I’d probably love Paris at any time of year, but I’ll have to wait for future trips to confirm that.
We saw a lot in our short time. Of course, there is so much we didn’t get to! (I already have a long list for the next trip.) The links here connect to the posts for this trip, so you can see some of what I loved about Paris. . . and a few other things too.
Springtime in Paris itinerary
Bon Voyage (May 29, 2008)
Last February when I booked this trip, springtime in Paris sounded wonderful.
Now, my garden is reaching it’s peak flowering and I wonder what I was thinking: Why would I want to be anywhere else right now?!
As for things here, last night JP sent an email telling me I seem to be “in control” of my world. Oh, if he only knew!
Last night included a series of small crisis: Where is my new cash card? (The one I have been using expired and now doesn’t work.) How will we get from the airport to the hotel? (We arrive during rush hour and I’m not excited about taking the train and schlepping luggage around town, however, most of the shuttles require that reservations be made at least several days in advance.) Do I have to switch to my new credit card? (Which is probably hiding with my long-lost replacement cash card.)
- Solving the airport transport question turns out to be easy – with an hour or two to spare, I find a shuttle that only requires 24 hours notice.
- The credit card is equally simple – I don’t have to switch to the new one.
- The cash card has to wait until morning (but, once I reach the right person, that too is resolved).
I don’t have anything I HAVE to finish at work this morning, which is good because I’m not very focused. And then, practically on my way out the door, my boss tells me she has taken a new job and will be leaving soon after I return . . . . It is definitely time to get on that plane and get out of here!
May 30, 2008
Charles de Gaulle Airport
We arrive about an hour early (which shows how much extra time is built into today’s flight schedules) so, even after we locate our luggage (they haven’t quite finished updating this terminal and still don’t have all the monitors that list where luggage can be retrieved), we still have a fair amount of time to wait for our shuttle. (We should have just taken transit.)
It is a lovely morning so the wait for the shuttle outside the terminal gate should be a pleasant one. Unfortunately, this is also where every airport employee hangs out to smoke. Ugh.
Our appointed pick-up time comes around and then passes. Come on, get here! I’m sick of waiting. I don’t want to be here – I want to be out exploring the city.
About this time a young man in military fatigues (and carrying a small machine gun) strolls over and shoos the smokers on one side of us to the other side of the doorway. Wow. Now that is some serious no-smoking enforcement. . . but no, next he tells us we also need to move closer to the door for “security” reasons.
We oblige, but soon we and everyone else are shooed still farther along – maybe ten feet – and then ten feet more, and then a little farther. Not wanting to argue with someone carrying a machine gun, but perplexed and crabby because the shuttle still hasn’t arrived, we comply and then speculate on why we keep getting moved farther and farther from this entrance. We decide they are probably clearing the area for some VIP – I guess (hope?) a celebrity of some sort (maybe an entertainer or someone in town for the tennis tournament), while Lane figures it will be some obscure government official.
Then a police van is parked across the roadway, blocking it and bringing traffic to a halt. Sigh. I will not be getting into Paris anytime soon.
The guy with the machine gun seems friendly enough, so someone asks what is going on. Apparently a suspicious package was discovered at this end of the terminal – somewhere below where we were standing earlier. They think it is a bomb, so the area has to remain clear until they have disposed of it.
There is nothing to do but stand around and wait. Even the drivers stuck on the street in front of us have tired of honking their horns and are now standing in the street waiting, watching, trying to figure out what is going on. It is very boring.
What the. . . ??
Apparently that was the suspicious package. They must have detonated it out on the street just down from where we are waiting. How odd – I expected to see them dramatically whisk it away to be detonated somewhere more secure.
Now that some hapless person’s bag has been blown to bits (it wasn’t a particularly loud explosion), the street is open again and we are free to wait wherever we want. I just hope our shuttle finally shows up.
It doesn’t seem like an auspicious beginning.
The neighborhood looks good
The airport shuttle takes us through the ugly edges of Paris, where every noise wall and overpass is covered with graffiti. There are big box stores, a huge blue Ikea, shiny offices, and lots and lots of large blocks of shabby-looking housing. It’s one of the ugliest urban edges I’ve seen.
We share our shuttle with two other couples, one of which is dropped off at an expensive but non-descript modern hotel in an uninteresting part of the city. I’m glad we aren’t staying there.
However, as we continue on into the heart of Paris – passing rail yards and industrial areas and a rather permanent-looking tent encampment that is clearly home to the homeless – I start to worry about my own hotel choice. Is all of Paris this bleak and dreary? What if it isn’t safe to walk at night? What if the hotel itself is awful? What if all of Paris is drab and run-down and dirty? Not far past the tents things start looking up. We begin to travel down formal boulevards lined with intriguing shops and pleasant-looking restaurants. Soon we turn down narrow streets of refined old buildings, many sprouting intricate iron balconies overflowing with flowers. THIS is where I want to stay! The shuttle driver points out our hotel. It is right here. For five days this pleasant street will be our home. We even have a tiny balcony, high up in the mansard roof, from which I can admire “my” street.
However, as we continue on into the heart of Paris – passing rail yards and industrial areas and a rather permanent-looking tent encampment that is clearly home to the homeless – I start to worry about my own hotel choice. Is all of Paris this bleak and dreary? What if it isn’t safe to walk at night? What if the hotel itself is awful? What if all of Paris is drab and run-down and dirty?
Not far past the tents things start looking up. We begin to travel down formal boulevards lined with intriguing shops and pleasant-looking restaurants. Soon we turn down narrow streets of refined old buildings, many sprouting intricate iron balconies overflowing with flowers. THIS is where I want to stay!
The shuttle driver points out our hotel. It is right here.
For five days this pleasant street will be our home.
We even have a tiny balcony, high up in the mansard roof, from which I can admire “my” street.
May 31, 2008
Antiques Along the Street
On our way to the Eiffel Tower we come across an antiques fair.
We wander over to check it out and discover that “Art and Antiques” means exactly that – high-end paintings, decorative art, furniture, and household items. . . all sitting in tents along the street.
Oh if we only could afford to take one of those stunning cameo glass bowls home with us!
City of Light
Evening in Paris – Notre-Dame, the Hotel de Ville (the Paris City Hall), bridges across the Seine. . . need I say more?
June 1, 2008
June 2, 2008
Night at the Arc de Triomphe
June 3, 2008
June 4: And We Have Come to the End of Our Journey
The shuttle company has called and wants us to leave an hour earlier than we had planned. This means we do not have time to visit the mosque or do much of anything this morning, but ensures that we will have a very long wait at the airport. (At least they have plenty of electric outlets at the airport for eager bloggers!)
Thus our travel in Paris comes to an end. . . for now.
Paris: The Details