I just had the best time in Paris! I met family at Charles DeGaulle airport and off we went in a taxi to our charming hotel in the first arrondissement near the Tuileries and Louvre.
The family kindly pretended my French was perfect. The Parisians kindly accepted my French as acceptable for an American. The French will find you charming if you attempt to speak their language. A bit like Americans, don’t you think?
I’ve been to Paris a few times, but this was the trip to do everything touristy, especially with a 9-year-old in tow. We gazed up at the Eiffel Tower, but did not ascend because we had not thought to reserve tickets online ahead of time.
Later, we slurped up pudding-like hot chocolate and pastry at Angelina on Rue de Rivoli that was Coco Chanel’s fave place for an afternoon break. Another suggestion: go early before the swarms of tourists get there.
The Louvre is, of course, a centerpiece of majestic art and should not be missed. After peeks at Venus de Milo and the Mona Lisa, we went to other galleries and enjoyed them without the crowds.
Another cultural high point is the Musee D’Orsay. Paintings and sculpture are not the only focal points of this former train station. Seeing the giant clocks from the inside are worth the price of admission!
And, what would Paris be without a day trip to Versailles? The RER train got us there in less than 45 minutes. If you go to the palace in summer, make sure to arrive early in the morning. Having visited in late March we contended with fewer tourists, but missed the brilliance of the gardens that weren’t in bloom. Despite the trade-off, overwhelming opulence is on display year-round at Versailles.
At the opposite end of the spectrum from Versailles is the sewer system of Paris. If you’ve read Les Miserables, you have a sense of it, but now you can take a tour of Les Egouts. Yes, it did smell a bit, but we handled it.
Finally, as you might suspect, the French are as precise about their baked goods as they are about their language. A patisserie makes sweet pastries as opposed to a boulangerie, which bakes bread. One afternoon I got to meet the owner of a local patisserie. Melodie is better than a witch in her kitchen… her pastries are magnifique! She had the good grace to ask me about baking brownies, which I can happily attest is an art the French have not yet mastered. </: )