Meandering Through Paris 2014 – Part 1

After many years of trying to get there, we finally made it to Paris for our 14th wedding anniversary. We landed early in the morning at Charles De Gaulle airport, and having read many reviews and suggestions by other travellers, we decided we had too much luggage – and jet-lag – to attempt the RER (extensive transit) system and took a cab to our hotel. We knew we would be too early to get our room, but had read enough reviews to know that this hotel had a safe room to store our luggage so we could get out and explore the area right away.

Our hotel was the Citadines in the Bastille-Marais district. It took five hours for our room to be ready – it might have been ready earlier if I hadn’t asked if it was possible to trade for a room with a balcony…it was possible, and we were more than happy with the trade-off of having to wait more time for the pleasure of having a balcony for our week in Paris! We used that five hours to explore the area, scouting out the best places to buy pastries and groceries (we had a kitchenette in our hotel room and cooked our own breakfast and most suppers out on our lovely balcony.)

The Bastille-Marais district turned out to be a wonderful area for us. The streets were lined with little shops and boutiques of every description within easy walking distance. Shops selling wine, cheese, pastries, affordable clothing and a lot more. And on Thursday, Saturday and Sunday, there was an amazing outdoor market set up in the park across the street, covering several blocks and selling just about anything we could want or need.  For the next week, as we fought our way through the ever-present crowds (and ever-so-clever pickpockets) to get to the more touristy areas of Paris, we were always grateful to come “home” to our cozy apartment overlooking this beautiful little park and to be able to pick up enough interesting sustenance from the myriad of little shops – and market – along the way. By the end of our week in Paris, we decided that as beautiful as the touristy sites were, we actually preferred the quieter areas that we often stumbled into on the way to somewhere else. The Bastille-Marais district was one that we wished we had been able to explore more.

We set out on the second day to walk our way to the Eiffel Tower. We knew the general direction, and decided to just walk and see how far our feet could take us. The day was tiring but glorious. We walked all along the Seine River the entire day. Our first stop was Notre Dame Cathedral. Since both of the line-ups there were about 2 city blocks long each, we decided to take a few pictures and move on. We left Notre Dame and continued walking, always vigilant for that first glimpse of the Eiffel Tower in the distance. After we had walked several blocks and still no glimpse, we sat down (on the Quai d’Orleans) to look at the map. I happened to look back at Notre Dame to get our bearings – and noticed that the Eiffel Tower WAS visible – in the complete opposite direction, LOL.

So we turned ourselves around and walked…and walked…and walked. We saw wonderful sights all along the way and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves, but by the time we finally reached the tower seven hours later, my feet were aching, we were exhausted and we were being hounded by pickpockets everywhere we turned. So we ended up staying only about 20 minutes to take pictures. Then we crossed the bridge (I think it’s called the Pont de Lena) to the nearest bus stop and headed back to our hotel for a much-needed nap.

I took many pictures, but many of my photos of various buildings just didn’t turn out so good. It was often a case of not being able to see the forest for the trees, we were too close and couldn’t capture the whole picture of what we were passing. Apparently, we later discovered that many of these sites would have been easier to see and photograph properly from the OTHER side of the Seine. But we didn’t go back that way, and so here are the pictures that I do have of those first two days in Paris.

In my next segment, we’ll visit the outdoor market! In the meantime, enjoy today’s walk with us, from the Bastille to the Eiffel Tower.

This was one of the views from our hotel window.

This beautiful building was one of the views from our hotel window.

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A red door that we passed often, in the Bastille-Marais area of Paris

Beautiful tile work at an entryway to a tiny shop

Beautiful tile work at an entryway to a tiny run-down shop

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Our hotel apartment/room had this lovely little balcony. We loved sitting out here after a long day of sight-seeing!

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Our first purchase in Paris…I love the wrapping!

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Beautifully wrapped…

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Pistachio Flan! It was even more delicious than it looked!

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I had to rush taking this picture before hubby decided the eat the entire piece of pistachio flan himself, LOL

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The Bastille…this was just a couple of blocks away from our hotel and a very busy traffic circle!

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Our first glimpse of the Seine. We followed the Seine all the way to the Eiffel Tower – 7 hours worth of walking!

