spring break: first full day in paris

Despite a tight (40-minute) connection in Zagreb, and Croatia Airlines’ usual laissez-faire approach to pretty much everything, I managed to arrive at CDG on schedule Thursday at 8pm, and was settled into the apartment by 10pm. Scott’s flight didn’t arrive until 6am the following morning, and I woke up when he texted me to say his plane had landed. After a shower, I walked down to the Boco cafe on the corner, where I had a nice café crème and a decent (though not spectacular) croissant, and waited for the shuttle to drop Scott off at the hotel across the street. And waited. And waited. Paris rush hour traffic meant that the expected one hour drive turned into two, but he finally stepped off the shuttle, and we got to see each other in person for the first time in two months!

Since Scott was exhausted, he napped at the apartment while I did some grocery shopping at the Monoprix, and picked up some croissants and brioche and cheese and soda. We snacked on those when he woke up a couple of hours later, and we decided to spend the rest of the morning exploring our neighborhood, and visited Galleries Lafayette and Printemps–two of the most beautiful department stores anywhere. We took a break on the terrace at Galleries Lafayette, and enjoyed the spectacular view. (Not realizing that what we thought was fog was really terrible smog.) Then we found a lovely little papeterie where Scott bought a journal and pen for recording the food he ate on the trip.

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After our shopping, we took the metro to a stop near Notre Dame, where we loosely followed the guidebook’s “Historic Paris” walk, featuring Ile de la Cité, Notre-Dame, the Latin Quarter, and Sainte-Chapelle. Then we took a break to sit in the Square du Vert-Galant as the sun went down.

We had dinner reservations that night at a restaurant called L’Alveole, which had great reviews and a recommendation from my friend Jonas. I’d booked the table using the built-in system on TripAdvisor (powered by a site called “The Fork”), and had chosen the first available seating, at 7pm. But when we got to the restaurant, it wasn’t even open at 7, and they had no idea how we could have had a reservation. Scott was exhausted, and I didn’t want to wait around until the restaurant opened later (it wasn’t clear if they actually opened at 7:30 or at 8–the website said 6, so that wasn’t much help). So instead we set off to visit a different restaurant that Jonas had recommended, Bistrot Victoires. That turned out to be an excellent idea–we were seated quickly, and the food and wine were delicious and very reasonably priced. Scott had real blood sausage, something he can’t get in the US, I had a steak (served with a burning spring of rosemary on top, which added amazing flavor), and we shared a carafe of a delicious house red. Total price tag? Only €35! It was a perfect way to end a very full first day in Paris.

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