“Paris is always a good idea.”
Our first trip to France in 1996 was a doozie. Along with our best friends Mike and Mary Jane, we spent fifteen days seeing Paris, Giverny, Mont St. Michel, St. Malo, the Loire Valley, Angers, Albi, Avignon, St. Remy, Baux-en-Provence, Eze Village, Monte Carlo, and Cannes. This week, I dug out the little journal I’d kept so I could relive our long-ago adventure.
In Paris, on the morning we arrived, we hiked from our hotel near the Opera Garnier to Notre Dame, then headed for the Pompideau Center, took the Metro to the Eiffel Tower, and rode the Metro back to the hotel just in time to get ready for dinner.
On our second day, we explored the Louvre, toured the Picasso Museum, strolled the Champs-Elysees, and dined at a restaurant near our hotel. Up and at ‘em the third day, we took the train to Versailles, gawked at the Palace inside and out, returned to Paris for lunch and a visit to the Musee d’Orsay, a stroll down the Rive Gauche, and dinner.
Versailles, the Musee d’Orsay, and the Champs-Elysees all in one day? Were we insane? No, I don’t think so. After all, we were eighteen years younger, and we wanted to take in as much as we could. My journal entries sound lucid enough, and I can recall many facets of all of these wonderful places. Yes, we fell in love with France in 1996, but, holy cow! What a pace!
We returned to Paris in 2004, when we took a barge trip from Strasbourg to Nancy. Only in Paris for one day, we wandered around the Tuileries, Sainte Chappelle, and the Right Bank. We viewed the Eiffel Tower from our hotel room. Once again, we were smitten.
Years have passed: the photo from ’96 shows just how much. Yes, we really did pound the pavement in white gym shoes, and we’d not been advised that women in Paris don’t walk around in shorts or bright colors. At least by ’04, our clothes were more subdued, and we girls had given up the gym shoes.
Some places we’ve seen fit into the “check it off” category. While I like Spain well enough, I don’t crave a trip back to Seville. But Paris? That’s different. It’s not a “been there, done that” kind of place. Experiencing Paris in ’98 and in ’04 only whet our appetite for more. This time, we plan to take it slow. With the luxury of twenty-eight days, there’s no need to power through two museums in one day. When September ends, will we be ready to “check it off” or will we be more enamored with Paris? Time will tell, but I’m guessing that we’ll have found even more to love about the city on the Seine.