Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Travelogue: Paris

I fully intended to blog during my recent trip to France, but...I didn't! I've been back almost a week, and am still catching up.

This wasn't my first trip to Paris, but the first one where I wasn't there on business and only able to sight see a very tiny bit.

We stayed in the 5th arrondissement, across from the Fountaine Saint-Michel, which is a marvelous location for Notre Dame in particular, and many of the literary pilgrimage sites that were high on my list, and mere steps to a metro stop and taxi queue. It is, however, a bit like staying in Times Square in New York. Lots of people, lots of tourists, and lots of kitsch.

My favorite view of Notre Dame Cathedral - love those flying buttresses!

We tried to balance seeing the top tourist attractions with visiting parks, making pilgrimages, and getting the vibe of the city.

Loved the Musee d'Orsay -- not only the fantastic collection of most of my favorite paintings in one location, but the overall beauty of the space, which is a renovated train station, was breathtaking. It was light and bright with lots of levels and open spaces.

And, of course, it was full of Monets and Manets, Pisarros and Renoirs, Van Goghs and many others.

I particularly enjoyed the special exhibit on 19th polychrome sculpture, which I knew nothing about but found beautiful and so interesting.

We went in the morning, had lunch, and then went back for another round. Bordered on sensory overload, but what a wonderful place!
I've loved this Renoir painting for decades! I had a poster of it in my college dorm room.

Another of my favorite places was the Pantheon, next to the Sorbonne. I loved the Pantheon in Rome when we visited that lovely city in 2015, and the history of Paris's Pantheon is absolutely fascinating. Its use as a religious building, then a secular, then political, then back to religious, then secular, etc.  chronicles the lurching about that has characterized France over the past couple of hundred years.

Now on to pilgrimages...
Cafe des 2 Moulins in Montmarte, where Amelie works in the movie, Amelie

We had coffee in this literary hangout that pre-dated the Lost Generation.

Two blocks from our hotel!

We also visited Versailles, Montmartre, the Louvre (but a very short visit--not a fan), Luxembourg Gardens (big fan!), and the wonderful Rodin museum and garden. We did a lot of walking, rode the metro some, took a few taxis and ubers, and felt like we got around pretty well.

It was quite hot while we were there--mercifully, I insisted on a hotel with air conditioning. I can't say that the food was fantastic--we mostly ate lightly--salads, charcuterie boards, and coffee and croissants--but that was fine as we didn't want to break the bank on food on this trip.

I was so glad that I did a lot of reading about Paris before the trip so I had a good sense of where things were and had a context for understanding the geography and history of the city.

Next up...Normandy (and a tiny slice of Brittany).


  1. Oh thanks for the Tour of your trip. Lovely, wow! We went to Monet's gardens & Napoleon's tomb (again) in June but I'd like to go to Versailles and Musee d'Orsay. The impressionist paintings blow me away! Luckily we had cool weather then. It sounds like you had a wonderful time! Great photos too.

    1. We also went to Napoleon's tomb, next door to the Rodin museum. And we went to Giverny, at the end of the trip when we had looped around and were headed back to Paris and our flight home. I have an upcoming post on that magical place!

  2. Your photos are lovely! I look forward to seeing the rest of your trip.

    I agree the Musee D'Orsay is a wonderful use of space. What is it you disliked about the Louvre? Can you say?

    1. There were so many people and it was so hot! My daughter wanted to see the Mona Lisa, and my husband got caught in the mosh pit and it took him at least 30 minutes to get out. I’m not terribly interested in medieval painting, as I much prefer more modern art, but I do like antiquities. I didn’t do the research to use our time wisely, so basically we got caught in the crowds, got hot and frustrated, and fled.

  3. So glad you shared this post! I've never been to Paris. Some day...

  4. Your pictures take me back to my last trip to Paris! Such good memories. :) Did you buy any crepes while you were there? They're my favorite Parisian food, with pan au chocolat a close second.

    1. We did have crepes, and macaroons, and lots of ice cream--I forgot to post my photo of violette ice cream that I got at the Rodin garden cafe that tasted exactly like you would imagine violets added to cream and sugar would taste!

  5. Paris is such a wonderful place. Your pictures are great. It sounds like you had a super trip. It is really neat to visit literary destinations when traveling. It seems that many people have no interest in doing so but I love to visit such places.

  6. Sounds like a terrific trip!

  7. Love the blog. Brings back memories from 1993/94 when I lived in the 16ieme arrondissement and could not quite enjoy all the beauty due to lack of money and heart brokenness. I love your smile on the last picture.