We couldn’t go to France and not visit Paris. Even if just for two nights. Not to mention, there isn’t a really easy to get by train from Strasbourg to Amsterdam without going through Paris. Our hotel for this quick visit was the Hotel Michelet Odeon in the 6th – near the Luxembourg gardens. You can see it across the square in the photo on the right, next to the Odeon Theater. Its a small boutique style hotel, in a fantastic location, with very reasonable room rates for Paris. The family suite was perfect for us, and had a bathroom bigger than any other hotel we’ve stayed at in Paris. Once we dropped our bags, we just set out walking through our favorite neighborhood, St. Germain de Près, towards the Seine.
We quickly came upon these cherry blossoms framing the dome of the Académie Française, which is one of my favorite buildings in Paris.
Just around the corner was this scene. I really have no idea what was going on there!Jeff really wanted some Berthillon ice cream, and we knew the shop was on Ile Saint-Louis, so we kept walking past the bouqinistes and Notre Dame.And past a restaurant we loved the last time we were in town, Cafe St Regis.
Well that walk took a good 45 minutes, and we arrived to Berthillon to find that they were closed for the April school vacation! Fortunately, there was a shop across the street that also sells Berthillon ice cream. And well, we’ve never been to Paris without a falafel, so we kept walking and had our lunch after our dessert. If you like falafel, this is the place to go. I mean I’m sure there are other great falafel places in the Marais, but L’As du Fallafel is the famous one, and the only one we’ve tried. I mean, Lenny Kravitz says it’s the best, so… One tip, get your falafel to go, at the window and then walk down the street (restaurant on your left) maybe two blocks, to the entrance of the Jardin des Rosiers. It’s a hidden park, with lots of benches and grass and a quiet place for you to enjoy a picnic away from the busy Rue des Rosiers. After lunch I spotted this interesting collection of people walking up the Rue des Rosiers.Ellie’s got a favorite store in Paris, and that is the Hippy Market, which sells vintage clothing. There are actually two of them, but this one is in the Marais.
The are so many hidden covered passages around Paris, and I think we stumble on a new one every time we visit. This is the Galerie Véro-Dodat. You can find more on Paris’ passages here. It was getting late and it was definitely time for a drink, so we headed over to the Palais Royale to a cafe, for a bit. I love the juxtaposition of this old and new architecture just before we reached the Palais Royale.My favorite Metro station entrance in Paris is this one – Louvre-Rivoli. I mean, it’s magical.
Did you know there is an underground shopping mall at the Louvre? It’s a pretty great spot, and even if you are not visiting the museum, it’s fun place to visit, and to get a look at the other part of Pei’s pyramid.
There are some great shops, including an Apple store (i needed a charging cord) and a Caudalie, where I bought a whole bunch of skin care products for a lot less than they cost in the US.OK — here is a tip you don’t want to miss! Bathrooms. I’m kind of a public bathroom snob. And in Europe, you just never know what you are gonna get. More than once I’ve stood over a hole in the ground. In an actual restaurant. So. If you go to the Carrousel due Louvre, they’ve got you covered. It’ll cost you a Euro, but totally worth it. It’s called “Point WC” and it’s just around to the left at the bottom of these escalators. Not only are the cleaned between visits, but the attendant will spritz them before you walk in. Worth every centime!After we’d done our shopping, admired the pyramid, and used the fancy bathrooms, we headed over to the Tuileries across from the Louvre. I just love this park. And towards the end of the day, the light was soft and dreamy, and the people watching as good as it gets.
