Weekend (and Midnight) in Paris

I confess, I have never seen Midnight in Paris. However, my traveling companion Alyssa has, and she often referenced the movie, so it kind of seems like I saw it.

I visited Paris, France this weekend. It was a short trip but one packed with many activities. After waking up at 4:45 to catch a taxi at 5:30 Alyssa and I boarded the plane and headed north. After two hours, we landed in Paris!

Friday’s agenda included a hearty English breakfast, admiring the city and a quick nap. We stayed close to the Gare du Nord train station, which is a large and well-connected station in the city. We knew we could get mostly anywhere from there, but the maps are pretty confusing. After the nap, we set off to navigate transportation. When we blankly stared at the map for 15 minutes, I knew we only had one option: ask for directions.  I had heard many times that the French hate Americans, so I tentatively asked a police officer, “Do you speak English?” He smiled, said that he did but that his friend knew more, and before I knew it four French police officers were giving us directions to the Louvre. They even walked us to the train.

We arrived at the Louvre and walked along the river. Which brings me to my first Eiffel Tower sighting! Soon it was time for the Louvre Museum. Like everyone says, the Mona Lisa is small. After spending Thursday evening at the Prado in Madrid and Friday evening at the Louvre, my head is sufficiently saturated with European art. Fortunately, appreciating the masterpieces is no difficult task. We walked through the Tuileries Garden on our way to dinner.

See it way back on the left?

See it way back on the left?

Walking across the Seine, we stopped to admire generations worth of love locks.

Walking across the Seine, we stopped to admire generations worth of love locks.

This week is fashion week in Paris. I expected to see more events, advertising or something, but we did run into one designer. Nina Ademar proudly displayed a “mobile fashion show” in a decorated delivery truck. Even though they turned away the woman in front of us, the guys let us come inside. A few dresses awed me, but I remained indifferent to some others. In other words, not preppy enough for this shopper. I miss you J. Crew!

Inside the truck

Inside the truck

We enjoyed Friday night dinner at Pinxo in the 1st arrondissement. We enjoyed curdle goat cheese with eggplant, steamed shrimps in garden herb broth, prawn tails and a glass of vin rosé in this Alain Dutournier establishment. I enjoyed all, but the prawns, served with coconut rice, emerged as my favorites.

Saturday brought a new set of recreation. When in France, a tourist must eat crepes, hence Saturday morning crepes and coffee. After crepes, off to Champs Elysees. Translation: shop ‘til you drop. After hours of shopping, a few minutes in the Luxembourg Gardens sounded magnificent. That was about the time I had to best crepe I have ever tasted. We met up with Alyssa’s friend who is studying in Paris, and he ordered a crepe from a stand on the street. There was a miscommunication, he got two crepes, and he shared. Tuna, mozzarella and magic seasoning (the man called it magic) for four euros. Anyway, we sat in the park while enjoying the crepe, and it felt surreal. It felt like we were in a movie, maybe Afternoon in Paris.

Bliss in crepe form

Bliss in crepe form

Luxembourg Gardens

Luxembourg Gardens

As soon as it got dark, Alyssa and I headed for the Eiffel Tower. Since it was our first time in Paris, we went all the way to the top.

Obligatory photo

Obligatory photo

We ended the night at Constant, which was so special it gets its own post tomorrow, or maybe later today if I don’t get distracted.

We concluded the weekend with mass at Notre Dame. Even though the service was in French, I felt engaged and happy to be there. The cathedrals in Europe are unlike anything in the United States. If you haven’t been, go.

Outside Notre Dame

Outside Notre Dame

That’s the trip. Although there are many more stories, these were the highlights. Even though my French spans from bonjour to merci, I managed well. Paris holds much more, but we feel good about our trip. When I go back, Disneyland Paris is first on the list!

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