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My Trip to Paris, France

November 27-December 2, 2003

I’m just a Simple Philly Girl. As of January 1, 2003, I had never been to Europe. In fact, I hadn’t done much traveling at all. England, Germany, and France were all just places on a map that I would never visit. Well, my, oh, my, what a difference a year makes. I’ve now been to London, Cologne, and Paris. Yep, I’ve been to Europe three times this year. The Simple Philly Girl finds this all pretty amazing!

So, as promised, I’m going to tell you about my trip to Paris. I took as many photos as my schedule and the weather would allow. I hope you like my story and the ten photos that accompany it.

I left Philadelphia on Thanksgiving Day, Thursday, November 27, 2003, at 8:20 p.m. and arrived in Paris at 9:40 a.m. on Friday, November, 28, 2003. My hotel was located on the Left Bank, in the 7th Arrondissement, in one of Paris’ best residential neighborhoods, Latour-Maubourg, about one block from Napoléon’s Tomb, and about four blocks from the Eiffel Tower. I arrived at my hotel around 11:00 a.m. It was too early to check in, so I checked my bags and went out to see Paris.

I walked over to my first stop, the Eiffel Tower. It was very impressive, very beautiful, larger, yet more delicate than I had imagined. From the Eiffel Tower I crossed the River Seine, one of the world’s most famous rivers, walked along the Right Bank of the Seine to the Alma Tunnel, the site of Princess Diana’s fatal car accident. A monument to Franco-American friendship (not to Princess Diana, as many people believe), the Hand of Liberty holding the Torch of Freedom, serves as the unofficial marker for the site. I read a lot of the graffiti on the on the walls nearby, very touching.  

Then it was off to the Place de la Concorde ( www.paris.org/Monuments/Concorde ). During the French Revolution, this was the site of France’s most famous guillotine. It now offers beautiful views across the River Seine and up the Esplanade to the Hotel National des Invalides, the site of  Napoléon’s Tomb

( www.paris.org/Musees/Invalides ). The Eiffel Tower, lit up at night, is breathtaking from here. This is also the site of the Hotel Crillon ( www.crillon.com ), where I stayed on my final night in Paris.

Lunch was at Angelina’s (Paris’ most famous “Tea House”), on Rue de Rivoli, near the Louvre. Afterwards, I walked a few blocks up Rue de Castiglione to Place Vendôme. Here I looked in the windows of all of the expense jewelry stores that I was sure wouldn’t let me in! I also walked by the Hotel Ritz, one of the world’s great hotels, which is owned by Mohamed Al Fayed who also owns Harrod’s Department Store in London. He is the father of Dodi Al Fayed who was killed in the car wreck that killed Princess Diana. The Hotel Ritz ( www.ritz.com ) was their last point of departure on that fateful night. (I was going to stay here my last night in Paris, but I decided that the guys out front in grey suits wouldn’t let me in there either! So, I stayed at the Hotel Crillon instead. It had a better view and was more “my style” anyway.)

From the Place Vendôme I walked over to and through the Louvre’s courtyard and past the Tuileries Garden on my way to Sainte-Chapelle and Notre Dame Cathedral. The palace complex was pretty overwhelming: big, big, big. I saw the famous I.M. Pei pyramid that serves as the entrance to the museum. I also saw the Tuileries Garden. Crossing the Pont Neuf, I was now on the Ile de la Cite, the island where the City of Paris started. First, I went to Sainte-Chapelle, which many people consider to be the most beautiful chapel in the world; I could see why. Then it was off to Notre Dame Cathedral. Notre Dame, while very famous, was somewhat “disappointing” inside. Perhaps the architecture was too heavy? I don’t know. However, the outside of the cathedral, seen from its small park in the rear, was beautiful. The flying buttress work was inspiring. I left Notre Dame and walked two blocks to the Paris Metro (subway). It was my first time riding the Paris Metro, which took me back to my hotel where I promptly fell asleep for the next 15 hours. 

Saturday, November 29, 2003, was Shopping Day, the day I was to go into all of those incredibly famous and incredibly expense stores that I was absolutely sure would not let me in. From here on out, I used the Metro a lot; I learned to use it pretty well. My first stop (around Noon) was for lunch, at Joe Allen’s. They speak English, serve American food, and cater to American tourists and expatriates that need an American food fix. 

