Paris Adventure Day One: The Arrival

Paris-bound!

I don’t have any pictures from the trip over, so this first part will be a lot of words, but we left Richmond late morning and flew to Boston and then to Iceland, landing in Paris around 1:15 PM- funny how that time-difference thing works!

Brief note about the trip over: fly Iceland Air! It was fantastic; the seats were comfortable and spacious (important when your combined height as a couple pushes 11’11”), the stewardesses were fantastic (and, oddly enough, all dressed the same and wore their hair the same way), the Iceland airport was so neat (super mod and streamlined despite the fact that there was next to nowhere to sit) and Iceland is so interesting to fly over! We decided that next time we fly through we’ll stick around for a day or so!

Anyway, so we landed at Charles de Gaulle airport travel-worn but so excited for our adventure! After practicing our French on the signs around the airport (and by ‘our’ I mean my; Ben took several years of Spanish and the only thing he can say in French is ‘oui oui, bon bon- a phrase that he concocted…), we made it to a train station and figured out how to get from the airport, which is about 20 minutes outside Paris proper, into the city. Let me pause here to say that Ben absolutely adores figuring out public transportation. (Lucky for me since I am far from gifted in that department.) Despite the language barrier, he thoroughly enjoyed triumphantly arriving in Paris after his mad navigating. All the while, I couldn’t help singing ‘I love Paris in the Springtime’…

Once in Paris we thought it would be fun to walk to our hotel so that we could site see a bit on the way. We had both done a great job of packing lightly and it really wasn’t difficult to stroll around the city toting our rolley luggage. Ben, with help from our Pocket Rough Guide Paris travel guide, successfully steered us to our hotel.

Our walk took us from the Gare du Nord southwest toward the city. We walked through a few ‘gritty’ areas near the train station, but on the whole the walk was fabulous (and a foreshadowing of all the dozens of miles we would walk in the next 6 days!)

Our hotel was great. It was the Hotel Aida Opera (actually, a Best Western!) and the concierge was fantastic. He spoke so many languages! The two less-than-ideal tidbits about our lodging was that it was a 10-15 minute walk from the metro station (but really, that helped us to keep off those pain au chocolat pounds!) and that the sidewalk in front of the hotel was under construction (no need for an alarm clock when the jack hammer starts bright and early every morning!) We decided not to let either of those tidbits bother us though; we knew where the hotel was located when we booked it and we didn’t spend much time in the room anyways!

I found the shower curtain in our tiny shower really comical

So we got to the hotel, showered off the airplane smell, and headed out to sight see. Even though we had been up for several hours at this point, the experts say the best way to fight jet lag is to follow the sleeping schedule of the place you are visiting. Seeing as it was late afternoon by the time we had cleaned up, we decided to hit the streets!

Let me just say, I was stunned by the beauty and the age of the architecture of Paris. (Consider this a warning; by the end of this adventure, you will see many, many pictures of buildings, door knobs, windows, street signs…I fell in love with the details of Paris!) Our 20 minute walk to the Louvre was absolutely beautiful. The sun was shining, the weather was warm, there was a slight breeze- absolument parfait! This actually turned out the be the best weather we had in Paris; the other days were much chillier with scattered sprinkles.

Anyway, so we spent the afternoon basking in the awesome scale of the Louvre, the beautiful plantings of the Jardin des Tuileries, and the serenity of the Seine.

Despite the pained expression on my face, I was super excited to be there!!!

Yeah, our jet-lagged selves totally set up the public chairs as foot rests...


Lime trees!

Boxwood and Lavender- two things I love!

A pont (bridge) over the Seine

(In the picture above you can see the ‘boat hitching posts’ that I thought were hysterical!)

We stopped for dinner at a sidewalk cafe we stumbled upon (this is actually how we ate most of our meals- we wanted to be all French-like and eat at the everyday cafes we encountered) and tasted a Beaujolais wine for the first time! Delish! We plan to do a more detailed post about the wines we tried for those of you win-o’s out there! Stay tuned for that in a few weeks! Also, I’ll let Ben thrill you with a report of all of the fabulous food we ate in a few weeks, too!

Cafe table and chairs- they were all woven all over the city!

Right now I’ll tell you that the dining experience was so cool! The cafe seating was smack dab in the middle of the sidewalk (not uncommon!) and it was so strangely intriguing to be sitting down to a late dinner in the middle of the bustling city. Great for people watching which is a fantastic pastime in Paris. I didn’t have the nerve to take many pictures of people, but let me just say we saw a lotΒ  of roller bladers. We even made a ‘you know you’re in Paris when…’ list that we’ll share later, too!

Anyway, once we finished dinner, we called it a night…Happy day one of our Paris adventure is complete!

Our French Adventure Begins

Hi everyone!

At long last, it’s time we started sharing this summer’s trip to Paris and Provence with you!

Here are some quick details about the trip before we begin, just to give you a little perspective.

Dates: Tuesday, June 14, 2011- Wednesday, June 22, 2011.

Impetus: Since beginning to study French 10+ years ago, I (Sarah) have had a mild obsession with the French language and many parts of the French culture. I had been jonesing to visit Paris, Provence, and Bretagne ever since the first day of French class back in 1999. This past January, while chatting about our goals for 2011, Ben said “Let’s go to Paris this year!” and the rest is history! (As can be following in the upcoming series of posts. Oh la la!)

Interests going into the trip: The things we love about France, and therefore our biggest topics of exploration were (in no particular order): French wine (which we studied up onΒ  a little bit before going), the French Joie de Vivre (see the connection to our blog’s tag line!?), French gardens, French food (bread, pastries, etc. etc.), French tourist sites, French architecture, Provencial lavender fields, Provencial architecture, Provencial landscape. Phew! Lots to do!

Planning: Being in our mid-twenties, we don’t have a ton of extra cash lying around for extravagant traveling, so we planned our low-budget trip on our own, with a lot of help from tour books, the internet, and advice from friends and family that have been to France. This trip proved to us that you don’t have to be rich to experience a wonderful traveling adventure! Get your jet-set on!

So now that you’re on the same page as we were pre-June 2011, we’ll start the series! We’re planning to cover the trip day-by-day for any of you who are planning to take a trip yourself. Additionally, we’ll share several more detailed photo-series of the beautiful things we saw and of course copious reviews of our dining experiences a la Ben. At some point, I’ll share some of the projects I’ve done that were inspired by our trip- France was a great wealth of inspiration and I’ve really enjoyed incorporating some of that inspiration into our home!

Day one starts tomorrow!

A tout a l’heure!