It’s been well over a year since we last were in France. Many details instantly brought us several years back: the smell of a nearby bakery, reading menus in French or hearing French people complaining out loud. Welcome back!
Take bus 72 for a grand tour of Paris
Returning to France after our adventures, we wanted to see the city and its attractions as we did in so many places. My great uncle Charly was the perfect host for this. Located in cosy St-Cloud, his knowledge of the history and cultural heritage of Paris is invaluable and sometimes a bit daunting! We jumped on the 72 bus line towards Hôtel-de-Ville, following the Banks of the Seine, and admired the beautiful scenery… We realized how beautiful Paris is, its stunning architecture amazed us: from the Eiffel tower to the Grand Palais, the beautiful Tuileries, the Grand Palais, Pont des Arts, Rivoli, Concorde… Our heads turn a little bit but we our eyes stay wide open, we don’t wanna miss a thing!
We walked through Le Marais, St Germain and L’ile de la Cité, learning about all poets, writers, philosophers and presidents who had lived and worked there…
Did you know Mrs. De Sevigne was a regular visitor of St Paul’s church (and that she used to come with her chamber pot to listen to the priest 4 hours long lectures)?
From Dannam Freres prestigious shop under the Arcades of Place des Vosges to the library of the Sully Hotel, Charly filled the day with anecdotes, facts and figures. Do you know why Place des Vosges is named that way? Do you know that Jack Lang lives here? Would you like to know what was Louis XIV favorite tea?
Oh, we’re definitely smarter after that walk, thanks Charly!
Notre-Dame’s cathedral left a strong impression on Soso who was just done reading Victor Hugo famous novel. She looked up, searching for Quasimodo among the gargoyles and admed the huge rose window of the cathedral, waiting for the bells to ring. It was quite a change from Thai Stupas and Indonesian Mosques!
Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner were included (for which we were grateful!) and we even enjoyed an air of Chopin and some LaFontaine fables to finish on an high note!
We fully realized that winter had come when a cold but sunny day settled in the next morning. Difficult to believe that we laid on Sydney beach 2 days before! To avoid the blues, we decided to visit the magnificient Versailles, and started the gardens’ exploration under the soft morning light. Felt better already.
Soon we left the pack of international tourists and headed to the Petit Trianon, Marie-Antoinette’s personal estate to avoid the crowds of courtiers and retreat to her friends. The Queen’s Palace is a fancy place, although order and perfection would best describe the rooms and apartments of the building. We discover that the architects invented state-of-the-art mechanisms to make Marie-Antoinette’s life easier and learnt that she used to sleep seated (as laying down is the position of corpses. Superstitious?). Luxury, refinement, elegance… we would love to travel back in time and meet Marie-Antoinette in this great setting.
Even in the winter, the gardens are splendid. We stopped at the Temple of Love, where French sculpture masterpiece “Cupid cutting his bow from the Club of Hercules” stands underneath a Corinthian dome made of marble. We walked passed the Belvedere and artificial cave, to the Queen’s Hamlet.
It was definitely worth seeing and we recommend it!
After these 2 days of cultural catch-up, we left St Cloud to experience the Parisian life and meet up with old friends. We stayed at Pepette’s new place in the 11th arrondissement, visited her offices, went to Star Wars Rogue one and most importantly shared stories around breakfasts and ‘plats du jour’! In the heart of 11th arrondissement, we stayed a street away from one of the places where French people were shot during the terrorists attacks of November 2015. It was important for us to see them, living abroad doesn’t mean we didn’t feel hurt, and to note that those places were busy, full of life, people and bottles!
We also met up with our New York friends Chouchou and Melissa and were super excited to find out about their hot 2017 news! Congrats guys!
Then we filled Nico and Elvire’s RTT (compensatory time) with cheap wine and waves of laughter about old times, new times and gossip through the streets of Montmartre. We then were joined by other friends to continue the party in the little streets of Paris, stopping regularly at bar counters to get refills of Viognier, and rediscovering French figurative humor.
A trip to Levallois-Perret
Seb and Marie moved to Paris near suburbs and offered a brunch party on Sunday, an offer we couldn’t turn down! Oysters, champagne and small viennoiseries, 100% spoiled!
Our afternoon was spent at the Xmas market on the square of the city hall. A few well-served hot wine cups led us through the maze of the Ice Palace with 5 years olds. No shame, just pure fun!
Landing in the heart of Paris, finding back a bit of family and reconnecting with old friends around amazing food and wine, we couldn’t miss our stay in the French capital! It felt good to come back home and to realize how beautiful Paris is, even if visiting a city isn’t the same as living in it…