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Paris is Always a Good Idea

3 days in Paris not enough for me. When planning this trip, my husband questioned if we really needed to go to Paris again. But I convinced my husband (who loves taking a different street or eating at a different cafe each day) that even though we had been to Paris before, we had to go back. This time we stayed in another great neighborhood, the Butte aux Cailles. It’s full of cafes and street art and locals. We saw a lot English speaking tourists around town, but not on the streets near our Airbnb. 
But the two best things about stoping in Paris was splurging for the dinner cruise on the Seine for my birthday. I compared Viator, which always appears on search engines, and the actual companies, and I can’t see any reason to go with Viator. We booked a dinner at 2115, so we were cruising at sunset. We didn’t book a window seat but we ended up by the window anyways. It was a perfect way to celebrate over three courses, with the sunset, and with the beataux (boat) in from of the Eiffel Tower the light show began. The staff were super friendly and fun and played music and danced with guests.

The other thing I was so glad to do was to see our exchange student from, wow, five years ago. Thomas is 21 now and we got to spend a good chunk of time walking through the Jardin des plantes and hanging at a bar near the Seine. The bar , L’Avant  Comptoir, was one recommended to my husband by a coworker and it was fun. You order small French plates on menu tags hanging from the ceiling and friendly service. 

We really enjoyed Paris, including picnicking on the bank of the Seine. We also saw somethings we hadn’t seen last time, like the Panthéon and the Petit Palais (free!). The Panthéon was church at first, but religious portions were removed and it was dedicated to celebrate the French nation and her heroes. I don’t know if it’s the ridiculousness of politics in our country or listening to Hamilton a million times, but I was feeling a bit romantic about our partners in revolution and liked seeing the art in those places that reflected ideas of liberté, egalité, and fraternité. Thomas and I had a conversation about people in cities living with diversity versus people in rural areas fearing it. In no way am I romanticizing revolution or wishing for one, but I was nostalgic for an idea of freedom that we grew up with. A complicated nostalgia that may be just rosy glasses.

I tried to find Lafayette’s tomb in Paris, which I read is visited by the DAR and has an American flag over it. But the construction around it confused me, and later I read there is a specific door with a doorbell you have to ring to find it. 

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The Quintessential Paris Date

This year my husband and I celebrated our tenth anniversary. It was just last Friday, in fact. Part of our motivation for visiting Paris was to celebrate this big milestone. We weren’t able to travel on our anniversary due to flights, kid’s schedules, work time off, etc. But it was pretty important to me to get out for a date night in Paris. Our date night? Dinner followed by Basilique du Sacré-Coeur at sunset.

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The apartment owner left us tips for restaurants to eat at and we chose Desvouges for our big night out. It was walking distance from our place. The owner came to our table with a large chalkboard to review the specials and made recommendations. He speaks french and English, so no worries if you don’t speak french, although I wanted to order in french as much as possible. We started with appetizers, a pastry filled with cheese for me and escargot out of the shell for my husband. For the main course I had salmon with this great cream sauce and rice. My husband had beef with potatoes and a small dish of ratatouille that was so good. The picture can’t even convey the delicious flavor. Of course we got dessert: lemon cheesecake and a chocolate soufflé. OMG, our food was fantastic. We enjoyed all of it. And we shared a bottle of Rosé, something I decided I liked in Paris.

I didn’t think I was going to be able to walk after all that.

But some how I was. I walked out of that restaurant sometime after 8 pm with the sun still out (summers bring late sunsets) and headed for the metro. I didn’t realize it but we had quite a journey ahead of us. The first metro stop wasn’t running so we walked to another. From there we transferred trains. And the Paris metro is like the Boston subway but seems even larger. Transferring to another line may include heading from the platform down a passage way, up stairs, down another passage way, down some stairs and onto another platform. And we did that for 3 lines. After that, when we arrived at the stop near Sacré-Coeur, Absesses. We did not get memo on this stop, which includes a winding long staircase up to the street, because it is 118 feet underground. Our huge dinner was not so bad with that work out. It was one of those staircases that seems like it will never end and you can’t see the end because it is winding. And it was 118 feet underground. DSC_1049

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When we came out the sun was fading. Disoriented and not sure which direction to head, we walked one way. And then back the other way before finally figuring out which way to go. We missed sunset from Sacré-Coeur. But we did continue on up the hill (yes, up the hill) through the cobblestone streets to the famous white church. Everywhere were crowds of people dining, musicians playing, and some of those African guys that are at every tourist location trying to get you to buy a tiny Eiffel Tower. Some guy was playing guitar on the steps below Sacré-Coeur and singing Pearl Jam. We saw the whole city from up there.

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After taking in the view, watching the artists and the tourist and the crowds, we started the long and many steps home. Just as we reached our arrondissment, a light drizzle started. For me, this was my previously imagined Paris now realized. I was so happy to have a date nite like this even if we missed the sunset. Happy ten years of marriage to my awesome husband.

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