Posts Tagged ‘Paris’

Au Revoir, La Belle France… For Now

June 9th, 2011 | Rachel

The problem with epic vacations is they fly by entirely too quickly.

And so, Steve and I have reached our final destination of this two-week jaunt: Paris.

It was my idea to spend our last two nights there.  I had romantic visions of a hotel overlooking the Eiffel Tower and casual morning strolls for coffee and croissants from the nearby cafes.

Imagine my disappointment then when I bid on a hotel in the Eiffel Tower area of Paris through Priceline and was given a room in a hotel room outside the highway perimeter of the city.  I don’t know if that is even considered Paris.  Upon further investigation, I discovered the section of the map on Priceline that I chose had a microscopic growth on the far corner that extended over the perimeter.  I would have had to zoom out to see it.  This deviation was big enough for just one hotel, and of course that is the one I was given.

The only upside of this Pullman hotel (which is 4 star) was they initially gave us a room with a dirty bathroom and inadequate air condition, and when I complained we were upgraded to a large suite with a separate living room and two bathrooms.  Not a bad way to end a trip :-)

We both slept like rocks, and the next morning we set out for Montmartre.

View of Paris from Montmartre

A little pop culture trivia for you: Montmartre was the setting of La Vie En Rose, Amelie, and Moulin Rouge.  I love all of those movies!

We stopped and had lunch at one of the cafes, and then walked up the hill to the beautiful Sacre Coeur.

Shops and cafes in Montmartre

Sacre Coeur Basilica

We spent the afternoon doing touristy things like viewing the Eiffel Tower from the Palais de Chaillot and taking the boat tour down the Seine.  Our boat actually broke down while we were on the tour, so we spent more time waiting for the police and another boat to show up than we did listening to the recorded tour guide.

Thanks, Mr. Photobomb Guy

View of Notre Dame from our boat tour

That evening, per the recommendation of two photographers we met in front of the Eiffel Tower (I have them to thank for the new banner photo above), we went to the 13th District for happy hour (cute bars with a young clientele, not far from the universities).

Bar in the 13th District

That evening, we followed the recommendation of our concierge and headed to the Boulevard Saint-Germain for dinner.  There were dozens of great restaurants to choose from, and we ended up at one called Au Beaujolais.  There were so many interesting characters in this restaurant — including the host, server, and Canadian gentleman at the table beside us — that I felt like I was in a sitcom (sorry for the iPhone photos… my camera died earlier in the day).

The food was great too.  Since it was our last dinner in France, I stuck to the traditional dishes: French onion soup, beef bourguignon (amazing!!!), and creme brulee.  Steve had the lamb.  Everything was delicious.

The sky opened up in the middle of dinner, so we had a leisurely cafe au lait afterward as we waited for the worst of the rain to pass.

Paris in the rain

That concludes the updates for our trip.  Stay tuned for more photos as I get them sorted out.  I could say the trip was great, but that would be a gross understatement.  It was the trip of a lifetime, and I am convinced more than ever that I want to live there.  More on that later :-)

Au revoir!


La Première Fois (The First Time)

April 7th, 2011 | Rachel

I was digging through my e-archives and came across the photos from my first trip to France.  It was a week in Paris, of course, and I was a college sophomore at the time and hadn’t yet taken the photojournalism class that taught me how to take a proper photo.

Honestly, I don’t have any strong memories of this visit.  I was with a college church group of sorts and had spent the three months prior studying at Oxford University in Oxford, England with a political science program.  That was the semester my eyes were opened and my political and religious viewpoints shifted dramatically.  In light of that, one week in Paris at the end of my program was relatively insignificant.  Sorry, Paris.

I do remember that the week I was in Paris was the same week the United States started bombing Iraq, so all of our plans involving evangelizing the many college campuses in Paris were abruptly canceled.  On top of that, some sort of poison was discovered in the subway, so our mode of transportation was limited.

I remember liking how the city felt small and a little dirty, in a good way.   It had a completely different feel from London (or any other European city, for that matter, but at the time my limited experiences involved London, Edinburgh and Vienna).  I’ve always thought of London as grandiose and somewhat sterile.

Another vivid memory involves my first crepe, purchased from a street vendor.  It was filled with butter and Nutella, and it actually changed my life.

The highlight of the week was a day trip out to Mont Saint Michel.  This tidal island has been the home to an evolving monastery and town for a thousand years.  The monastery grows out of the top of the steep hill and the town wraps around the bottom.  When I was there, we drove to the island by a land bridge.  Wikipedia now tells me the land bridge has been removed and Mont Saint Michel is officially an island again.  Visitors must enter the island via shuttles until the construction of an actual bridge is completed.

My boyfriend hasn’t yet experienced Mont Saint Michel, so I am hoping to make it a part of our upcoming trip to France this summer.  It would be interesting to see it again now that I am a seasoned traveler.

Here are some random (and admittedly not very good) photos from the trip.  Perhaps you can help me identify them:

View from the Eiffel Tower and the Arc De Triomphe


Two universities in Paris


Entrance to the Louvre and La Sainte Chapelle

Notre Dame

Group shots at Mont Saint Michel

Man feeding birds in front of Notre Dame and the Eiffel Tower

Me during my awkward college years

I still wear the scarf from that last photo, so at least something has stayed with me.  Stay tuned for the tale of a more memorable second trip to Paris with my grandmother, as well as the story of that one time I ended up in Strasbourg for the start of the Tour de France.

So, what about you?  How was your first trip to France?