Ahh, that Paris light. Yeah, they had to… Look at Ellie’s expression though. 🙂 After a dinner back in the 6th, we hit our favorite Crêperie des Arts. The only thing we’ve had there, but multiple times, is the nutella banana crêpe and the butter and sugar, but we can recommend! There is a walk up window where you can watch them make your crêpe and head on your way. The best part about the Hotel Michelet Odeon is that it is a two minute walk to the Luxembourg gardens, which is a perfect way to start any day. However, it’s also set in a really special district if you are into literary history at all. This is the neighborhood where Hemingway lived (right around the corner from the gardens) and spent his time writing in cafés. He, along with Fitzgerald, Ezra Pound, Sinclair Lewis and others would meet at the Salon hosted by Gertrude Stein, at her place on the other side of the Luxembourg Gardens. If this interests you at all, you have to read Hemingway’s “A Moveable Feast“.
From there, we sort of wandered. Over towards the Pantheon and came upon this really lovely and interesting church. Where the girls took a rest on the steps, and I took this picture. And then, two weeks ago, pining for Paris (as usual), I watched Woody Allen’s “Midnight in Paris”. (yeah, woody allen, I know… but jeez that’s a good movie and I own it). Anyway, I’m sitting there watching as Owen Wilson gets picked up in the car by F. Scott and Zelda, and I realized. THESE are the church steps Owen Wilson was sitting on in that scene! I’m sure Jeff thought I got entirely overly excited at that revelation.So, with only a day and a half in Paris, we had a lot of ground to cover, and the girls really wanted to go to Montmartre, so we hopped in an Uber (which is cheaper and often faster for us, than taking the Metro, since there are four of us), and headed there. I wanted to show the girls “Le Mur des je t’aime” or The I love you wall. “In a world marked by violence and dominated by individualism, walls, like frontiers, are usually made to divide and to separate people and to protect them from one another. On the contrary, Le mur des je t’aime (I love you : the wall) is a link, a place of reconciliation, a mirror which reflects an image of love and peace downtown Paris Montmartre, in France”And on our way up the hill we came across shoes on a wire. ?And a colorful bike.As we got closer to the Sacre Coeur I spotted its refection in a window. And then we arrived at the Place du Tertre.Ice cream from Carrette.And then we did what you do a the Sacré-Coeur. Sat on the steps and people watched.
The first time we took the girls to Paris they LOVED this store that sells string lights with these awesome colorful balls. That was about seven years ago, and it was time for replacement balls… so here they are. Buying new balls. They are pretty fun! I interrupt these travel photos for just a quick peek at some of the best things to stuff your suitcase with. All (except for the Fragonard perfume and Caudalie) purchased from your every day French pharmacy. I’m addicted to the smell of the NUXE oil. I should have bought ten of them.That night we met my friend Hélène for dinner at Bistrot d’Henri, not too far from our hotel. We met years ago, online, while we were both doing the 365Project, and now we’ve actually met in person three times while we were visiting Paris. You know, the internet is a weird, sometimes awesome, sometimes scary thing. But the best thing about it, (if you use it in the right way) is that it can make our planet feel a little smaller. We all have so much in common with people living around the globe. Families, pets, hobbies, love of certain foods, music, tales of love and sadness. If only everyone would put themselves out there (in a safe way) and meet people who come from a different place, imagine how much better this world would be. Anyway, it was really lovely to see Hélène again.
After dinner we walked along the Seine because we couldn’t leave Paris without seeing the Eiffel Tower twinkle. As we walked, we came upon this little band playing along the banks.
We reached the Place de la Concorde right at 10:00. Just as the tower started to twinkle. And I don’t have pictures. Because we just watched it in awe. As one can only do.
The next morning, we walked in Hemingway’s footsteps in the Luxembourg Gardens, and said our goodbyes until next time (which has actually already been planned…)In case you missed it, here is the first part of our trip: Alsace. Next stop. Amsterdam, coming soon!
PS: For More on Paris, here is my blog post from 2016. And my ridiculously detailed and color coded map of Paris, with links to restaurants, shopping, and if you look for the little yellow cameras, places that are great for photos. If you are traveling to Paris, and want a list of other things we love to do with the girls, feel free to send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org, and I’ll send you my PDF.