Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Paris, Je t'aime (part1)


"We'll always have Paris."
                                             - Casablanca

I have this little obsession with anything French. The husband doesn't approve but what can he do?  French language, french music, movies, french food, the Soiree Beaujoulais at Marco Polo (thus burning a sizable hole in my pocket), Gaspard Ulliel (does this man ever have a bad angle?!), the list goes on and on...

So Paris had always been my ultimate dream.

Two years before this trip even happened, I had already bought a guide book to Paris. Not knowing then WHEN I can go or if it is even possible. I was ahead of myself. Silly, isn't it? 

July 2012
I never thought this dream would come true before the year ended in 2012.
Maybe The Law of Attraction does work at some level. Maybe there IS some truth to it. 

"When you really want something, you ask the Universe for it. Then you let it go and believe that it will be given to you."  
(Of course, you have also have to DO something about it to make it happen. Don't expect it to poof out of nowhere. But you have to trust that it will all work out for you in the end.)

I was in the Netherlands at that time on a visit to my then boyfriend (now my husband), who planned our five-day trip to Paris and booked it through D-Reizen Agency. 

We rode to Paris by bus from the Netherlands. For 200 euros per person, I thought it was a pretty good deal since it included room accommodation in a good hotel with daily breakfast plus a round-trip bus transportation. That's roughly about PHP 2,000 per day. We rode on sitting in that bus for six long hours, passing through the outskirts of Netherlands and Belgium until we finally arrived in France. 
Someone decided to bring along their caravan. So typisch Dutch!
The whole trip felt so surreal to me. I guess it didn't really sink in until I was finally there. 

Paris was everything I'd ever hope for and more. It was more beautiful in real life - grand, perennial, seductive, romantic. As in the case of all big cities, it wasn't ALL perfect of course. There WERE some dodgy parts in the city that should be avoided especially if you don't know your way around. You have to be on your guard for pickpockets and learn to be smart (some souvenir vendors will try to con you thinking you're just another naive tourist and give you a price that is different from what was written on the price tag.)

Inviting sidewalk cafes, well-dressed Parisians out and about on the streets, the stunning Parisian stone buildings were just as exciting as the city's famous monuments- the magnificent Eiffel Tower, world-class museums like the Musee de Louvre, The Arc de Triomphe, the Seine river, the Notre-Dame.. I could go on and on. Five days was too short a time to fully experience this beautiful city.

LOVE these Parisian windows!
I took a bazillion photos so I'm going to break down this post into 3 or 4 parts, which will probably take forever to finish with the amount of photos I have.

By the time we arrived in Paris, almost everyone in that bus was exhausted. Strange, isn't it? How can you get tired from doing nothing, from only sitting for several hours in a bus? But there was too much excitement in me to feel tired. I was finally living my dream. Still, it felt good to get out of that bus and stretch my legs.

Parisians walk a lot. That's probably one of the reasons why Parisian women don't get fat.  But if you don't feel like dragging your poor tired feet along, you can always rent one of these bicycles.

"Vous voulez cochez avec moi, ce soir?"  (if you want to ask someone to do the four letter word with you that starts with an F that I cannot say here) The song's lyrics were running through my head as our tour group was standing across the street from The Moulin Rouge on our way to the restaurant for dinner.  

It felt so strange that there was still plenty of daylight even at 8 in the evening in the summer there. 

I have vague memories of the names of the restaurants or the dishes we ate. But I do remember we went to a cafe that was in the area near the Sacre Coeur. Dinner started with a simple salad with a side baguette. The main entree was pepper steak with frites and dessert was a lovely strawberry tart. 

After dinner, we decided to join the others in our group to see a French Cabaret Show at La Nouvelle EveWhat, not The Moulin Rouge? It turned out to be a great Parisian experience. La Nouvelle Eve delivered a wonderful show with great performers in beautiful costumes. There was even a cool laser light show. Too bad we weren't allowed to take photos while the show was on. 

The typical French Cancan was both fun and frantic. It was more of an "adult" type of entertainment. There were parts of the show in which beautiful French women danced topless on stage ( I bet the male audience was very happy with that!). But it was a great show that was done artistically and was in no way tasteless or bawdy. It was very French!

That was a good end to our first day in Paris. We were all tired after a long day but tomorrow was going to be even better. This was only the beginning and there was much left to see in this city of light.

Day 2
Breakfast the next day consisted of croissants, more bread, butter, jam, ham, fritata and a bowl of yogurt with fruits. It was a very good breakfast but after five days of eating the same monotonous things, I was getting sick of it and I was missing my rice. 

We were headed for a cruise along the Seine River as well as the Eiffel Tower on the second day. I could barely contain my excitement! I felt like a kid on her first visit to Disneyland. 

Statue of King Henry IV

The river Seine flows right through the heart of Paris. It cuts the city into the left and right banks and is one of the best ways to see the "magnificence" of Paris. 

The cruise was relaxing and the views were brilliant! This IS A MUST when you are in Paris! It's even better if you take the sunset or evening cruise, then you can see the Eiffel Tower light up and sparkle at night!

The most elegant and extravagant arch bridge in Paris, Pont Alexander III, flanked by tall pillars on both ends with gilded sculptures. This bridge connects the Champs-Élysées quarter and the Les Invalides quarter. See the Eiffel tower poking out in the distance?

Nymphs of the Neva each holding a gilded bar in their hands with the arms of Russia, made out of copper on Pont Alexander III. 

Getting closer....

Closer...aarrgghh, annoying sun spots. Can someone please tell me how to remove these  out of the photo?

Hello, Notre-Dame! Just passing by!

Nice to see you too, La Conciergerie. 

People soaking up the sun on an artificial beach along the banks of the river Seine 

Or you can sit on a bench on a pedestrian bridge and read a book or just watch the world go by...

If I had known, I would have brought a lock too..

The lover's locks ( "cadenas d'amour" ) on a fence on Pont des Arts.  Couples engrave their names on a padlock and throw the key into the river as a sign of their eternal love.

What a beautiful view

Passing by Place de la Concorde with the Luxor obelisk from Egypt on the way to The Eiffel Tower

We have finally arrived.

Did you know?
There are 72 notable French scientists, engineers and mathematicians whose names are engraved on the Eiffel Tower.

So do you want to spend the whole morning waiting in the queue for the lift to the top?

Or do you want to start climbing the long flight of stairs (roughly about 915 ft high) to the 3rd level? It's good exercise. NOT.

Those people did.


The tour that day was concluded with a visit to Paris Story, which included a film on the history of Paris and how the city came to be. Very informative. 


We went to a nice Indian restaurant for dinner. The curry in that place was amazing! The best meal I've had throughout the entire trip really!

Very cozy restaurant interiors

Unfortunately, I used my camera too much and my battery was empty by the time the food arrived so no food photos this time. So this was the end of Day 2.

Whew, long post. Hope that didn't bore you too much! I'll work on the photos for Days 3-5 and post it soon! 

Thanks for visiting. :)