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Passport Gal

Danette Benton

Paris, France in 3 Days

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Paris was at the end of a long itinerary in Italy. When we found out we would fly out of Paris to head home, we decided to add a few days and check out the city.

When the plane landed, we had scheduled a driver to take us to the hotel. He was waiting at our gate. His name was Emarite. I always talk to locals. I ask them about their families, how long they have been working at their particular job. Where do locals go and hang out to have fun? Where do locals like to eat? I want a local’s perspective when I travel. Where to eat, non-touristy stuff to do, etc… Emarite was a delight! He was very passionate about Paris. He said in a very strong french accent, “Your legs are your friends. Walk everywhere!” He also told us there were so many tourist attractions in Paris that we couldn’t possibly do them all in a few days. “Go with your feelings about what to do. Drink a little wine and go with your feelings.” What great advice!

We stayed at Hotel Le Littre. It was centrally located and really nice. Since we only had a few days, we dumped our stuff in the room, got a few tips from the front desk, like “are we safe to ride the Metro?” Then headed out to explore.

Our first stop was Jardin de Luxembourg. Emarite was my first impression of Paris. Friendly and nice. The park was my second. It was beautiful!

It was after lunch and people were sitting on benches, talking, reading books, playing with children.

There were mothers with daughters working a crossword puzzle.

We walked down a path and passed 4 very large sandpits. Children were digging in them and running around them. The path wound around and came to a large pond with a fountain in the middle. There were boats with flags of different countries. Children would stand on the edge with long sticks and when the boats came close, they would shove them back out into the pond. 

It is so nice to see people truly relax and enjoy the day! 

We walked from there to the Pantheon. Now, I have to confess something right here. I am a huge animal lover, but I am gaga crazy about dogs. So, when I see people walking there dogs, I am always wanting to take a picture. In Paris, I was impressed with how fashionably people were dressed walking there dogs. Compared to me in Florida with running shorts, tennis shoes, a t-shirt, and my hair wadded up on my head with a visor on. Hmmm. Note to self: You might want to rethink your dog walking costume from this point forward. 

I took some photos of the Pantheon and Vespas lined up in a row,  and we walked around to the Mouffetarde St area. Emarite had told us this was a good locals hangout and a good place to eat. My rule of thumb, eat like a local. If I am in a touristy area, I will walk 2-3 blocks off the main drag and find someplace to eat. 

My travel buddy is a huge Ernest Hemingway fan. Hemingway lived in this cozy little place. They said he sat and wrote in the cafe below. 

 We stopped next door at Rody’s for a rest and a drink. Our waiter served us an aperitif before our drinks. I am really liking Paris at this point! I asked him what was in it. He looked around and spoke to the other patrons in the bar in French because he didn’t know what the English word for raspberry was. Several patrons hollered back, “Raspberry,” and he told us it had lime, rum, raspberry, and cucumber. It was yummy! 

Our waiter at Rody’s recommended La Contresarpe for dinner. Just down the street. There was a sax player outside and the night air was filled with the French language and his music. We had escargot, steak and pomme frittes with a nice Bordeaux. The waiter was wonderful to help with the wine selection. 

 Walking back to the hotel we ate a Caramel and chocolat au beurre sale. (Caramel, chocolate, and butter crepe) at La Creperie. SINFUL!!!

We passed men playing chess and stopped at the flower shop. Of course, I strike up a conversation with the owner and he asks where we are from. When my friend tells him they  are from Texas, he goes to the back of the store and comes out with a cactus. He was so proud he had something from Texas to show us. He looked at me and said, “Madame, you are a beautiful lady!”

Day 1 Paris- WOW!!!!!!

Up at 7 am because we are trying to see everything we can in a short time. Ate the hotel breakfast. I have to say that in Europe, the hotel breakfast is amazing! No dry powdered eggs with a belgian waffle station that has 12 kids standing in front of it. They put on a spread. Fresh eggs, meats, cold meats, cheeses, fruit, and freshly baked breads. When you plan your meal expenses, you can easily eat at the hotel in the morning and have something light around 1, then go for dinner at night. Dinner there is later than the states as well. 8-9pm is a respectable dinner time.

