Impressions of Paris

posted in: Paris, TRAVEL | 15

Arc di Triomphe Paris photo by Margie Miklas

As a first-time visitor to Paris, I’m a bit out of my comfort zone, unlike when I travel to Italy. But my expectations for a good time are high, especially since I’m traveling to this romantic city with someone I love. And after spending four wonderful days and nights in the City of Lights, my impressions of Paris are far from disappointing.

From the moment we arrive, beginning with the smooth navigation through passport control at Charles de Gaulle Airport, Paris is every bit as wonderful as I had hoped. The locals tell us that the pleasantly warm, sunny weather in the 80s is the best they’ve had in seventy years. How did we get to be so lucky?

Our lovely accommodation, Hotel Le Lapin Blanc, conveniently situated on Boulevard Saint-Michel in the Latin Quarter, more than suits our needs. The helpful friendly reservations manager is wonderful, the hotel’s  large modern rooms, with treats like French macarons, and the surprise, complimentary, afternoon snacks and beverages are fabulous.

Richard and I want to explore Paris, yet we want to stroll along the Seine and enjoy the atmosphere of the city without feeling too rushed. I think we manage to do exactly that.

It will take many more blog posts to write about everything we saw and did here, but here are some of my impressions of Paris, some things I learned, and some of the highlights of our Parisian stay.

From conversations with taxi drivers, I learn that for nine months of the year, the weather in Paris is not good. So, when the day is warm and sunny, everyone is outside on the grass in a park getting a suntan.

The beautiful Jardin du Luxembourg (Luxembourg Gardens) are a short walk from our hotel, and spending an afternoon strolling inside this public park is a total joy.

Impressions of Paris Jardin du Luxembourg photo by Margie Miklas

Watching the kids with their remote-controlled sailboats is such fun and seeing the tulips in full bloom is beautiful. A carousel  always brings a smile to my face, and Paris has many of these merry-go-rounds.

Jardin du Luxembourg in Paris Remote controlled boats photo by Margie Miklas

Jardin du Luxembourg in Paris - Photo by Margie Miklas

Jardin du Luxembourg in Paris - Photo by Margie Miklas

A romantic night cruise on the Seine as the lights of the Eiffel Tower twinkled is priceless, an evening neither of us will ever forget.

Impressions of Paris Seine River cruise photo by Margie Miklas

Impressions of Paris Notre Dame at night Photo by Margie Miklas

Impressions of Paris Eiffel Tower photo by Margie Miklas

From a waiter at Le Cercle Luxembourg Restaurant on Rue Gay-Lussac, I learn that tips are not expected, because a service charge is already included on the bill, and typically it is either 9 or 10%. When Richard tries to offer him a tip, he declines and tells us it is “not necessary” to tip. He smiles and says, “I always know I’m receiving 9%.”

Discovering more of the artistic masterpieces at the Louvre and the D’Orsay Museum make for a busy morning, but well worth it.

Impressions of Paris Louvre photo by Margie Miklas

Impressions of Paris Musee d'Orsay Photo by Margie Miklas

A climb to the top of the Arc de Triomphe, and the spectacular view of Paris from that vantage point is wonderful.

Impressions of Paris Arc di Triomphe Photo by Margie Miklas

Impressions of Paris View from Arc di Triomphe photo by Margie Miklas

And something I’ve seen in movies so many times, the beautiful street of the Champs-Élysées in the City of Love, definitely lives up to my expectations.

Champs Elysées, Paris Photo by Margie Miklas

Enjoying a lovely lunch of French onion soup at an outdoor table at Bistrot 25 while people-watching with Richard is one of my more memorable experiences.

Bistrot 25 on Champs Elysées, Paris Photo by Margie Miklas

I notice that cats seem to be everywhere in Paris. Why are they so loved? There are postcards with pictures of cats. And I understand Paris even has cat cafes. Are cats synonymous with Paris? What is the story behind the cats of Paris? I’d love to know the story behind the cats of Paris.

The mosaics in Sainte-Chapelle are stunning and my first sight of this amazing place takes my breath away. After a walk up the spiral staircase, the view is incredible.

