Monday, September 28, 2009

12 Days in Paris: Arrivee

Riding in from the Charles de Gaulle Airport it was truly exciting when we got our first glimpse of the Sacre Coeur Basilica up on the hill of Montmartre, then the Eiffel Tower and, just before our hotel, the Arc de Triomphe. Yes … we are definitely in Paris!

We spent our first day, jet-lagged and tired, getting the lay of the land. So we walked a good 4-5 hours from our hotel to the Seine to the Notre Dame Cathedral through the Jardin des Tuilieres and back.

The grandness of Paris is not subtle. It calls out to you from every corner and every turn. We stopped on the Pont Alexandre and marveled at the Eiffel Tower in the distance, the charming bronze statues on the bridge and the monumental assemblage on top of the Grand Palais.

The Tuilieres garden is a delightful place to stroll arm-in-arm as we did. It’s easy to lose yourself wandering past the ponds, under the chestnut trees and along the many pathways.

A grand feature of buildings in Paris are the intricate ironwork that decorates so many windows, doors, facades and rooftops.

Back at the Hotel Champs Elysees Plaza we rested before dinner. After all, we had another eleven days of wandering in Paris, looking for inspiration, special finds and a sense of history.

TIPS:

1. Take the METRO. It is by far the best and most economical way to get around Paris. It’s fast, convenient and clean. Yes, the only way to see things is to walk, and Paris is a fantastic walking city. But the Metro gets you to more places in far off corners to start walking there and save some energy. One amazing thing is the number of different Metro signs that are around Paris. The granddaddy of them all is the one at the Abbesses station, near Montmartre. This is one of only two of the original Art Nouveau signs designed by Hector Guimard. The other is located at Porte Dauphine.

2. We found the price of nearly everything in Paris to be considerably higher than here in the San Francisco Bay Area. This is especially true of vintage items and antiques. Remember, in Paris “antique” means “antique”. This stuff is OLD! Susan and I search for inspiration and treasures among the not so old stuff … “brocante” is the word to watch for, whether it is a fair, a store or a flea market.

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