Paris Encore: Bateaux, Bones & Breathtaking Views

Now that classes have started, I have made some friends. (Yay, friends!!!) It’s funny to see our nationality clicks form almost instantly. Naturally, there are a few American girls I have bonded with – two from Detroit. By pure coincidence I have met one of them before, when Fabien and I picked up our marriage license.  Him presenting his passport and her recognizing where he is from prompted the conversation of her coming here in January. The world is so small.

After a couple of weeks in Orléans, we were all ready to get out of dodge and spend a few days in Paris. Yes, I know – I just wrote a blog about my visit there, but….IT’S PARIS and possibly the only city in the world deserving of two blog posts in one month.

Our Adorable Parisian Apartment (www.airbnb.com)

We used Airbnb and (again) had fantastic experience that included our very own adorable Parisian apartment avec a cat, named Terton.  (Please pronounce with a french accent, otherwise, he will not respond. Snobby french cats.)

Americans in Paris

In typical Parisian fashion, the weather did not cooperate, but it was still a fantastic weekend. We visited some usual suspects (The Eiffel Tower, Sacré Coeur, Arc de Triomphe, Moulin Rouge & Champs Elysees), but we also did a few new things, which were absolutely wonderful.

Friday night, we took a ‘Bateaux Mouches’ (translation, fly, as in the bug, boat) along the Seine. An amazing way to see the lights in the City of Lights. There are a couple of companies that do this and they are about the same price (approximately 12€, but we used the one near the Eiffel Tower – link here).

Catacombs

However, what I was most excited for was going down Saturday morning.  We woke up early only to descend below the sewers & metros to Paris’s world-famous Catacombs. If you’re not familiar and want to read the history, click here. But, basically, in the 17th century Paris had a sanitary problem because of all the dead bodies buried in the city. The solution was to move the remains into the quarries where they remain to this day. There are literally hundreds of miles of hallways underneath the city lined with bones. Rumor has it, there are currently people living in the Catacombs. Très creepy! We spent 2 hours walking through the tunnels, inspecting skulls, bones, carvings, tombs and wells. I know it’s quite morbid, but it was also really neat to see and hear the history.

Finally, Sunday morning we headed to Notre Dame to climb 387 stairs into the towers of the famous cathedral. Now, let me make a correction to my last Paris post (The Worst Tourist in Paris) – I still love the park, Buttes Chaumont, BUT Notre Dame has the best view (see below). Pourquoi, you ask? Well, you can see the Eiffel Tower, Sacré Coeur and the rest of the beautiful city, but what you get as an extra is a close up of Notre Dame’s iconic gargoyles and a breathtaking view of the Seine. What is more Parisian than all of those things? The answer is nothing. So, here is what I’m recommending…If the budget is tight, go to Buttes Chaumont. You’ll love it. But, if you’ve got a few euros in your pocket (maximum 8.50€) and it’s a clear day, go to the towers of Notre Dame. Do one of these two things or don’t even bother going to Paris. Kidding, but really, being atop Notre Dame was amazing.

Now, I’m going to cool-it on Paris until the weather is better. I’ll be back in early April to run a half-marathon, but until then….Paris, Je t’aime!

A few more pics have been added to the photo gallery.

The best view in Paris

Advertisements

The Worst Tourist in Paris

First things first – this post is going to disappoint you. Fabien & I went to Paris last week for a few days and I may have been the worst tourist in the city. We went to see the Eiffel Tower the first night but it was so foggy, you could only see to the 1st level. We never went back. I’m a loser. Do as I say and not as I do – Paris is not a city to say, “been there, done that.”

The perfectly decorated Galeries Lafayette - 2011

But, honestly, after visiting the city a 2nd time, under different circumstances than before (ie. our luggage getting jacked from the car on the first day), I fell in love with Paris. Thank God Fabien is in Tennessee otherwise, it might be really difficult to return to Smyrna after being in this city. There’s just something so beautiful about this place. Just like Owen Wilson in the film Midnight in Paris, I love the way the city looks, at night, after it has rained.  It’s little stone streets. It’s Haussmann buildings. The way everything is so perfectly decorated for the holidays. How the cafés are littered with Parisians sitting outside because they would rather smoke than be warm. I don’t even mind the gritty metro which has a certain smell all its own. I love how things are done for beauty and not because someone wants to build something as cheap as possible. I see why it’s called the City of Lights and known as the worlds most romantic town. However, this visit was not about running around the city like a manic making sure I see every amazing and beautiful site. It was about visiting friends and spending quality time with my husband who would be leaving me soon to return to the States.

Sacré Coeur from Buttes Chaumont

We did manage to pass by a few of my favorites – Montmartre, Arc de Triomphe and Champs Elysees.  Also, I added a few new favorites to the list. Visiting the Galeries Lafayette (see above) and Printemps to see their amazing Christmas displays. Canal Saint Martin where I can invision Amelie throwing stones.  And the best new discovery, the park, Butte Chaumont. I am no expert on Paris, but I am telling you, if you want a beautiful view, go to this park. From the highest point, on a clear day, the view of Sacré Coeur is so stunning it looks as though it’s not even real. In another spot you can see the Eiffel Tower. So, if you only follow one piece of advice I ever give you – go to this park. Don’t waste your time and money going up the Eiffel Tower. I mean, you can’t see the Tower from the Tower.

The China Crew

Our goal was met though. We caught up with old friends from US and China who were gracious enough to let us stay in their adorable, little Parisian apartments.

The Detroit Crew

Aside from seeing our friends, spending time with Fabien and discovering some new favorites in the city, the highlight of my trip was the last night when I got to ride in the driver cabin of the Metro. One of our friends manages a line and asked the driver if he wouldn’t mind giving us a lift. I felt totally special and thought it was super cool to see the veins of one of the oldest subway tunnels (established in 1900) in the world with a panoramic view.

I didn’t even take many pictures. So, not to totally disappoint, I included photos from this year and the last time I visited the city. View them here.