Dear France, Thank you for making me fall in love with you despite my desire to do the opposite.
I think it’s a funny thing that I was determined to be unimpressed by France, and Paris in particular. I suppose over the years I let the words of many who have told stories of the rude French and their own impressions of the city seep into my mind and convince me that it was much ado about nothing. I admit I am an impressionable person. Because of this Paris has never been high on my list of places to visit. I desired to visit the countryside but figured I could do without the hustle and bustle of this big metropolitan city. I mean I have visited New York City several times so I wouldn’t be missing much, right?
Well, when we began determining where to go after visiting Belgium (which I haven’t written about yet) at that time all I cared about was warmer weather. After evaluating costs, weather, proximity, etc we decided to go to Paris next and because we were simply exhausted I couldn’t bear to stay anywhere for less than a week. So despite my best arguments to only pass through and visit Paris for a day, I found myself planning a stay for a week. I figured I could muster through.
It was no disappointment that upon arrival we were greeted with nothing but challenges, the main of which centered around the room we rented. It was small and dirty and our host, though absent, was unfriendly and downright rude. We stayed for one night only to be greeted by a flooding toilet, which rendered the water in the place unusable. No showers, no kitchen, no bathroom. THIS was how I imagined Paris would treat me and of course, as always, I was right!
Thankfully our host sent a representative to help us and she was so kind. Taking extra time to ensure we had what we needed to secure a new room and get to our new location. (Eventually we were refunded for our week of lodging but that turned out to be another battle.) While Brent was working with the young lady her boyfriend and I worked through a map of the city and he told me the “must do’s” of the city. This turned out to be golden advice!
Second try for accommodations... our lovely flat
This may seem small to some but by Paris standards this was HUGE, particularly considering how "little" we paid.
Needless to say we paid a little more, stayed closer to city center, and were greeted by a lovely host and huge comfortable flat. Okay… it was getting better. That second day we toured around the city (at this point I’m not even sure what we saw that first day) and then I saw it in the distance, the Eiffel Tower! I shocked myself at my own excitement. At this time I realized that during this lazy second day the city was growing on me.
My slightly ridiculous obsession with the Eiffel Tower... both day and night!
We spent the rest of the week touring the sites, spending lazy hours in the gorgeous gardens drinking wine, and meeting some truly wonderful Parisians.
Jardin du Luxenbourg: One of my favorite spots. The garden is enormous with many places to decide upon before you plant your blanket. We picked the dog-free area as I'm not too keen on laying in dog pee.
The Louvre was fantastic and our tour through the catacombs was a spiritual journey for me. I was amazed by the respect that seemed to be given to these bones from so long ago.
There were so many photos at each of these places. You can see more of the Louvre here and our catacombs tour here.
And the person winning over the city is....?
One of the most interesting aspects of this trip was who won over the people of Paris… it wasn’t my grand smile as Brent and I suspected it would be (like in NYC). It was Brent! Brent who in America the waiters almost always dislike made near instant friends with the waiters in Paris. It was amazing! They did not care for my flashy smile or attempts to say a cheery “bonjour.” It was Brent’s mixture of Northeastern U.S. succinctness and a slightly put on Texas accent that made them connect instantly. (I found out later that my smile and cheerful attitude is deemed as insincere in France. Posh.) I found great joy watching Brent as he interacted and became endeared to the French.
The best of such nights was reminiscent of one of my favorite bars in Austin, Peche. We happened upon a restaurant bar called Partisan. It seemed busy but quiet and we settled into some seats facing the street. A friendly worker (I’m unsure if he was bar manager, sommelier, or what), who was pleased to hear we were American, greeted us and the connection began. The next thing we knew glasses of tastings came our way, the delicious food we ordered arrived, and we were having a ball! Once we ordered some special cocktails, the bartenders favorites, we began talking of our adventure and made another connect as he lived in Thailand for several years. We shared information and just had the best night! At the end of our evening we took several pictures with our new friends and made plans to meet at a secret bar the following evening. Unfortunately, Brent came down with fever so we didn’t make it out but next time we are in town we may take a rain check!
Paul is our newest international friend, who lived in Thailand. I regret I didn't remember the others' names but we really enjoyed each of them! Thanks to the staff at Partisan for a wonderful evening!
Other good eats
I can’t put my finger exactly on what I loved just so much about the city. It is beautiful no doubt, the people were friendly, the gardens are gorgeous, and I always have special place in my heart for cities with good cheap public transit.
It is just so hard to capture this week in words to really capture how I feel and what we experienced.
I suppose It wasn’t any one thing, it was everything.
Thank you Paris…. I love you too.
For those of you interested here are my Paris tips and tricks! You can also see more exhaustive photos here.