Ever since that trip I have been plotting how I would get myself back to the City of Lights. And when Dustin's plan for an R and R trip in Europe came up, I made sure that Paris was tacked onto our list of cities to explore.
Due to some last-minute changes in R and R plans, Dustin actually arrived in Paris two days early - EEKS! Not a problem, I spent my first official day of summer break setting him up a hotel for those two days, and shifting all of our hotels, train tickets, inter-country flights by about three days.
Sunday finally rolled around and it was time for my flight to Paris! I flew Air France, which I think is just about the best airline around. They gave me a wonderful little eye mask to wear while snoozing, and serve complimentary wine during every snack and beverage break, and meal. What can I say, I love me some wine in tiny bottles! I think the British lady sitting next to me might have actually had five glasses of wine between getting the air and the time I popped a Dramamine so that I could avoid turbulence-induced nausea and be well-rested for my first day in Paris. Anyway, it was a great flight.
After that I was held up in a long customs line, collected my baggage, and then trekked across the entire airport twice trying to find a functioning ATM machine (2 of 3 machines were broken!). Before I knew it, the cab ride to the hotel was over and my HUBBY was carrying our enormous suitcases up the five flights of stairs to our hotel room. It was so great to see him!
That afternoon, we headed out for a drink at "The American Cafe" which was funny, because we were the only Americans in the whole place, everyone else was French. Dustin loved that the French serve a little dish of peanuts with every drink.
Then we ordered pizza from Pink Flamingo Pizza near the canal. After you order pizza, they give you a pink balloon. You find your desired spot for dinner (we found a spot along the canal) and they will find you as they deliver your pizza via bicycle. Pretty clever! And our eight cheese pizza was out of this world! Picnics in Paris might rank as the #1 thing I wish more people did in America.
Day 2 in Paris ended up being a day trip to Giverny, which was Monet's beautiful garden house. We used a metro, train, and bicycle during this day trip adventure. We booked our tour through Fat Tire Bike Tours. It was a little pricey, but well planned out and enjoyable. We learned a lot of history about Monet's life and the lack of respect he received from the art critics of his day in France. I also did not wipe out on my bicycle, which was my greatest fear! One man on the trip did actually cut off his wife at one point on the trail and she definitely rode her bike into a giant bush (ouch)!
Anyway, we enjoyed collecting food goodies from the local shops in the quaint town of Vernon and picnicking along the river. Since Vernon is known for its apples (according to our tour guide) we bought some apple cider and a juicy apple tart, along with our staples of cheese, meat, and bread.
After our picnic we were back to riding the bicycles, and seeing the gorgeous flowers and water lilies of Monet's home.
That evening we came back and freshened up in time to visit a nearby restaurant I had found on Yelp: Le Plomb Cantal. It was a cozy place, and I felt like we were the only English-speaking folks in the house. I had the Yelp-recommended duck confit, and Dustin tried a duck steak, and we both ordered the cheesy potatoes. Man, they were not kidding about the CHEESY potatoes. That stuff would stretch like a giant cord from the plate to your fork over a foot in the air! I had to resort to twirling and eating them like spaghetti.
Then we started on our dinner plans for the evening. What else could it be but a picnic? We visited a cheese shop that was about five doors down from our hotel, where the owner picked us out a yummy wedge of Camembert cheese and some creamy goat cheese. Yum! Then we picked up a baguette from the boulangerie (bakery) and cheated by visiting the grocery store for our other goodies. We bought a bottle of wine, a six-pack of beer, some snack-size salami, cookies, and candies. Then we stuck it all in my tote bag and headed out to the Eiffel Tower.
Our metro ride was pretty neat for this occasion, as there was an accordion player in our metro car just as it emerged from underground to the above-ground section of the track. When Dustin first caught sight of the Eiffel tower, his excitement was adorable!
After shooing off the very persistent flower and wine bottle peddlers on the Champs du Mars, we were settled comfortably into our spot overlooking the tower. We ate our yummy food, soaked in the atmosphere, and even made some new friends.
We watched the light show and then were promptly shooed off the grass by the French police. We ended the night sipping some cider at the corner cafe that was about 100 feet from our hotel.
I thought I would be able to post all of our Paris leg of the trip in one post, but it is just proving too long! So come back to read about the second half of Paris, where we visited Versailles, listened to Opera, and took an overnight train ride!