“If you are lucky enough to have lived in Paris as a young man, then wherever you go for the rest of your life it stays with you, for Paris is a moveable feast” – Ernest Hemingway
My favorite heroine put it perfectly so what can I say about Paris that hasn’t already been said? It is quite simply the most gorgeous and alluring city on Earth and to be in Paris is a treat in all ways. While I never have lived there, I feel like I have, as I have been so many times and know the city so well. The food, the wine, the culture, the sights, the architecture, the people (some of them at least-meaning those not in the service industry) and did I mention the food are all world class and few places, if any, are better. I was fortunate to spend the last 4.5 days of absolute pleasure in the city of lights and perhaps my favorite city in the world.
In order to keep this post manageable, I am going to try to condense this as much as possible because in Paris, every day can be a separate entry and we didn’t have wifi access to do so and who can be bothered writing blog entries when you’re in Paris.
We arrived Thursday and stayed at the Le Meridian Montparnasse and met up with my friend Jake who was on his way back to the States after travelling with me in Prague, Tallinn and Stockholm and we all had dinner at the famous Montparnasse brasserie, La Coupole, where Josephine Baker used to frequent back in the 20’s and 30’s. The steak tartar and beef carpaccio were absolutely killer along with a nice St. Emilion accompaniment and I highly recommend it to anyone visiting the Montparnasse area. After dinner we headed out to Le Rive Droit or the right bank to Café Oz around Les Halles which is a cool neighborhood with some good nightlife to meet up with some friends from school and another buddy, Francisco.
After a few drinks we were tired and headed back for a long nights sleep and Francisco was kind enough to offer us a place to stay at his friends flat near Etoille the following night, which we gladly accepted. The flat was gorgeous and newly redone. The other great part was it had laundry and we were able to finally do some laundry that is always a hassle to do. I want to thank him again for his selfless hospitality and for an incredible restaurant recommendation the following night at le entrecote for some of the best meat I have ever had. Also congrats again on your new job buddy!
We spent most of Friday at Roland-Garros watching the final day of qualifying for the French Open. I was so excited to be at Roland Garros and I have now been to all four tennis majors; Australian, French, Wimbledon and US Open. The red clay at Roland-Garros looks much better in person and we had a perfect day to see the qualification finals. We also saw up close several of the top players practicing like Novak Djokovic, Gael Monfils and Jelena Jankovic. Unfortunately, I didn’t get to see my boy Roger Federer but hopefully I will see him in the final again and maybe he can actually win this year!
After Roland-Garros, we did a little sightseeing at the Eiffel Tower before an awesome and memorable dinner up on Montmartre, which is my favorite part of Paris, especially at night where the cafes are filled with live music and the band at our restaurant played some great soft jazz and other favorites. Then of course there is the view of Paris from the steps of the Le Sacre Coeur which is easily the best view of Paris in my book and a must for anyone visiting Paris.
Saturday we moved to the Le Meridien in Etoille thanks to Starwood Hotels and their awesome special deals for platinum members. The hotel has been newly remodeled in the W Hotel style and was very cool and comfortable. We spent most of Saturday sightseeing all around Paris and literally walked about 8 or 9 miles from our hotel to the Arc de Triumphe all the way down the Champs Elysses to the Louvre past Notre Dame and everywhere in between, finally walking past a few ostriches at the zoo and arriving at Gare D’Austerlitz to book our train tickets out of Paris to Geneva.
The reservations were especially trying because I had to speak in Spanish very intensely, as nobody there spoke any English and my French is spotty at best, for like an hour because all of the tickets were booked direct to Lyon and Geneva on Sunday, when we originally wanted to go. So we ended up getting booked via Lausanne to Geneva Monday (today) and will probably continue down into Italy tonight. The good thing about being stranded in Paris for another day was we were able to get out to Versailles.
Le Chateau Versailles is an amazing place to see and to visit. I had only been once previously and that was in 2000 and I barely even remember it and certainly didn’t appreciate how amazing it really is. The prized piece of architecture from the 17th century was the play home of Louis XIV and his laundry list of wives, Marie Antoinette and assorted other French dignitaries. Today, it is a magnificent place to see and a true delight to visit inside the amazing rooms, murals, tapestries, chandeliers and mirrors. The gardens are also amazing to see as well. I highly suggest you go early and avoid the tourist flocks though because the lines to get tickets can take an hour or more. It was fairly annoying but well worth it once you get inside.
I could go on and on about Paris and the awesome time we had but as often as I have been to Paris, there are always new experiences and places to see, eat and visit. Paris is a timeless place that I only wish everyone can see in their lifetime. Hemingway was certainly right when he said that Paris is a moveable feast.