Paris Day 1 & 2: Bon Voyage

 

It’s been a longtime dream to travel to Paris. However, I booked this trip on impulse. I also wanted to go solo (YOLO) and enjoy the city at my own pace. I went with only one carry-on bag. It was an amazing adventure and a dream come true….

It was a 6-day trip (2 days of travel) from March 21st-26th. Getting there took over 19 hours, and I lost a day. Expedia flew me to Maui first, to catch a flight to LAX. On my flight to L.A., I met a nice family from Minnesota who was vacationing on Maui. Then I sat next to a couple from Sweden on my flight to Paris. I guess traveling solo frees you up to meet more people.

I didn’t want to stay at a franchise hotel, so I booked a Parisian boutique hotel called the Hotel du Dragon. I arrived in the late afternoon. I was greeted by the staff, a young dude with a cigarette and an iPhone. After telling him that I was from Hawai’i, he became very pleasant.

The building is over a hundred years old. It has no elevator, crooked stairs, and free Wi-fi. I would describe it by saying that it bordered on the fine line between “quaint” and “ghetto.” Haha. I loved it.

The room was tiny with old French furniture like this charming armoire. The bathroom was galley style.

But I selected this hotel based on location. I stayed in the Saint-Germain-des-Prés neighborhood in the 6th arrondissement on the Left Bank. In other words, I stayed in the café district within walking distance of all the attractions. I walked around to orient myself to the surrounding area.

Here are two of the most famous cafés in Paris (the world.) I liked both equally, although I did go to Café de Flore more.

I stopped by this brasserie before returning to the hotel. I picked up a few bottles of water at a boutique market. I felt tired, excited, and happy.

 

Paris Day 3: Musée du Louvre

Woke up early Sunday morning. It was 36° and clear. Decided to walk down to the River Seine and was greeted by this view. It was magic. At that moment I decided that everything beyond this point would be “icing on the cake.”

I turned around and saw this. Surreal. Needless to say, I stayed, I gazed, and I gawked until the sun came up.

After going back to my hotel (5 minute walk,) I came back across the bridge to the Louvre.

I found a café a block away from the back entrance of the Louvre called Le Palais Royal. I had my first (of many) baguette sandwich in Paris.

So happy to be at the Louvre! I was first in line (this will become an occurring theme.) I met a friendly couple (originally from the Philippines, but now residing in Texas) in line.

Once inside, I beat all the tourists to the Mona Lisa. Mission accomplished. Now I could leisurely take my time and explore the museum.

One of the highlights was the Grande Galerie. I strolled up and down this long corridor a few times.

Another highlight was the sculpture garden. There are three levels. (Maybe four, can’t remember now.)

Here is a collection of large French paintings. I felt amazed, inspired, and somewhat sensory-overloaded.

I got lost (a few times,) and stumbled upon the Venus de Milo by accident.

Here is the view of the courtyard from one of the wings. What an amazing morning!

After exiting the museum, I headed up a dusty trail towards the Place de la Concorde.

There were food booths, souvenir peddlers, and gathering places along the way.

The Obelisk of Luxor.

There were a lot of photo ops along the way (and in all of Paris as well.)

The walk path connected to the Champs-Élysées. This is the Grand Palais.

The Champs-Élysées is a huge boulevard lined with shops, cafés, and even gardens.

After about an hour’s walk, I finally made it to the Arc de Triomphe. Unfortunately, it was under repair. Fortunately, this was the only disappointment of the entire trip.

I was forced to take a “selfie” from under the Arc. After walking all the way back to the hotel, I took a short nap.

I wanted to have one nice dinner in a French restaurant. This place was recommended by the concierge. It’s one of the oldest restaurants in Paris, and it was amazing!

I had escargot for my entrée (starter.) It was buttery, garlicky, and simply awesome!

The bread was really amazing too. I think they have a brick oven to do this.

I had the duck for my plat (main.) The sauce was good and the duck was perfectly cooked. The two “starchy” things were good too. One was “cheesey” and the other was “fruity.”

For dessert I had an assortment of fromages. My favorite was the Camembert. The vin was some kind of Burgundy. It was also excellent.

Relaxed at the Café de Flore before returning to the hotel. Looked over my photos of the day on my iPhone. Wow….

 

 

 

Paris Day 4: La Tour Eiffel

Had my first good night of sleep. Left the hotel at 6am and walked westward along the River Seine. It took an hour (2 miles) to reach the Eiffel Tower. Took pictures along the way.

My heart started pounding when the tower came into view.

Vive La France!

I got there super early, so I walked around the adjoining park and took lots of pictures.

It was my intention to walk up the stairs to the 2nd level of the tower (mainly to avoid long lines.) But because I was first in line, I decided to just buy a ticket and ride the lift to the very top. By 9am, the line must’ve been in the hundreds. Since there were only two lifts in operation, it must’ve taken forever for the people in the back of the line.

