Upon return from our recent Mediterranean cruise, we flew from Rome to spend some time in Paris, the City of Lights, so named because it was one of the first cities to have electricity.
As we had done in Rome, instead of a hotel we chose a short stay apartment option which we had found on Hotels.com. Louvre Parisian was above and behind a little bistro located almost directly across from the Louvre Museum.
This was much smaller than our accommodation in Rome. Although it was a cool-funky little space, it was up three flights of stairs and was sweltering hot with no air conditioning. It did have a combination clothes washer/dryer which was one of the reasons we chose it.
We knew at this point in our journey we would need to do some laundry.
We were unfamiliar with this type of appliance and quickly found out why we don’t see them here in the US. They don’t work! Oh, it washed clothes just fine. It was the dryer function that was useless. After 3 hours the clothes were still dripping wet and so steaming hot you could barely touch them. We resorted to making use of the uncomfortable heat in the room to hang and dry our clothes in the open closet. Perhaps this is why everywhere we looked there were clothes hanging out windows to dry.
We had The ParisPass for our stay here. This provided free admission to over 100 museums, galleries, monuments, cathedrals, and other places of interest. It also included unlimited use of the bus and subway system for the extent of our stay and two days use of the Big Bus Hop-on/Hop-off tour. A special treat included was a night time river boat cruise on the Seine.
We started our stay with a self guided walking tour following the route suggested by our hosts at Louvre Parisian. Armed with the directions and map they provided, as well as our smartphones and Google Maps, we quickly became familiar with our immediate area.
There are street vendors selling fresh hot crepes from their cart and many little restaurants, cafes, bistros, and bars lining nearly every street. All prices listed on the menus include gratuities so you never have to worry about how much to tip. The servers will never bring you the check unless you ask for it. The food was always very good. The French do know how to cook!
Be advised, it is cheaper to order beer or wine with your meal than a Coke or other soft drink. A large soda is similar to a small we are used to here at home. Usually they serve a small warm bottle which is mostly flat. We did get a true large, one liter, one time – €16,00 or about $18.60. Oh, and that was full of ice!
We saw the Eiffel Tower at night, lit up with hundreds of twinkling lights. From the top of the Arc de Triomphe we saw the twelve avenues radiating out like the spokes of a wheel from the central plaza of Place Charles de Gaulle. The principal of the avenues being the grand boulevard Champs-Élysées. We took in the view of the city from atop Montmartre, also known as Painters Hill. We marveled at the awe-inspiring grandeur of the Notre Dame Cathedral.
Paris has well over two dozen museums and art galleries to view everything from art and antiquities to maps, housewares, and chocolate.
Yes, we visited a chocolate museum, Le Musée Gourmand du Chocolat, also known as Choco-Story Paris, to learn the history of this bittersweet treat. This place was surprisingly interesting, and quite tasty!
After leaving Choco-Story, we quickly found ourselves standing outside Musée Grévin, the Paris Wax Museum. We hadn’t planned this as a stop but here we were so, why not?
The museum is entered through the Hall of Mirrors. This is a small, I believe octagon shaped room, with ornate columns and mirrors. The lights go out and your senses are overwhelmed with a light and sound show stretching your imagination to places you never thought possible!
From there you exit into the museum itself to extremely well executed likenesses of political figures, musicians, and movie stars past and present, some perhaps better known to Europeans than Americans.
But, of course, the grandest museum of them all is The Louvre. Overwhelming in size and scope, a visitor can get lost for hours and not even begin to see it all. There is something for everyone to see and enjoy. Our quest, as was it seemed every visitor’s, was to find the Mona Lisa. There are little signs posted here and there directing visitors to the smiling lady but still, it seemed we were going in circles. We did finally gaze upon her enigmatic smile and…we were somewhat unimpressed!
Oh well…there is much more to see. I found the huge paintings adorning the walls surrounding Da Vinci’s masterpiece to much more impressive. Art is very subjective, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Just because the art world proclaims something to be a masterpiece, nothing says you have to be impressed.
Paris was an experience we will never forget and a destination that should be on every traveler’s bucket list.