After our quick 'pop down' to Brussels a few weeks ago, Simon & I geared up for the last long weekend of the Summer with a trip to Paris. The August bank holiday meant Monday, Aug 30 was off for us, so we spend Saturday & Sunday nite in Paris. God bless Eurostar...
For my previous two experiences in Paris (with the stereotypical rude waiter/taxi driver, horrible lines at touristy sights, etc..), I found this trip to be 180 degrees in the opposite direction-amazing service, friendly/helpful people, minimal queues to get in to the Eiffel Tower & Louvre; all in all-a perfect weekend! Oh, and the weather? Perfect! And (all kidding aside...) the few times I had to use a toilet while out and about...twice was totally free & clean (at Notre Dame and off the Champs Elysses. who knew?!?), and the other time was 20 cents-but still clean. Amazing!!!
We stayed in a lovely hotel in the St Germain area, and spent Saturday after our arrival walking around. We walked all the way to the Eiffel Tower, and the queues were so short compared to the last time I'd been there that we decided to go all the way to the top; Simon had only been to Paris once for a half-day stop over on a road trip years ago, so this really was his first touristy experience there.. We queued for barely 30 minutes before getting up to the 2nd level, and immediately queued to get to the next level. Again, 30 minutes later, we were at the top of the Eiffel Tower! I know it seems crazy to suggest 'only one hour'...but the last time I went, I was in line for 45 minutes just to get to the 2nd area, and the line to get to the top literally wound all the way around the 2nd floor. In comparison, I knew our timing couldn't be better, and the time we'd spend in line would be 'minimal.' It's all relative...:)
With the weather, our views were amazing!
Dinner was at some quaint little place in the area we were staying in called 'La Grennouille'-the frog. As you can probably guess from the name, they had an entire menu dedicated to frogs legs. As Simon had never had them before (this southern girl certainly has...), he opted for that for his starter, while I went a bit more 'traditional': escargot. Honestly? Pretty tasty!-kinda like mussels..
Sunday was the 'power tourist' day. After a lovely breakfast at a cafe around the corner, we decided to do one of those hop-on hop-off busses. As painfully touristy as they are-they also provide maximum viewing pleasure (esp when the weather was a good as it was) for minimal effort. There were three different bus routes in Paris, and we took all or part of all three around town. Hopped off & puttered down the Champs Elysses, had lunch, took le metro to another part of town to catch another bus...cheesy thought it is, it really is a great way to see a city when you've limited time. Yes, we have become 'those tourists.'Monday was an early trip to the Louvre-we really wanted to avoid the queues and crowds-so we got there at 11am. And honestly? Aside from the crowd around the Mona Lisa, it really wasn't bad! But, truth be told...I still like the Tate Modern in London better. :)
We were going to be on the train back to London during dinner time that evening, so borrowing from one of my last train trips in France, we hit the local grocery store, bought some cheese, bread, meat, & wine, and had a little mini-feast on the train back. All for less than $15!