After eating it was time to shop. I decided to start at the Arc de Triomphe ( www.paris.org/Monuments/Arc ) and “...wander down the Champs-Elysées...” (Sorry, Joni Mitchell.)

My first stop was Cartier’s ( www.cartier.com )  newest store at 154 Champs-Elysées, less than one block from the Arc de Triomphe. They had lots of guys in grey suits waiting to greet me. I knew they would spot me as an imposter and deny me access. However, amazingly, I fooled them. They let me in, let me sit on the seats, assigned me a wonderfully solicitous sales person, and let me use the best restroom I’ve ever been in. I left with my first “prize,” a classic Cartier Tank watch.

 An Interesting Sidebar: December 17, 2003 marks the 100th anniversary of the Wright Brothers’ fight powered flight at Kitty Hawk, NC. This flight is generally regarded as the first powered flight anywhere in the world, and the Wright Brothers’ regarded as inventors of the airplane. 

However, there are those that disagree and believe that Alberto Santos-Dumont deserves the credit. 

Santos-Dumont was a friend of Louis Cartier, who created an “aviators’” wristwatch especially for him, naming it after him and still made today: the “Santos.”  

Santos-Dumont used to live at 150 avenue Champs-Elysées, just two doors down from Cartier’s newest location. He used to tie his dirigible to a lamppost outside. 

Now you know the “rest of the story.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Then it was on to Louis Vuitton ( www.louisvuitton.com ) at 38 avenue George V. It was the same drill as at Cartier: grey suits, fear of being denied admission, being admitted, and then, out with my second “prize,” a Louis Vuitton Boulogne shoulder bag.

A girl could get used to all the nice stores. I know I sure could! So, I (confidently, this time) walked a short block to Hermès at 42 avenue George V. My “prize” this time was a classic Hermès silk scarf. (True confession: I had never heard of Hermès until I found out I was going there. I had no idea that a  Hermès scarf was THE ultimate Parisian fashion accessory. Now I know.)

After visiting Hermès I continued to widow shop on avenue George V and avenue Montaigne. So much to buy, so little time, so little money. I also stopped to check out the Four Seasons George V ( www.fourseasons.com/paris/index.html ) and the Hotel Plaza Athénée ( www.plaza-athenee-paris.com ). These are two of the world’s great hotels. (Having decided to skip the Hotel Ritz, but not yet decided on the Hotel Crillon, I decided to check out my options.) They are both beautiful hotels, but I’m glad I finally chose the Hotel Crillon

Blah, blah, blah, blah… I know. I know: too much talk; not enough photos. O.K., my travelogue is almost over! 

Sunday, November 30, 2003, I attended Mass at Notre Dame, ate lunch, and then went to the Hotel National des Invalides to visit Napoléon’s Tomb. I ate dinner across the street from my hotel, then off to Dreamland. 

Monday, December 1, 2003, I checked out of my hotel, took a taxi to the Hotel Crillon, registered and checked my bags (until my room was ready). Then it was off to Cimetière du Père-Lachaise. So many famous dead folks, so little time. I saw Gioacchino Rossini, Marcel Proust, Georges Seurat, Gertrude Stein, Alice B. Toklas, Max Ernst, Oscar Wilde, etc., et al, ad infinitum. Oh, yeah, I also saw Jim Morrison. 

After visiting Cimetière du Père-Lachaise, I went to La Maison du Chocolat for some of the world’s best chocolate. Gee, since I was only a couple of blocks away, I decided another Hermès scarf was in order: “prize” #4. 

The Louvre was next: Mona Lisa, Winged Victory, Venus de Milo, the gang’s all here! 

Dinner was at Joe Allen’s, which is now my favorite American restaurant in Paris. 

My last night in Paris was spent at the Hotel de Crillon, one of the world’s great hotels! My description of this hotel would not do it justice. So, if you want to see where I stayed: www.crillon.com

In this photo I am exploring the bathroom which was all marble and bigger than my living room. I never did figure out how to use the bidet.

Here I am walking down the hall looking for the ice machine. Well, of course, they didn’t have one. So, I had to settle for a $25(!) glass of Bailey’s Irish Cream  in the hotel bar.

 

 

 

 

 

 

    Good Night, Paris!