browser icon
You are using an insecure version of your web browser. Please update your browser!
Using an outdated browser makes your computer unsafe. For a safer, faster, more enjoyable user experience, please update your browser today or try a newer browser.

Anniversary Tourist Ramble

Posted by on April 3, 2023

One of many reasons we wanted to travel in 2023 was that we wanted to spend our 40th wedding anniversary in Paris. That was the initial organiser that the rest of the trip was to hang off. Given this would be our third trip to Paris, we decided to revisit some things and try some new, but have a fairly relaxed mix given the previous trips were all go go go from sun up to sundown – we are, after all older and rounder than before.

Given our anniversary fell on a Sunday, and most of the restaurants we were interested in were closed, we decided on a celebratory dinner the night before, and had a lovely meal at Aux Enfants Gates, 4 rue Danville. Jo tried snails for the first time (braver than me) and will apparently happily have them again. The food was deliciously fresh, and  naturally there was baguette to mop up the sauces after. Amazingly there was one waiter looking after all 20 diners, keeping everyone entertained with his banter. It was a lovely night out, and a fairly short if chilly walk home.

We slept in the next morning, then had a leisurely brunch of French toast (made with left over brioche) with raspberries and crème fraiche, before heading out to see the sights. We thought we would do the tourist thing of ticking off must-see landmarks. 

Via metro, we got to Saint-Michel, and a road crossing to the bank of the Seine. We wandered leisurely down the river, looking at all the market stalls in hope of something particular with no luck, and eventually came to Cathedral Notre Dame. The recent fire ravaged this glorious structure, but the restoration has begun and the spirit of the building is still there.

We took the obligatory selfie and kept walking, based on incomplete memories of the location of a particular vendor without luck, and decided to turn back and head to Pont Neuf. Low and behold we ran into the vendor we were looking for. In 2015 we purchased 4 watercolor paintings of Paris architecture  from whom we assumed was the artist on the banks of the Seine. When we got home we had them framed in red and hung them in our kitchen. We so loved the artist’s work we resolved to try and buy a companion for the existing landscape painting, which luckily we did. Getting it home unscathed will be the next challenge.

Buoyed by our success, we continued our walk, crossing Pont Neuf towards the other side of the Seine. We took a detour to the willow tree at the point of the island and watched a mass of runners in the Paris Marathon being greeted by a huge and energetic percussion ensemble. We then finished crossing the bridge and continuing our journey. We walked past YSL headquarters and marveled at the huge statue of Yayoi Kasama that seemed to be painting her trademark dots all over the building. It is wonderful that art of all kinds is everywhere in Paris.

We wended our way, shortcutting through the Louvre courtyard, taking a cheeky selfie in front of the Pyramid (planning to return to explore more of the Louvre tomorrow), then headed to Angelina’s, and joined the queue waiting to sample delicious treats.

We decided hot chocolate would help us thaw out, and accompanied that with pastries (Jo had a caramel and pecan tart, I tried a Mont Blanc – both rich, delicious and fortifying). 

Suitably refreshed and toiletted, we headed towards the Champs Elysees, cheated by taking a metro to get us closer quicker, to get a glimpse of the Arc de Triomphe. This proved challenging as the streets and metro stop were packed with exhausted, cold and incapacitated marathon runners flooding down stairs (many obviously in pain) while we went against the tide up the stairs – not a good day for the escalator maintenance.

Finally at street level, we navigated the subway under one of the worlds most hectic roundabouts to the centre to take in the Arc, an amazing structure. We decided against the queue to the top, instead glancing down the Champs-Élysées. So many people, cars, being out and about at the end of such a big event was an issue as everything was super busy.

After taking in the view, we headed back to the metro, noticing, sensibly, they had made it free to cope with the passenger glut. We headed to Trocadéro, a lookout on the opposite side of the Eiffel Tower to where we were for our picnic the day before. This is a terrific vantage point to view the light display on the Eiffel Tower – indeed last visit we came here late at night, in the cold and drizzle to do just that.

This visit, however, we sensibly headed home to put our feet up. We topped the evening off with a light meal of saucisson, Brie, fresh baguette and some fruit and nuts. A good couple of glasses of wine and the perfect end to a happy anniversary indeed in the city of love, with my love.

As a tourist location, Paris has a lot to offer, but you have to do your homework. Visiting popular locations, post Covid, has become a logistical nightmare. Most venues have pre-purchase ticket plans and many are now timed entry (with no refund if you are late). They still sell tickets at the door for the less organised, but those queues are sometimes hours long and standing around in the cold and wind is no fun, really. We have noticed a price spike also, signs that the post pandemic economy is struggling.

This is a fantastic city if you like to walk. Mostly flat, apart from the hilly bits, you can walk through stunningly picturesque boulevards, across bridges, past beautiful and historically significant buildings and alongside busy and beautiful rivers. You need GOOD shoes – there is concrete and cobbles and they will shred your feet if you are not well equipped. 

When you have walked as much as you think reasonable there is an excellent public transport network – you can probably tell we particularly like the Metro, an interconnected maze of different lines, most underground with simple to navigate sequences of stops and transfers. You can now purchase rechargeable smart cards with set numbers of trips, swipe to enter the tunnels and you can go pretty much anywhere in the city, changing lines etc, all for the one fare. Trains are clean, frequent and quick and will take you nearly all the way home, if you are strategic in your choice of home base.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.