Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Weekend Trip: Paris, France (2nd Trip)

Actual date of this event: 27-29 July

This was our second visit to Paris... our first being the week between Christmas and New Year (click here to get to the start of my first Paris visit posts). We both LOVED Paris the first time around, and I was thrilled to see if we still enjoyed it. The two visits were in completely different times of year, and everyone knows that weather can make or break a trip! Also, this was the first major city that we did a repeat visit.

The reason for our visit was to meet up with many of Luke's relatives who had been traveling through a few towns in France learning about family history, the relationship between the French and Louisianians, and the family church. Luke and I wish we could have joined the family pilgrimage, but we were glad we got to see them all in Paris!
only a few of the cousins
We did not have too much on our agenda, as we did practically everything we wanted to do last time. Most of the family had never visited Paris before, so Luke and I checked the things off of our list as they did their thing. It worked out perfectly!

We arrived on Saturday around noon after taking the EuroStar (train that goes through the channel tunnel aka chunnel... more on that in another post). We made the original plan to walk to the city, but quickly changed our minds as Luke "forgot" how far of a walk it was. Note: If wanting to walk from Gare du Nord, do not walk down Boulevard de Strasbourg. It isn't the best street in the city. And it is really far, just take the metro. And don't be scared of the metro, it isn't bad!

The whole family stayed at Villa Modigliani in Montparnasse, the 10th arrondissement. I thought it was a great hotel, but others seemed to have some problems with A/C and service. The hotel had free wifi, free breakfast, and air conditioning. It was located just a short walk from two different metro lines, one that takes you to the Eiffel Tower and Arc de Triomphe, and the other to Notre Dame and Gare du Nord. And it was decently priced which is always nice :-)

1.) Raclette - I know I keep talking about it. Maybe you keep wondering?? Raclette seriously is deeeeelicious! A big block of cheese (raclette cheese) is heated, it melts, hopefully it burns, and then gets scraped onto potatoes, onions and sometimes gherkins. Sounds weird and full of carbs? notweirdatall! We were on the hunt for it! We quickly found Raclette at a restaurant, yippee!! My meal was legit Raclette, meanwhile Luke had to melt his cheese on a hot plate and then put it on his stuff. He was totally jelly, but lucky for him I couldn't finish it all.

2.) Jardin du Luxembourg - This wasnt on our list for the trip, but I only mention it because during our last visit, the park was soooo unimpressive. During the summer, it is beautiful! Flowers are in bloom, fountains are flowing, and it makes for a really nice stroll. We just so happened to walk through on our way to our hotel, and I am glad we have good memories of the gardens now.

3.) Opera - This was on our list for the last trip, but we were unable to go inside, so it was on the top of my list this time. We did not see an Opera, we just went to see the spectacular interior of its building called Palais Garnier. It was full of marble! The decor was just amazing, and I can only imagine how memorable it would be to see an actual performance here. I highly highly recommend visiting the Opera during your next visit to Paris!

4.) Laduree - This is one of the most famous macaron stores in the world (coincidentally, I saw one in London this past weekend, go figure?!?!). The girls stopped in the Champs-Elysees location to grab a few... we were kind enough to keep the boys in mind and got them one they would like. These babies don't come cheap, but they are good! I still love the Salted Caramel ones the best.

5.) River Boat Dinner Cruise - The whole family gathered on Sunday evening for dinner while cruising the Seine. It was so much fun to have a terrific meal with terrific sights with terrific people. It was pretty expensive, but it was totally worth it! Although... I don't know if my feelings would be the same had it been just Luke and me... I think I enjoyed the company the best :-) When we docked at the end of the cruise at 11pm, it was that magical time for the Eiffel Tower to sparkle. If I was Peter Pan, the sight of that thing would make me fly!

6.) Bastille - The area of the Bastille used to be the home of a fortress run by the king and was used mostly as a prison. During the French Revolution, it was overtaken by a crowd of people. The fortress was destroyed, and now stands a memorial in the center a big roundabout. We did not visit this area last time, but this time we made our way over for a coffee on our way to Les Puces.
7.) Les Puces (The Fleas) - The family had heard about the flea market through other folks, and wanted to go see what it had to offer. It is the biggest flea market in the world, so why not? Well, it is not exactly what you'd expect. Actually. Yes it is. It is a flea market, and it has lots and lots of stuff. Some of it is really unique. Some of it is just junk. And overall, the place isn't the nicest. After all, it is a flea market. If you are able to purchase big items like furniture and such, then you will definitely be able to find something. But if you are only visiting, it isn't the best activity to do in Paris. I am only mentioning this because if you are interested in going to Les Puces, I want you to know what to expect. Also, this website gives you directions on how to get there. Note: We went on a Monday and not many stores were open.
8.) Montmartre - Luke and I visited Montmartre last time, but since it's a really unique little area, we wanted to wander around again. I wanted to go back to the side of Sacre Coeur to visit the artist area as we are in need of some wall art in our flat. We didn't find anything, but that's okay. If you remember our visit to Sacre Coeur last time, the bracelet men were really pushy! I had read previous to this trip that the police were cracking down on these guys and other street performers, so I was curious to see the difference. They were still there, but not as many of them, and they also stayed behind trees and such to hide from any law-dogs. It was quite funny one time... I saw a couple start to attack some tourists (by attack, I mean approach them with their scam), and a moment later a police vehicle turned the corner, and they all scattered. Just.Pathetic. Anyway, we took the crazy amount of steps up to the church, looked at the view of the city again, then wandered around on the cobblestone streets. Note: The artist area is located in Place du Tertre. And wandering down and through the streets from there is always fun. Don't forget that Moulin Rouge is located right there also! Not that it's anything super special to check out, but just one of those things you gotta see.

9.) La Défense - We wanted to head here last time, but it is pretty far out of the way, so we didn't have time. Since we had some time before catching the train back home, we ventured to downtown to check out what it has to offer. La Defense is the new downtown and is located northwest of the main area of Paris. The Grand Arch lines up exactly with the Arc de Triomphe and is huge! It is an actual office building, and has a ton of steps that you can sit on and look out at the southeast view toward the Arc de Triomphe or at the northwest view toward the country. All of the buildings in downtown are so unique. It is a really really nice area, very open, and begging for more visitors!

In the end, I have to say that I enjoyed my winter visit more than my summer visit. It was two completely different trips, and both were great! It was too hot for my liking during this trip (around 85°F). In the winter, I enjoyed sitting on the patios at outdoor cafes with a glass of wine under a heater. I enjoyed being bundled up and sight seeing. This time around, wine just didn't sound appealing. And what's Paris without wine? Still fun, but not as romantic :-) And I can't leave this post without pictures of some sights that are impossible to avoid...

RANDOM FACT: (there Jill, you happy? :])
The Paris Opera has two venues: Palais Garnier and Opera Bastille. Palais Garnier was the first building to be used for the Opera in Paris, and a few building around the world have been built in similar style.

1 comment:

  1. Fair enough, I guess since I called you out I deserve to be called out :-) looks like a great trip, can't wait for you to help me plan mine out :-)


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