Sometimes my writing can be like my exploring, sudden stops, changes in direction, and the next thing you know, what I wanted to write has suddenly been lost by all sorts of distractions.
As you read, feel free to go back and forth to this corresponding map of the locations I talk about. Be sure to click on the Google Street View if you are looking for a visual.
First of all, our stay was at Hotel Delavigne. Located in a quiet section of the the Latin Quarter, a few blocks north of Luxembourg Palace and south of the Seine; walking distance to most everything. This gem of a hotel was a pleasant surprise as our street side facing room was quiet, comfortable, and we had our own large bathroom. My wife and I agree that the bed was probably one of the most comfortable we’ve slept upon in our travels. Sure the room itself was small (the bathroom was almost as large as the room), but it was clean and comfortable.
Nearby we had a Starbucks for our morning coffee fix and a supermarket on Boulevard Saint Michel where I could get some wine and snacks for the room.
What more did we need? We were in Paris to explore and sleep in between adventures. We were set.
Location: As I previously stated, we were in the middle of it all but one of the main reasons for choosing this hotel was that it was just a few blocks off the subway line that would take us directly from and to the airport. This being our first trip to Paris and not knowing much French, I wanted to make it easy for us.
Notre Dame: While we waited for the room to get ready, we made our way out for a snack and see what was close by. Knowing that we were near the Seine River and Cathedral Notre Dame, that was where we headed. Large and imposing, this impressive cathedral adorned with gargoyles is worth a visit. There is something about old European churches that always impress as they have been a destination for so many for hundreds of years.
The Louvre: We made our way past this impressive installation at dusk as we were making our way to dinner. I showed a friend who was my Paris inspiration, a picture I had taken of the large square and pyramid and he commented that he was surprised at the lack of tourists at that time of day. When he had gone a couple of weeks earlier (our trip was in early March), people were everywhere, but for us it was empty. A silent oasis of lighted architecture.
Sacre Ceour: Once a village off in the distance, this monastery now surrounded by the city is on the northern side of the metropolis. Situated on a hill overlooking Paris, it provides a great spot to get a commanding view of the city. Before you make the walk up the steps (or take the tram), get a small bottle of wine to sit and enjoy and take in all the activity(music, singing, people hanging out, the view). When done, make your way back down and wander through the Moulin Rouge area that is nearby.
The Catacombs: If you can put yourself back a couple hundred years to when the bones were first transported and tours started (think middle of the night, priests and torches) it all seems a bit macabre. Now with a city bustling above, it is actually quite fascinating.
Located below the subway lines, Les Catacombes tour is highly recommended for those not suspect to claustrophobia. While I could have whiled away a good couple of hours, I think my wife and I completed this 45 minute tour in approximately 20 minutes.
Meandering: This is a walking city. The Champs-Élysées, Eiffel Tower, the French Presidential Palace, museums and countless other historical and notable locations are steps away from wherever you are. That is why this city is a favorite destination for so many people. No car is needed. Most people speak English and if you are respectful, you too will be respected.
It is the unexpected though that I look for. My photo for this blog is of a sewer cover we came across, location long forgotten but interesting none-the-less. The Eiffel Tower in the day stands tall and iconic but at night is adorned in a shimmering lighted brilliance. Brasserie’s with side walk seating where people are huddled next to each other enjoying life and discussing their day.
We ate at two places that were recommended, one by a travel show (awful, can’t find the link) and a friend (meh, overpriced). However, when we walked the neighborhoods and took risks, we were rewarded with the best omelette I’ve ever had and enjoyed a final dinner from a restaurant we passed a half dozen times that consisted of a simple yet amazing dish of sausage and mashed potatoes.
Final Thoughts: Now after reading my post, it may seem like we bounced our way through without any purpose. In reality it was mostly planned things we wanted to see with spur of the moment detours walking down a less traveled side street (still busy though, trust me, it’s Paris) that ran along the main avenue we were “being told” by our GPS to be on. We always felt safe and people were friendly and helpful. We also utilized the Metro when we became tired or needed to travel far (nothing is really that far though). But for the most part, we walked and walked and took it all in. It’s a great city to feel it’s energy through your feet and I can’t wait to go back.
Featured writer: Crunching Acorns