After a quick refresher on the Paris metro system, we found our way to our metro stop and our Paris home for the next few days. When the apartment manager met us to turn over the keys, we quickly discovered that he didn’t speak much English, so we had to rely on my little French and his little English to communicate that he still had to clean up the room and needed an hour, phone calls were free, the grocery store was a few blocks down the street, and our arrival day was a national holiday so most things would be closed. I was very impressed with how much I was able to understand and communicate back to him in French! I took 2 years of French in high school, and for the few weeks before our trip I listened to a CD on “Learning French in Your Car”, which was a great refresher! I can definitely understand much better then I can speak French, but during the whole trip I was very proud of my skills.
As soon as we got our stuff in our room, we hit the streets in search of a sandwich for lunch. We were both starving, and, aside from the Japanese restaurants, pretty much every restaurant was closed for the holidays. We finally found a little café that was open and both had our “jambon” (ham) sandwiches. As we ate, we did a little searching in our “Learn French” booklet for some French words that neither of us knew but should know, and soon noticed that a couple of girls at the table next to us were speaking American English. We were still wondering what this “holiday” was all about, so I asked them if they spoke English and discovered that they were both Amercian college exchange students studying in Paris. We hit the jackpot! They were able to tell us about the holiday, when to expect things to open again, what the tipping customs are in Paris, and which flea market to go to over the weekend!
Although we were both exhausted from staying up late and getting up early, we decided to explore the city. I bought a wonderful pocket-sized map book, and it only took going in very large circles a few times to figure our the layout of the city. I kept thinking we were walking toward the Louvre, but as we kept passing the same stores twice, we realized we weren’t really going anywhere. We did finally find the Louvre, and I was happy when Kelly had just the reaction that I was hoping she would have to seeing the grandness of it. We didn’t go inside, but just seeing the buildings is amazing! After visiting the Louvre, we walked toward Notre Dame, pausing to look at all of the little outdoor shops along the river.
At Notre Dame, we wanted to go up to the Bell Tower, but it was closed for the holiday. So we walked through the church and looked at all of the beautiful stained glass. Both Kelly and I lit a candle in prayer for our friends and family. I said a special prayer for my friend Scott Zech who has been battling brain cancer for years and recently had a major scare. We were impressed with the beauty of Notre Dame, and I really like the gothic style of it. However, after exploring the St. Peter’s Basillica in Vatican City, it’s going to be hard for any other church to ever measure up!
By mid-afternoon, we decided to head back to our apartment to nap and freshen up. We stopped at the “supermarche” (super market) on the way and picked up a few necessities for the next few days. Since we had internet at our apartment, we were able to search for the best restaurant with the best view of the Eiffel Tower for dinner and make reservations too! We made reservations for 9:30 that night, so with a plan, we drifted off to sleep.
To get to dinner, we had a little metro adventure. We found the stop we needed, but the metro didn’t actually stop there because it was under construction. So, dressed in not-so-comfy shoes, we pulled out our map and hot footed it to the restaurant, Café de L’Homme.
The restaurant was WONDERFUL! We were seated on the patio at the table closest to the Eiffel Tower, and the weather was perfect! Our cheese plate appetizer, Monbazillac apple-honey flavored wine (made in the South of France), and king prawns with veggies were all amazingly delish!
We took our time enjoying the view and chatting the night away, and didn’t get back to end our first day in Paris until 1am!
Enjoy the pictures of our first day in Paris!