France - Paris with my Parents
For my fortieth birthday in April I went to France for two and a half weeks. This was my fourth time in Paris and I still have a lot to see and learn, but I can say that since I've visited twice on my own I've learned the city and no longer need a map. It was a fun and new perspective to see Paris through my parents eyes. My parents have never been to Europe and accepted my invitation to join me on my fortieth adventure. I think back to my first trip to Paris and how everything was so new and exciting. I love visiting Paris but for me it's no longer new and exciting, it's like visiting an old friend that I haven't seen for awhile. That makes me really happy but I have started to take all the sights a bit for granted. To see the Louvre, Notre Dame, Sacre Coeur and especially the Eiffel Tower for the first time made me speechless. I was able to see this again with my mom. I think she may love the Eiffel Tower as much as I do. Okay, maybe not quite as much, but close.
Its hard to make the trip overseas and by the time you arrive your exhausted. Our apartment set up our transport which was so nice and makes the initial journey so much more pleasant. The driver was taking us south of the Seine which I thought was weird as we were north of the Seine in the 2nd arrondissement. I thought maybe I was just jet lagged and turned around, but when he went to drop us off the street number wasn't correct. My parents were about to get out of the car when I double checked with the driver on the address. Sure enough, it was the wrong address. If I hadn't know Paris as well, we would have gotten out at the wrong place. Would this have ruined the trip? Absolutely not! But it was nice to not have to deal with the dilemma. It was a pleasure to be able to travel with my parents and take that first time travel stress off of them. Or at least attempt to. Our apartment was great and over looked a pedestrian street with cafes, boulangeries and patisseries. It was a fantastic location.
Another thing I love about traveling is that it doesn't matter what the weather is, you go see everything you can even if it's cold and rainy, snowing or sweltering. On our first rainy night in Paris, we went to the closest store, bought two umbrellas and went on our way. Even in the rain Paris is gorgeous! The colors of the buildings, the Seine, the sights and cafes. It is difficult for me to find any fault in Paris. We ventured to the Louvre, then decided to go to Notre Dame. I was hopeful that since it was raining, there would be no line. Luckily when we arrived we were able to walk right in. I was looking forward to going to churches with my parents. They are devout Catholics and I thought all of the churches would impress them and they would enjoy visiting. While the previous was a true statement, my father was a little harder to impress. He thought Notre Dame was as nice as the churches back home. Hm....tough sell.
Traveling when you don't know the language can be interesting. When I travel and don't know the language I try to keep a low profile. I don't complain much and if I get something I don't like, I eat it anyway. I'm not sure what that says about me or what that means, but it's what I do. It was interesting to see how my parents reacted to things. We went to a cafe near Notre Dame for our first meal. I have been to this cafe a couple of times before and enjoy it very much, it's called Le Parvis. If you are a cappuccino drinker and you visit, when they ask small or large, always get the large. I got an omelette aux champignons (omlette with mushrooms) and could not have been happier. My father got a burger and fries and seemed to enjoy it. My mother got a sandwich that had some sort of sauce on it that she didn't like. She did well with the situation but made sure moving forward to always attempt to ask for sauce on the side. I find the whole food situation to be fascinating. When traveling I eat many meals out and for the most part the meals are great, but every once in awhile it just doesn't work out.
Our second day in Paris was a busy one. We took a double decker bus and boat tour and saw all the sights. We drove past Moulin Rouge on our way to Montmarte to see the Sacre Coeur. That area is cute and one that I always visit. It was nice to take my mom to a couple of stores that I like that have now become tradition every time I visit, Anoki and Fragonard. We stopped for pizza and then had our first macarons. We drove down Champs Elysees and around the Arc de Triomphe. Then we saw her, the Eiffel Tower. She is one sight that never ceases to take my breath away, no matter how many times I've seen her. On our boat tour we had the opportunity to see the mini Statue of Liberty which I only recently learned existed down the Seine. As the sun was setting on the Seine and Paris, the Eiffel Tower graced us with her sparkles and shine. My parents loved it.
Time goes so fast when you are traveling and I don't know where the days go. Our final day in Paris we went to Angelina for brunch to get the infamous chocolat chaud (hot chocolate). It was delicious and the hot chocolate was just as good as the first time. After, we wondered over to the Jardins des Tuileries for some relaxation. As were were sitting around the Grand Bassin both of my parents briefly fell asleep, relaxation achieved. My first time in Paris I searched for Roue de Paris (The Big Wheel at Place de la Concorde). I couldn't believe I couldn't find it and thought somehow I missed it. The second visit to Paris I went through the same thing, looked for it and never found it. Finally, I did a search online to see what was happening. I have always visited Paris in the fall and the Roue de Paris is taken down in May. Mystery solved. I was ecstatic when I learned I would be visiting in April. Finally, on my fourth visit I found Roue de Paris, which could be seen from around the city. After the Jardin we took a ride. The views were gorgeous and it was well worth the search. You could see all the way to the Sacre Coeur, down to the Louvre and of course the Eiffel Tower. Then we ventured to Le Marais for some wondering and a cafe break. Finally we tuckered out and went back to the apartment. We decided to eat close to our apartment on Rue Montorgueil. We had a fabulous Italian dinner while watching the rain fall. It was a great ending to our time in Paris.
The next day we would venture to Gare de Lyon where my friend was meeting us for our train ride to Aix-en-Provence. Phase II of the fourtieth adventure was only a three hour train ride away.