Read more blog entries like this: You're Sharing
"Landmark birthdays" as we like to call them, are the perfect excuse for a fabulous Girlfriend Getaway trip. Turning 30? 35? 40? 45? You see where we're going here? Ellie and her cousin Ali used Ali's 40th birthday as the catalyst for a chic jaunt to gay Paris! Come and take a vicarious trip with them.
Flight arrived at around 730 AM. Headed directly to hotel to drop of our bags (naturally the room wasn’t ready since it was so early) and walked approximately a half mile to Arc de Triomphe where we got tickets for the 2 day hop-on/hop-off bus tour of the city. The weather was warm and beautiful (as it was through the entire week we were there) so we sat on top and right away saw many amazing sites. We got off at Notre Dame and went in to look around. It’s a massive, very impressive structure, though not particularly beautiful. We took some photos but it was a bit dark and it’s hard for amateur photographers to do justice to such a vast, impressive site. After that, we walked around the Ile St-Louis and had lunch (croque monsieur and quiche Lorraine) and drinks at a café with outdoor seating, which was great for Sunday people watching. We did a bit of shopping (souvenier shop) and Ali was able to find the Paris sweatshirt that a friend in San Diego had asked her to look for. We got back on the bus and rode around to see other sites and got off again at the Opera House which, unfortunately, was closed. We visited Le Grand Hotel and had martinis/kir royales in the beautiful bar there. We got back on the hop on/off bus and rode up the Champs-Elysees and went back to our hotel to check in. We were totally worn out but we had a little power nap and totally rallied so we walked around ¾ mile to Brasserie Lorraine (recommended by Alex, Ellie’s friend) where we sat outside and had a nice bottle of Beaujolais and Ali had the most enormous seafood platter full of beautiful fresh shellfish and Ellie had filet de boeuf. A little group of 4 Americans from LA (two young couples) sat next to us and they were cute and amusing. We walked back to the hotel and noticed this bar called James Joyce pub right across from the hotel so of course we had to go in! It was managed by a young English bartender who understood that a good snakebite does not include the scary black currant liqueur that they tried to put in at first! At the pub we met some 60’ish American guy from New Jersey who works for Pfizer and was in Paris for 2 days on business. Randomly enough, he was originally from Greeley, Colorado. We shocked ourselves by staying out til close to 1 AM, impressive since we’d had virtually no sleep for over 24 hours!
We spent 3.5 hours at the Louvre, which is amazing, but utterly overwhelming. We managed to see all the most famous pieces (Mona Lisa, Winged Victory of Samothrace, Venus de Milo, etc.) and also visited the old French crown jewels (Louis XIV) and the recreation of Napoleon’s (Ali, is that right?) old house. We had lunch at Café Marly (thanks, Donna). We walked around the area a bit and then made our way back to the Opera House and, naturally, arrived right at the time it was closing (4 PM) so we were thwarted again. It was cocktail hour and we were pretty tired so, fortunately, as we were walking around we ran right into Harry’s Bar where we popped in for a couple of Bloody Mary’s. We went to Café de la Paix for dinner and had a very good meal and then went back to our hotel and popped into the James Joyce pub where we sat at an outside table and were accosted by a total drunk idiot patron.
We took the metro to the Musee d’Orsay in the morning and spent 2.5 hours. We both loved the Musee d’Orsay – the building is amazing and the collection is very much our speed. There were some very unfortunate tourists in there but it made for interesting people watching and kept us snickering. We took the RER to the Tour Eiffel and walked around the Tower and took some photos. We had a long lunch at Jules Verne, which was totally delicious and quite an experience. We walked from Eiffel Tower to Les Invalides and looked at the WWI and WWII exhibits and then visited Napoleon’s crypt (which Ali has named “la monument le petit penis”). We walked to Rue de Cler and saw all the fruit and vegetable markets and had a drink at a local bar there. We took the metro back to the hotel and had a light snack at Chez Clement, a little restaurant near our hotel.
