Monday, December 20, 2010

We'll Always Have Paris

Notre-Dame Cathedral

When my husband and I were first offered the opportunity to go to Paris in December, we almost turned it down. Paris is a city I've always wanted to visit, but I hadn't imagined going in winter. With the urging of friends and family, ("Are you crazy? You have to go!") we quickly changed our minds and our schedules and we were on our way.

The Louvre

I did a lot of reading and planning in the month before we left and had a list of "must see" sites that included the Eiffel Tower and the Arc de Triomphe, the D'Orsay and Pompidou museums, Notre-Dame and Sainte-Chapelle cathedrals, and the window shopping on the Avenue Montaigne that I showed you last week.

One of the windows of Sainte-Chapelle

The lower chapel of Sainte-Chapelle

We arrived in Paris early one morning while it was still dark after flying overnight. After a short nap, we were ready for adventure and Paris delivered a new one every day. Each morning upon waking, I would check the weather, grab my pile of tour books and maps and crawl back under the covers to plan a framework for the day. We would see one or two of the sites from our list, but then we would also explore and wander off the beaten path and away from the tourists. This is how we found our two favorite restaurants, Chez Pommette on rue Lepic and Le Square Trousseau on rue Antoine Vollon and how we found the incredible chocolatier John-Charles Rochoux whose tiny square truffles are pure decadance.

This is also how we were able to find charming streets, alleys, and squares that make Paris....well, Paris. Each time we turned a corner, we were met with another enchanting view to make us smile with wonder and glee.

La Tour Eiffel from Trocadero

And the grandeur of Paris' various monuments exceeded our expectations. Our vocabularies were filled with the words, "Wow!", "Look at that!" and "Oh my!" at each turn.

Arc de Triomphe

Golden horses at Pont Alexandre III

The gargoyles of Notre-Dame

We traveled the city on foot and via the Metro, which is the finest subway system I've ever used. We never waited more than 2-3 minutes for a Metro train, no matter the day, the time, or the station, and there was always a station within a few minutes walk of wherever we were when we decided to end our explorations for the day.

A charming café in Montmartre

At the end of our stay, we agreed that our trip to Paris was one of the best vacations we've ever had. Our memories of our first visit to Paris will last us a lifetime. As Rick said to Ilsa, "We'll always have Paris."