Two Days in Paris
David and I flew took an overnight flight to Paris on Sunday, then hit the ground running. Or at least walking a lot in comfortable shoes.
All the airport transactions were quick and easy, and we took the train into the city. While waiting to meet Patricia, the apartment manager who would let us into the cute 2-bedroom along the Seine we had rented for 2 nights, we enjoyed a late breakfast of an omelette and orange juice with Perrier at the little bistro downstairs. Patricia helped us get settled, and then we crashed for 2 hours. Waking up in the early afternoon, it took me a while to figure out why I felt so groggy, before remembering that I’d only dozed for 1 hour while crossing the Atlantic, and was now in a place 7 time zones ahead of my usual existence. A shower and a café crème later, I felt more like myself, and David and I walked quickly down the 4 flights of stairs and out the heavy door to the street and all of Paris.
I wanted to enjoy my first day and night in Paris, but not overdo anything. L’Orangerie—the small museum housing Monet’s giant paintings of water lillies—seemed like a good place to spend an hour, and so we set out to walk there. But first we crossed the bridge just outside our apartment to view Notre Dame. The iconic cathedral had been nearly destroyed by fire in April, and now under massive repairs, the French government had fenced it off. Tourists were walking around it, looking up, and snapping photos. It was damaged and somber, but still standing.
We continued walking near the Seine toward the Louvre. The weather was perfect--sunny and warm but not hot. I stopped at one the stalls along the Seine and bought a tote bag for my sweater and water bottle, and we walked past the massive edifice of the Louvre and turned in the Tuileries, the garden in the middle of Paris. I always love the way Europeans plant rows of trees in their public spaces.
I had not seen the water lillies up close in decades. The museum—like just about every thing in Paris—had become much more popular and though the 2 rooms housing Monet’s famous works were packed with tourists, the paintings really came alive. I loved seeing the mix of colors—purple, aqua and blue together were especially inviting—and spending less than an hour looking at art there was just the right amount for me on our first day.
We crossed the Seine in search of a boat ride on one of those long tourist boats. The bateaux mouches are eternally popular, but also a great way to take in Paris for an hour. We bought tickets, then hurried to enter the boat on time. Sitting up top, we had a great view of the many classic bridges and buildings and monuments that make up the heart of Paris. It was a great activity to end a long day.
We slept well, enjoyed our morning coffee and croissants, and headed back up the route by the Seine to arrive at the Musée d’Orsay before it opened. A lot of other people had the same plans, and we joined a large group in line. Once inside the converted train station housing mid- to late-19th century art, we headed to the Berthe Morrisot retrospective. I enjoyed the paintings of women and children by the most important female Impressionist. Simply spending time in the museum, with its towering ceilings and classic wrought iron is also a pleasure. David captured it so nicely here:
In Paris, even a quick lunch can be delicious. We picked up a tartine—ham and cheese on a baguette—and a slice of quiche Lorraine and headed back to enjoy our tasty meal in our apartment. After our daily afternoon nap, we headed back out to wander around Le Marais, my favorite Parisian neighborhood. Once a predominately Jewish neighborhood, it’s now filled with adorable boutiques and restaurants. I could have easily spent the afternoon hopping in and out of every shop that caught my eye, but David was getting bored quickly, so we stopped into the Picasso Museum. Arranged thematically
on several floors, the museum did a great job of placing the artist and his art in a historical context and helped put his enormous genius onto a more human scale. On our way back to our hotel, we strolled through the beautiful Place des Voges.
We ended our night and our second day in Paris buying organic grapes in a little store on the charming Ile St Louis, one of two tiny islands in the Seine. On our way back to our hotel, this enterprising man allowed us a very close look at the moon. It was glowing, kind of like us.