Sunday, Sept 11, 2016 – Paris, Day 1
Arrival in Paris:
Our flight got in without incident and we ended up getting a priority pass for Customs, which was good but probably not necessary for us as we got to customs first, but holy cow, after we had gotten into line, it seemed like EVERY flight arrived at the same time as that hall filled up fast. Soon enough we were through customs though, seeing our first French hotness, which there was plenty of during our time in Paris, and then it was time to get our pre-booked shuttle into town. That took a little bit of time, which was okay, as obviously we likely weren’t going to get our hotel room as we were arriving around 8am.
The shuttle was a nice drive into town, with a bit of rain, which was the only day when we experienced any bit of precipitation. The first drop-off was a hotel right near the Moulin Rouge which was of course going to be a destination for us shortly! It was also nice to be driving around early Sunday morning as there was minimal traffic to deal with.
Hotel du Jeu de Paume – Our Parisian HQ
We arrived at the hotel on the and it was just fantastic. A very very nice hotel but hidden away in a beautiful kind of gate and courtyard experience; it was also very modern, but in a comfortable and welcoming way. The concierge at the time checked us in and took our bags, but did say our room wasn’t going to be available until closer to 12pm. He got us both our first coffee cream (cafe latte) of our trips, after which we then headed out for some initial Parisian exploration.
Tiredness Level: Fluctuating, but energy levels were rising now that we had found our hotel and had some coffee.
Funkiness Level: Rising steadily, but still tolerable. Shower definitely needed soon though.
Exploring, Day 1 – Notre Dame, Rick Steves Historic Walk, St Chappele & Palais de Justice area and more breakfast
Our hotel was on Ile Saint-Louis, which is the island next to the island of Ile de Cite that Notre Dame sits on. So yeah, that was awesome, as when we walked down the street and crossed the bridge, excuse me, the Pont Saint-Louis, we were walking right up to the back of Notre Dame!
It was also very early on a Sunday morning, so we had quite a bit of the area to ourselves. We of course then went in and visited Notre Dame, which was awesome as it was also during a service, so it was quite an experience. Plenty of pictures and a bit of guidance from Rick Steves. Larry hadn’t actually visited Notre Dame in his previous visit, so this was a great way to check that box and enjoy some peace at a massive tourist attraction before the hordes of tourists arrived. And arrive they did, by the busloads. Ah, the bourgeoisie!
So it seemed that Notre Dame has a deal with the tour companies to not arrive until after Sunday services are done, as no sooner were they done did the place fill up. When we walked outside back to the plaza it was quite shockingly full of people taking pictures and waiting in line to get in. Lucky timing for us! Our Rick Steves book for Paris also was a nice lucky charm as others saw it and offered to take our picture, in exchange for taking theirs (fair enough), as well as asking if we could find the Point Zero of Paris. I actually was able to find it, but at that exact time, a giant swarm of tourists found it too. Sorry, lady!
Walking the Left Bank a Bit Before Breakfast
We then walked around the Left Bank a bit, past Shakespeare & Company, on through the Latin Quarter (a tad sketchy), and then on back up to the area near St Chappelle and the Palais de Justice, which is a big government area. We also found a bird market (something that happens on Sundays near the flower market), and decided upon heading back to the French cafe we saw earlier, that had quite attractive waiters. Good advertising.
Happily got a call from the hotel while eating, it was 11am or so, and our room was ready. So once we were done with our cafe creme, croissant, (Larry had an omelette that day), and OJ, we walked back through the islands to our wonderful room!
Our Private Tour at the Musee d’Orsay
We weren’t able to just pass out at the room though, as we had a planned excursion at 1pm, to tour the Musee d’Orsay with a private guide. So after getting briefly cleaned up, happily, we then took our first trip on the Metro.
Funkiness Level: All good now
Tiredness Level: Energy levels dwindling….
Bought a one-day pass (Logistics Nerd Note: I had done the research and realized that we could buy one-day Ticket Mobilis Zones 1-2 tickets and that would be enough for us – didn’t need any of the tickets aimed at tourists as we weren’t going to be in Paris long enough) and headed over to the Tuileries area which is the closest Metro stop to the museum. Walked through the Tuileries, across the Seine (and through a Women’s Run 5k/10k going on), and met our guide in front of the museum.
