So far, I love Paris. It is absolutely beautiful. The buildings are amazing and the wide, tree-lined streets are grand and romantic. We have had perfect weather — it rained all night and through the morning (hearing it fall on the roof made us feel extra cozy) and then the sun (and the wind) came out in time for us to head out on our exploration this afternoon. We are having an excellent time.
Some things I’ve learned so far about Paris:
Every French person we’ve met so far has been incredibly nice. They’ve also been amused by and patient with my French. The owner of our apartment has been accommodating and helpful. The conductor of our train last night helped us get the stroller (and all of our luggage) through the ticket gate. A pair of train ticket sellers laughed (kindly) through my confused attempts to purchase tickets (in French). The property manager met us here after midnight and kindly oriented us to the apartment. When Dan went looking for milk and snacks for the boys, at nearly one in the morning, a restaurant that was already closed sold him some croissants, and the bar next door gave — not sold — us a liter of milk.
Almost everything here is open on Sunday. In Paris, like in Vienna, conventional wisdom is that everything is closed on Sunday. However, in Vienna, unlike in Paris, everything is actually closed. We had no problem grocery shopping, going to the bakery, and picking up dinner out today. We couldn’t have done most of those things in Vienna on a Sunday.
Rick Steves is my new best friend. Everyone has a favorite travel guidebook, and we like his. Today, he helped us puzzle through the best value in Métro tickets and provided an interesting and funny tour of the Champs-Elysées. And, thanks to the Kindle app, I was able to access it all on my phone. Awesome.
There are some things you’re never going to see mentioned in guide books. Did you know that people make out at Notre Dame on Saturday nights? Me either, but we were there last night, and they do. (And not like anything overly creepy or seedy, just an inordinate number of young couples, who appeared to be caught up in an impulsive romantic moment while visiting the cathedral by moonlight.)
There is no way to plan for, or predict, what is going to be the biggest hit of the trip. So far, our boys’ favorite part of Paris has been the Toyota dealership on the Champs-Elysées. They had a concept car in the window, a coloring contest, and they gave out BALLOONS. (Not the cheap ones, either.) If you’re one and three, that’s absolutely a highlight.
We’re really having a great time so far. Paris is beautiful and we are having a great time adding a wonderful new chapter to our adventure.