Paris: First Impressions. There really aren’t very many people who speak poorly of Paris. In fact, some individuals melt into a puddle of mush when we tell them that we started and ended our European adventure in Paris. We had little idea of what to expect, but I suspected that this city might remind me of my years in London. As mentioned in a previous post – A Rough Start – I had fallen sick during the two days before the trip. I struggled through the journey from Qingdao to Paris, and even after arriving in France, I continued to feel ill. Despite feeling yucky, I really tried not to let my illness put a damper on the start of our trip. Thankfully, although our hotel room was small, it was really comfy. We stayed at the Best Western Opera Drouot, and we couldn’t have been happier with our choice to stay in this area, the “9th arrondissement”, of Pairs.
“I guess it goes to show that you just never know where life will take you. You search for answers. You wonder what it all means. You stumble, and you soar. And, if you’re lucky, you make it to Paris for a while.”
― Amy Thomas, Paris,
My Sweet: A Year in the City of Light
Above, The Best Western spiral staircase located just beside our room. Of course, there was an elevator but who can resist looking at old stairs like these. There were a couple of days were I walked up and down the stairs instead of using the elevator… but with the queasiness that still lingered, there wasn’t too much that I could handle.
In the mornings Justin would run out to buy us fresh baguettes (source of image below) and cheese. From day one… we were hooked!! There is no denying a freshly baked baguette. The inside hot and soft, the outside light brown and crispy. *Oh my goodness – I am salivating just thinking back on it!* I should probably add that I have a bread-tooth (you know.. like a sweet tooth, but for bread). Give me bread and butter… oh my word… freshly baked bread and real butter… and I am done! Good bread is hard to come by in China, so when we got to Paris it felt like an old spark had been reignited and all I could think about was BAGUETTES!
A little bit of interesting information…
French bread is required by French law to avoid preservatives. As a result, bread goes stale in under 24 hours. Thanks to this wonderful law, baking baguettes is a daily occurrence. French baguettes are usually baked twice day. Early in the morning and again around four in the afternoon for dinner. It is very rare for a French person to keep a baguettte from the day before for the next day’s meal. We learned this quickly in France. In fact, we wondered what was “wrong” with the bread that it went stale so quickly. You can imagine our joy when we found out WHY!
Another two sweet joys of our time in Paris were coffee (above) and the views (below). You can’t help but love hotels that provide any sort of espresso maker in your room. Whenever the room was cleaned, the coffee pods were replenished. This was a nice way to start the morning. That was just the beginning though! Justin would also pick up coffee on his morning stroll to up pick baguettes. Needless to say, bread and coffee quickly became staples for this journey.
The view that you see below is from the window in our hotel room. When we arrived in Paris this mama was feeling really nasty. We therefore didn’t leave the hotel much that afternoon. It was, however, very pleasing to look out of our hotel room window, and see this…
Our hotel was lovely, but the rooms were TINY! Had it only been the two of us, I’m sure that the room would have been okay. Adding a pack ‘n play and toys sprawled all over the remaining floor space, made things feel a little tight. Seeing as we were going to be there for three nights, we quickly figured out a way to turn our bed and get Eli’s bed into a corner. This always makes a huge difference for us because then we can still do what we want to do at night, without disturbing him.
The road that we were located on, was surrounded by many restaurants, stores and cafes. We really did fall in love with this, and the surrounding, neighborhood. Below, When I finally started to feel a little normal, we got dressed and went to eat at a trendy little restaurant on the corner of the block we were staying on. We had seen people sitting there, drinking cocktails and eating amazing dishes, so I was eager to get better and join them! This burger and chips was the first proper thing I had eaten in about three days, and sadly I could barely get more than half way through it.
The 9th arrondissement, located on the Right Bank, is one of the 20 arrondissements of Paris, France. It contains many places of cultural, historical and architectural interest, including the Palais Garnier, home to the Paris Opera, Boulevard Haussmann and its large department stores Galeries Lafayette and Printemps.
We strolled through these streets – admiring the architecture, marveling at the sights, and soaking in the Parisian vibes. We both wanted “new stuff” so we also stopped to do some shopping in those first days. The first thing that surprised us most about Paris was how incredibly friendly people were. The hotel staff, shop attendants, and even strangers in the street, were all so kind and happy. The second thing that really caught us off guard – and this one will make you laugh – everyone/ everything smells so darn good! I know that we went from China to Paris, and there is almost no use comparing those two places. BUT WOW… we felt like we were sniffer dogs on a prowl! We could smell every little thing, and ALL of it smelled incredible!
The Palais Garnier is a 1,979-seat opera house, named after its architect, Charles Garnier. The theatre is also often referred to as the Opera Garner, and has been called “the most famous opera house in the world, a symbol of Paris like Notre Dame Cathedral, the Louvre, or the Sacré Coeur Basilica.”
Above, Facade of the Palais Garner. Below, West facade and the Pavillon de l’Empereur.
In those first couple of days we did our fair share of walking, but we also relaxed (recovered) a lot. Both were equally needed and enjoyable. Elijah was in his new stroller from the very first day of our journey. Compared to our jogging stroller, this is a much lighter and compact stroller which folds up so small that we are able to take it onto the plane as hand luggage. That’s right – no gate checking! If any of you are interested in this stroller, or anything else we packed for Eli, let me know. I am sure that we will do a post on “how to pack/travel for two months with a toddler”.
There is no denying that Paris is amazing… You only need to walk around for a day or two, and you’ll feel yourself falling in love with this place. There was a very special moment towards the end of our first visit to Paris, where we were completely mesmerized by these streets and the way that the setting sun caused the buildings to glow. We will definitely share more on that evening in another post!