Okay so I lied in the last post. I didn’t update by Friday. Well by last Friday. Today is technically Friday. I am at home sick with what I think could be the flu so what better time to do this?
First things first.
After spending time in Paris and then time in Bruges I have come to the conclusion that I actually prefer Bruges over Paris. I never thought I’d say this but it’s true! Paris is absolutely gorgeous. There is so much to see and so much to do. It was almost overwhelming. With Paris we felt the need to rush. It is a big city, like New York City, lots of people living there, they have places to go, people to see (or the other way around) and while we didn’t come across one rude French person, I didn’t feel like we had the opportunity to really relax while out of our apartment. We had some issues with our apartment as well. While we would go with the company again (they are aware of the problems) there is no way we would choose the same apartment though. All in all though, our time in Paris was fabulous. We didn’t overdo it, we did take our time about things and didn’t rush around every single day. Angie and I work out rather well when it comes to vacationing. We don’t like to have an itinerary planned hour by hour. We kind of wing it as the day goes. And we don’t beat ourselves up over things we missed out on. We are both of the mind set that Paris (and Bruges) aren’t going anywhere so we’ll just have to go back!
I’m going to do a Paris post then do a Bruges one probably tomorrow. It’s a lot to type out all at once!
We arrived in Paris at around 9am on Sunday, December 2nd after a long day/night of traveling. We were exhausted (no sleep on the plane for us). We dropped our bags off and went in search of breakfast. I don’t remember the name of the cafe but our waitress was adorable and was excited we spoke English and seemed excited to speak it with us. Angie didn’t recognize anything on the menu so at 11am she ordered a cheeseburger and a Heineken. I went for the more French breakfast of a croque monsieur (which was amazing I might add). We stopped by the Franprix down the street from the apartment and picked up basic sandwich meat, drinks, chips, that sort of thing. Our plan was to not eat out a lot in Paris. It’s so expensive there to begin with plus we’d eat out a lot in Bruges. We went back to the apartment and both fell asleep. I normally try to stay up all day and just sleep at night but the exhaustion was too much for me. We woke up in the evening and just piddled around the apartment and then went back to bed. Can I just say this apartment was in a PRIME location? It was in the 1st arrondisement 1 block from the Louvre.
On Monday, the 3rd, we were up super early (we both had major issues with jet lag in Paris—it didn’t really go away until we made it to Bruges on the 7th). We got ready and walked to the Louvre to take pictures of the outside. While I have been there before this time was a lot nicer because there was hardly anyone there. The best part of my experience there was being mistaken as native French by some Russian tourists asking for directions. I tried to help them as much as I could with hand signals and everything. The daughter even said “Merci” as they were walking away. It made my day! It was raining and kind of cold so we went to the apartment and warmed up then headed out later on in the afternoon. We WALKED all the way to the Notre Dame and I have to admit—BIG disappointment. No lights were on outside, it looked closed up. Notre Dame is one of my favorite spots in Paris so that disappointed me but we were able to see a lot just walking around. We saw the Eiffel from afar and its so gorgeous when it is lit up against the black sky. We walked across the Pont de l’Archeveche and took pictures of all the locks. Some people call it tacky, others call it beautiful. I call it art and took pictures. In a way it is tacky, in a way it is beautiful, especially the story behind it.
The 4th we were a bit worn out and didn’t leave until later on in the day. We went to dinner at Louisa Cafe. Definitely a place for tourists but decent food and the waiter was very nice and very patient to the fact that all we could say was ‘bonjour’, ‘merci’, and a smattering of one word French words! We went to see Palais Royal which was right down the street from our apartment. That was a place that Angie definitely wanted to go to but a lot of it was under construction. We had a good time though and took some great pictures. Angie considered running through the columns like in the movie but decided against it. After that we headed to take some pictures of the Louvre at night. One word—STUNNING. Okay I can say a lot more words. Gorgeous. Beautiful. Atmospheric. As we were walking in we heard some haunting music and realized it was coming from somebody playing his bass violin. So beautiful. We walked around for a good hour taking pictures of the exterior. The best part of that experience? Having some American (this is almost embarrassing) yell at us for being in their shot while taking pictures. I am pretty sure they didn’t realize we were American until we started speaking English. Not a very good impression of American tourists going by that group!
The 5th was definitely the most Parisian experience of our time there! We had a Romanian mother and daughter pretend to be lost and ask for directions. While the daughter distracted Angie (and she thought she was distracting me) the mother came up to my side and kind of tried to get behind me (my purse was on the other side). Luckily I knew what was going on and stepped as close as I could to Angie while Angie gave directions (also, this place was practically right down the street). I just quickly grabbed Angie and we walked away. Not 10 minutes later some guy tried the gold ring scam on us. I’ve always wanted to experience this and I wasn’t disappointed. He was ahead of us (not behind us like he should have been) and he picked it up, looked at it like it was the most beautiful ring he has ever seen and asked us if it was ours. Now, mind you, this was a gold band definitely made for a man and probably 3 sizes too big for our finger. He kept trying to get our attention but we walked away. I think its hilarious people fall for this stuff! Roughly 10 minutes later we were at the Ferris wheel taking pictures and we come across a huge protest! Police were out in full force. It was all very French and very organized. They had masks but nobody was wearing them. We were handed some paperwork but it was all in French. I think it had something to do with wages, I’m not really sure. We when walked to the Theatre Vrai Guinolet which is puppet show that has been there since 1818 and featured in the movie Charade. It was the cutest thing ever. The man running the show was probably 80 years old and scolded us about not knowing 5 languages like he did! I took some video of it, it was definitely a highlight of the trip.
After that we went to the Louvre (again) but this time we went inside. They are open late on Wednesdays and we were hoping it wouldn’t be as busy. It was busy but not overwhelming. I saw the Mona Lisa. It was nice to say I saw it—but I think I would have liked it more if there wasn’t so much fanfare surrounding it. The Louvre is so beautiful on the inside and so overwhelming and we only saw one wing! Winged Victory was my favorite. The placing of it on the staircase was so beautiful. There were many pieces that gave me chills but my favorite part about the Louvre were the ceilings in some of the rooms. So, so, so gorgeous.
Our last day in Paris we packed up, had a big breakfast and walked all the way to the Eiffel Tower. We went across the Pont des Arts, had the ring scam tried on us again, and somebody try to get us to sign a petition. Angie laughed at the guy because he asked us if we spoke English then proceeded to explain the petition in French. Just so everyone knows, I am NOT complaining about these scams tried on us. I found it hysterical and it was all a part of the experience. In a big touristy city scams happen and I was okay with it. It just made for interesting stories. We didn’t go up the Eiffel but we were there when it was lit up which was nice. I love that entire area. Its more residential and since I’d like to maybe own an apartment in Paris one day it was nice to get an idea of the buildings. You know, because one of these days I will win the lottery. We walked around and took pictures and posed in front of the Eiffel and decided to take a cab back to the apartment. There is a little shop a few doors down from the apartment called Oh Mon Cake! so we stopped in there and bought a cupcake and a taramisu which was pretty good. We had to be up at 6am to catch our train to Belgium. We didn’t get any sleep on our last night in Paris. I guess the restaurant next door wanted to give us a proper send-off but forgot to invite us to the massive party they were having that raged on until 3am, complete with neighbors getting pissed and stomping all over the floor until it finally quieted down. We didn’t get much sleep! I called a taxi and he met us at the apartment at 8 and took us to the train station (Paris Nord). What a fun station! We boarded the train and were on our way to Bruges via Brussels…