Paris – first few days

I’m writing this on Sunday, we arrived on Friday morning and I am feeling recovered enough from the jet lag to start blogging about the trip!

We were very successful in getting to our Air BnB from the airport, in fact we arrived an hour early which actually caused some issues in getting into our place.

After re-grouping with a coffee and croissant at the very nice Hotel Edgar down the street from our new apartment, we were able to meet our host and get into the apartment to settle in. The apartment is the personal living space of our host, Guido, who I imagine stays with a friend while renting his place.  It is in the 2d arrondissement, an area which basically encompasses Paris’ textile and garment district.  Our building is very old, we are on the second floor (which would be considered the third in the states).

The staircase looks original and is super narrow and twisting similar to those you will commonly find in Amsterdam.  It has no railing of course, so the first few jet-lagged days of poor balance have been a challenge.  Luckily, that seems to be improving. The apartment is quite spacious for Paris, and has nice natural light from windows facing the street.  We have a separate bedroom, living area, dining area, kitchen and bathroom with a lovely big tub.

After putting away our clothing and settling in, it was about 11am and we knew we needed to keep moving and stay awake if we wanted to get on the Paris time and lessen our reaction to the time change.  We needed food for the fridge so we took off for the Rue de Montorgueil, a fabulous shopping street closed to vehicles that is just a couple of blocks away from the apartment. It turned out to be as great as advertised, block after block of amazing boulangeries, patisseries, fruit and vegetable shops, fresh fish, butchers and lovely restaurants. After lunch and a great time in the shops stocking up we came back and just rested while Jack tried to figure out the tv situation. Surprisingly, we were able to get our Netflix account to work so we considered the day a success and went to bed.

Saturday 9/16/17

We had a decent sleep with about a 2 hour waking period during which I was happy to have the iPad to read my nook book on.  After lolling around a bit, we left about 11 to go to the L’Orangerie,  a museum located in the Tuileries that neither of us had visited before. We were able to walk there in about a half hour, the walk was slowed by my tendency to ooh and aah at items in the windows we were passing, and my general looking around at the beautiful buildings that are everywhere in Paris.

The museum did not disappoint, it is on the small side but with a very nice collection of impressionistic artworks, Matisse, Gauguin, Renoir and notably, Monet.  This museum had been built specifically to house many large murals by Monet of his pools and gardens from his home in Giverny, The rooms holding the murals are oval shaped and lit from above and the murals are mounted on the curved walls, enhancing the feeling of being surrounded by landscape Monet is intent on depicting.  These murals also served as studies for his famous “Water Lillies” painting which should be familiar to many of you.  We enjoyed this museum very much and then left to go walk along the Seine and explore a bit.  We stopped at a restaurant in a somewhat touristy area but being hungry thought we would take a chance and unfortunately ended up with an experience that many have complained about in regards to France. We ordered our meal and Jack wanted a coke initially so that is what I ordered for him (I am the official French speaker for this portion of the trip) and then he said he had changed his mind and wanted a hot chocolate since he was feeling a bit chilly.  He changed his order with the waiter and that’s when it was clear we would have a problem.  We ate our meal and asked for the bill, we sat patiently and asked two more times for the bill over at least a half hour period (Jack says 45 minutes).  It could not have been more clear that we were being punished for the change in the order as many others asked for and received their bills during this same period of time.  This is my 5th trip to Paris so I have had this type of experience before but it has been rare and I truly think that with the younger servers it is diminishing (there are also many more females serving now). We will see how it goes but I think it is more than the exception than the rule nowadays….

More walking and explorations in the afternoon and a quiet evening in and then a night with again a few hours of wakefulness.

 

Sunday 9/17/17

Today we decided to go see the Picasso museum, another place that was new to us both.  It is fun to have this 10 days to work with in Paris because it allows us the luxury of being able to explore places off the beaten path a bit and since we have both seen the big ticket tourist draws already (we may go back to some), we can check out some lesser known spots to enjoy.

The Picasso museum was really enjoyable.  It had a large collection of Picasso’s work, mainly lesser known pieces and studies and a few ceramics and sculptures.  What was interesting was the good job they did of showing his process by including many studies with subtle alterations leading to a final work.

Another aspect of the museum that we liked was the history of the building itself that was documented in detail.  It is a beautiful building with a history dating back to the 1700’s.

After the museum. we walked over to Notre Dame and sat in the Sunday afternoon sunshine and watched the people and just looked at that magnificent church.  The strolling police and army members with huge automatic weapons were a strangely welcome presence which I suppose is a commentary on where we are these days as a society.

Walked back home via the Rue Montorgueil again for fresh bread and soup for dinner and a quiet evening in, maybe one of the nights we will actually go out but we are tired at the end of these long days of exploring and grateful to have a place to prepare a simple meal and relax.

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