We catch the subway a couple of blocks from the hotel and arrive at the stop for the Eiffel Tower. 

Advice- Get there early. The line is long to get the tickets and long to get through security. We get to the top and toast with a glass of champagne. Oh what a view! 

 The sweet girl at the hotel front desk told me to go up in the Eiffel Tower, but when we came down to get back on the subway and go to the next stop. It is on a hill and has the best view of the Eiffel Tower. So, we do just that.

                                Boy was she right!

 This was a street photographer’s dream! People would bring the family and a sack lunch and just hang out. 

Next stop…Arc de Triomphe. This has amazing views and overlooks the Champs Elysees. We had a real “tourist” moment at this location. When you come up out of the subway, there are no signs or we did not see any signs showing us how to get over to this Arch and it is surrounded by a 5-6 lane traffic circle. I say 5-6 lanes because lines are only a suggestion in Europe for a lane. We look around and finally jump out into the traffic, horns blaring, I am assuming French cuss words being hurled at us, and run across the traffic circle to get to the Arch. We tour, we climb the stairs, and go up top. Magnificent views, by the way! Then we follow the crowd leading us out, and lo and behold, there is a tunnel that takes you under the traffic circle and back to the street. 

The view of the Champs Elysees. I would say this over and over until I got it right! It took me 2 days. My southern drawl kept getting in the way. 

This is the subway entrance. Very subtle. There are no big signs that say SUBWAY OVER HERE. 

I will say that every time I stopped on the street looking all “touristy” to look at my map, someone stopped and asked if I needed help. 

We get back on the subway and head to Montmartre Hill. Another jewel that Emarite told us about. They close the street on Sunday to traffic and you can walk around, eat, drink, and shop. Most of the restaurants have outside seating, which I love. We walk up the hill and shop a little, grab a glass of champagne, and stroll. There are children outside of a cafe playing tag. I can still here them, un, deux, trois, then they would run. The parents are sitting outside enjoying company with each other.

We head up the hill and through a park. On the other side of the park we stumble upon Le Relais de la Butte. There is a line of about 20 people. My buddy and I look at each other and know this is where we need to eat. We wait for about an hour and finally are seated. The food was phenomenal! I had the chicken breast with some champagne and a chocolate ganache with a praline crunch and cream. We sat there and drank and ate for over an hour. No one rushed us. It was beautiful and sunny and the beautiful French conversations surrounded us. 

We make our way back down the hill and onto the subway. We came up out of the metro right by the big ferris wheel in front of the Louvre. We spent the afternoon there. We could have stayed in there for days and not seen it all. Yes, I did see the Mona Lisa. 

On the grass, outside the Louvre, people were taking this class. I don’t know what it is called, but it looked like fun. There were picnic baskets and bottles of wine and french bread. People relaxing and having fun on this sunny day.

Around 8 pm we make our way over to The Rodant. It is about a 10 minute walk from the hotel. Excellent food! We sit and eat and discuss the day’s adventure for about 2 hours. I had the steak and red wine and finished with chocolate lava cake. We walk back towards our hotel and pass the Hippopotamus Grill. This makes us think of a friend in the states that hates the song, “ I want a hippopotamus for Christmas,” because it gets stuck in her head. We record a video of us singing the song on the street in front of the Hippopotamus Grill and send it to her. Because we are just those kind of friends you want to have! 

Day 2 Paris- Love, love, love this vibrant city! 

Got up early and had the hotel breakfast. The man that runs the dining area is so kind. He hugs you and kisses cheek to cheek when he greets you. 

We get an early start because we are going to see Notre Dame today. This is another sight that  you want to get there early. Big lines, but so worth the wait! As we wait in the line, policemen patrol by us on horseback. 

                                           The views from the top are magnificent!

I learned standing in line that the gargoyles were put there for protection. They creep some people out. I think they are fantastic! 

