to Paris for the weekend and we chatted with them both before and after the concert. We shared very pleasant conversation and enjoyed a lovely evening together listening to magnificent music in an appropriate and simply devine setting. That's the kind of serendipity that makes a trip most memorable.
Member Rating 3 out of 5 on June 30, 2005
Eglise de la Madeleine
Place de la Madeleine
Paris, France 75008
+33 1 44 51 69 00
We landed at Charles de Gaulle Airport and made our way by taxi to our hotel. As we entered the city, we approached it at the Place Charles de Gaulle at the Arc de Triomphe. At the first site of that amazing structure, I knew I was really in Paris! I had dreamed of coming to this city many times, and until now, it had remained just that--a dream. Before I even realized it, I felt tears of joy rolling down my face as it began to sink in--my dream was coming true. Peter put his arm around me and wiped my face with a tissue, knowing that it was pointless, as I could not contain my happiness.
On a personal note, I realize that far more people have the means to travel today than ever before and that ability has become almost commonplace in our affluent society. But I have never taken for granted what a privilege it is nonetheless to go to another country, experience another culture, and see sights that were once just pictures in a book.
As Peter reminded me, the first day in a new city is magical, and that particularly holds true in a city like Paris. You can see photos and movies of Paris many times, but they do not hold a candle to the real beauty viewed with your own eyes. Paris has a life and energy all its own, evident from the moment you step out your door. We stopped down the street at one of the neighborhood cafes, Café Champs de Mars at the corner of rue Champs de Mars and rue Cler. This was our entree into Paris cuisine. I had a very tasty skirt steak, while Peter enjoyed their salmon tartar salad. We washed it down with their house red wine, which was delicious. After having "fueled up", we proceeded to walk toward Tour Eiffel.
Crossing the Parc du Champ de Mars, we approached the Eiffel Tower, which is larger than one imagines. Its true size is overwhelming but even with its grandeur, it is a beautiful structure and one that symbolizes Paris from every vantage point. At night after dark, it comes alive with twinkling lights for 10 minutes every hour, on the hour, and the sight really takes one’s breath away.
It’s a joy to sit leisurely and slowly sip your café while watching the sidewalk traffic move by. That is the way Parisians enjoy their coffee – not rushing out the door with a plastic cup in hand. They do not seem to lead a hurried life; although sidewalks are full and bustling, there does not seem to be the same air of urgency that we have in the U.S.
As dusk fell, we had made our way to Paris’s most beautiful bridge, Pont Alexander III, and this was my vantage point, when I first saw the lights on the Eiffel Tower. It gave me goosebumps. One would not think that a relatively simple structure could evoke such emotions, but I defy anyone to come to Paris and not feel the romance!
Walking in a city like Paris is essential. Street life dominates, and the café scene is its essence. Beautiful storefronts abound, and one can hardly make it the distance of one block without uttering several "oohs" and "aahs", passing the many attractive window displays. Inevitably, the first couple of days are needed to help new arrivals get their sense of direction and orient themselves to this environment. I have always found that once I gain a comfort level with my surroundings, I feel a renewed sense of confidence. There is an inherent energy on the streets of Paris, a vitality, and a true appreciation for each day.
But with a city the size of Paris, one also needs to become intimately familiar with the metro system. It is not difficult to figure out, and with just a little preparatory study of a good map, one can easily determine the lines, stops, and relationship to the arrondissements. I quickly learned that while the metro serves the central city area, a more extensive system which they call RER (Réseau Express Régionale) overlays the city and serves the outlying suburban regions as well. Travelers use the RER to access day-trip destinations such as Giverny and Versailles, as well as accessing the airports.
Another oddity of long-distance travel is its effect on the body clock. I gave up a long time ago trying to outwit jet lag. I think the best one can hope for is to arrive as rested as possible (which is a tall order if one travels in economy these days), try to arrive in the middle to late afternoon, and push through the evening and go to sleep between 11pm and midnight. Unfortunately, for the first two evenings, I found myself rather wide awake and decided to utilize this time in preparation of the following day. I sat up, and while Peter slept, I played "travel planner/tour guide", scouring our travel books and referencing our maps to put together itineraries for the next day’s adventures.
It is essential that one always greet an establishment (whether it be a store or a restaurant) with a "Bonjour" or "Bonsoir", attaching a monsieur or madame, depending on whom you are addressing. The French are quite particular about this nicety, which I also find quite refreshing and civilized. It is a simple but ever-so-appreciated courtesy. The more words one can lend to the conversation in their language, I believe, directly corresponds to level of pleasure the experience will reach. It isn’t difficult to learn a few key phrases and simple one-liners that will go a long way to bridging the gap in cultures. I have always believed that when I am a guest in someone else’s country, it is incumbent upon me to make a reasonable effort to try my best at the basics. They do take note of this and reward you with a smile – most of the time.
This is where I am going to insightfully insert my two cents about pacing oneself. Everybody has a different makeup, and I quickly discovered that when I travel, my initial reserve of energy runs very low about the third day. I hit what I refer to as the "travelers’ wall." I get very tired and have a tough time making decisions (where do we go next, how do we get there, etc.). I think it is wise to be aware of one’s capabilities and shortcomings so as not to overdo it. If you are traveling with a companion, they too need to know this and be aware of when it could most likely strike. Otherwise, it may lead to some nasty confrontations. And, of course, you are on a vacation. It is not meant to be a marathon, and you are not vying for some prize at the end for the most sights taken in. The whole point is to enjoy each location, as if each was like a bite of a creamy, smooth crème brûlée. So give yourself plenty of nap time to rest and pace yourself, so that you truly enjoy each moment of your vacation.
In closing, I found that Paris is a very easy city to fall for. Its charm and beauty are really unsurpassed. There is so much rich history wrapped up in this elegant city, offering treasures to explore. It will take several more trips to fully appreciate. I discovered that once one breaks the ice and surmounts the initial feelings of intimidation, there is much to delight in. I greatly look forward to returning and picking up where I left off. We also want to venture off the beaten path and explore many other areas of France. We heard many times from other travelers that once you get outside of Paris, you discover a whole different aspect to the country.
If you travel with an open mind, a sense of adventure, and a positive outlook, you are bound to glean the best from your destinations and come back with valuable memories. Isn’t that what traveling is all about?
Los Angeles, California