Paris Again by Diane M. Sabo
The first time I went to Paris I stayed in a hotel. Our room had a tiny balcony which looked out over an alley toward apartments. One night we came back from dinner and one of the apartments across the way was in full swing with a dinner party. I was so envious. Every morning I jogged around the Champ de Mars and admired all the apartments along each side wishing to catch a glimpse inside. What were they like, how were they decorated?
The second time I went to Paris I rented an apartment. I had to justify the idea to my husband! Of course there was the romantic idea of pretending for a week that I really lived in Paris. But there was a practical side as well. More space, kitchen facilities, all the comforts of home plus a beautifully decorated truly Parisian apartment. What wouldn't I love about it! I still jogged around the Eiffel Tower everyday but now I had my own apartment to return to.
I loved our location in the 7th arrondissment half way between the Champ de Mar and Rue Cler. We purchased the prettiest bouquet of roses to enjoy all week. We said "Bonjour" to our neighbors. I slept because we looked out to a quiet courtyard, not a loud street. My daughter loved the idea of walking around carrying a baguette, which was much more practical with a kitchen. Nicole also loved our location because of the proximity to the Ecole Militaire.
Nicole's fascination for the military (which stems from the camouflage clothing trend) instigated our going to the Invalides, Dome Church and the Army Museum, something I would not have done, but something I highly recommend. I cannot describe how I felt walking through the World War II hallway. The pride and honor as an American citizen to see the war through the eyes of the French and the respect and alliance between France, Britain and America displayed in this museum culminated by the 3 flags hanging side by side.
Of course we saw the normal highlights, climbed the Eiffel Tower (highly recommended for getting your bearings), the Arch de Triomphe, the Louvre, the Orsey, the Orangerie (a very pleasant surprise and very manageable with a 12 year old), Sacre Coeur, and Notre Dame. My favorite museum is the Musee National du Moyen Age. I especially enjoy all the tapestries and the jewelry from the middle ages. My favorite church is St. Chapelle. We were blessed on this trip with a fabulous tour in English lead by a doctorial student who brought the church to life for us. Even better we returned the following evening for Les Concerts De La Cite performed by Les Solistes Francais. What magic. Being in a church built in the 1200's listening to Bach in violin.
I love to sew and adore fabric. So it was necessary to go fabric shopping in Montmartre (twice). My favorite fabric store is Paris-Tissus. I remembered it from my previous visit. Among my many purchases was a beautiful brown/copper toned silky butterfly print that I made into a dress which I wore to a swanky party at a mansion on the Gulf of Mexico about a month after my return from Paris. Next time I go to Paris I would like to experience a fashion show and get to the Marche aux Puces de St-Ouen.
Nicole's favorite store was Lancaster located right next to Procopes in St- Germain-des-Pres. She purchased 3 unique tops and a beautiful leather purse all at very reasonable prices. Although they are not the typical tourist T-shirts every time she wears them or carries her purse she is reminded of our trip.
We began with a trip to a market, where we learned about the rating system for food quality and purchased our supplies for the day. We ended with a fabulous lunch made by us with new friends in a real French home! Nicole loved the Tarte Tatin and became quite expert at making the pastry. The best part was experiencing a food and meal neither one of us would have tried. The flavors were so well infused in every dish and deliciously combined.
The food! Nothing ever disappointed! Whether it was a crepe eaten on the street or a proper meal everything had such flavor. Almost daily we would stop at Lenotre which was right at our Ecole Militaire metro stop for a fabulous dessert to enjoy later. Nicole would always photograph hers before she dug in because they were so pretty.
Another fabulous experience we had this trip was to travel on the Eurostar to London for the day. It was fast and furious and packed with as much sightseeing as we could muster and we even managed a stop at an English pub for fish and chips. The ride back was made ever more relaxing by the glass of wine I was able to bring on board. Nicole slept and we arrived back to our apartment safe and sound by 11:30 PM. Next time I would like to take the new fast TGV to the Champagne region.
One of my goals for my next trip is to perfect my sense of direction when I exit metro stations. We had an interesting walk the second time we went to Montmartre until I realized the mountain was on the wrong side of the street or more correctly we were walking in the wrong direction. Mean while my twelve year old daughter had quite an education. A riverboat cruise is high on my must do list as well. I would really like to do that at night and see everything lit up.
Paris is a wonderful city. Imagine a place were you can eat anything you want and lose weight. That's probably my favorite part and since I've started regaining the weight I lost while there, it's time to go back!
Diane M. Sabo - Tampa Florida, United States