Sharon at Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris

Sharon at Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris

Hubby at Notre Dame Cathedral

Andre at Notre Dame Cathedral

The magnificence of the Notre Dame Cathedral is impossible to capture with my little camera.

The magnificence of the Notre Dame Cathedral is impossible to capture with my little camera.

Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris

Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, front view

One of the many interesting contraptions we saw on the streets. Notice to the right, the long line? That's only one of several line-ups to get into Notre Dame Cathedral, which is why we didn't try to go in!

One of the many interesting contraptions we saw on the streets. Notice to the right, the long line? That’s only one of several line-ups to get into Notre Dame Cathedral, which is why we didn’t try to go in!

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At the Quai D’Orleans (thinking of my friend Ruth), we discovered we were going in the wrong direction. But it was a lovely spot to be lost at

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Our first glimpse of the Eiffel Tower, way off in the distance to the left of Notre Dame Cathedral, once we realized we had to turn back and go in the opposite direction.

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Bridge of locks…many of the bridges near Notre Dame Cathedral were covered in locks. We wanted to add one too, but had read about how these locks were breaking and falling into the Seine and causing pollution problems. So we decided not to do it.

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One of many bridges covered in locks.

The other side of that bridge...

The other side of that bridge…those are all locks!

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We saw a lot of buildings with full-sized trees and gardens on the rooftops.

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Last glimpse of Notre Dame Cathedral as we headed further along the Seine River

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Fontaine Saint-Michel, Place Saint-Michel

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We saw this piece of artwork in a shop window…such intricate detail!

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Institute of France building in Paris

Larger view of the Parliament Bldg

Larger view of the Institute of France building in Paris…it’s huge, too big to fit in my camera from this location. We would have needed to be across the river to take a better picture.

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These trees were entwined all along the fence…there were lots of armed guards patrolling the fence, so I only took the one picture….not exactly sure where we were at the time

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Lots of beautiful statues throughout that day’s walk. This one is called the Monument Aristide Briand

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Beautiful columns on the Pont Alexandre III – this is reputed to be the fanciest bridge in Paris…again, difficult to get a good photo (you can see better pictures if you Google “Pont Alexandre)

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Les Invalides Building, north facade, in Paris. By the time we reached this we were too tired to investigate further. When we went back a few days later, it was pouring rain, so we never did get closer than this to it. It’s a gorgeous building.

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ELVIS! We saw this and thought of my friend Georgia who is an avid Elvis fan.

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The entire wall of this Musée du Quai Branly (right beside the Eiffel Tower) is covered in live foliage. It’s called The “living wall”.

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Andre posing at the “Living Wall” of the Musée du Quai Branly

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The Eiffel Tower at last!!! After 7 hours of walking to get to it, we were exhausted, and exhilarated to finally be there!

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Andre near the Eiffel Tower in Paris

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A very weary Sharon at the Eiffel Tower in Paris

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The line-up to go up in the tower was too long and we were too tired to wait, so we just enjoyed the awesome view from the ground.

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The day’s last view of the Eiffel Tower from the bridge Pont de Lena, that we crossed to get to the bus stop.

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Copyright © Sharon C. Matthies, Meanderings (blog), 2014. All rights reserved.
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About Sharon

I love to write. I love to write myself into being right here right now. Writing releases something in me that needs wings, writing opens doors and windows that I often don't even realize are possible, writing helps me breathe out the dusty old, and to breathe in the new and possible. My hope is that maybe writing here in this blog will bring new light into these dusty old hallways and help me to clear out the thinking processes and mindsets that just don't work for me anymore. I seek to breathe new light and life into the nooks and crannies of a soul that has been feeling somewhat lost and frayed because of the last few patches of road I've had to travel.
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4 Responses to Meandering Through Paris 2014 – Part 1

  1. Great pictures, Sharon! And what great memories for you both.

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  2. How did I miss this! I need more time to read this through, but I thoroughly enjoyed your photos, and you look so lovely, my friend. It looks like it was crowded… those lines; incredible. You did the right thing to look elsewhere. I’ll get back to you after our granddaughter has gone back to her father.

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