Europe 2012: Paris-Day 1

Bonjour! I am here to tell you about my two week trip to Europe with the huz, during which we visited Paris, Florence, and Rome. While I will, of course, be telling you about all of the foods we ate, I’ll also be venturing away from the topic of food and telling you about many of our adventures as well. Hope you enjoy!

I took the day of our departure off work to stay home and pack and to prepare all of our travel documents. We limited ourselves to one carry-on bag each, which was a challenge, but SO worth it! If we’d each also had a checked bag, we would have been severely limited in our mobility on this trip. I tried to keep a bit of empty space in my luggage for any souvenirs or gifts I might want to bring home. I plan to write a post about what and how I packed for this trip in the future.

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Friday evening we grabbed dinner at the airport. I had a chicken shawarma wrap and fries and a Mediterranean restaurant at DTW.

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We took the 10:00 PM nonstop red-eye flight from Detroit to Paris.

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After a nearly 8 hour flight, we arrived in Paris! What a crazy airport to navigate – let me tell you. It was 11:30 AM local time, and we took the RER B train from the CDG airport to central Paris. We then had only a short walk to locate our hotel, located in the 1st arrondissement, called Hotel Flor Rivoli. I picked this hotel due to it’s mostly positive TripAdvisor reviews and also for its proximity to the Louvre, and to Paris attractions in general. The room was VERY small! The smallest I’ve ever stayed in – but that’s pretty much the way it works in Paris, from what I understand. The room was clean and in fine condition (though in need of refurbishment).

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Itty bitty bathroom. Another first: our bathroom had a bidet as well.

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View from our room. Our hotel was located on a street that had a bit of noise all throughout the night, which forced us to keep our windows closed if we wanted to get any sleep. Unfortunately it got rather warm in the (non-air conditioned) room during the night, as a result. However, Hotel Flor Rivoli served us well during our stay in Paris. The location (1/3 mile walk to the Louvre and right next to a Metro station) was absolutely ideal and again, our primary reason for choosing the hotel. The price for the location is a deal. However, after 4 nights in the room, we were starting to become claustrophobic in the tiny space! This is a perfect place for a one night stay, but perhaps a bit tight for anything  longer than that. American hotels have spoiled us.

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For our first day in Paris, we had only one item on the agenda: The Eiffel Tower!

Would you laugh if I told you my eyes welled up with tears a bit when we walked around the bend and caught our first glimpse of the Eiffel Tower?

Magical, I tell ya.

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So many people have told me that when they visited the Eiffel Tower, it was smaller than they imagined, however, for me, the experience was the opposite – it was actually larger than I expected! And what a gorgeous day for our visit, too!

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We waited in line for tickets to ride the elevator to the top. Apparently you can also pre-book your tickets in advance but you must choose a reservation time when doing so. Since we weren’t sure what time we would make it to the Eiffel Tower on our first day, we chose to not pre-book and just waited in the line (about 45 minutes on a late afternoon Saturday in September).

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Excited about our pair of tickets!

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Once we made it to the top, we were afforded spectacular views of Paris.P1080984P1080990

We visited the middle viewing deck, and also the top level viewing deck.P1080992P1080993P1080994

The lawn in front of the tower was packed with picnickers and grass loungers all day and night – most of which were toting bottles of wine! I missed the memo.

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We strolled a few blocks away for dinner at Le Bosquet, as the sun began to set. I ordered the sea bass with ratatouille and was surprised when this whole big fella showed up on my plate! However, this meal was incredibly delicious and I loved both the thyme-stuffed sea bass and especially the extremely flavorful ratatouille – perfect for bread dipping! It was also at this meal that I learned it is often cheaper to drink wine than it is to drink soda in France (and, as I later learned, in Italy too!), and in some cases, even cheaper to drink wine than WATER (if you order bottled mineral water, as nearly everyone does, that is). I had a glass of French wine with dinner that only about 3 Euros!P1090009

For dessert, the huz and I split this warm chocolate lava cake, served with a chocolate crisp, whipped cream, and vanilla ice cream. Yum!P1090011

Nice ambiance on the patio at Le Bosquet.P1090012

The huzzzzz.P1090013P1090014

After dinner, we headed back to the Eiffel Tower for Dessert Round #2! We enjoyed Gaufres au Nutella, purchased from a food cart, while sitting in the grass viewing the illuminated tower. I am going to warn you right now that I am a complete and utter amateur at the French language, so please be kind. This was also when we learned that Gaufres (waffles!) are an AMAZING treat! I kept talking about GAUFRES for our entire two week trip. Hell, I am STILL talking about them daily.

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At the top of the hour, for five minutes, we were treated to the exciting lights show!

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An incredible evening for sure! There’s one item checked off the bucket list for me, baby.

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Eventually we took the metro back to our hotel. I cannot say enough positive things about Paris metro system. It is incredible easy to use (once you figure out how to purchase tickets, at least), and is extremely comprehensive in its coverage of Paris. However, our first night in Paris, we learned that each stop has multiple exits, and we took a different exit than we originally entered, so it took a good 45 minutes or so of wandering to find our hotel again. By then, we were SO ready for bed after a long day and a half of travel.

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Back soon to tell you about our first full day in Paris.

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14 thoughts on “Europe 2012: Paris-Day 1

  1. Wow, Megan! I love your pictures and your commentary. You look like you’re having a great time. So happy you are taking the time to share all your adventures. Looking forward to the next installment. :-)

  2. I found your blog a few months ago and I really love reading your posts! Paris looks fantastic, but I’m always been intimidated because I’m not well versed in French. You had said you’re a bit of an amateur French speaker. Did you feel comfortable getting around the city?

    • Hi Karen! Thanks for reading! We felt very comfortable getting around the city, armed with a solid street map (make sure you get one big enough with ALL of the street names, we learned!). Like I mentioned, the metro system is very easy to navigate, and very intuitive to learn. As far as communication, we had no real problems. Basically if you learn ‘please,’ ‘thank you,’ ‘yes,’ ‘no’, and ‘toilet,’ you’re all good! I think locals (in any country) appreciate when tourists take the time to greet or address the locals in their native language rather than just jumping into English, assuming they speak it. With that said, nearly everyone we encountered in customer service-type positions (i.e., servers in restaurants, buying train tickets, bathroom attendents) spoke at least enough English to basically communicate with you. So yes, we felt comfortable getting around indeed! :)

  3. Your trip sounds fantastic!! I took french in college and would love to see Paris! How did you like the French people? It was great to see you and Huz in June. You both looked great. Love, Aunt Anne

    • Thanks! It definitely would have been nice having a little background in French but I took Spanish in school and Tom took German, so we are definitely amateurs in the language! As an American, to me the French culture is definitely seemed not as friendly, from my experience. The Parisians we encountered typically didn’t go out of their way to smile at us or be friendly or helpful. When we arrived at our hotel, we were not greeted at all, andinstead had to greet the concierge ourselves, and were then simply handed a key with a room number and no explanation. I don’t necessarily believe that it is because the French are unfriendly, unkind, or even rude, but it is just the way of the French. As Americans we’ve come to expect smiley, friendly, customer service and that’s not necessary the “right” thing or “better” than the French way, but just a an entirely different culture. But bottom line, is that it was a little bit of a culture shock learning the ways of the French!

  4. Great photo of the two of you sitting in the foreground with the Eiffel Tower in the background. Interesting post…I was compelled to read through it. Nice job. Can’t wait to hear more.

  5. Pingback: Europe 2012: Paris-Day 2 « Meg.Goes.Nom.Nom.

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