Regular blog readers will note that there is quite a gap in the telling of this end of the Spring Fling 2018 and I must say, this month has flown by. I certainly have accomplished a lot already! My home is spruced up and on the market and my shop BoCo Sluice Box has 3 weeks of being open for the season under its belt. Now, I must share the end of the tale! It was such a glorious Spring! Baguep Artisan Boulanger deClichy is where our second full day in the city began. We sat at a sidewalk table and enjoyed cafe and croissants as if we had lived this city life forever. A mother ranted on her phone in the language that was foreign to us as her son played with toys on the tabletop lost in his world of imagination. It was a glorious way to start the day as we finalized our walking plans.
The pinnacle of our exploration on this day would be the Louvre Museum. In his typical style, the hubster had discovered the museum was open late on Wednesday allowing for diminished lines and better views of the quality works. He had arranged a tour via Expedia for 5:30-9:45. In the meantime we strolled out of our neighborhood and admired the architecture of the high rises as well as Montmartre Cemetery which was full of mausoleums and under a bridge. It was its own architectural wonder. We wandered on past seafood markets and churches being restored and into a beautiful multistory mall, the Galleries Lafayette, that had incredible stained glass at its center.
Our foot travels took us past the Academy of Music and on to Place Vendome to window shop at the flagship stores of Cartier, Louis Vuitton, Van Cleef and Arpels and more. We made our way on to lounge and watch a game of Pétanque in the Tuileries Garden. Soon we were ready to walk again and passed statues and fountains to catch our first glimpse of the Lourve and the mini Arc du Triomphe (du Carrousel )
A walk by the Seine River taking in the vendors and making our way to get a view of the Notre Dame Cathedral occupied our time the rest of the afternoon. The beauty and the romance enveloped us. We stopped at a little bakery for a coconut macaroons, coffee and water to fortify us for the tour.
Arriving with a fifteen minute cushion, we anxiously checked in for our museum tour. Sadly, for one of the first times ever, Expedia blew the reservation! They had made it for morning and there was no room left on the evening tour. Even though we had the confirmation reiterating our evening booking there was simply no space left, Louvre Museum Masterpieces Tour with Skip The Line Tickets was not meant to be ours on this day. The pleasant clerk confirmed our receipt of the email she copied us on to Expedia to let them know we should receive a refund and directed us to an entrance she felt would not cost us much time in entering the museum. (BTW, Expedia has responded to our request with emails stating “necessity for further correspondence with the vendor” several times as we pursued our refund. It is now coming via Chase, our credit card provider where we have ended up disputing the charge. Sadly, we will use our accrued points and abandon Expedia after all these years #principalsofcustomerservice
Indeed the lines were not bad at all. We rented one audio tour so that we would get a little bit more than what we would know on our own, got a complimentary map and headed off to find the truest masterpieces on our own, with some added extras in between. Although we still would have loved the guided tour, we certainly enjoyed this unbelievable collection, taking in as much as possible over about 4 hours on our own. Somewhere along my research, I had read it would take s a number of days to see all 35,000 works of art housed in this fortress (25 days or so depending on the source.). Hearing horror stories about the impossibility of standing near the major works such as the Mona Lisa and Venus de Milo we had resigned ourselves to taking in as much as we could. We were thrilled at the opportunity we were presented because of the late hour we went to these pieces. We really were able to be directly in front of each of them, with no obstructed view. The experience was exhilarating.
La Auberge du Moulin in the Latin Quarter had caught our eye earlier in the day on our walk as we noted it’s late hours. We made our way back across the river and settled into a table at this establishment for dinner. Food, wine, service and hospitality were all excellent. The waiter and maitre’ d could have walked straight off a movie set with their stereotypical Frenchman flair which we thoroughly enjoyed. Oysters on the half shell, French onion soup, Tenderloin with fries accompanied by a great Marguax and Crème brulee and pots de’ crème with Grand Marnier all made for a great round out to this wonderful day. We made our way home via the Metro subway system which we concluded was certainly an easy way to get around this city when walking is not as practical or desired.
Breakfast at a sidewalk café, La Princesse just around the corner from our hotel started our final full day in Paris. We enjoyed pastries and coffee knowing it was our last leisurely breakfast in this wonderfully vibrant city. I indulged in quiche, a Napoleon, Perrier and a latte and sat people watching…delightful!
The train was our mode of transport for this day. We both agreed our “dogs were barking” but with the clock ticking we were not game for lazing about! Our aim for this day was the Arc de Triomphe, de l’Etoile. When I had seen the “miniature” in front of the Louvre I spoke my disappointment out loud, stating, “I thought it would be larger than life.” Larger than life the real deal was and we happened on a celebration of reverence of some kind taking place that brought it even more symbolism.
Strolling away from this warriors honor, we made our way down the Champs Elysees. The grandest Avenue in all of Paris, and many say the entire world, led us to the Grand and Petit Palais, the Obelisk of Luxor and for a final Seine river walk as dusk came on.
Metro took us back to our neighborhood for a bite of comfort food at spot called Zhnobia and back to the hotel to pack up for our flight back to the states the following day.
Taxi arrived mid morning for our transport to Charles de Gaulle. We found that this was the most expedient way to travel for not much more than two metro passes and no need to haul luggage up and down stairs and on crowded trains. Wow Air was our carrier for our return home to the states. We flew over Manchester England, Scotland (as announced by the pilot) and laid over in Keflavik, Iceland in the midst of a blizzard! We had been warned of this discount airline as well and the only complaint we had was lack of food. It was available but of poor quality and small portions for a tall price . In all other regards the airline provided well. After an uneventful layover, other than exiting the plane to “Welcome to Summer in Iceland” noted by the stewardess and the blasting of snow in our faces as we made our way to the shuttle buses, we were on the final leg of our 11 hour and 55 minute total flight time back to SFO. This time our pilot took us over the frozen tundra of Greenland and New Foundland before dropping us down over the Canadian Rockies and on into the Golden Gate City where we planned to reacclimate for the weekend before our flight from Oakland back into Boise.
I must say I had every intention of giving San Francisco more than a mention in this post but as the clock nears 2 am in the Boise National Forest where I am at work in my home recounting this tale, I have decided the philosophy to be surmised from the wind down of the Spring Fling 2018 deserves more than a hurried review. And, I am 2 hours past my own deadline of getting this published in May (the same month we arrived home ;-).