The first time I traveled to France is such a magical memory! I was so excited, for I had been dreaming of this since I was a teenager. When I finally arrived in Paris, I found the city to be more beautiful than I even imagined. Whenever I look at pictures from that trip it always brings a smile to my face. A major goal of mine had been accomplished.
In mid-July 1996, after traveling through Scotland and England, I boarded the Eurostar high-speed train for Paris. (Eurostar trains reach top speeds of up to 186-mph, keeping journey times at about two hours thanks to the engineering marvel that is the Channel Tunnel: The Chunnel).
When I first arrived in Paris I experienced total culture shock – which I did not expect. It seemed that all the French I knew simply evaporated from my brain, and even the simplest task of buying a Metro ticket seemed overwhelming. Before a panic attack ensued, I decided to take a Taxi to my hotel and save myself the stress. My travel partner Craig was already at the Hotel, as he arrived early that morning from his Italian holiday.
In the following days we explored the city, dined at incredible restaurants, ate cheese and drank wine while reclining on a blanket with the stars and the Eiffel Tower shining down on us, and we ate crepes at least once a day. Of course, we did all the usual tourist things… visited La Tour Eiffel, musée du Louvre, Arc de Triomphe, Cathédrale Notre Dame de Paris, Musée d’Orsay and Musée Rodin. We walked up and down the bohemian streets of Montmartre and up the (very) long staircase to the majestic Sacré Coeur. We located the streets and the bridge with my family name, Grenelle. We window shopped along the Champs Elysées and actually bought a few items in the grand shopping center called Galeries Lafayette.
After taking in much of what the city had to offer, we ventured out to other areas in France, Italy and Switzerland.
We traveled by train to all the locations that we wanted to see. We took the overnight train from Paris to Venice, and slept in a couchette. Then we boarded a slow train that traveled along the Côte d’Azur, into Provence and through the French/Swiss Alps to Switzerland. Then we took the TGV (high-speed train) from Geneva back to Paris for a few more days of Parisian delights.
In France some of my favorite spots were Monaco, Nice, Antibes (which lies on the Mediterranean in the Côte d’Azur, located between Cannes and Nice), Avignon and Grenoble. (More on these locations in future posts.)
Here are a few shots from my trip. (Please note that these photos were taken before the time of the digital camera, so I’ve scanned these photos onto my computer.)