I met a really nice family from Atlanta in line. The daughter has a fear of heights, even more than I do. It was a pleasure talking with them.

Here are a few of the views from the top. Click to enlarge. Stupéfiant!

Started my way back to the hotel. I never got lost in Paris, even with my pitiful sense of direction. Everything that I wanted to see was along the Seine. I didn’t take shorter routes, because I really wanted to spend time strolling along the river anyway.

Paris is a great city for joggers as well. Wish I had my longboard skateboard here….

It was cool seeing playgrounds and hopscotches along the way.

This is the Pont Alexandre III. It’s probably the nicest of the bridges.

A number of bridges had these locks of love.

My toilet story:
This is a public restroom called a Sanisette WC (“water closet.”) It is free, and it is automatic. I thought I would give it a go. After reading the directions, I pressed to open, went in, and pressed to close. After undoing my button-fly jeans, I realized that I’d better lock the door. Not knowing that it locks automatically, I accidentally opened the door with my jeans “undone.” I looked at the lady standing in line in shock (she was in shock too.) I scrambled to get the door closed. Now this happened on Boulevard Saint-Germaine, where there are hundreds of people walking by. Hundreds….

For lunch, I stumbled upon this great take away café called Vera e Andrea.

This baguette sandwich was incredible! It came with ham and stinky cheese. So ono! It also had lettuce, tomatoes, and mayonnaise. I then went back to the hotel for a quick nap. Saw the rock singer Rod Stewart doing some shopping with a tall blonde woman.

In the afternoon, I had a glass of Languedoc – La Clape Château Rouquette at the café Les Deux Magots. So relaxing….

I then went to look for souvenirs. Here is one of the many bouquinistes that are set up along the River Seine.

I guess I really like bridges.

For dinner, I found another take away café near my hotel called La Boule Miche. I had a pizza which was “ok,” and a pistachio eclair that was insane.

Back at the hotel, I helped a poor tourist carry her 50 lb. suitcase up the crooked stairs to the 4th floor. So glad I travel light.

Ended the evening at Café de Flore. Had a Meteor bière. There was a street musician playing jazz clarinet.

Each night I would journal in my Moleskine notebook. Another great day.

Paris Day 5: Cathédrale Notre-Dame

I was blessed with perfect weather in Paris. Each day was sunny and around 53°. Tuesday was the only cold and rainy day. The temperature remained at about 41° the entire day. Luckily I packed my umbrella.

This time I traveled east along the river. It took around half an hour to reach Notre-Dame.

It was spectacular! Click to enlarge.

Surreal.

The inside was magnifique. There was a service taking place at around 8am.

The stained glass and giant columns were breathtaking.

Walked around the cathedral and took pictures from all sides.

This park is just behind the church.

Had brunch in a café across the street. It was cold and rainy, so I stayed here for a while. Not a bad place to get “stuck.”

Yes, had another baguette. This one was with ham & butter. Noms.

Walked back along the river, but this time on the street side. There are gardens and book stores in the Latin Quarter.

Came across this cool fountain.

Went back to the hotel to print up my boarding pass.

Bought my souvenirs from this stationary boutique across the street from my hotel. Seems like everything sold in Paris is from a “boutique.” There are no shopping malls or “big box” stores like Walmart or Macy’s. Every block has boutique shops, restaurants, and salons. I like it. It keeps the culture rich and vibrant.

For an afternoon snack, I went to Ladurée for macarons. Yes, my hotel is in a great location.

I had the coffee and pistachio. Click to enlarge. The coffee one was amazing! So much flavor.

Got a take away baguette for dinner and went back to the hotel to pack. Wanted to go back to the river, but it was too cold. Went to Café de Flore for the last time. Could hear snoring all night long from the next room. All night long…

 

Paris Day 6: Au Revoir

Had a glass of rosé on my last night in Paris. Wanted to take it all in.

Here are my reflections:
• The French people were nice. Much nicer than the peeps at LAX.
• Traveling with only one carry-on was great. While the other passengers were going to baggage claim to see if their luggage got lost or stolen, I was headed out the door.
• Pea coats. They rock.
• I used to be a dreamer. Now I’m a liver. No, not the organ. You know what I mean….
• Thank you Lord for blessing me.

Postscript:

The taxi arrived at the hotel on time at 6:30am. Had coffee and a croissant at the airport. Sat between two friendly travelers on the flight back. One was from Paris who was visiting his brother in L.A. The other was from Switzerland who was meeting up with friends in Hawai’i. On my flight back to Honolulu, I sat next to a guidance counselor from UH-Manoa. She was very nice to talk to. I took a cab home and got dropped off at Asahi Grill. I was in much need of rice.

More photos here.