Traveling by Eurostar was awesome! I wish plane travel worked this easily and was this civilized. We had our massive Starbucks cups and bag-o-breakfast and (wait for it) took them through security! Seriously, they even had cup holders so that the drinks wouldn’t tip as they went through the security scanner. On the other side, the terminal looked like this lovely gleaming EPCOT vision of what future travel would be, not like some island of the endlessly delayed damned. So, so cool!
On the train, we sat at a little table and most of us eventually passed out for the trip under the English Channel.
Oh, and we learned that even Parisians love the Doctor!
Then, voila, we were in Paris. Well, we were in Gare du Nord, which like all Paris train stations (and all of Paris, really) is filled with confusing signs seemingly designed–in their smug yet engaging Parisian way–to say, “We don’t care. We know you’ll love us no matter what we do. We are Paris.” And, of course, Paris is right.
Because, honestly, look at this.
As Penn conveys, in his best American in Paris meets Pee Wee Herman way, “Nous aimons, Paris!”
When we travel, we tend to be proximal eaters rather than freak-out foodies. So, if something’s nearby on some stage of our 14 hour march days, and it looks interesting (or, if we’re really desperate, open), there you go. Usually, it works out wonderfully. Case in point, we ran across this bistro on our first walk. It looked cute and had a wacky but happy looking pig and cow painted on front, had a good selection of formule du menu options, and was there when we were hungry. Another good sign: we seemed to be the only English-speakers in the place throughout lunch.
Oh, and the kids’ meals came with huge dark chocolate crepes! Ta-dah. Success!
And, then, there it was: the Seine.
We walked down the ancient cobblestones to get right up to the river that defines Paris.
We crossed the famous Pont des Artes, which has become the bridge of love locks: padlocks left by lovers to symbolize their lasting unions. Every lockable inch, from bridge to lights is covered in locks, so many they’re regularly clipped off by officials because they’re weighting down the bridge. Sadly, some love is not meant to last: one fell off in Ned’s hand 🙂
Because of the symbolism, the bridge has become a great site for wedding portraits. And, we stumbled upon one.
From there, we set off on a meandering path for the Musee D’Orsay. We walked past cute and chic shops selling antique bureaus and ornate mirrors, ultra-modern bathtubs, crazily high end children’s furnishings including a bright red toadstool table and a hand knit faux bearskin rug, and bespoke men’s clothing that called to Penn’s sartorial soul. We ate some more crepes. (I think France imports Nutella by the megaton.) And, then, we found Vincent.
The D’Orsay does not allow photos, though as Ned observed, French people don’t care and took them anyway and the guards weren’t that interested in stopping them. Nevertheless, I did not take pics of the exquisite collection. Two high points: Penn found The Church in Auvers-sur-Oise from the Doctor Who episode “Vincent and the Doctor”; Harper found The Little Dancer of 14 Years. And, we realized we had seen several of the paintings in the Impressionist collection earlier in the year in Chicago. We’re so cultured 🙂
The museum was once a train station, so it’s architecture is striking with huge clocks that recall movies like the Hudsucker Proxy and (perhaps more contextually fitting) Hugo. Magical!
On the way home, we stopped for late night … pizza! Pizzawawa was just across from our hotel (see proximal eating, again). As one would expect, it’s a delicious, affordable Italian wood fired pizza restaurant in Paris run by an affable Irish pub owner. Seriously, if you want pizza in Paris, this is the place to go. And, then, just about 20 hours after it began, our first day in Paris was over. Bonne nuit!