Champs, River Cruise et al.

Trip Start Oct 29, 2009
Trip End Nov 15, 2009

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Flag of France  , Île-de-France,
Wednesday, November 4, 2009

We jumped right into Paris today and I (Kate) swallowed my fear and attempted French at a small brasserie close to our hotel. Attempted. It's incredible how accents make a word understandable. In high school & college, I often thought of the accent as an affect & laughed about it. Wrong move! It makes simple words like "sucre" understandable when you drop the ending and dig back into your throat for a strong finish. Live and learn. :) I must state that with each attempt of French, I'm received with a huge smile and courtesy from a Parisian who tries to help me out. And so many people speak English that I sometimes feel silly attempting French when they already are speaking to me in English.

We decided to head to the Champs de Elysees to start the day--we enjoyed the Arc de Triumph, Tuileries, Louvre and Place de la Concorde--a nice leisurely stroll to get acquainted. The Arc de Triumph really impressed Chris and we learned that it's the largest roundabout in the world. Standing on the inner circle, that fact is believable. There aren't any traffic lights on the circle, just madness whirling about. From this vantage point, we looked down about nine streets and saw a downtown of skyscrapers and at all other directions: the beautiful, light colored architecture so identified as being Parisian. It was also cool to see the tunnels the cyclists go under in the last leg of the Tour.

Down the Champs de Elysees we went and were surrounded by typical, big name stores you'd see in US metropolitian areas: Nike, Cartier, Lacoste, etc. What excited us was Laudree. We searched it out after touring some cute side streets with jaw-dropping architecure. Laudree is a sweetheart of a place I've been excited to visit for a very long time. There is nothing like an adorable, feminine cafe with a line of gorgeous pasteries. They are known for their maccaroons and while Chris and I are not typically huge fans of them, they convinced us to try one (carmel) and it was divine. Finally, I get why people love macaroons. :)

After relaxing for awhile in Laudree's fabulous dining room, and drinking their amazing coffee, we continued down the Champs taking in the high fashion, and gorgeous sights (after we made a quick bee-line back to the cafe to reclaim Kate's new boots, which I left on the floor!). Paris was unfolding before us and a wonderful iPhone app Chris downloaded before leaving (Play & Tour), helped us identify & understand the history of all the significant things around us: the Place de la Concorde (and all it's beheadings in centuries past), Tuileries, the Louvre, Grand Palais and then in the 360 degree view: the Eiffel Tour and a nearly full moon. It was one of those moments, and we are having many of these, where we turned to each other and said: really??!!!!

Following our first pass at all of these remarkable destinations, we took the Metro across town to the Eiffel Tower for what turned out to be one the most incredible experiences either of us has ever had. We took a dinner cruise on the Seine, and despite the potential for it to be a kind of cheesy tourist experience, it blew our minds. The boat was a full-fledged restaurant on water. It was fully enclosed in glass from top to bottom, allowing for panaoramic views of the city. We had a delightful table along the outer wall, and words are truly not adequate to describe the experience. A violinist played in the background as we ordered our meals from a sensational menu. The tour included all of the major sights that make Paris Paris, including all it's beautiful bridges. The boat came to a full stop on the side of Notre Dame and an incredible vocalist sang Santa Maria with slight instrumental accompaniment. My eyes filled, as I wrapped my arms around Kate, it was, forgive me, a transpersonal experience of the first order, and moved us beyond words. The journey continued after this brief interlude, and the courses of French cuisine blew England's fish & chips off the map!! It was an after-thought in our planning but we have a feeling it will be one of the most significant experiences of our trip. Not to be missed! (Bateaux Parisiens)

One of the travel experts we relied on heavily in planning the trip wrote, "you don't love Paris, you fall for her". Today, Kate and I have fallen.

More tomorrow (especially if we find WiFi so we can upload video from today)! We can hardly believe all of this is actually happening.

P.S. We are typing this from the lobby of our hotel at 1:21 AM and the front desk clerk has been snoring on the sofa for the past 45 minutes while attempting to watch a horrific Robin Williams' movie dubbed in French. Kate woke him with a cough about 15 minutes ago and we rolled laughing!!

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Matt Harrison on

Your trip sounds so unbelievably beautiful! Very happy for you two and thanks for sharing your trip with us!

Chris on

Are the fries really that much better there that they are worthy of being called French?

mkids13 on

Incredible the umbrella near ET!

Susan Kelly on

We are going to be in Paris in less than a month! I can't wait to hear all of the details. I'm getting excited reading your notes. Thank you.

PerkinsMelva on

Do you understand that it's correct time to receive the loans, which can make your dreams come true.

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