Well, I’ve been in France for one full week. And when I say full, I mean FULL. I have had ups and downs, sunshine and rain, met some wonderful people and have stretched my comfort zone to new limits.
Due to all this, I haven’t had a chance or the energy to post a blog yet, so I’ll try to get you up to date on what’s been happening.
Week One, Part One – Paris
Tuesday, August 6
It all started uneventfully. I arrived at the Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris well rested (I actually slept on the plane), caught the Roissybus to the 8th arrondissement (the Opera and incredible shopping), where I’d be staying for the first couple of days with my Parisian friend Catherine before heading down south to AIX for the first month of my sabbatical.
She met me at the bus drop off and we went on to her home. This is the same apartment I rented the last time I was in Paris, so everything felt familiar and I was comfortable and happy. Catherine had a lovely lunch prepared, so we dined at the apartment before heading out for a walk around the city.
It was a gorgeous day in Paris – sunny and warm. It was wonderful to see my friend and catch up on what has been happening in each others lives since we last saw each other.
Wednesday, August 7
I awoke this morning to the sounds heavy rain and thunder outside my shuttered windows. Catherine had already been out to the pâtisserie and had a nice breakfast of pain au chocolat, croissant, coffee, and orange juice waiting for me when I finally ventured out of my bedroom and into the kitchen.
Following breakfast I took a shower and started to get ready for the day.
This is where travel lesson#1 comes in; something I thought I had learned years ago, but I guess I didn’t or I wasn’t thinking clearly due to jet lag. ** Yea let’s go with that one! ** 🙂
I plugged my straight-iron into a plug adapter and not an electrical voltage converter, and burned off a nice section of my hair.
It looks far worse than it was. Fortunately I didn’t lose too much hair, and thankfully there was no bald spot. Once I got over the shock of it all, we ended up having a great laugh over it and a good lesson was learned.
After that little issue, Catherine and I set out to purchase a cell phone from a local carrier that I could use while in France, to make calls, text, etc. without having to use my iPhone International Plan for local calls. (This will come in handy later in the week when my iPhone is stolen and I have to find my way home in AIX without the address – since it was in my iPhone… but I digress.)
After lunch Catherine and I went our separate ways, and I spent the rest of the afternoon wandering around Paris in the rain, stopping at a few locations I wanted to visit on this trip, specifically related to my novel.
First stop: Closerie des Lilas
In the latter part of the 19th century, Impressionists Auguste Renoir, Claude Monet, and Frederic Bazille began to leave Montmartre and its crowds, and spent their time in Montparnasse and frequented this Café. Situated on the route from Paris to Orleans, the Closerie also served as a stage-coach stop, and the owner rented out rooms to passing travelers.
While here, I had a light snack, then wrote a little and just enjoyed the afternoon, listening to the sounds of the raindrops hitting the canvas roof of restaurant’s terrace.
Next, I took a leisurely walk through Jardin du Luxembourg the second largest public park in Paris, located in the 6th arrondissement. The park is the garden of the French Senate, which is housed in the Luxembourg Palace.
Then on to meet Catherine for dinner at Le Relais de l’Entrecôte, a wonderful little gem in Saint-Germain for steak frites (although it’s become so popular they now have three locations in Paris and another in Geneva). This is a delicious but no non-sense dining experience, and there is always a line (they do not take reservations).
The meal is simple. Salad with walnuts, steak and fries. There are only three decisions: 1) how would you like your steak 2) what wine and 3) what for desert (profiterole s’il vous plait!).
But it’s the special “Secret” sauce on the steak (good for dipping fries as well) that will keep you coming back for more. Oh, and don’t worry, if you are still hungry after your first plate, they will bring you a second helping of steak and fries.
We finished our meal and then took a drive around Paris to see some of the sights, that no matter how many times you’ve seen them, you want to see them again; not to mention Paris is so beautiful at night.
We concluded the evening at the Eiffel Tower, just on time for the hourly light show.
We got a little artsy with the next photo, Catherine’s idea, quite fun:
Well, that’s it for Paris, for now, tomorrow I’m off to AIX en Provence!
(I’ll be back in Paris in September.)
to be continued…