All our activity had caught up with us, so we slept in a little on Wednesday. We took the metro to Montmarte to visit Sacre Coeur, which we both thought was way more interesting that Notre Dame. We walked over to Place de Tetre and walked around and looked at all the artist stalls. We had lunch at a fun restaurant called La Cremaillerie, which is right on the Square. Montmartre is a really interesting area with fun shops and nice gardens and interesting looking apartments. We followed a Fodor’s walking tour and walked to Au Lapin Agile (which, disappointingly, is apparently closed during the day) and then continued on to the Moulin Rouge which isn’t very interesting -- it might as well be a random barn looking thing with a windmill right in the middle of Times Square. We did have drinks on Boulevard Blanche (an area full of prostitutes – we always wanted to see a French whore in person!). We took the metro to Place de Concorde which is a very impressive spot and then we walked up the Champs-Elysees and had dinner at a restaurant called Café Fouquet on the Champs-Elysees which is supposed to be the hot, hip place for locals. We were there on the early side so we missed a lot of that but the food and wine was very nice.
We took the metro to St. Germaine, an area we both loved! We kept saying that if we lived in Paris, this is the neighborhood where we’d like to live. We shopped on the main Boulevard and went to a great shop, La Fragonard, and bought some beautiful soap and perfumes (both of us) and Ellie bought some lovely salad plates. The lady there was fantastic and gave us tons of free samples of perfumes and lotions and other beauty items. We went to the Swarovski shop and Ali bought a beautiful pendant (it’s now a tradition for Ali to buy a cool piece of jewelry on all of our trips!). We walked around and visited several other fun shops. We had lunch at Les Deux Magots. Even though it’s famous, we thought the food was really average and it wouldn’t be one of our recommended restaurants to others who are visiting Paris. We made our way to the Latin Quarter where we walked around the main Square and also followed some of the Fodor’s guided walk. We walked past the Sorbonne and went to the Pantheon and saw some interesting old graves/crypts. We walked down to Montparnasse, but many things were closed that day because of Victory in Europe day. We had some drinks at the Coupole de Lila and then took the train to the Trocadero where we took some nice photos of the Tour Eiffel. We walked a bit through the residential area (very posh) and headed for a restaurant called La Fontaine de Mars, a great local place which is very un-touristy, and had a really good dinner.
We woke up early to go to Versailles on a guided tour (a van picked us up along with 6 other people). There were two Australian couples (in their 50’s probably), one of which was seriously obnoxious. Versailles is very interesting – it has beautiful gardens and the interior of the palace is totally over the top. We got back to our hotel at around 1 PM and changed clothes and headed for the Opera House which we were finally able to tour. It is possibly the most magnificent thing we saw on our visit and photos absolutely don’t do it justice. It would be amazing to actually go to an opera there. After, we went to Printemps for shopping and had a late snack at the café with the stained glass dome ceiling. We also visited Galleries Lafayette and other shops. We found a great perfumerie called Divine and Ali bought some really nice perfume. We walked to Le Madeleine and visited Fauchon and other shops in that area. We walked down Rue Royale and had cocktails at Maxims and then went on to dinner at Le Grand Colbert near Galeries Vivienne which was delicious (especially the smoked salmon on blinis) and it’s also a very fun and lively spot.
We went to La Conciergerie and had a look at the old prison cells, including that of Marie Antoinette. We then visited Ste. Chappelle, which is absolutely breathtaking and a truly fantastic site. It’s another place where photos won’t do it justice, but we actually managed to get a few decent ones. We then headed on to Marais, Les Halles and Bastille and had lunch at Au Pied de Cochon. We walked around (partially following a Fodor’s suggested walk) and also visited Le Cochon a L’Oreille, one of the “authentic bistros” noted in the book that John gave Ali. We walked to Place de Vosges (very impressive) and sat in the square under the trees. We then tried to visit the Clown Bar, another “authentic bistro” and were very sad that when we got there, there was a sign that they’re on holiday til May 19th! We made our way back to our hotel where we rested and packed and then we went to dinner at a local spot, Chez George, and then hopped over to Tour Eiffel since we wanted to get some nighttime photos. Ali bought George a fun glowy Eiffel Tower souvenier. We got some good shots and were feeling inspired so we then went Arc de Triomphe for some nighttime shots of that. We cabbed back to the hotel and popped back into James Joyce pub for one last visit on our last night in Paris."
Read more blog entries like this: You're Sharing