I’m just a Simple Philly Girl. As of
January 1, 2003, I had never
Europe. In fact, I hadn’t done much traveling at all.
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
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
Philadelphia on Thanksgiving Day,
Thursday, November 27, 2003,
and arrived in
Friday, November, 28, 2003.
My hotel was located on the
Left Bank, in the 7th Arrondissement, in one
Paris’ best residential neighborhoods,
Latour-Maubourg, about one block from
Napoléon’s Tomb, and about four blocks from the
EiffelTower. I arrived at my hotel around
It was too early to check
in, so I checked my bags and went out to see
I walked over to my first stop, the
EiffelTower. It was very impressive, very
beautiful, larger, yet more delicate than I had imagined. From the
EiffelTower 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,
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
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 TuileriesGarden
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 TuileriesGarden.
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.
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
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.
Sidebar:December 17, 2003 marks the
100th anniversary of the Wright Brothers’ fight powered flight at
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
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
George V. My “prize” this time was a classic Hermès silk
scarf. (True confession: I had never heard ofHermès until I found out I was going there. I
had no idea that aHermès 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
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
So many famous dead folks, so little time. I saw
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 CimetièreduPère-Lachaise,
I went to La MaisonduChocolat 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.
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
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 Creamin
the hotel bar.