Well we are finally in Paris the City of Lights. We turned in our car at the airport in one piece (well sort of). But, thanks to God we survived the sometime stressful ordeal. If there were any insight into the whole driving thing...I would advise anyone not to do it. This whole area of Southern France and Northern Italy is mountainous and difficult to drive with any car and especially with a standard transmission.
Just imagine yourself at a very steep intersection with a line of anxious Italian drivers behind you as you are trying to clutch it before rolling back onto someone's bumper! Major stress! For that very reason I chickened out venturing into some hilly areas. If anyone does do the driving I highly recommend paying the extra fee for an automatic transmission. I just got too darn cheap because it would have doubled the cost no matter what company I went with. But enough about that, it is over with and now we are relaxing in beautiful Paris and it's behind us. Now all we have left are the memories of the amazing scenery we saw and the wondrous places we visited.
After turning in our trusty Opel we took a 45-minute train ride from Charles De Gaulle airport to downtown Paris. The train took us all the way to our Metro stop of Saint Michel where our hotel is a quarter block away from the station. Unfortunately I took the wrong exit and led Sheila in the opposite direction. After walking a while it finally dawned on me that something was amiss. I finally had to buy a street map so we could get our bearings. So we had to walk back, which wasn't easy lugging two suitcases and a small duffel. (I would personally kiss the inventor of wheels on luggage if I ever met the dude!) Thank goodness Sheila is a seasoned traveler like myself and is a trooper in such situations, otherwise I could be dead meat.
Well, now for Paree (as the locals pronounce Paris). Like Venice, the city itself is the main attraction. It is a beautiful and gorgeous place and if you ever have a chance please do yourself a favor and see it! The wide avenues dotted with hundreds of sidewalk caf?®s are such a pleasure to stroll down and the marvelous old buildings with their magnificent architecture are a sight to see.
We are holed up for the duration in a funky old hotel on Rue de la Huchette a busy and noisy pedestrian street with many restaurants and take-away (as they say "to go" here) joints that have anything from French cuisine (including delicious crepes) to Greek, Italian, Chinese, Spanish, Japanese and even Mexican food. Our room is tiny...just a bit bigger than an inside cabin on a cruise ship except not as nice. We are on the second floor and had to make two luggage trips up in the tiny ancient lift. So what was the attraction here? It's the price (less than 200 Euro a night) and location, location, location. We are one-quarter block from the Seine River and two blocks from Notre Dame Cathedral in the Latin Quarter. It's in the area known as the Rive Gauche ((Left Bank) and is located on a main Boulevard named Saint Michel.
Since it is best to walk this city, our location puts us within walking distance of the Louvre, the Champs ?ëlys?®es, and the Arc de Triomphe. But every place else is reachable by the handy, inexpensive and very swift Metro (subway). Since it was Saturday the start of the weekend, the town was very crowded especially since it is also some kind of holiday. But by this Sunday afternoon the town is now relatively empty so we are ready to explore. Again there are dozens of famous museums, but we will forgo them to walk and meander the different neighborhoods. Today we took the Metro to Montparnasse for a local flea market. It is on a shady neighborhood street and had so many stalls we were unable to see them all. We did come away with some nice treasures though.
Unlike the rest of the week, tomorrow will be sunny, so we have booked a three-hour tour of the central city on Segways, one of our favorite modes of transportation. But tonight we do laundry; otherwise I must turn my skivvies inside out.