Mosaics in Sainte-Chapelle in Paris photo by Margie Miklas

While walking in the city, we always observe some people, who appear to be homeless and sleeping on the street. The police check up on them, having casual conversations, as if to make sure they are okay. We also see, on two separate occasions, individuals sitting on the sidewalk with signs asking for help. The peculiar thing is that each of them is accompanied by a pet rabbit. One has a pet carrier for the bunny, and both have carrots and lettuce next to the rabbit. Do people feel more inclined to help a person on the street if they are accompanied by a pet? I wonder if bunnies are pets in Paris.

An evening in Paris can’t get any more romantic than dinner inside the Eiffel Tower.

Dinner at the Eiffel Tower in Paris

A night to remember forever, the details of this wonderful evening are too many to write about here and will have to wait for a separate blog post. Stay tuned.

We pass by many sidewalk cafes that advertise crepes for very reasonable prices between €3 and €5.50 Various choices including Nutella, chocolate, banana, sugar, and fruit, are advertised. We choose to have breakfast at a nearby place recommended by our concierge. La Crêperie on Rue Soufflot is the quintessential French creperie, and I can’t resist the Nutella crepes. Oh my God, they are to die for.

Paris Nutella crepes Photo by Margie Miklas

We also avail ourselves of several evening meals at authentic French restaurants where typically only the locals go. The intimate atmosphere of the small restaurant recommended by Guillaume at our hotel, is perfect. Although the menu at La Ferrandaise is in French with English translations, we still need to ask the waitress to explain what we are about to order. We try local Parisian dishes for the first time, and they are delicious, no doubt, because of the way they are prepared. Veal with tarragon-flavored carrots, duck foie gras, and roasted rack of lamb are some of the highlights. The French people in Paris can’t be any nicer.

More sightseeing in the Montmartre arrondissement of Paris including the beautiful Basilica of the Sacré Couer, which is the highest building in Paris, after the Eiffel Tower, adds to our Paris adventure.

Impressions of Paris Sacre Couer photo by Margie Miklas

Stopping for lunch at Le Nazir on Rue des Abbesses. The quiche lorraine is delicious.  Wandering the streets here in artsy Montmartre is totally enjoyable.

Lunch in Paris Photo by Margie Miklas

Also in the 18th arrondissement, close to the district of Montmartre, is where the historic Moulin Rouge,  with its large red windmill on the roof, is located, in the Pigalle district.

Moulin Rouge in Paris

We also decide to visit the Marais arrondissement and make a stop at the Picasso Museum, and are pleasantly surprised to find no crowds at all.

Picasso Museum in Paris photo by Margie Miklas

Picasso Museum in Paris photo by Margie Miklas

Of course, we also are amazed at the architecture of the Notre Dame, both inside and out. While visiting here, it happens to be a Sunday, so the admission fee is waived, and we are even able to experience part of a Mass.

Impressions of Paris Notre Dame Photo by Margie Miklas

Inside Notre Dame in Paris Photo by Margie Miklas

Both of us decide that Paris is a hit and we would return. These past four days have been great, but like most places I visit, it’s never enough time. You know we’ll be back.

Paris Eiffel Tower photo by Margie Miklas

I’m very happy this trip to Italy started out with a twist, that being our first time together in Paris.

Have you been to Paris? I’d love to hear your thoughts, so please leave a comment.

