I spent a bit more than a week in Paris this spring and didn’t write a word about it. Having been a blogger for more years that necessary I suppose that I was trying to simply enjoy myself and hoard the precious moments with friends and family. I didn’t want to talk about the line for the catacombs or the days that the air was so dirty that the metro was free. I didn’t want to tell you about the very Parisian moment in Hermès where they told me they didn’t have a purse for me but I very well knew that they did and that my friend and sat down and waited belligerently until they brought the purse from the back.
I didn’t want to tell you that butter and chicken and potatoes in France taste better, that the portions are all smaller and that the best meals were the cheapest. I didn’t want to write about sitting by a river and watching the locks fill and drain to move boats through the city while we sipped wine from paper cups and snacked on baguette.
I didn’t want to share these things because my week in Paris with my son was magical and the days before it with just a friend were enchanted and sometimes trying to be a writer prohibits us from experiencing the moment we are in. I didn’t want to tell you that we stayed in an apartment in the 11th arrondissement and that every day as we ducked into the metro we’d play a game of “Guess what they’re protesting” at Place de la République.
Paris is a city everyone should be fortunate enough to visit. Though Paris could keep you busy for several weeks don’t forget to leave the city and explore France a little.
Here are a few things to keep in mind when planning your trip to France.
Trains are your friend. The Metro is unquestionably the best way to travel in Paris and Rail Europe is a lovely way to travel within France and throughout Europe. Although you can access Rail Europe easily from the US I found when traveling through Spain that by logging into their site via a VPN (Virtual Private Network) and then using a friend’s credit card that was issued in Europe I was able to reduce the cost by approximately 40%. I used Hide My A$$ and recommend it if you want to forge your location to find better pricing. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to get European pricing with my US credit card so I did have a friend make the purchase and paid them back.
“So you knew we’d be showing you at least one train station photo during this week, right? After work one of my coworkers and I headed out for a bit and we passed through Gare Saint-Lazare. I had never been to this station before and was surprised at how bright and quiet it was at this time of night. It’s full of shops (not just little magazine shops, either – many little boutiques and some chain stores as well). This station is one of the six major train stations in Paris and is one of the top 5 busiest railway stations in Europe (which is why I was surprised it was so quiet). If you’re traveling to the western suburbs of Paris or to Normandy, you’ll probably pass through this station.” – @jackie_travels
Fly Air France. I mean you don’t have to but it’s a lovely experience and if you can swing business class you’ll gain an extra day of vacation because jet lag will be less horrible. I spent a full six days of my life moving miles from two credit cards and four airlines in order to coordinate business class travel for four to Europe from several locations and then to return together. My out of pocket costs were $900 (and six days of my life) and I wouldn’t have changed it for a thing. On the way to France you’ll be excited that you’re eating French food even though it’s airline food. On the way home you’ll be like, “Second rate French food on airplanes is still better than most of what I eat at home.” Sightsee in local shops as well as museums. I quickly became obsessed with the local exterminator.
There’s more where this came from. A photo posted by Jessica Gottlieb (@jessicagottlieb) on
And Churches have as much artwork as museums.
This is at William’s favorite neighborhood church. Like many Catholic Churches it is filled with artwork and treasures. This painting appears to be scheduled for restoration and the tape marks the spots with age and wear. I hesitate to call them flaws next to this painting is a piece of stained glass that was recently restored. It’s a man, I don’t know who but it was interesting to see bright vivid colors on a piece of glass that was from the napoleonic age. It’s special to stand on floors worn thin with age.
Some of the best food we had in Paris was Cambodian. Don’t make the mistake of eating only French food and if you want a Parisian afternoon grab a bottle of wine, some plastic cups and a sandwich to go. Sit by a river or in a park, sit on a bench, just make sure you sit because unlike Americans, Europeans simply do not walk and eat. Now unravel that sandwich, pop the cork and slowly enjoy your snack, your sips and the scenery.