I headed out for Brussels Midi train station early in the morning for Paris after my fabulous one night’s stay in Brussels. I wish I had been able to stay longer because I missed seeing much of the city due my not being able to tear myself away from the Grand Place celebration. A common occurrence is for me to become mesmerized by a particular site and I tend to immerse myself there in favor of others.
I arrived in Paris very apprehensive because I didn’t know one word of French, other than the standard “bonjour”, “merci”, “s’il vous plait,” and “au revoir.” I lacked so much confidence that I knew I would screw up the pronunciation of those basic words and so I found myself mumbling my way through purchasing “les billets” (Metro/ bus tickets) when I arrived in Paris. I tried to appear composed when I stepped aboard the bus with my carry-on and day backpack, but I almost collapsed in a heap on the bus seat heading to my hotel which was near the Eiffel Tower. I was actually starting to feel pretty confident because I noticed that the bus stops were coordinating with my Metro map until, all of a sudden, they weren’t….UGH!!! There was a family from India standing next to me on the bus. One of the young men from that group must have seen my panic-stricken expression when the stops weren’t looking familiar so he said to me, “What’s the bus driver doing? Did he just change routes?!?” We suddenly realized that we were heading way off course and the young man made the bus driver stop to let us off the bus. Of course, that meant my having to friggin’ WALK over a mile with my luggage but I finally made it to my hotel named Hotel La Bourdonnais. YAY!!! It was a sight for sore eyes, to say the least.
On my way to the hotel, I had walked past an event near the Eiffel Tower, where they were holding a women’s 10K race and there were booths and live music. Because my hotel was very close to the Eiffel Tower, I could hear the festivities right after I laid my bags down and opened the window. I decided to rest on my bed, and suddenly I heard a woman singing “Ave Maria” at the event. That was the moment I fell in love with Paris.
I didn’t want to waste any more time. I headed out straight for the Eiffel Tower, which was a few minutes’ walking distance from my hotel.
Do I need to describe the Eiffel Tower to you? I think not.
The image below is a composite of three images merged in Photoshop. I am absolutely in love with the Tower’s fretwork detailing.
There are some food carts at the opposite end of the Eiffel Tower. I hadn’t eaten that day, so I was thrilled to find a crepe stand. My friend Barry told me that I needed to eat one so who was I to argue? ;) I, of course, had never eaten a crepe in Europe and had no clue what the Chantilly in “Crepe Nutella Chantilly” was, but it sounded pretty so I ordered it. (I had never tasted Nutella before either. Yes, I must live in a cave.)
So that’s what Chantilly is!
Believe it or not, although it was delicious, I spooned 3/4 of the whipped cream into the trash. Crazy move, I know.
I wandered around aimlessly near my hotel trying to make sense of the 7th arrondissement (district) that I was staying in until I realized that I needed to conquer my fear of traveling by city bus because I had planned on attending 6:30 p.m. Mass at Notre Dame. I jumped on the 69 bus and it was a wonderful way to see the city, views of which I never would have seen had I taken the Metro.
Here is one of my many views photographed through the window of the 69 bus.
The bus brought me to the Chalelet bus stop which was a short walk to Notre Dame.
Notre Dame was magnificent!
After Mass had ended, I walked down a street looking for a restaurant to eat dinner. However, because the only food I had eaten all day was the Nutella crepe, I didn’t want to be served in a restaurant. Luckily, there were some stands in front of and adjoining restaurants. One of them served crepes and sandwiches, but I spied a Croque Monsieur and decided to go for it.
Let me just say that this was one of my favorite food stand items ever. The server toasted it and inside it had a finely-textured ricotta (I think) and ham. SOOO delicious!
I decided to head back by following the exact route I had walked to get to Notre Dame but when I crossed over the Seine River where I had originally been dropped off by the bus, I couldn’t find any bus stops on the opposite side of the street. What to do? I chose to walk and came upon the Louvre. It was after sunset so I decided to simply photograph the exterior.
I met two nice tourists from Vancouver after one of them asked me to move because I was in the middle of what they were trying to photograph. Oops! We had a nice chat. Photographers are super friendly people. ;) They gave me advice as to how to find RER C (subway) which would take me back to my hotel. This was welcome news because there wasn’t a bus or taxi in sight. I thanked them and headed in the direction they told me but, once again, I got lost. Unfortunately for me, it started raining again….HARD. I was lucky to snag a taxi that had just dropped off some people. I asked the driver to drop me off at the Eiffel Tower because, rain or no rain, I was determined to see the Eiffel Tower lit at night.
It stopped raining by the time I arrived and the Eiffel Tower and surrounding area was amazingly beautiful at night. I crossed the street and took more photos from the Trocadero but I liked this image because it epitomizes European culture and beauty. Believe me when I tell you that I took many, many more images on my first day in Paris but I hope that this will give you a feel for my wonderful adventure.
I walked back to my hotel and arrived around 10:00 p.m. I survived my first day in Paris!