Paris: Jour 1
Paris the Beginning of the End
We left Beaunne and headed down the highway to Paris. As we approached Paris we began to experience something familiar but someting we had not experienced for a while: traffic. Sadly, upon arrival in Paris we would be saying goodbye to Dirk. Since we would be relying on the Paris Metro to get around, Dirk would be departing and taking the magic bus bus with him. Dirk was a fantastic driver and it was great to get to know him. He was a true professional who loved driving. This was the first of many goodbyes we would be saying in Paris.
We parked a few blocks from Hotel Appolinaire in Montparnasse on the outskirts of Paris. Hotel Appolinaire is a great hotel near Metro stops, restaurants, and shops. We were happy to find it also had air conditioning as Paris too was experiencing a heat wave. A clean and comfortable hotel with friendly staff. We checked in and had some time to grab a bite. We found a small cafe that served pizza which was quite good just down the street from the hotel and then met back at the Hotel.
Dimitri provided us with a quick orientation to the Paris Metro and then we were off to Sainte-Chapelle to view the church and its spectacular stained glass which had recently been restored. Dimitri advised us to enter the church and go up the stairs. Near the top of the stairs we were instructed to close our eyes step into the room and then open your eyes. WOW! The view took my breath away. Keep your eyes closed and scroll down….
We then walked through the Latin Quarter and ended our city walk at the Notre Dame Cathedral. Dimitri provided us with an orientation and used Veronica and Phil to demonstrate the butress concept and warned us about the pick-pockets in the area. Notre Dame was a very spiritual as there was a service in progress which included angelic singers. After a several minutes of serenity we went back out to the bustling streets of Paris and found a cafe where we would have dinner.
We had a lovely dinner in a lively square. When it came time to get the check, Phil asked me how to say check please in French so I told him. After a few practice tries with the group at the table, Phil confidently said to the waiter, “Garson, L’addition s’il vous plait!” To which the waiter replied, “Your French is very good, what part of France are you from?” The entire table busted out laughing. A highlight of the evening. After dinner Mary and Fred decided to go to the Orsay and Phil, Sharon, Veronica and I decided to go up to Montmarte to view Paris from Sacre Couer.
We made our way back to the Metro stop and made our way to the Montemartre and the Basilicca of Sacre Couer (Sacred Heart). You had the option of walking or taking a finuclar to the base of Sacre Couer. We chose to walk through the lively streets of Montemartre and enjoyed the people watching. The steps that lead to Sacre Couer were full of people enjoying the summer evening.
As I mentioned before, Veronica and I were engaged in Paris in 2007. I had intended to propose at the top of Sacre Couer overlooking Paris and the Eiffel Tower but by the time we made it to Sacre Couer the observation area was closed (more about this later). Alas, we would arrive too late to get to the observation deck once again. We went inside the cavernous Basilicca, walked around and said a prayer. I have a picture of the Eiffel Tower in my home which was taken nearby Sacre Couer and I had bragged about taking Phil there to get a great view. After looking and looking I realized that the trees had grown over the vantage point I had back in 2007. I felt a bit bad about the bragging but it makes the picture that much more special (see below).
One of the best ways to experience a city is just to walk around and see what happens. You get pleasant surprises and experience the city on a more intimate level. We continued our journey through the streets of Montemartre enjoying the artists district and made our way to Moulin Rouge. We all agreed that we didn’t have time to go to the Moulin Rouge but put it on our list of must do’s the next time we are in Paris. We made our way bak to a nearby square and as we were checking our metro maps a young American woman asked us where we were going and she gave us directions to the Metro. She shared it was her last night in Paris and she would be reluctantly heading home after about a month in Paris with a friend. I then realized that we would be in the same predicament soon as tomorrow night would be our last night in Paris. But we would enjoy this evening and drink up the City of Lights.