Something about getting a pain du chocolat and drinking espresso in a Paris cafe. You just feel more chic — even with le powdered sugar all over your shirt.
That’s how we kicked off Friday in Paris. It was so sunny and beautiful — we were warned of a late afternoon shower, but the morning was glorious. Hopped the metro (BTW the metro pass is a brilliant way to save time and euros) and headed south. It was a totally different area for us — not touristy at all (and hilly). On our way we bumped into what is so far my favorite church: St Etienne du Mont (http://www.saintetiennedumont.fr/). This church is dedicated to St Genevieve, the patron saint of Paris. It was so beautiful, and maybe becasue it wasn’t on my “list” it was a delight. I am a sucker for a curved marble staircase — it just seems so hard to make!
Just a block further and we reached our first official stop: The Pantheon (http://www.paris-pantheon.fr/). Like so many things in Paris, it was begin by a king as a church (in this case King Louis XV vowed to build a shrine to St Genevieve if he survived an illness — he did!), but after the revolution kingly stuff was a no-no, and churches weren’t awfully welcome, either. Napoleon saved this one and many more by making them government buildings. He’s kind of a big deal here (more on that in the next post).
Stepping outside the Pantheon we were wowed by a stunning view of the Eiffel Tower. Headed in that direction but first a stop at the Jardin de Luxembourg (http://www.senat.fr/visite/jardin/index.html). So nice to see things blooming — trees, flowers, people’s attitudes — especially knowing that home is about to get hit with snow. From there it was off looking for a shop that sounded cool. We hadn’t shopped at al yet, and Gab and Jo sounded like a great place to get un-touristy-souvenirs. Alas, it was closed, so we meandered down the street for a little wine and lunch. Found a table street side called Le Pre Aux Clercs (http://www.restaurant-preauxclercs.com/) Shared two apps and a salad, and had bread on all of them. Only the French would throw a slice of toast on a salad, and still look thin! Our next-door-table mates had a charming baby. Children are the great ice breaker while travelling: an elderly French woman stopped to chat with the American parents, exclaiming the child’s cuteness, then, of course, giving advice. In any language, a mom can tell when another mom says she is doing it wrong (in this case the piece of bread the baby had was too big. Sigh).
After lunch I tried the shop again, but it was still closed. So we headed to our goal location: the Musee D’Orsay. This museum, housed in a gorgeous old train museum, takes over where the Louvre leaves off, and is packed with Renoir, Degas, Manet, Monet, Van Gogh and more. Gorgeous, of course. Our downloaded Rick Steve’s app helped us meaningfully meander!
Then we rushed home to clean up before our 5pm Wine Tasting class at O Chateau (http://o-chateau.com/). A great thing to do if you visit Paris — I mean, we know a lot about wine, but French wines? Nothing. There were more than 20 of us in a cool room, letting Olivier preach. Tried 6 wines and left sufficiently schooled. Biggest things we learned: the French name wines after regions, not grapes (or Chablis, not Chardonnay) and if you want fruitier more full bodied wines, get them from places where there is lots if sunshine.
After dinner we hit the Louvre (tip: it’s open ate Weds and Fri so no lines). We were able to get up close and personal very easily with the Mona Lisa, and enjoyed seeing a lot more, Might go back on our last day (with the awesome Musee Pass we can go back for free anytime). The sunset as we left was gorgeous!
Wandered off, and found Willli’s bar (http://www.williswinebar.com/willis-wine-bar-paris.html). Gotta love a bar named after a dog — a mutt no less. Had a great conversation with our British bar tender and an Australian patron about the friendliness of bars in different countries (we have still yet
to experience the dreaded French pissy attitude).
Should’ve gone to bed, but it’s vaca, so dinner at 10 makes sense, A friend recommended L’Escargot on a great street near our place, Rue Montorgueil (http://escargotmontorgueil.com/). Yes, I tried snails. They were fine. Not a big deal.