05 June 2009

Some old, some new, do the parks, avoid the louvre

got an early start to a weekend in paris.

took the 7a train from rennes to paris. arrived at montparnasse at 9:15a. rode the métro for 20 minutes to gare de l'est and located our hotel a stones throw away...next to a sex shop (with air-conditioned rooms!), down an alley. no really, it didnt feel unsafe at all, and truly we were fine the whole time, it just has a weird location (i would have no problem staying at the hotel d'alsace again).

after dropping off our bags, we took the #7 métro line to the louvre stop. i recommend this line and this stop because you come out on the museum entrance level. after passing some underground shopping stores, you arrive at the inverted pyramid and an easy entrance into the museum. we quickly got through the line, marveled at the lobby, and stood under the other famous glass pyramid. and thats all!

(mom at the louvre inverted pyramid entrance)

we went up the escalator and walked outside. no teenie weenie mona lisa for us. we noted the outer louvre building and pyramid, the arc du carrousel, and then walked through the jardin des tuileries. nice and sunny and expansive and then we emptied out into the crazy busy, psycho road(s) near place de la concorde. after we survived, thus began our stroll down the (noisy) champs-élysées. we veered off to buy sandwiches and then took the luxury store street, avenue montaigne. while on this road, i caught sight off...victorias secret model adriana lima and her new husband, nba star marko jaric! i love celebrity spotting!!! they were dressed down and since they are of similar height, they didnt really stand out.

(mom sitting in the tuileries garden)

so, the fancy street emptied us onto the seine and we headed west toward the eiffel tower. we picnicked in the shade across the seine from the eiffel tower in the palais de chaillot park. afterward, since it was a sunny and very comfortable temperature, and we had gotten up early...we napped in the park overlooking a beautiful scene. perfect french activity.

(mom napping, eiffel tower in the distance)

then, got up and headed back to the hotel to check in. when we went out again, we decided to explore the area near our hotel. a nice, small church on the corner, a neighborhood garden down the street and the st martin canal beyond that. the little canal, bridges, locks, and waterfront shops are adorable in this quiet part of paris. it felt like "the real people" lived there: mothers walking their children home from school and kids playing basketball on the neighborhood courts.

we followed this neighborhood setting to the entrance of the buttes chaumont park. a very parisian park. i think i was the only one with a camera in the whole place. its a park with several hills (many of them man-made), lots of trees, and great views from the sunny green spots. we sat and watched a man play ball with his dog and laughed at the many awkward joggers running through the park. we even saw a girl with her kittie on a leash perching on her shoulder!

we found a man-made island mountain gazebo (called the temple of sybil) and took in the view above the park from there. you could see sacre coeur in the distance and much of the paris skyline. in the declining hours of daylight, there was a nice warm glow on the city. without the buzz of tourists, this is a nice little town...

(view from hilly spot in buttes chaumont; the temple of sybil in the park)

and now i was ready for dinner. we headed to a la Bière (104 avenue Simon Bolivar, 19th arr.) for some regular bistro fare. mom got a hot goat cheese salad and i chose a skate wing with capers (aile de raie, in french) paired with kir muscadet (basically white wine, in this case a special northern brittany wine, with a small amount of black currant [cassis, in french] liquor). yummy skate wing and i was buzzed by the time dessert came. we had a simple apple dessert that was warm and not too sweet. perfect!

(kir muscadet and skate wing with capers)

to walk off our dinner, we made our way (by walking and métro) to the area along the seine where the boat company "bateau mouches" runs their tours. we took a 9p boat ride along the seine viewing all the waterfront monuments. it was a bit chilly but the entire island of la cité (where notre dame is) and the cement embankments on "the left bank" were packed with young people picnicking. it was quite impressive. it felt like all the youthful power and enthusiasm of the city was relaxing and staring at us from land. makes me wanna send my kids to france for some part of their schooling, or encourage a year abroad there. note to self...

(kids eating on the tiny western point of la cité)

anyway, got some great pics of the seine and eiffel tower at dusk and mom got to see the tower glitter at 10p. so, id say it was a successful first day in paris.

(mom and the eiffel tower at dusk)

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