I love Paris! It’s one of the best “walking” cities ever (second only to Rome, I think!)…..and one of the few that I can get around pretty good without a map!
We arrived at Gare de Lyon just after noon. Grabbed a taxi and headed to our apartment.
The apartment we rented on Rue St Denis, on the border between the 3rd and 4th arrondissement, was through Airbnb. It was on the 5th/6th floor with NO ELEVATOR!! What were we thinking???
We left one suitcase at the bottom while we both carried the other up and up and up….with stops on the second floor and 4th floor landings!! It had a nice-ish little balcony that overlooked the street and with pretty good views of the Paris rooftops and the Pompidou Centre. Small and compact but had two bedrooms and all that we needed……and more because Olivier, and his little family, lived in the apartment!! We had guessed this from the pics on the website so were prepared. I have stayed in a couple of other places similar where the owner just simply moves out (somewhere???) while the apartment is being rented by tourists. Not my fav type of vacation rental because I generally find the place cluttered, crowded and just weird with someone elses “stuff” in closets, the fridge, cupboards etc. However, the price was right and so was the location so we booked it. It was clean-ish but again because of “stuff” all over, including a kiddy pool still filled with water on the balcony, it’s sometimes hard to tell what is old versus what needs a good scrubbing….that said, we had clean sheets and a clean bathroom, which were the main things…..and a coffee maker!!
The location, just a few blocks up from Rue de Rivoli and one or two blocks from Les Halles shopping centre, and close to two metro stations, was handy for going off in different directions each day to explore. Rue St. Denis is a busy street….day and all hours of the night. That is not a bad thing except at 3AM!! There were kebab shops below us open 24hrs!
We only used the metro a couple of times (Pere Lachaise and Montmartre) but otherwise walked and walked….with café and/or wine stops along the way. For the metro we bought a book of 10 tickets, which we shared, and worked out to be the perfect number of tickets we needed.
One of our first stops was to Dehillerin https://www.edehillerin.fr/en/
I didn’t buy anything this time because I just did not have any room to carry it home!! Brenda ordered some type of linen cloth for making bread. If anyone loves to cook and loves pots, pans, spatulas, whisks etc. this is the place to visit!
I won’t go into great detail of the places we visited but suffice to say we covered a heck of a lot of Paris in 5 days!! A second visit to Pere Lachaise cemetery for me…..and I think I’d even go again!! I’m sure Brenda though I was crazy when I said we should pack a picnic and have lunch there…..we did and she thoroughly enjoyed it! That was one of the highlights.
One of the tombs that I really wanted to see was that of Oscar Wilde. When I was there a number of years ago, it was covered with red lipstick kisses….and because it was Gay Pride week while we were there I thought for sure it would be red kiss overload…..but was not to be! They had cleaned it up and put a plexi-glass barrier around it…..I do understand but it was rather disappointing 😦
Museums, due to our limited time, were not a high priority. Brenda had seen Mona so we skipped the Louvre. She hadn’t been to the Musee d’Orsay, which is always worth a visit (my 4th!!), so off we went. They had a ticket special…..the d’Orsay and the Rodin for the price of one so that’s what we got. The Rodin is about a 15 or 20 minute walk from there. We also went to the Pantheon. We walked down Champ De Mar to the Eiffel tower but didn’t go up or for that matter even stand under it due to all the tight security in that area now….too bad but we still got some great pictures.
One day, walking along the quay, we heard a commotion behind us. Turning around we saw a cyclist that had somehow fallen off his bike and was clinging to the edge with both hands and still managing to hang on to his bike with his foot around the handlebar!! We ran back to help……he wanted us to grab his backpack, which he had somehow gotten off with one hand. Luckily a couple came along and assisted with the rescue….the guy was able to lift his bike, with his foot, up far enough for the man to grab and then pull himself back up onto the quay. The quay, eventhough there was no railing or barrier, was pretty wide along there so how he managed to get himself into that dilemma, I have no idea!! Thank goodness it all turned out OK.
Montmartre….so, so touristy and crowded now…..unless you head away from Sacre Coeur and Place due Tertre. We did have lunch at one of the little cafés facing all the artists in Place du Tertre, which was not terribly good and overpriced. After lunch we wandered away from there…..it’s quite lovely and there are much better restaurants with better prices!! But be warned there are no ATMS….you would have to go back down the funicular to find one.
When we arrived in Paris, unbeknown to us, it was the last couple of days of Gay Pride week!! Lots of parades day and night, music….and great people watching. Also tons of security everywhere. The best part was that many of the streets were shut down to traffic through the day and early evening, which was nice.
Paris was also bidding on the 2024(?) summer Olympics so some sort of promo thing going on with lots of mini Olympic venues set up along the left bank of the Seine….high jump, long jump, hurdles, marathons etc.
This also meant a couple of the bridges were closed to traffic. For pedestrians it was necessary to go through security check points before crossing the bridges. All very interesting and totally understandable because of what has happened there. That said, it was all done rather low key so not noticeable until you came upon one. The rest of the city was pretty much as it was the last time (2012) with maybe a bit more of a police and military presence at key areas of the city.
Shopping….some but not much, mostly because of the space available in our luggage. We did visit Galleries Lafayette, BHV http://www.bhv.fr/en/magasins/bhv-paris/ and lots of wonderful little clothing shops selling some of the most exquisite scarves…..one day I will get that Hermes!!
Even if you don’t plan on buying anything it’s still worth a visit to Galleries Lafayette….the entire basement floor is all shoes!!
It’s also fun to visit the flower and bird market (Marché aux oiseaux) on Ile de la Cite (between Notre Dame and St Chapelle).
Food…..lots of it, some good, some not so good. After a couple days of typical French cafes we tried Thai and Japanese and an English style pub….all very good.
The weather was perfect until the last day….rain, thunder, lightening etc. but that didn’t stop us, it just meant more coffee/wine breaks.
I’ve been to Paris a few times now…..the first trip was just Ken and I. We covered an incredible amount of the city on foot. We visited all the major museums and sites, found some wonderful little cafes and thoroughly enjoyed our few days there. The other times I’ve gone it’s been with people who hadn’t been there, or were there 20 – 30 years ago. I don’t know why but I feel like I have to be the “tour guide” and as a result end up going to the same places over and over again and again. I am museum-ed out in Paris!!
There are some things though that you just have to do no matter how many times you’ve been there….a walk along the river looking at the bouquinistes https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bouquinistes ….stop for a glass of wine at one of the cafes along the Seine and watch Notre Dome light up at sunset…..walk through the Tuileries and Luxembourg Gardens. But the best thing really is to just wander…..we did this our last day this time, rain and all, it was one of my favorite days. So many little alleys and narrow streets that open onto a beautiful little square with cafes and unique shops….and a great, off the beaten tourist path, little English pub for lunch!
Less than a month until my trip to India!