It was still dark out when I arrived in Paris yesterday morning. I’d barely slept on the plane but I was eager to start experiencing the city, so I grabbed my bags, breezed through customs, and caught a train from CDG into the city. Forty minutes later I emerged from the subway and made my way to my hotel. I was immediately greeted by Notre Dame, which is quite an amazing way to be welcomed into the city.
I found my way to my hotel but it was too early to check in so I dropped my luggage and headed out to do some exploring. Feeling famished, I popped into a bistro around the corner and sat down with a hearty breakfast of eggs, bacon, and toast. I felt very Parisian as I sat there, alone in the window, journaling and watching people pass by.
After enjoying a leisurely breakfast, I struck out again to explore the Latin Quarter where I’m staying. I walked up to and along the river, stopping to admire Notre Dame and all the beautiful architecture Paris has to offer. I always enjoy looking at (ok, into) people’s homes and imagining their way of life and Paris apartments are now securely lodged at the top of my real estate lust list (along with a DC brownstone, a Tuscan villa, and a ski chalet in Vail… it’s a lengthy list).
I spent another hour or so roaming around before returning to my hotel for a nap and a change of clothes. After a few hours I emerged from my room entirely reinvigorated. I decided that my first Paris attraction would be The Louvre so I pulled up directions on my phone and set out.
I entered through the glass pyramid, paid my 15 Euro, and started wandering through the gargantuan museum. The first floor is mostly sculptures. What took my breath away about The Louvre was not only the quality of art, but the quantity. There are over 35,000 works on display so it’s really impossible to spend time and fully appreciate each one.
I found my favorite part on the second floor: Napoleon’s Apartment. It immediately made me wish I’d done more research because there’s very little information posted and I would have liked to know more. Each room is so splendid, so opulent, that it’s hard for me to even fathom his level of wealth. The high ceilings are hand painted, chandeliers hang by the dozens, and almost every available surface is either gilded or adorned with luxe, heavenly fabrics. I wished that I could duck under the velvet ropes and just linger there with a book and a cup of tea. Through the window I could see the Eiffel Tower shimmering beautifully. It was one of those sublime moments where I had to stop and remind myself that I wasn’t dreaming.
Last, I went upstairs to the paintings. It seems as if they continue on forever, ranging from the very small to the very large. Of course, the most famous piece is the Mona Lisa. I couldn’t leave without seeing her, but my amateur opinion is that she pales in comparison to some of the other works there which are so large and complex that you have to sit down and spend some time taking the whole thing in. Some are so large that the painter must have required scaffolding to create them. Those are the ones that speak to me; I sit down, let my eyes crawl over every inch, and appreciate every face and horse; every piece of the scene. I wonder what the artist loved most, what challenged him/her, and what inspired the creation. Those are the paintings that make me feel something, which is why I am drawn to them.
After a couple of hours, I’d had my fill of art so I headed back out into the cold. With the Eiffel Tower’s beam scanning the city, I set out for a closer look. It was a much farther walk than I anticipated, but it all worked out perfectly because I arrived just before the top of the hour which meant I didn’t have to wait for it to start dazzling.
By that point in the night, I was famished so I sat down in one of the first restaurants I could find. Sure it was touristy but the price and location were both perfect. I ordered a small carafe of wine, French onion soup, and a plate of linguine with pesto. Wine and pesto are favorites of mine, but I don’t think I’ve ever ordered French onion soup before. I figured there’d never be a better time or place. When in Rome! It turned out to be the star of the meal and I regretted even ordering the pasta.
Full and a little tipsy, I walked the whole way home. By the time I arrived, my feet hurt from walking over a dozen miles but I was too smitten with Paris to care. I collapsed into bed around midnight and drifted off into dreamland with a big cheesy smile painted on my face.