Saturday, April 20, 2013

Our England {France} Trip ~ Day 6 ~ Paris

We went to Paris!

When we started planning our trip, Carrie was looking at a map and made it known that she wanted to go to Paris for a day. Actually, she wanted to go to Paris and spend a night or two, but time would not allow for that on this trip.

We settled on taking a day trip, so we booked tickets for the Eurostar - a train that leaves from London, goes under the English Channel, and arrives in Paris after a two and half hour trip. We took the first train out - leaving at 5:40 a.m. - and the second-to-the-last train back to London - leaving around 8:00 p.m.

From my travel journal:  "Our alarm went off at 4:00 a.m. and we were up and running. We got ready quickly, and by 4:45 a.m. our hotel doorman was hailing a cab for us. When we got to the Eurostar station I realized I didn't have our ticket voucher in my purse! The voucher I had grabbed in my sleepy-stupor was for our Spice Girls evening the night before. After what seemed like several minutes, I finally convinced the ticket ticket lady to search by our last names, and she was able to print our tickets that way. A little stress to start the we go!"

Fortunately, we slept most of the way there, and I missed the whole our-train-is-in-a-tunnel-under-the-water event. When I woke up and looked out the window, I knew we were in France! It was different and it was beautiful.

When we got off the train in Paris we were both a bit overwhelmed. New country, new language, new bearings. Carrie's three years of high school French really paid off, and one of my favorite things about our day in Paris was hearing her speak French. She was so natural with it ~ and she's such a sweetheart anyway. It warmed my heart to see how the people in Paris responded to her as she spoke.

The only thing on my list of things-I-wanted-to-do-in-Paris was go to the top of the Eiffel Tower. Carrie pretended like she didn't want to, but we were there! It was a chance of a lifetime and I was determined to get to the top.

Well, one of the lifts to the top of the tower was under construction, so all tourists were directed to the one operating lift. We stood in line, in the cold morning Paris air, for two hours to purchase tickets. Two hours of precious time...two hours of security guards in camouflage with fingers on the triggers of large machine guns walking around the crowd...two hours of people with no concept of our "personal space"...two hours. Then! When we got our tickets, there was MORE waiting for our turn on the lift, and then MORE waiting at the second level to take the other lift to the top...and then MORE waiting to take the lift back down so we could get the heck out of there and see some other stuff in Paris!

But! We can both say we have been to the top of the Eiffel Tower. It was awesome. It was freezing cold. We took pictures. ~sigh~

After we left the tower we started our long day of walking. Walking. Walking. More walking. We found a sweet Italian restaurant on our way to the Arc de Triomphe and had the most delicious lunch.

We were using Carrie's iPhone as our GPS that day, but her battery was fading so we took some time to figure out how to use the antiquated paper map. Great invention, those paper maps! We followed the map, and we were really happy to see the Arc de Triomphe in the distance.

Wow - I hadn't been prepared for how amazing that Arc is. It was spectacular! I could have spent a long time there, marveling at all the tiles and carvings.

From there we walked down the Avenue des Champe-Elysees and went into a shop or two along the way. We were mostly focused on continuing to walk to our next destination: Notre Dame Cathedral.

Wow - by then we were tired and cold and a little fussy. We were both very relieved to see the cathedral in the distance, and that place did not disappoint! It was amazing to be there - to experience the energy in a cathedral that old and beautiful. We lit candles for my mom there.

After Notre Dame, I think we were both getting a little antsy about getting back to the train station on time. Even though we had a couple of hours, it made sense to start making our way back there. When we asked a cab driver to take us there and he said no, we really got nervous about the thought of having to walk all the way back to the station. We weren't sure there was enough time!

We finally found a cab to take us, and that made us early enough so there was time for a drink and a snack before we caught our train. We shared an order of the most amazing fries - and I loved the mayonnaise/horseradish dipping sauce that came with our order.

It makes me smile now, thinking of how we ate our way around Paris! There were several must-tries on our food list: crepes, croissants, macaroons, baguettes, croque monsieur, {French} fries, and chocolate. We covered all bases!

Travel journal:  "Back in London, both happily exhausted, we ordered late night room service and called it a day. Tomorrow we'd have time to see the sights in London. Wow - what an amazing trip we are having!!!"


Anonymous said...

Great pictures Deb! Boy your heart must have done a flip when that cab driver said no. I'm with you, I like to get to places like train stations and airports with time to spare.

Ruth said...

Goodness, you covered a lot of ground! Well done. I love Paris!

Maria Ontiveros said...

I'm amazed you were able to "do" Paris on one day! I love the photograph of that blue door and Miss C lighting the candles in Notre Dame. I have several similar ones from churches all over Europe, and they remain some of my favorites.

Fiona@staring at the sea said...

Wow! That was some day trip.
Fiona x

Stephanie @ La Dolce Vita said...

It sounds awesome and I loved the photos! I'm so enjoying this trip with you!

Amy said...

The photo of Carrie in Notre Dame really caught me today, it is beautiful and atmospheric.

debs14 said...

I love the fact that Eurostar has made 'Paris in a day' possible. Great photos - this really was a trip of all your favourite things, wasn't it?!

Becky said...

Love the photo of Carrie lighting the candle for your Mom x

Rhona said...

What a busy day you had! I don't know if I would have been brave enough to do what you did, especially as I don't speak any French. I love the photos and they brought back memories of when I did go to Paris on a tour. xx

Irene said...

Enjoying reading your posts and seeing your vacation photos.

Margaret said...

Wow I can't believe you made it to Paris too. I'm so jealous.

Alison said...

Well done on doing all you set out to do...I could have told you that the French aren't big on personal space!!
Alison xx

Denise said...

Deb,your photos are amazing,so lovely to be able to share this with you - and those chips look yummy :-) x

Karen said...

What a day! I spent a few days in Paris the summer I graduated from college (my only trip to Europe), and I would love to go back. Tracy has no interest. Your photos are wonderful (as they have been for this whole series). Do you have plans for them? Like others, the photo of Carrie at the cathedral is my pick of the day!

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