Our first full day!
08/31/2015 - 08/31/2015 90 °F
What a treat to realize you've woken up in Paris! Too bad it was at 6am and we knew we wouldn't fall back to sleep. Sooooo, we decided we would get up and go find some breakfast and see some sights.
We used our 3 day pass for the Metro to head to the Eiffel Tower. The station is right down from the Marriott and on a very convenient line. We are so happy with the hotel choice. It is in a great neighborhood, on a street lined with trees.
I was so excited to get my first real glimpse of the Eiffel Tower. I'd seen it for the Montparnasse tower, but we were up so high and it was far away. We were kind of taken aback when we got onto the grounds and walked under the structure. Everything was covered in trash. The large lawn extending to the southeast was totally trashed and there were what appeared to be homeless sleeping everywhere. We continued walking up to Trocadero and were very disappointed in the grounds there too. Everything was littered with bottles, cans, and all sorts of other debris. While there were sanitation crews "working" all over, it seemed like maybe there had been more than just a regular tourist weekend at the monument. We hoped and assumed there must have been some sort of festival or concert over the weekend, but it left kind of negative feeling about the city. Since much of the Trocadero was under construction, we did not really take any pictures of the location. Instead we simply took pics of the Eiffel Tower. By the time we headed off to breakfast, we were pretty disillusioned with the city. It was hot, hot, hot and if it really was this dirty, we'd already determined we likely would not be back again.
We trudged on to find some breakfast. We walked over to Avenue Kleber, on our way to see Arc de Triomphe. We found a little cafe with wi-if, service continu (which we learned to mean that the restaurant did not close between breakfast, lunch and dinner) and on a day like today, more importantly, it included climatise, also known as air conditioning. The place was called La Copernica and we were excited they served petite dejeuner. Or "small breakfast". For €11,00 each, we got a hot drink, fresh pressed orange juice, a plain omelette, and toast. Quite a yummy breakfast. Our server was also our chef and host and cashier. The place was cute and on a busy street. We enjoyed watching people going to work. Other than all of the smoking, it seems like a healthy city. Lots of people walking and bicycling to work.
Something interesting about the city is that most establishments have their bathrooms (locally referred to as "toilettes") downstairs from the main floor. Usually down narrow or spiraling steps. The water closets are very small rooms and the toilets flush with push buttons. The hand washing sinks are usually communal.
After a relaxing breakfast, we were on to the Arc de Triomphe! It is truly beautiful. So many carvings and such a grand monument.
The Avenue des Champs Élysées is in the 8th Arrondissement of Paris and is maybe the busier of the 12 roads that radiate from the Arc de Triomphe. Famous for its shopping, it was a little lost on us ; ) We did find a McDonalds to pop into and use some free wi-fi. It was decorated pretty cool and featured ordering kiosks. We had seen that in the airport in Amsterdam.
We took tons of pictures while walking. So many buildings are unmarked, or unclear. If you know what any of them are, please leave a comment. There was so much beauty that we felt they needed to be remembered. Certainly could not take every picture worthy of being photographed, but we did our best!
Another picture of the Eiffel Tower, from a bridge over the Seine River. (You're going to see a lot of the Eiffel Tower!) The lamps and cobblestone streets were beautiful.
Off in the distance, we saw a majestic building and decided to walk over and get a closer look. Musee de l'Armee, a military museum. We didn't have enough time to tour it, but took some great pictures from the exterior. I really loved the dormer windows. They were all surrounded by carved Knights. All were in different positions, as if in congress with one another.
Can you call it a distraction in the schedule when it is so fun to explore? Getting sidetracked on the Military museum took us a couple miles from the Louvre museum, so we jumped on a Metro train, (thank you 3 day pass!) and got ourselves to this very popular attraction. With limited time, we knew we would not make it in to visit the Mona Lisa or any of the other treasures on display, but we did enjoy seeing the pyramids and taking in the detail of the building.
We returned to the hotel so that we could get something to eat and take a shower. We had plans with a friend of Eric that lives in Versailles. He kindly offered to meet us and show us around. He and his girlfriend Natacha met us at the hotel and we started all over on our trek through Paris. It was soooo nice to have French hosts. They explained some signage, some culture and gave us some great tips. We started off by heading west on Blvd Saint-Jacques, where our hotel is. We walked for about 1/2 a mile and found ourselves is the cute neighborgood of Place d' Italie. We wandered the residential streets and we finally got to see a non tourist area. Clement recommended some restaurants to return to and we enjoyed the tour.
This fun thing is a large iron toadstool type fixture on the sidewalk. It's function is to keep cars from parking on the sidewalk. They were all the way down the rue, but a few were painted like cyclops! Super fun.
We jumped on the Metro and proceeded to Quai de la Gare near the IFA, a French Fashion school housed in a fantastic modern building. Such a contrast to the traditional architecture of Paris. On the bank are several summer bars, open only during the warm months. We didn't get any photos of the bar. It was super trendy with great seating. Situated on the left bank of the Seine, it was a great place to enjoy a few cold biers. It had been quite warm all day and we had gotten a lot of sun.
IFA Fashion School in its very modern building.
We jumped back on the Metro and our hosts took us to a very cool location for dinner. La Javelle is another special summertime dining option. It features two different food trucks each night and is a bit eclectic. Please forgive us, we didn't take any pictures. I know, I know, but we were distracted hanging out with friends and just taking it all in! I have included stock photos to help paint the picture of our experience! Colorful market light strung up, a disco ball and a lot of outdoor seating. There was a bar "box" and a vino/bier "box" and the two food trucks. Fare of the night was Thai and Goose and Duck. A whole food truck devoted to ducks and geese and all the yumminess they have to offer. With a bottle of white wine in hand and a plate of various winged appetizers we sat down and enjoyed the light of Paris, the boats on the river, a cool and breezy night and some great English/ French conversation! With the second bottle of wine, we decided to go in for an actual entree and landed on Thai. It was delicious! Eric had his regular Pad Thai and I had a crab dish.
Clement ordered an Uber car so that we could get closer to the hotel. He showed us what he called "the best Creperie in Paris" and we committed to trying it Monday and bid them au revoir. So nice to meet them and have them share some of their country and time with us!
While it would have been prudent to simply go back to the hotel, we decided to give the Eiffel Tower another chance, hoping to find the grounds and area in better condition. We were so very glad we did. It is breathtaking at night! We took so many pictures and spent an hour on the lawn holding hands and admiring the light. On the hour each hour, they turn on special lighting and it sparkles. Quite magical. Enjoy the photos. I wish we knew how to upload the video : / It's now nearly 2:30am and time to go to sleep. This morning (9/1) we woke up at 4am and thought the jetlag must have our sleep off a bit. We ended up sleeping in until 10am. Why am I telling you this? Because we got such a late start, I promise the blog entry from today will be muuuuch shorter!
Until later, Bonsoir!