When you go up to the top of Notre Dame, it has a very narrow circular staircase. Like so many churches and cathedrals in Europe, it is very narrow and steep. There is only one way up and one way down. They take you in sections, and you have so many minutes in each area before they move you along. They are directing the up and down traffic on this winding narrow stairway with walkie talkies. When I am behind a camera, I forget about everything around me. I am taking pictures and moving along. My friend Laurie is behind me someplace. When I get through at the top, they send me down with a group and she is in the group behind me. So, I go out front and do street photography. One of my favorite things to do! I am down there a good hour and am starting to wonder if something has happened because they move you along pretty fast when you are at the top. She finally appears after about an hour and a half. Apparently 2 rather “large” ladies decided they needed to climb the winding staircase and go to the top of Notre Dame. They were American, which furthers the rumors that all Americans are obese. UGH! They get stuck about half way up and have a panic/heart issue and the crew of the Notre Dame cannot get them up or down the staircase at this point. OH MY GOSH! Finally they get some way to hoist them out of there and the people at the top get to come down. My friend, who is very kind, says to me, “I’m not trying to be mean, but at what point did they think they could make it up those stairs?” I tell this story because I walk every day. When I am going on a trip, I try to plan for what I am going to be doing. I knew when we went on this trip there would be lots of stairs. So, for months, I am walking, climbing stairs, etc… to prepare. Anybody can have a health issue, but try to prevent it before you go. Do yourself a favor, get in shape. You'll be glad you did. Otherwise your ass may be stuck in the narrow circular staircase at Notre Dame. LITERALLY!

We walk across the street and have hot chocolate and split a butter, salted caramel crepe with ice cream to celebrate conquering that staircase. 

 The Seine River is on our way back. We stroll along it and visit with street vendors. We make our way to the bridge with the locks of love. 

When we were looking over the thousands of locks, some guys were in the corner playing a game with boxes and a ball. They would throw money down and yell out every time the main guy would lift the box to reveal whether the ball was under the box. They were not speaking in French. My guess would have been Russian. He walked over to me and tried to give me 50 euros to play. This is when your antenna should go up and your brain tells you, “EXIT THE PREMISES.”  I told him no and walked away. My friend held her phone up and was going to take a picture and he immediately got upset and said, “No pictures!” We left without incident and headed down the Seine. 

We had champagne and quiche at a lovely little place across the street from the Seine.

Houseboats along the Seine. 

This is the literary building. It is where they decide on the words for the dictionary. I didn’t know such a place existed. See, travel can be educational! 

         One more of Hemingway’s hangouts. We went to Lila’s on Montpassere after we left here. It was a beautiful place with glass on the outside and plants everywhere. It was on a really busy street, but you walked into this garden and felt completely removed from the city. We ordered champagne and they brought the olives, chips, and nuts that they bring with every drink everywhere you go. The waiter overheard me talking about Hemingway and he took us into the bar. They had a brass plaque on the bar in front of Hemingway’s favorite stool. We got a selfie there. 

It was getting close to dark and we made our way via the Metro and got off at the Bir Hakeim exit for one final look at the Eiffel Tower. We ate pizza and had champagne at the corner pizza bar as soon you get off the metro. The manager came and visited with us. He brought us his special olive oil with peppers in it. It made the delicious pizza even more delicious! They heard I was from Florida. Everybody in the restaurant that had been to Miami came over and said hello. 

We walked the few blocks over to the Eiffel Tower and went down on the Seine River right in front. We bought a ticket to ride up the Seine and listened to some guys playing french horns under the bridge while we were waiting on the tour to start. Our final night in Paris was amazing. They light up the Eiffel Tower. The tour down the Seine was relaxing and fun. 

Day 3 in Paris-What a remarkable city! The locals in Paris were so kind and friendly! We fit a tremendous amount into 3 days and I feel like we got a glimpse of the Paris experience. Although we kept moving to see so much, we still had times that we relaxed and just took it all in. I would recommend a longer stay. Like a month! 

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