There we sat on the long, green grass, staring up at the Eiffel Tower. It was and still is far more magical to see in person. I was mesmerized the minute our plane touched down in Paris.
It is more beautiful than pictures can capture. The city is painted in light. Buildings are white, gray, and brown, portraying cleanliness and detail. Trees and parks line the landscape, with colorful flowers fully in bloom all over the city. Ah, Pari. It doesn’t get any better than this.
Day 1 – Paris, France
We couldn’t wait to get on the plane Wednesday evening. We scooted right through security, relieved to be able to carry on our backpacks. The seats were small and cramped, but we drugged up on Tylenol PM, putting us out for a half an hour at a time. After a small plate of pasta and a mystery dessert that left a powdery chocolate aftertaste, we were unknowingly preparing ourselves for the tiny portions that would greet us in France.
We landed in a suburb of Paris, and struggled to find the train station. After standing in a very hot line, we found out that our transportation pass would lead us right through the gate with no problem.
The metro ride into Paris was thrilling. I gazed at the French passengers, soaking in the culture at once. My impression was that the French were petite, dark haired, well dressed, polite, but quiet. Graffiti decorated the landscape, not so different from Chicago’s, except much neater and in French, of course.
My shoulders were sore by the time we reached our hotel, California Saint Germain. It was small, but clean, with large windows that opened to no view, but a beautiful breeze. The windows had no screens at all, nor did they have any bugs to speak of in the city of Paris! I don’t know where they were, but I was thrilled not to see any.
Our first stop was lunch. The waiter spoke only French to us, and seemed slightly unhappy with us. I had delicious gnocchis and my husband had a plate of spaghetti. The portions were tiny compared to what we were used to having. Water in Paris is expensive. I drank a lot of tap water from our hotel room.
The Eiffel Tower
Then we trudged, dreadfully tired and jet lagged, to Notre Dame, flooded with hundreds of tourists. It looked surreal, with its stained glass windows and detailed sculptures covering the facade. There was a statue of Charlemagne nearby (intriguing since I’m a Lowell, and we are his descendants).
Next we hopped on the metro (thrilled to have a 3 day pass) and got off at the Tour Eiffel stop. As we approached it, we were stunned with how much nicer it looked in person. We must’ve taken a hundred pictures of the Eiffel Tower over two days.
The line was outrageous to ride up the elevator. We waited about two hours to get to the middle level, packed with people, but more than worth it! The views at the top were breathtaking, giving us a chance to take in the enormity of the city as well as its unique layout.
We spent the evening relaxing in the park beyond the Tower, watching as the sun went down and observing our first evening in a new to us country!
Day 2 would bring us to an extraordinary Palace outside of Paris!