It seem crazy to me but after only one day in Paris we were up early, had breakfast an on our way to the bus luggage in tow because we were moving to a different hotel. The police decided it was unsafe for us to load our luggage in the bus and board the bus on such a narrow street. So, after walking several extra street we had to cross a busy boulevard, dodge traffic, load up and go on our tour.
The first question I had for the guide about Paris was, “Why do they call Paris the city of lights?”
What I learned was that Paris was given the name because of its position as the intellectual center during the Age of Enlightenment that started as far back as the 1650’s. But that aside, the term can also be assigned to the fact that there are over 296 illuminated sites in Paris covering churches, hotels, statues, fountains and national buildings and monuments.
The bus tour was wonderful. We spent the entire morning driving around Paris passing one beautiful building, fountain or monument after another. It was all very exciting. We passed such beautiful sites as the Eiffel Tower, Fountaines de la Concorde, Palais de Justice, Cour d’Honneur, Dom des Invalides, La Madeleine, Grand Palais, Les Invalides.
I was fascinated when we passed a beautiful obelisk in the Place de la Concorde. The Place de la Concorde is the largest square in Paris. According to our guide, the Obelisk of Luxor was given to the French in 1829 by the viceroy of Egypt, Mehemet Ali. The obelisk is over 3,000 years old and is decorated with hieroglyphics portraying the reigns of Ramses II and Ramses III.
We had a few opportunities to get off the bus and take a few pictures standing on firm ground. One thing I have learned about bus travel; it is very hard to get good pictures when traveling at 70-80 miles per hour on a highway or in cities with heavy traffic.
When traveling along highways many pictures we took looked like very bad impressionist paintings and when traveling in traffic invariably a truck, light poll or some other object would suddenly appear in the shot. One minute you would be so happy you captured a beautiful picture of a site you wanted to remember and, the next you were deleting the picture from your camera. While a little frustrating, eventually I learned to just laugh off the failures.
We were able to get off the bus at the Place de la Concorde and the Arc de Triomphe to enjoy the view on foot. The crowds were very large everywhere we traveled.
Before going to our new hotel, we were escorted to the Café-Restaurant Le Carre des Invalides located in the Musée de l’Armee. All the food looked delicious, and was. Walking back to the bus we passed several lovely gardens. Doug, Sue and I looked around and could not find Randy.
Randy had broken away and walked next door to visit the Cour d’Honneur (Court of Honor) and the Soldier’s Church. When he finally reappeared, we made our way back to the bus.
We checked into our new hotel, which was a sister to the one we had just left. What was really funny is that hotel room was just as small as the one we just left but, happily this hotel was in a much better location. It was only a block from a large boulevard and there were many restaurants in the area.
Once settled, we decided to take a walk up to the boulevard and see what we could see. There were so many shops and cafés it was amazing and, they all looked inviting. We found a wonderful alley filled with great shops and took a little time to shop for souvenirs.
Strolling back to the hotel, we looked down another small alley and saw a restaurant with the name ‘Chartier’. Of course, I had to get a picture of Randy under the sign. Very funny. Before returning to the hotel we walked around the area near our hotel for a restaurant to have a bite to eat for dinner.
Dinner time rolled around and we walked around the corner to our friend’s hotel to see if they wanted to join us. Doug, Sue, Joe, Marilyn, Randy and I headed out to find a restaurant.
We decided to give la Comete a try. It was small and very crowded but we were able to get a table. I was finally going to get a bowl of soup. I ordered the onion soup. The broth was warm, hearty and delicious. We spent our time talking about the day and shared our anticipation about our visit the next day to the Eiffel Tower, a Seine River cruise and a walk on the Champs Elysees.
The whole day had been wonderful. I settled in for the evening knowing that I would spend my sleeping hours dreaming of all the beautiful things I had seen and anticipating all the things I was going to see in the coming days. Life is good!