Category Archives: Travelog

Paris; the first bit

I haven’t been to Paris since 1999 and I really, really missed it. I wasn’t certain how much had changed, a city that large and that cosmopolitan clearly has to have changed greatly since almost 20 years ago. But then again we’re talking about a city that has been kicking around before the Romans decided to put their mark on it.

The architecture, the layout, the parks, and the museums of course were still there, but Paris has always found a way to reinvent itself. The citizens have become more diverse, things have evolved, and, of course, it reflects the outside world while still retaining its own self.

Also there are push scooters EVERYWHERE. It’s pretty hilarious to see such stylish people scooting their way down the sidewalks towards a metro station.

I’m still also giggling at the happily surprised expression on Parisian faces when I respond in French, and then they ask if I speak French and I say yes. I’m not certain why this is so atypical. I guess having aged a bit since I was there last I don’t look like the Irish person that I used resemble. (The Irish tend to speak lots of languages; I’m kind of in awe of them.) they used to not be so surprised that I spoke French and would inevitably ask me if I was Irish. But then they were actually astounded when I said I am from Texas.

The one thing I did miss this trip was being able to snoop around grocery stores like Monoprix or just the little local fruit & veg market and find an adorable grocer to visit every day for my white peaches or tomatoes.

We spent so much time in museums catching my husband up on basic Paris and it’s fabulous collection of art that by the end of the day my feet were in active revolt and it was all I could do to catch the metro home, find a little restaurant to eat at, then manage to get back to the hotel room and pass out.

I think I bruised my feet. Poor feet, I’m so sorry!

Note to self: bring the whole bottle of Tylenol next time. Speaking of Tylenol, that was fun; trying to remember paracetamol and conveying sore feet to the French pharmacist.

We managed to walk about 8 miles the first day just excited to be out and about in the weather that was pretty glorious for October. We spent the next day in the Louvre though we only saw two of the wings… and only 7 miles of walking. Had dinner at the café (Café Marly) that wasn’t there when I was there last – I really should stop comparing to last time because there’s too many things to list. Sigh.

I’ve actually taken several people to Paris for their first visits. There’s several things that I teach them that make being in Paris much easier. The first one is how to use the metro. It’s really not that difficult, but getting oriented takes a couple of rides. Another learning experience is to survive eating in a restaurant (ordering, asking for water, the bill, etc. Mostly the waiters now are younger and are pretty mellow and also they tend to speak at least smattering of English, so really not too much of an issue). Though my favorite food to eat is the street carts full of sandwiches jambon et fromage, crèpes Nutella, pain au chocolat and all of the other heavenly things that I seem to live on while I’m there. Not to mention Kinder eggs; I’m pretty sure they have medicinal properties…

Given my druthers I’d walk around with a shopping bag full of sammiches and white peaches to eat gazing wistfully into the french cooking supply stores and quite happily skip most of the major museums now.

Worst art degree holder ever!

The third day was another long walking day; the Orangerie and the Orsay. Said hello to some of my favorite paintings by Henri Rousseau etc and marveled at how much the museum space has evolved.

Why am I so astounded by this change? I guess because when I am there it is such a place out of time and cemented so thoroughly in my consciousness that I want to keep it the way it is. Guess I better make sure I can visit it in the real world instead this time and keep up with the evolution. They say you can’t go back again but happily Paris keeps evolving into a slightly new place while keeping true to itself. I’m very pleased about this.

Good job, Paris.

Though I did have plenty of things to revisit, I still needed to go see some new things myself. I had never been to Versailles so we took a day trip out to the palace.

To be honest I was not exactly excited about going there. It isn’t my favorite time period, the decorations to me don’t seem beautiful; but gaudy. I really prefer the medieval period. If we are going to get down to brass tacks, the Cluny museum would’ve been my first choice, but the request was for castles and art just so we went Versailles.

Full disclosure, I also have a French degree. So I have a little more background in French history than most of your casual tourists there. I was a little bit predisposed not to be excited about the palace but I put on my best happy face and we went through and had a good day nonetheless. Wasn’t my favorite, so I don’t think I’ll go back unless it is to spend the entire day in the gardens; it was a lovely day and they are really beautiful and so very huge you need an entire day to see them.

If I’m going to do more palaces, we’ll probably just head down to the Loire Valley – I’ll demand more cheese and wine on the tour.