I didn’t know it was going to be just us, but it was. Very awesome tour, and it really helped to get a true background and context to many of the pieces. We had a focused tour so it wasn’t as if we went and saw everything in the museum, as there’s just too much, even though the D’Orsay is nowhere near the size of the Louvre. But we saw a significant portion of the Degas, Monet, Manet, Cezanne and Van Gogh paintings and sculptures on display – all simply amazing. The museum itself is quite the attraction too, as you can see in some of these pictures here. The giant clocks, the very modern interior design, and the integration of the old train station stylings all combine to be a wonderful environment to gaze at art. Larry & I were extremely tired though, and while we enjoyed the tour, it was very difficult to function after a while. But we soldiered on as best we could!
Nap Time & Dinner!
Once the tour was done, we walked back to the Tuileries station via the Pedestrian bridge that is also where all the locks of love can be attached (we passed on that – come on, what are we, 13?), got back to our hotel, and managed to get in about 2 hours of a disco nap, before we went to grab dinner just down the street from our hotel at L’Ilot Vache. It was a very small but ridiculously charming restaurant, with excellent food and very nice staff. I enjoyed Steak skewers (there’s a nicer French name for it) and Larry had Beef Bourgogne, prefaced by a salmon salad for Larry and a wonderful seafood soup for me. And wine! We couldn’t dally all night though as we also had one evening excursion, a skip-the-line Eiffel Tower tour.
Tiredness Level: We were doing good? That nap helped.
Going to the Eiffel Tower at Night
That was a cool tour as we met the guide, along with the rest of the group, at the Trocadero. We all then walked to the Tower together, getting history and facts along the way. It was a fun group, with some Scottish couple being a lot of fun that we talked with briefly. There’s a lot of great shots of the Tower as you walk towards it. See below!
One of the things that was very different from the last time I was there was that the entire underside of the Tower is now behind a security wall, so you’ll only be able to get there if you buy a ticket. Before, you’d be able to wander freely around underneath, and of course you’d be swarmed by all the guys hawking souvenirs while also contending with the police armed to the fucking hilt with automatic weapons. So yeah, a bit different, and I’m guessing a change after the terrible incident at the Bataclan. ANYWAY, the tour guide took us to the second level of the Tower and guided us around to each side, pointing out interesting sights to be seen. It was a very nice night for this kind of thing as while at that point, a light jacket was good, the heat from the day (and believe me, it was muggy and hot) meant that the night just felt good. The tour ended on the second level and we were free to go to the very top, but alas, it was closed due to wind. 🙁 Oh well, while Larry may not have been to the tippy-top of the Eiffel Tower, he can finally say he’s been up in the Tower now! Instead of taking the elevator down though, I somehow managed to convince Larry to walk the steps with me down. I frankly just love being able to wander amongst the inner workings and structure of the Eiffel Tower like that – a total Lois Lane in Superman II moment, yet in reverse.
So after we left, we took the subway back via the one above-ground subway due west of the tower. By that point, we were properly exhausted and couldn’t wait to get home to the hotel. One of the things we did realize at this point was that the Paris Metro trains are NOT air conditioned, and the only way for relief is while the train is moving and the air blows in via the windows. It’s ludicrous. But yeah, one hell of a day to start us off, and I think all that activity was key to us getting a great amount of sleep that night and conquering our jet lag.
Honeymoon Picture Pages:
- Day 0: Flying to Paris
- Paris, Day 1: Arrival in Paris & our Hotel, Notre Dame, the Left Bank, Musee D’Orsay and the Eiffel Tower at night
- Paris, Day 2: Champagne Day-Trip in Reims & a Night at the Moulin Rouge
- Paris, Day 3: Versailles & a Nighttime Seine River Cruise
- Paris, Day 4 & London, Day 1: Taking the Chunnel to London
- London, Day 2: Windsor, Bath, and Stonehenge Daytrip
- London, Day 3: A Day for James Bond & A Night for the London Eye
- London, Day 4: The Tower of London, Walking the Thames, and Aladdin at the West End
- London, Day 5: Beatlemania Walking Tour, Abbey Road, Buckingham Palace, War Rooms and more