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Paris, France

Romanced by Paris

While we were living in England, Carol and I took the Eurostar to Paris and had one of the nicest weekends we had while living in the UK.  Though flying would have been cheaper, I wanted to experiencNotre Dame seen on cruise down Seine Rivere the Eurostar and go through the Channel Tunnel (the "Chunnel") at least once while we were living over there.  Carol made all the arrangements, partly on her own and partly through our friend Amy who worked at the travel agency, Thomas Cook.  Everything went as planned on our outbound journey and via the bus to Peterborough, the GNER train to Kings Cross, the tube to Waterloo Station, the Eurostar to Gare du Nord and finally a taxi to Rue Jean-Mermoz, we arrived at Hotel Pavillon Montaigne at about 6:00pm on Friday.  As we tend to do, we immediately went exploring and Carol thought that a river cruise down the Seine might be a good way to get a feel for the layout of the city and help us plan the rest of the weekend.  It worked out perfectly as we caught the 6:30 cruise and got to see Paris from its famous river.   And what a city!   The architecture was magnificent on building and bridge alike and the trip did indeed allow us to plan the rest of our weekend.   Without going into great detail here, I'll just say that we loved the Louvre, the Musée d'Orsay, Notre Dame Cathedral, The Eiffel Tower and the Arc de Triomphe.   And though seeing the Mona Lisa, Michelangelo's Venus, van Gogh's self-portrait, Whistler's Mother and the many other incredible works of art I'd heard about all my life, was inspiring and even emotive, my best memories of Paris will be the walks up and down the Champs Elysées with Carol.

ABridges in Paris are opulently decoratedfter the river cruise on Friday evening, we took our first real hike up Champs Elysées and had a nice Bordeaux with a light, al fresco meal at Le Fouquet, the first outdoor bistro we saw that evening that had seating available.  We actually had all our meals outdoors on this trip and since the weather was perfect, we abandoned our plans to have a fancy, sit-down dinner inside a "French" restaurant.

FArc de Triompheor lunch on Saturday, we found a small riverboat restaurant docked right across the Seine from the Louvre.  It was really nice eating lunch, watching the river cruise boats and barges go by and just relaxing after a morning in the world's most famous museum.  We visited Notre Dame on Saturday as well as the Musée d'Orsay and at about 4:30pm, the eight hours of walking began to catch up with us.  It was about then that we found L'Alsace, another bistro on the Champs Elysées and had a nice French red wine along with plates of Muenster cheese and crusty bread to munch on.  We enjoyed sitting there, watching the hundreds of people pass by, resting our weary feet on a perfect Paris afternoon.  I must admit that I called my mate Richard Montgomery back in Langtoft and told him what we were doing.  He accused me of gloating, to which I had to own up.  But the best was yet to come.

By  8:30, we  were  feeling  a bit  peckish  again so after  a walk to  the Eiffel Tower,  we  again  made our  way back  towards the  Champs  Elysées.   We stopped at a little back-street café on the way and had  a  drink  or  two  before finding  Laduree,  the nicest of  the eateries  we  found on this visit.   With dinner, we had Champagne (how could we not have Champagne in Paris?) with a pineapple chicken dish that was fantastic.   Even though we were outside, there were white tablecloths and a feel of a really nice French restaurant.  The Champagne was great as was the entire meal.  And afterwards, I think we created my favorite memory of Paris.   We walked the rest of the way down the Champs Elysées to the Arc de Triomphe and went to the top.  By this time, it was completely dark and the view of Paris from that famous landmark was spectacular.  Dining on Champs ElyseesThe Eiffel Tower, lit up off to the southwest was breathtaking.  The eleven avenues that form the spokes around the Arc de Triomphe roundabout were filled with lights and movement and it was hard to take your eyes off them.   Carol and I stood there with our arms around each other hardly believing we were really there.   I know we use the phrase,  "It  doesn't get any better than this" quite  often but I don't  think it's been any truer for me than it was at that moment.  Paris is a great city and I hope we can visit there again someday.  And incidentally, the stories you may have heard about rude French waiters, etc. are, at least by our experience, greatly exaggerated.  We were consistently treated very well by everyone in every restaurant we visited.    It made for a very nice weekend.

Our hotel was within walking distance of everything in Paris and we were treated very well there.  If you’re going to Paris, we highly recommend Hotel Pavillon Montaigne.  Here’s their website:  www.hotel-paris-pavillonmontaigne.com


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