It had been too long since I’d last visited Paris. I lived in Caen and later Paris after I’d graduated from high school to study French for nearly a year, and it was dumbfounding to travel through time to present day, with my three kiddos in tow!
We were an exhausted bunch, thanks to the cute toddler who cried and then jabbered the entire overnight flight! I gave up and watched a few movies. Katerina at least managed five hours of sleep.
Once we landed and grabbed our luggage, I immediately had to practice my rusty French to find the train station and ticket machine. While at the metro ticket machine, I discovered that my bank card didn’t work. I was forced to exchange my US dollars at the airport exchange booth and was ripped off. For those of you mystical people with the gift of planning, make sure you’ve contacted your bank to allow your debit card to work overseas. I bought our RER and ten-pack of metro tickets and we wheeled our way on the train, which was no easy feat. It was crowded, hot, and I was utterly exhausted, also feeling overwhelmed that my trio of youngins’ fully depended on me. Nikos will meet us later, by the way, in a month.
Up and down the stairs we lugged our suitcases as we switched metro stations a few times. A few kind young men offered to carry my suitcase up flights of stairs, and I was grateful. Nikolas said it was because I was an old woman. Great, I’ll take it!
We made it to our hotel near the Montparnasse station, and walked smack into my brother and my little niece in our hotel lobby! We’re a loud obnoxious bunch, straight out of Wildwood Lane when we reunite.
Eric and Sophia had arrived the night before I believe, and their hotel by chance was just around the corner.
The plan was to stay two nights in Paris, and then take a train up to Bretagne to stay with our other brother and family who lives there.
When I lived in Paris, I visited the Louvre four times, so that I could see it in its entirety. I would suggest that you instead visit the Musée d’Orsay.
Katerina had learned quite a bit from her art teacher about Monet, and there is an extensive collection at this museum. And I’ll go ahead and confess that I was feigning interest during our walk-throughs of some of the rooms while others gasped at the masterpeices. I felt pretty clueless, and started craving coffee and a pastry. Yet, the museum itself is a masterpiece, with its ornate architecture and dramatic sweeping halls. In the past, the Musée d’Orsay had been a train station.
I’d like to share my favorite places in Paris before I post too many pictures, and write a bit-yes,it is possible for me not to be wordy, it’s happened once or twice. Additionally, without trying to be bossy (so glad Nikos cannot interrupt on here) wear your Tevas or sneakers, because you will walk marathon miles. Jardin du Luxembourg, already mentioned Musée d’Orsay, any shiny pretty place selling macarons-pistachio are the yummiest, La Basilique du Sacré Cœur de Montmartre, don’t even bother with the Eiffel Tower, just take a few pics around it, cross many bridges, stroll along the Seine, and go to many, many cafes. Coffee just tastes better in Paris. Oh, and don’t be on some low-carb diet, your vacation will suck! Pain au chocolat must be ingested and macarons and quiche and…You don’t necessarily need to speak French but do your best with what you know, out of courtesy. I found that people were very encouraging to comprehend my patched up French and many even gave me compliments. French people are generally kind and courteous except when it comes to driving. But what do I know, I’m an American tourist who is scared of driving in Minneapolis, and I’m certain there are far more wonderful places to discover in this beloved city.
So the six of us walked to the timeless marvel, Jardin du Luxembourg, and had a sweet picnic. Eric and I shared a quiche, the kids had various items, and folks, that’s how you need to eat in Paris if you’re on a limited budget. Go to a bakery, order up some tasty choices and have a picnic.
We went to all of the places I listed and Eric-turned personal traineron little sister in France-had me jogging along the Seine each morning, like 4 or 5 miles!! One morning, I wore my St. Olaf t-shirt while jogging, and some guy yelled out while passing me, “Hey Minnesota!” I was too breathless to reply, but I thought it was pretty cool! Leave it to Eric to find the very best deal for our morning petit-déjeuner, a wonderful cafe, our favorite. It made huffing and puffing during my jog all worthwhile.
We walked around, laughed out loud, and I simply marvelled at how nothing and everything had changed, Paris and me. The architecture, sirens, scent of diesel, annoying second-hand smoke, delectable wafts billowing from boulangeries, dodging dog doody on sidewalks, manicured rectangles of summer flowers, stinky metro with germ-laden poles, muffled French conversations, old and new, peddlers playing a melancholic echoey tune. Paris drips with nostalgia and my heart cherishes every drop with love.