15 Responses

  1. It’s all beautiful, but I was already sold with the cookies!

    • margieinitaly

      Thanks Karen. Yes those macarons were delicious…a nice touch

  2. Nancy Ferrier

    Happy to reconnect with you by your blog after sharing such a nice conversation on a flight back home from Italy a few years ago. So glad to see you enjoying yourself with your guy. Art and I spent about ten days in Paris with a side trip to Versailles and Giverny to see Monet’s garden. Well worth it, though driving through Paris you are taking your life in your hands. We rented an apartment in the Marais that belonged to an Italian opera singer and though it was small it was comfortable, well equipped and really sort of elegant. There was a taxi stand right down the street and many close Metro stops. You could walk to the Pompidou Museum and lots shops and restaurants. We ate lunch at the somewhat pricey restaurant on the top floor of that contemporary museum where a scene from “La Divorce” was filmed. It has a spectacular panoramic view of Paris. The food was wonderful everywhere. On Sunday we took the Metro to a huge Sunday market and bought fresh fruits and vegetables, eggs, cheeses and quiche. A local champagne vintner was selling his wine which we sampled and purchased two bottles at a price the was unbelievably affordable considering the quality of the champagne. And of course baguettes! Shopping in the market with everyday people made us feel quite Parisian.
    There was a beautiful little park not far from our door and we discovered this sort of green spot all over Paris. Like you, we visited many museums. I highly recommend the the Orangerie at the periphery the Tuilleries Gardens, where Monet’s enormous water lilies paintings are mounted in a circular room, so you are surrounded by the experience of viewing his most famous works. It was overwhelming for me because I am such a fan of Monet.
    Just walking around Paris is an endless variety of treats for the senses. Hot chocolate and macarons at Angelina’s is a wonderful stop. Tasting brandies at Lavinia is a fabulous experience. Sampling perfumes at Fragonard is another kind of deliciousness. But the best thing is to just sit at any cafe with a glass of wine or a cafe creme and watch the world go by, just as the French do. Any trip to Paris has to end with a glass of wine by the river as the sun sets and watching the Tour Eiffel burst into twinkling lights. People were friendly and helpful everywhere we went and were happy to provide us with directions. We chatted with a lot of Americans living in Paris or touring, at cafes and restaurants. Sharing our experiences and la vie en rose was great fun.
    Like you I want to return and perhaps see some of the South of France as well. Looking forward to hearing about your next adventure.

    • margieinitaly

      Thank you Nancy for your personal thoughts…Great stories and suggestions. So nice to hear from you after our chance meeting on a plane back from Italy a few years ago. Glad you are doing well too. Please stay in touch.

  3. Wonderful post and photos. I love Paris but haven’t been for years and this makes me want to go back soon!

    • margieinitaly

      Thank you so much, Kay. I’m glad I sparked some desire for a return trip for you. I really am happy I was able to experience Paris after all these years of not knowing what I was missing. Hope your travel plans include Paris sometime soon.

  4. I am so glad you enjoyed your trip to Paris. I sort of felt responsible since I had given you a few tips about the city.

    I think cities have a character. Rome is eternal, London has a masculine feel to me, marble and military. I love London but that is how it appears to me.
    On the other hand, Paris is purely feminine. She nuzzles you with her warmth and envelops you with her sensuality. She surprises you as you turn the corner to admire her beauty. Day and night.

    On the certain Sundays that the Champs is closed to traffic until early evening what a joy to stroll down the middle of the boulevard and then stop for a Cognac and coffee just as the traffic reappears.

    I love asking for directions. We gave discovered wonderful bistros and cafes by following suggestions. Whenever people tell me how rudely they were treated by the Parisians I think ‘You must have been acting like an ugly American’.

    We just returned ourselves. Traveling with friends we did some touristy things. Dinner cruise on the Seine, dinner show at The Moulin Rouge and lots of sightseeing. I was so glad to see the entertainers on the Metro cars appear again after the crackdown.

    Looking forward to more of your comments.

    • margieinitaly

      Thanks so much, Chuck. Yes, your tips were so helpful. and I wish we had more time, because we really enjoyed everything we saw and did. I loved the people in Paris. They were all very friendly. And I love how you describe Paris as feminine. So interesting. I will be posting more in the weeks to come. Glad you had such a great trip as well. I was following along.

  5. My husband and I traveled to Italy last year for the first time and loved it. Paris is next on my bucket list and will save this post for future reference. Beautiful pictures!

    • margieinitaly

      Thanks so much, Lucy. I’m thrilled you went to Italy, and I know you must have loved it. I hope you have a fabulous time in Paris next. Thank you for sharing.

  6. My favourite city in the world Margie. You bought back great memories, and I just love the Jadin de Luxembourg. We always make sure we walk through there when we visit Paris. I love people watching there. 🙂

  7. Paris, che bella. We stayed near you in the Latin Quarter. So beautiful. Set walking records and enjoyed very moment.

  8. Oh, Margie, I am so happy that you have found Paris. It is indeed one of my favorite places on earth, and like you, I usually write about Italy. Paris is a magical city. I am certain you will return. I loved seeing many of the places I have visited in that city, plus some I have not seen.

  9. Wonderful article Margie Makes me want to pack my bags and see Paris for myself ! Love love the pictures too

  10. The elegance of Paris really shines through your photos. I can’t wait to visit soon myself! Your blog was nice timing for me, as I will take your tips to heart. And now I know that in France, as in Italy, there is no need to tip at a restaurant the way we do in America!

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