We left Cologne early, had a 6:44am train ride to Paris. Dan bought these tickets a long time ago, early enough to get great rates on first class, so we had a nice ride. It came with breakfast, which was nothing fancy but decent and appreciated since it kept us from having to deal with that before we left. First class also came with free WiFi which we definitely took advantage of.
We got to Paris about 10am. We have rented an apartment for our 6 night stay here through AirBnB. (Google it if you don’t know what that is yet. We used it for all of our lodging this trip, except of course for the hotel in Cologne because that was arranged through Dan’s work.) Our host had sent us step-by-step instructions on how to get here from the train station we arrived in, which included two transfers on the Metro, Paris’s subway/rail system. There was a little confusion once we got here about who was supposed to be giving us the keys – the owner is in Spain this week on business – but it got worked out and we were up in the 6th floor walk-up flat by 11am. We unpacked, figured out how the place worked, and rested for a bit before heading out about Noon.
Our agenda for the day was intentionally planned to not do too much other than walk around. Tomorrow we go to Normandy; Monday we’ll buy a 4day museum pass that has to be used consecutively, so today was about that stuff we could do for free and just get a feel for where we were and what was where. There was only one sight we would actually go into and it was open until 10pm so we weren’t in any hurry. And it’s a good thing we weren’t.
There’s one thing that several of our friends who have been here before all warned us about: don’t over plan your day, it takes longer to get places than you think, because you’ll stop constantly to look at things, take an odd turn to check something out, etc; you need to build in time for general meandering.
We weren’t 3 blocks outside of our apartment when we stumbled upon this great Saturday morning farmers market (that’s what we would call it at home) but it was oh so much more. We decided to take advantage of it and do some grocery shopping and then take it back to the apartment, and then get on with our day. We made it back to the apartment finally 90 minutes later!, armed with 1/2 a dozen eggs, 3 kinds of cheese, 3 kinds of sausage, fresh hot paella which we had for lunch, 4 heirloom tomatoes (each a different color), a quart of strawberries, and a 9″ strawberry tart (that we cut into for dessert this evening).
So it was close to 2pm before we headed out again. I wanted to make sure we could find the place we’re meeting the tour for Normandy tomorrow morning, so we headed in that direction but took the scenic route. I think it’s appropriate that this is the first official picture we took in Paris, our first sighting of the Eiffel Tower.
We just happened to look to our right as we were crossing the street and there it was. We decided to walk along the Seine and came across the Pont Alexandre III bridge, generally considered to be the most ornate bridge in Paris. We were familiar with this bridge only because on our trip to Amsterdam last year we’d seen a replica of it (although not as well done of course).
We kept going and stumbled into the Jardin Des Tuileries – Tuileries Gardens – which is this really amazing park along the river next to the Louvre that’s full of gardens and sculptures. We’d barely been truly out in Paris 30 minutes and had seen such a small sliver of stuff, but Dan was already remarking about how impressive it is that the city has put so much art into public spaces and how much it adds to the beauty and personality of the city. He’s hard to impress and Paris got him early! The next few pictures are some shots he took from this park.
In the bottom left of the above photo you see a of piece of the first building we’d come across in awhile. It was massive and beautifully designed. Dan said “I wonder what that is?” I said “I think it’s the Louvre.” And it was. We got out of the park, found our meeting place for tomorrow morning which is essentially across the street from the Louvre, and continued our meandering. We are planning on going to the Louvre on Wednesday – a morning and evening shift, actually! – but couldn’t resist getting a peak since we were walking right by it. This is what we saw.
As you’re walking in from the street you’re in this huge open area where lines form for tickets, etc. But there are windows into the museum on either side – Dan called them teasers – and that they were. This was the view from one of them and we were suitably impressed. Never seen anything like it; it’s absolutely stunning. So we continue through this covered area into the courtyard – where the gawdawful glass pyramids are; really, what were they thinking? – but the rest of the building is amazing. I wasn’t prepared for the size. I’ve seen pictures of it a million times but they just don’t do it justice. Here’s another that won’t. Pay attention to the small people at the entrance and you’ll get an idea of scale.
Next we were headed to the Latin Quarter, one of the two neighborhoods we were going to explore today. We passed Notre Dame on the way and couldn’t resist a couple of photos there, either.
This was a creepy looking sculpture Dan liked in one of the many parks we came across today. I believe this was just across the river from Notre Dame.
|My goofy expression is a result of Dan saying “open your eyes!” I swear they’re always open but they often look closed in pictures. He takes 5 shots and maybe one of them will have them open.|
|It’s the Church of Saint-Merri and is about 600 years old.|