Paris Bus Tour

Trip Start Nov 02, 2009
Trip End Nov 27, 2009

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Flag of France  , Île-de-France,
Wednesday, November 25, 2009

We were hoping to sleep in to fight the jet lag, but no luck.  It was nice to see the rue Cler in the morning with the busy shopkeepers working on their displays and getting ready for the day.  We strolled down the street to the Petite Brasserie where we could get a special for Rick Steves readers called deux pour douze - egg, ham, juice, croissant, bread, and coffee for 12 euros.  It was a great deal, so we went back every day.  Kip wasn't happy with the coffee - a strong Americano - but they don't serve filtered.  She's on the lookout for a Starbucks.

After breakfast we stopped by the metro stop to pick up two discounted ten packs of transit tickets and went in search of the Line 69 bus stop near the Eiffel Tower.  The Line 69 is an east-west route that passes near the Eiffel Tower, Ecole Militaire, rue Cler, Napoleon's Tomb, Louvre, Ile de la Cite, Hotel de Ville, Pompidou, and Bastille.  It is a wonderful, inexpensive way to see the sites from the inside of a bus for a little over $2.  The metro is great, but it is nice to be above ground in one of the most beautiful cities in the world.

We stayed on to the Bastile where we began a walking tour of the Marais.  The Maris is a jumble of narrow medieval streets; home to antique shops, boutiques, museums, the Jewish quarter and the gay area.It's a very pleasant walk with a lot of interesting shops, food (we sampled some sweets) and historic buildings to see.  It started to rain about lunch time so we stopped at a busy corner brasserie called Camille, where we joined dozens of regulars for a great lunch.

Our tour of the Marais ended at the Pompidou Center, but we just didn't have the energy to go in to view the modern art museum.  Besides, Kip had spotted a Starbucks from the bus and she wanted to go look for it.  We went down to the main street by the river (Quai du Louvre) where she saw it, but we couldn't remember whether it was left or right.  We guessed right, but after about 10 blocks we realized we were wrong.  By that time we were at the Louvre where we got back on the Line 69 to return to our room.  One of the great views from this direction is the bus going through an arch leading to the Louvre courtyard with about 1 inch to spare on each side; then passing by the famous pyramid entrance to the Lourve.

I was ready for a rest, but Kip still had enough energy to go to the nearby Quai Branly Museum where she bought two discounted Paris Museum Passes we'll use tomorrow. 

I was anxious for the sun to go down because one of the things I wanted to do in Paris was see the Champs-Elysees with Christmas lights.  We waited until dusk to head to the Metro stop.  When we came up at the George V stop we were greeted by millions of tiny lights on the trees and a lit up Arc de Triomphe.  We gawked at the light show and the store windows for awhile before heading down the avenue toward the Place de la Concorde.  Throngs of Parians were doing the same thing, enjoying the chilly evening with their families and lovers. 

After several blocks the glitz of the famous stores gave way to some open space where vendors were selling regional crafts, Christmas gifts and mulled wine out of temporary wooden stalls.  The sidewalk was lined with portable gas heaters and men roasting chestnuts.  It was a beautiful way to kick off the holiday season for us.  We sipped hot wine as we headed toward the giant Ferris wheel past the obelisk, where a metro stop can be found.

Back on rue Cler we had dinner at the Cafe du Marche, a bustling place with reasonably priced food and wine.  We were seated next to four young American women who were having the time of their lives and anxious to share their adventures.  We weren't bubbling with the enthusiasm of youth or a first visit to Paris, but we were very happy with our day and our dreams will be filled with the bright lights of the holiday season.

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