France Day 1: Plane Rides and Paris


I'm currently sitting at a cafe on Rue de la Harpe waiting for the pichet of Bordeaux to arrive as the cool rain taps the awning. We arrived yesterday after an eventful and somewhat harrowing flight from Toronto. Sometime after being hit in the face with a pillow and having my head sneezed on, the elderly woman behind me lost consciousness. They called for a doctor (just like in the movies!) and carried her off to the galley. Long story short, she ended up being fine (as in even giggling and bebopping around), thankfully, but the whole thing was pretty scary.

Another woman near us ended up getting really sick for the last hour and a half of the flight. That's one of my worst nightmares. She looked a very pale shade of green when she got off so I hope she's better now.

Needless to say, it felt like we were sitting in the cursed section of the plane and I'm extremely happy we are here now.

I will do more detailed posts of the places we see later when we get home, but these posts will have a few highlights.

Our first day was amazing. The weather was perfect: cool and crisp and sunny.

We checked into the Hotel Palais Bourbon in a quiet part of the 7th, but had to wait until 1 to get to our room.

I, however, was ready to commit some unspeakable crime if I didn't get something edible in my belly soon. (Hey, Air France, your food vendor in Toronto blows. And that's being generous.)

So we found a pastry shop nearby, Maison Pradier, and shared 2 pain aux raisins, a chausson aux pommes, and a delicious bread stick thing that had gruyere and lardons. It all hit the spot.

Next was the Rodin museum and garden, which was just a stone's throw from our hotel.

I fell in love immediately. The museum sections hold gorgeous marble, plasters, and bronze sculptures. Yes, the famous Kiss is there and the Thinker is outside, but there are so many more beautiful pieces. I think my favorite ended up being The Earth and The Moon.

I loved the mix of softness and life that seemed to morph from the rough, hard stone.

But the best part for me was the garden. I wandered off on my own, completely enchanted by all the little surprises it held, from the amazing roses to the evocative sculptures.

I will post a few pics at the end of the post since I'm doing this on my phone and can't format nearly as well as I usually can.

It was all so peaceful, calming, and lovely.

We went back to our hotel at 1 and had a bit if a powwow. We finally decided on checking out Rue Cler to see if any of the markets were out.

On the walk, we got sidetracked when Basilica Sainted Clotilde appeared seemingly out if nowhere. A bunch of kids were playing in front of it, giggling and zooming by on scooters. It felt like a perfect movie scene.

This is when I realized that September might be my favorite time of year in Paris. It's cool but not cold and the locals are back. It feels like a real, breathing, beautiful city.

Usually we are here in August when it feels like most of the locals are on vacation. Shops are closed. Traffic is quieter. It feels a little less alive even if is no less beautiful. Just different.

Most places still had their fresh, tempting produce neatly stacked outside. There was a place roasting chickens that filled the area with an incredible smell and made my stomach rumble. Another store had bright flowers and bunches of gorgeous, deeply colored lavender. A gaggle of old men playing that horrible chicken dance song on trumpets hassled me and I gave them "the look."

We decided to sit and had a pitcher of wine at Cafe du Marche. We watched everyone walk by until the hunger hit.

We ate at a tiny restaurant near the hotel called Le Sac a Dos. They were booked for the night but fit us in early. We had to eat fairly quickly before the next reservations. I'm usually a big fan of long, leisurely dinners but quick was ok since we were exhausted and wanted to sleep early.

Everyone there was great.

The owner was a character--friendly, funny, and no nonsense. A small window behind my dad looked into the kitchen where on chef would look out and chat with us from time to time.

The main chef was late. When she arrived and found out she had us and a few other unexpected guests to contend with, she smiled and went, "je l'attaque!"

All of us had salads and steak. Mine was the best, most tender. You could cut it with a fork.

When we asked about it, the owner goes "it's from Texas!"

I refused to believe him and we had a "Oui!!!/Non!!!" exchange for awhile.

I went to bed refusing to believe him.